As some of you might have seen in the shoutbox, Grasshopper Manufacture recently published a big multi-game artbook, which included a few pages of FF4! It says 8 pages, but two of those are the introductory spread and one is just the renders of the four playable characters that we've seen before, so it works out at about five pages of new material. Still, there's some interesting stuff in there, including one character and one ghost who either weren't included or were changed so much as to be unrecognisable in the final version. Download the scans here:
Suda51's commentary is also conveniently translated into English at the back, so here it is:
The "Zero" series was a popular Japanese horror adventure game by Tecmo (a publisher at the time). GhM was in charge of development for the fourth of those. The main character has lost her memory and explores an abandoned hospital and Japanese mansion on Rougetsu Island and solves mysteries of the past through clues left in memos and diaries.
With Zero: Tsukihami no Kamen, I was personally a fan of the Zero series. It was to the point that whenever I would get together to eat and drink with my friends (the director, Makoto Shibata and producer Keisuke Kikuchi), I would tell them "Hurry up and make the next Zero already!" That's why when they asked me, "Why not have Grasshopper make Zero?" I refused at first. I thought I couldn't make it since I'm a fan, and because it was something that had been made by Zero's team. But they asked, and I started to feel that I had to work as a professional. I asked Kikuchi and Shibata to definitely be a part of it. When we started production, Kikuchi was a marvelous producer. After all, he was very involved as a leader, and he rallied with the team. As a director, Shibata was very thorough, so it was an incredibly energetic scene from beginning to end.
It's an incredibly popular series with a wildly enthusiastic fan base, so taking charge of the series was a huge responsibility. That much was expected, but it's a series made by Tecmo. On top of that, I knew the people who made it, so I didn't want to embarrass them. I was also a fan, so as a fan I thought I needed to deliver something interesting with this game. I wanted to raise the standard and really wanted to make people say, "This is fun." As a fan, that's one thing I couldn't yield.
At first I threatened the staff, saying, "Since the game we're making has a solid fanbase, research Zero. The fans will hang you if you make a game that shames its name." I cleared everything with the planning department, and I thoroughly encouraged the staff as we made it by providing a digest DVD for the other sections, telling them that they must at least watch that. I was also a fan, so this game had to be one that everyone loved. This is something I needed to make sure as a fan.
One thing I was not happy with is that I could not enjoy this game as a fan. As I've played this so much while debugging, I could not longer enjoy it as a fan. I wanted to enjoy this game as a fan! I wish I could erase all those debugging memories and have fun! There are so many memories, and it was a fun project. I love the game, but once again, I'd like to say it out loud, "Please erase those memories! I want to play!"