Yasumi Matsuno, head of the development team of Final Fantasy XII, recently discussed his special project in an interview with the Japanese magazine The Play. While the developer kept some things to himself, he was eager to share some information concerning the story and the characters.
According to Matsuno, the Judges were once legal masters who presided over courtrooms. As Arcadia evolved, so did the Judges. Their roles shifted from legal authorities to political leaders with absolute control. In Final Fantasy XII, the sky serves as the symbol of freedom, as it is above the political turmoil on land. Airships, as the newest form of transportation in Ivalice, are the ultimate symbols of freedom, which is why Vaan desires to have his own airship someday.
Matsuno explained that Vaan and Pannero are two young people who want to isolate themselves from the political upheaval in Ivalice. In contrast, Fran and Balthier are politically conscious adults who cannot escape from world affairs. Vaan sees the pair as two people who have won their freedom in the world.
Final Fantasy XII will have approximately 100 hours of playtime, and dedicated players can invest 150 hours in the game. While the developers are keeping certain details about character development and battle elements to themselves, as they intend to reveal their secrets right before the game's release, Matsuno promised that the game would delight veterans without baffling newcomers. The game received many positive responses at E3, and Hironobu Sakaguchi, the creator of Final Fantasy, told Matsuno that he believes Final Fantasy XII is definitely a true Final Fantasy game.
Final Fantasy XII will be released in Japan sometime during the winter of 2004 or the spring of 2005. A North American release will follow.