Final Fantasy XIV -A Realm Reborn- Original Soundtrack Liner Notes

Album Title:
Final Fantasy XIV -A Realm Reborn- Original Soundtrack
Record Label:
Square Enix
Catalog No.:
SQEX-20016
Release Date:
March 26, 2014
Purchase:
Buy at CDJapan

Commentary

Naoki Yoshida – Producer and Director

While listening to Battle on the Big Bridge ~Reborn~

Thank you very much for purchasing Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn Original Soundtrack.

This is the producer and director of FFXIV, Yoshida. The sound director Soken himself will speak about the very high quality of this soundtrack and the circumstances under which it was produced, so I would like to discuss the themes that guided Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn‘s music.

Faced with the unprecedented challenge of creating FFXIV‘s “rebirth”, I gave Sound Director Soken themes to make his task simpler, a “royal road” to music production. Putting it into words, I asked him to “give us something straightforward that anyone could identify as Final Fantasy, with an easy-to-understand, expressive orchestral sound.”

The Final Fantasy series has a history of over 25 years, and even though it is a franchise beloved the world over, with each new installment the music has progressed and as those changes became ingrained, I believe we have drifted steadily away from “what everyone thinks of as being like Final Fantasy“. I think you can say the same for the game design, the character design, and the storylines as well as the music.

So with A Realm Reborn, we aimed for something “like Final Fantasy”, which you might call a return to our origins. Many among A Realm Reborn‘s development staff are Final Fantasy players themselves on top of their roles, as am I, and we are fans just like all of you. That’s why all of us on the staff put so much effort into every part of the title, to see if we can “do a proper Final Fantasy this time”.

This effort was put in across the board, whether in single lines in the game’s script, or in the construction of the cutscenes, in the order in which the primals appear, in the variety of mounts offered to the player, and even in the selection of a single minion. As you might expect, the music that colors the story and helps in its overall effect was given the same treatment. We here believe that this is “Final Fantasy-like music”, and I hope all of you enjoy it.

Of course, this game presented new challenges of its own, like the track used in the climax with the primal Titan, “Under the Weight”, so it might be fun to try to listen for what sounds “like Final Fantasy” and what sounds like “a new challenge”.

I have left mentioning our much-loved sound director Soken till last. This man produced more than 100 tracks entirely by himself, and on top of that, carrying out overall sound direction by matching each track to its environment, attached all of the sounds to promotional videos, showing us all the true extent of his talents. Although it goes without saying that I have the utmost gratitude and respect for his achievements, there is one thing that has continued to stick with me.

Occasionally, he would grumble, saying “the FFXIV team are devils, and I’ve never seen such a hellish schedule. It’s impossible, it’s abnormal,” and every time, I would say to him, “you can’t just go around accepting every request that comes in. Refuse, don’t keep pushing yourself. We can just make some of it into general-use music,” but he kept going, and made new music for every single request, something which I don’t think anyone besides him could have pulled off.

I acknowledge that I personally don’t have any interest in doing things I don’t love, so I’d like to prevent unnecessary difficulties (laughs), and I’d end up saying once again, “Soken, you’re the one who’s been composing so much you can see Hell!”

And now you too can enjoy our journey through Hell to your heart’s content! (laughs)

Masayoshi Soken – Sound Director

It is now January 26, 2014, 4:43 in the afternoon. I’ve just now returned by bullet train from Osaka’s F.A.T.E., where we announced the existence of this soundtrack, and am writing these liner notes.

Looking back, so much happened in the short period of time that was Final Fantasy XIV‘s development. The biggest, of course, was the change from working on the initial version to the revamped version, which was something that wouldn’t happen with other games. I happen to love these kinds of reckless challenges so I was overjoyed to take them on, but I found myself immersed in the actual development. To be honest, I found myself overwhelmed, thinking “hey, ya know, does it have to be so challenging?”

Three years have passed since then…and I’m still working 365 days a year, 24/7, as if I’m being chased by something or other.

I’ve often said that I’m a sound director, “handling various sound-related tasks”. However, I don’t think I’ve ever explained what my work actually consists of before now: managing the sound team; producing sound effects (there are actually a number of different areas this covers, from in-game sound effects to the sound effects in promotional videos); budget management; hiring and directing voice actors; checking work from outside companies (much more on this project than normal); resources management and maintenance; music production; music recording; setting up the unique sound engine tools for FFXIV; field recording; broadcast-related preparation, management, and operation; event appearances; controlling outside orders for music or sound effects; and so forth.

Now, as a soundtrack is on its way, I feel even more that this project is winding down. But I’ll get another project, and then work will start up, and then… oh man! That’s why I say 24 hours in a day really just isn’t enough! In short, music production is only a single part of the sound work that goes into a game.

With any game, not just Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, sound is one of the last things to be completed before release. So from a developmental standpoint, when sound production is really underway, the title is already in its final stages. So, when this meets the infamously uncommunicative FFXIV team, you get a situation where our work is starting and the release date has already been announced.

In other words, you end up with a completely inscrutable situation in which you don’t have a clear idea of how much work needs to be done in the production and what actual problems you will encounter physically or time-wise. On top of that, the release date has been announced and you have to do all of your sound work in a state of panic. Furthermore, there are hardware limitations, and those take more time to overcome, but you want to concern yourself with the sound and not compromise, so you have to expend as much effort as possible to build up a work flow and a method that will produce the best possible effect, so you have no choice but to work it out even though there’s no time, and work with it until you have a sound you can be satisfied with!

So you might be wondering how those actual problems turned out, but that’s a far more harrowing situation than anything I’ve written about here. (laughs) From the standpoint of people out in the world, A Realm Reborn spent about two and a half years in production before release, but that’s from the perspective of the programmers and planners. We didn’t even have a whole year for sound production! It felt like we were putting out enough work for two full games in that time. That should be enough to seal the date for a party in hell!

But in the end, you don’t want to compromise, no matter what. We’ll keep pushing forward until we give out! This is the true nature of sound design! Every day is Hell, every day is a party. It was actually quite fun.

And the sound effects staff spent all of their efforts on giving it their all until the end in this party in Hell. And everyone who created the FFXIV sound engine, and to Toda-san and Suzuki-san for helping out with the music production, thank you so much. You guys are really the best, and it was cool working with you.

Without realizing it, I ended up in charge of a main series Final Fantasy title, which is an incredible thing. After it reaches all of the series’ fans, I hope that we have been able to add, at least in a small way, to the series sound that Uematsu-san so carefully built up over the years.

Translated and Edited by Ben Schweitzer. Please do not republish without written permission.

Posted on April 13, 2014 by Ben Schweitzer. Last modified on June 28, 2014.

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