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An inside look at the creation and fallout of an industry defining role-playing game, as told by those who were there.
An inside look at the creation and fallout of an industry defining role-playing game, as told by those who were there.
1,871 backers pledged £72,881 to help bring this project to life.

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500 Years Later offers a thrilling deep dive into the creation of the revered PlayStation RPG. Comprising over 30 interwoven voices, this beautifully produced book will offer unprecedented insight into the craft and ambition behind the game.

Final Fantasy VII was one of the most groundbreaking videogames of the ’90s. Costing over $40 million to create, the project was a significant gamble for Japanese videogame developer Square. The game went on to sell more than 11 million copies and stands as the one of the best-selling PlayStation titles, celebrated for its progressive visuals, involving story and grand scale.

500 Years Later: The Book
500 Years Later: The Book

500 Years Later is an extended and enhanced print adaptation of Matt Leone’s celebrated 27,000 word history, published online by Polygon in January this year. This physical version has been extended and enhanced for print, featuring specially commissioned illustrations8 new standalone interviews, and a foreword by series creator Hironobu Sakaguchi.

A collaboration between Read-Only Memory and Polygon, 500 Years Later will be an exceptional book object, comprising a variety of high-end papers, special inks and high-end production techniques.

Designed by Rachel Dalton, each copy of the book comes bundled with a trio of stunning heavyweight bookmarks to aid and enhance the reading experience:

  • Die cut codebreaker bookmark, used to decipher a secret 'Easter Egg' code found throughout the book
  • Contents bookmark, providing an at-a-glance overview of the book's structure
  • Tokyo street map bookmark, rendered in white ink and with the location of Square's Arco Tower HQ stamped with holofoil

‘I don’t think I’ve felt that kind of excitement ever since. It wasn’t just the fact that Square had the resources to get all the people and the hardware and the technology together, but even before seeing anything run, it was as if we knew we were going to be making history.’ Hiroshi Kawai

 

The author on 500 Years Later

A lot of people have asked why I spent two years writing about Final Fantasy VII, given my short attention span.

My answer now is: ‘Let’s make it three.’

That’s the draw of Final Fantasy VII. Many wouldn’t consider it Square’s best game, and it doesn’t hold up perfectly today. But in 1997, it was everything. Beautiful. Innovative. Important. Playing it felt like you were playing something that hadn’t existed before. And for Square as a company, it marked a clear turning point.

I started thinking about that in late 2014. Final Fantasy VII was well-covered territory by that point, but I realised that while we’d all heard the story of its development, it usually came from the same handful of people — producer Hironobu Sakaguchi, director Yoshinori Kitase and a few others. It seemed like there was an opportunity to show how everyone else there saw it.

So I spent a couple years working on that, tracking down people, meeting many in person, retranslating interviews, editing everything together, and putting together a story we ran on Polygon in January.

It’s probably the longest I’ve ever spent on a single project.

I was kind of ready to be done with it.

Then right around the time we set the story live, my boss messaged me, asking if I wanted to try to expand it and turn it into a book. And, well, it can be hard to deny something you love, so here we are.

Matt Leone, November 2017
Features editor, Polygon

‘Square was a bet-the-company kind of company. It was a big risk to put Final Fantasy VII on the PlayStation. Nobody had confidence in PlayStation. Nobody knew whether it would work, and most people thought that it wouldn’t. And the early pictures that came out, when it looked like a toilet bowl, confirmed everybody’s suspicions.’ Keith Boesky

Read-Only Memory x Polygon

I was thrilled to read Matt Leone’s An Oral History of Final Fantasy VII piece when it was published earlier this year, so when he emailed us a week later, wondering if Read-Only Memory would consider publishing a ‘director’s cut’ print edition, my answer was an immediate and enthusiastic ‘Yes!’

Polygon’s reputation for long-form writing on videogames is well established, so we’re honoured at the chance to create a printed version of their most significant publication. To do it justice, we’ve pulled out all the stops to make this as ‘physical’ a book as possible, with neon ink, beautiful papers and even a die cut, codebreaking bookmark.

I’m hopeful we’ll be to create the definitive version of Matt’s Final Fantasy VII history, wrapped up in a truly gorgeous piece of print.

Darren Wall, November 2017
Editor-in-chief, Read-Only Memory

Contents

Spanning five sections, the core narrative of 500 Years Later features key players speaking candidly and at length on the high stakes pressures, cutting edge tech and human dramas that surrounded the creation of Final Fantasy VII. The full lineup comprises:

