Following nearly a decade of development, Square Enix finally released its open-world RPG Final Fantasy 15 to critical acclaim in late November. Besides its fast-paced combat, bromance, slick convertible and adventuring, fans were particularly enamoured with the visually-stunning game's realistic, mouth-watering dishes prepared by the brains and master chef Ignis.
Over the course of protagonist Prince Noctis and his impeccably coiffed entourage's road trip to save the world, the four lads regularly take breaks to cook and eat meals around a campfire at night or grab a bite at a diner, from croque madame and skewered wild trout to peppery Daggerquill rice and braised beef stew.
In a recent interview with food website Eater, Final Fantasy 15 director Hajime Tabata and art director Tomohiro Hasegawa revealed that the development team didn't just use food photography for inspiration or try out the recipes for the delicious dishes. The meticulous team actually cooked the scrumptious looking dishes using actual camping gear outdoors.
"From early on in the development we strived from a game design that follows a cycle where characters have adventures during the daytime, and at night they camp and eat in order to prepare themselves for the following day," Tabata told Eater.
"Recipes were just one element of the camping scenes, but the catalyst for our obsession was the high quality of the food graphics that the camp team was able to create in the pre-production phase. In Japan we have a term called 'meshi-tero' (a Japanese term similar to 'food porn' in English), but that pretty much summed it up. We have to create truly delicious-looking food scenes similar to those that appear in movies and anime."
Tomohiro Hasegawa, the game's art director, said that while the team did use food photography to develop the beautiful dishes, it is still difficult to make something "look tasty in the game."
"I believe what beats even the best photography is the personal experience," Hasegawa said. To create the dishes seen in the world of Eos, the development team first worked on it in the art department to decide on the dish's ingredients and appearance. Then, another team would actually take it outside to cook the meal on a camp stove.
"Our team members took out their gear and went camping to cook outdoors," Hasegawa said. "You know how even the simplest foods can taste really delicious when you're out camping? We wanted to focus on that same feeling while we created them."
The prepared dishes were then photographed from different angles and scanned to create 3D data for the game's digital artists to work off of and tasted by the team to adjust and perfect the rendered dishes.
"I believe sharing feedback amongst the team members is what leads to the high-quality of the final recipe images," Hasegawa said. "This is not just for the recipes. Within the Final Fantasy 15 game production as a whole we constantly ask ourselves: 'How can we incorporate the team members' real-life experiences into the game itself?'"
IBTimes UK's review said Final Fantasy 15 lacked "crucial focus and depth when it comes to its largely stodgy tale of Oracles and Crystals or its unspectacular combat." However, we did admit "it's easy to give in to breezy charm of the game's luscious open-world and the whimsical antics of its Tumblr-baiting bro-tagonists."
Final Fantasy 15 is available now for PS4 and Xbox One.