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Do you see James Bond when you look at Ignis? He was apparently one of the characters to form the basis for Final Fantasy XV's main heroes.
As revealed by lead writer and localization director Dan Inoue at his talk during GDC 2017, Ferris Bueller, James Bond, and Die Hard's John McClane formed the basis for Prompto, Ignis, and Gladio respectively.
"And who doesn't want to take a roadtrip with John McClane, Ferris Bueller, and James Bond?" Inoue teased.
If you squint really hard, you can kind of see it. Ignis is uber cool, not to mention a good driver, though he's not much of a womanizer. Prompto is harder to see. He may be a goof off, but he doesn't have that '80s cool of Bueller—he's far too insecure for that.
As for Noctis, Inoue said he didn't have any definitive vision for him. But the character's voice actor later said he imagined Kurt Cobain when he was playing him—a sensitive rock star who spurned the spotlight. "So if you want insight into your characters, talk to your Japanese voice actors," Inoue said.
Importantly, while these characterizations were the starting point for Final Fantasy XV's cast, they weren't the endpoint. According to Inoue, each character was meant to have a lifetime arc that would resolve in a satisfying manner at the conclusion of the story. Noctis, for example, is an initially happy child who grows into a disenchanted youth, and his story becomes one of recovering lost innocence (and also growing into a king).
Similarly, the rest of the characters aren't sidekicks, Inoue says. "They each have their own brand of cool, they each have their own story, and each is the normal one in their own mind," he said.
So while characters like James Bond might have been part of their DNA, they were also very much their own characters. At least, that was what Square was hoping.
"A Fantasy Based on Reality"
Outside of the individual characterizations, Inoue used the session to highlight the challenge of writing the first major Final Fantasy to receive a simultaneous worldwide release.
Working with a dozen in-house localization teams made the game global from the ground up, Inoue said, and lead to lots of little details like signs in different languages (a rarity given how hard it is to localize assets). It also impacted the landscape, with the main city becoming an amalgamation of London, New York, Paris, and Tokyo—familiar and yet foreign to a worldwide audience.
The attempt to ground the game in a kind of recognizable reality was what led in part to Final Fantasy XV's infamous Cup Noodles product placement. "They make the world more recognizable, familiar, and real. That's what I tell myself at night," Inoue said to laughter from the audience.
Inoue refrained from touching on Final Fantasy XV's infamously long development, though he did touch on the complications brought by the game's marketing plan, which at one point spoiled the main villain. Mostly, he seemed happy to be done with it, expressing relief that it had been released before the "PlayStation 42."
Then again, there's still the DLC.