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Terra Battle console plans still up in the air

Matt Leone has written about games for three decades, focusing on behind-the-scenes coverage of the industry, including books on Final Fantasy 7 and Street Fighter 2.

Last year, Final Fantasy-creator Hironobu Sakaguchi released a mobile role-playing game called Terra Battle with a unique "Download Starter" campaign designed to mimic Kickstarter without charging players money. The idea was to unlock new features and development collaborators as more and more people downloaded the game, and thus far that idea has proven successful, with the player count getting close to two million and the campaign's final goal in sight.

The end goal of the Download Starter campaign lists "Terra Battle World," which Sakaguchi has referred to as a console MMO version of the game in the past. But speaking to Polygon earlier this week at the Game Developers Conference, Sakaguchi says he's still unsure what form that game will take.

"I'll be open. I have absolutely no plans," says Sakaguchi. "[Initially], we weren't even thinking that two million was going to be in reach. We obviously put that Download Starter campaign milestone together, and it has been our final goal, but we weren't certain that we would hit that number. But we're now approaching that very quickly — we're past 1.7, and hopefully 1.8 within X amount of days. When we land at 2 million, I don't know what were going to do. But I can tell you that if you have any ideas, now is the time to submit them."

Asked if he envisions the console version as a small enough project that Mistwalker can develop it mostly in house with its full time staff of less than 10 people, or if he will need to align with external teams as he has done in the past, Sakaguchi says even that is still up in the air.

"I can't say for sure," he says. "I'm going to have to check with my staff what they think of hiring or putting together a dev team."

Hironobu Sakaguchi

Sakaguchi says he can see two ways the console version of the game could go. On one side, he sees a hypothetical idea where Mistwalker could develop the game for a larger screen. If a player had a 60-inch touch screen in their home, Sakaguchi says he could see Mistwalker increasing the mobile game's resolution and making a console version where players could huddle around that screen together. That, he says, would be a way to develop the game internally since it wouldn't require as many resources on the software side.

"But obviously such a device doesn't exist right now — a 60-inch touch panel that everyone would gather around and play the game — so maybe that's sort of out of the question," he says.

On the other side, Sakaguchi sees the possibility of teaming up with external developers to make a 3D version of the game. "That's obviously going to take a somewhat large scale development team, and time and obviously money," he says. "So that's another scenario that we would have to think about. But as of today, I'm not sure which direction we're going to go with for this console version."

Sakaguchi's plans are firmer in his idea to continue the Download Starter plan currently in place for the mobile game. Asked if he's considered setting up a new campaign for the console version of the game, he says no, but he is looking into continuing the the current mobile campaign.

"I don't want to end the Download Starter campaign just because we hit two million," he says. "So our ideal scenario would be to continue on with the Terra Battle smartphone download campaign, but kind of extend it with ideas and milestones that have a slightly different focus."

He refers to the current Download Starter campaign as "phase one" but isn't yet ready to elaborate on the differences in phase two.

Terra Battle is available now on iOS and Android.