  • Shigeo Maruyama, Deputy president, Sony Computer Entertainment (BOOK EXCLUSIVE)
  • Hironobu Sakaguchi, Producer and executive vice president, Square Japan; Chairman and chief executive officer, Square USA
  • Motonori Sakakibara, Movie director, Square
  • Tomoyuki Takechi, President and chief executive officer, Square
  • Tatsuya Yoshinari, Programmer, Square Japan
  • Kyoko Higo, Assistant marketing associate, Square U.S.
  • Yoshihiro Maruyama, Executive vice president, Square U.S.
  • Hiroshi Kawai, Character programmer, Square Japan
  • Yoshinori Kitase, Director, Square Japan
  • Tetsuya Nomura, Character and battle visual director, Square Japan
  • Kazuyuki Hashimoto, CG supervisor, Square Japan; Chief technical officer and senior vice president, Square USA
  • Keith Boesky, President, Eidos (1997-1999)
  • Yoshitaka Amano, Image illustrator, freelance
  • Shinichiro Kajitani, Vice president, Square USA
  • Darren Smith, Project manager/manager, Nintendo of America (1993-2000)
  • Junichi Yanagihara, Executive vice president, Square USA
  • Shuhei Yoshida, Square account manager, Sony Computer Entertainment
  • Jun Iwasaki, Vice president of marketing, Square U.S.
  • George Harrison, Senior vice president, marketing and communications, Nintendo of America (1992-2007)
  • Hiroki Chiba, Event planner, Square Japan
  • Frank Hom, Associate producer, Eidos (1995-2001)
  • Nobuo Uematsu, Music composer, Square Japan
  • Alexander O. Smith, Localization specialist, Square U.S. and Japan (1998-2002)
  • Kazushige Nojima, Scenario writer, Square Japan
  • Seth Luisi, Associate producer, Sony Computer Entertainment America
  • David Bamberger, Senior product manager, Sony Computer Entertainment America
  • Elaine Di lorio, Manager of business development, Square U.S.
  • William Chen, Lead programmer, Square U.S. (1997-2000)
  • Rex Ishibashi, Vice president of business development, Electronic Arts (1997-2001)
  • John Riccitiello, President and chief operating officer, Electronic Arts (1998-2004)
  • Yoichi Wada, President and chief executive officer, Square/Square Enix (2001-2013)
  • Yusuke Naora, Art director, Square Japan
One of several specially commissioned illustrations included in the book, created by sparrows
One of several specially commissioned illustrations included in the book, created by sparrows

Specification

  • Hardcover
  • 200+ pages
  • Includes 3 x custom bookmarks
  • 151mm x 209mm
  • Premium art stock
  • Special neon ink throughout

‘When we made the decision to go with Sony, for about 10 years we basically weren’t allowed into Nintendo’s offices. From a consumer’s point of view, it was good to have two companies competing with each other because prices wouldn’t rise and it would be better for them. But from a business perspective, our main interest was making sure that Sony won and Nintendo lost.’ Shinichiro Kajitani

Special Edition

We are also excited to offer a stunning special box set edition of 500 Years Later, housed in a custom clamshell case with a magnetic closure mechanism. This high spec print object will feature a dense black typographic design, holofoil detailing, and includes a set of illustrated postcards and a folding poster by project illustrator sparrows.

Each special edition will be hand numbered and shipped to you via courier. 

 

500 Years Later: Special Box Set Edition
500 Years Later: Special Box Set Edition

Original illustrations

Commissioned especially for this edition are illustrations by Kyoto-based digital artist sparrows. The book jacket features a cinematic, full colour illustration of the team at work in the Arco Tower, while the interior of the book sees pivotal moments and interviewee portraits rendered in a manga-esque monochrome style.

Cover artwork by sparrows, featuring the Final Fantasy VII team at work in Square's Arco Tower HQ
Cover artwork by sparrows, featuring the Final Fantasy VII team at work in Square's Arco Tower HQ

 

Portrait of Nobuo Uematsu by sparrows
Portrait of Nobuo Uematsu by sparrows

Design

Rachel Dalton is a book designer practicing in London, previously a designer at Unit Editions and Spin studio. Rachel has worked with content ranging from design history, tattoo culture, to art and architecture.

 

 

Draft illustrations for 500 Years Later by illustrator sparrows
Draft illustrations for 500 Years Later by illustrator sparrows

Read-Only Memory

Founded in 2012 by Darren Wall, Read-Only Memory has established itself as the leading voice in videogame history publishing. Our books recognise the pioneers, milestones and titles that have shaped the industry.

With each book we look to innovate and delight, utilising cutting edge production techniques and embracing innovative approaches to design.

*All designs shown are not final and are subject to change*

Publisher’s note

500 Years Later is an enhanced and expanded print edition of an article published online in January 2017 by Polygon/Vox Media. The publication contains no intellectual property or licensed material related to Final Fantasy VII or the Final Fantasy franchise and is not licensed or endorsed by Square Enix Holdings Co., Ltd.

Risks and challenges

The biggest challenge we face in creating 500 Years Later will be ensuring the quality of the varied components that make up each reward. More so than any of our publications, we'll utilising a large variety of printing techniques: litho print, foiling, die cutting and hand finishing.

We’re working with a printer who exclusively focus on high-end and limited run publications, and we’ll be prototyping each component throughly before starting production. Should we experience any issues, we will immediately communicate them via our Kickstarter updates.

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    The Book: EARLY BIRD

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    The Book

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    Special Box Set Edition: EARLY BIRD

    A special boxed edition, housed in a handmade, clamshell box with magnetic closure mechanism. Includes an exclusive postcard set and folded poster by sparrows. Limited to 250 copies only

    Each special edition will be hand numbered and shipped to you by a tracked courier service

    Includes your name listed in the book as a benefactor

    Includes:
    • Special edition of 500 Years Later: An Oral History of FFVII
    • Codebreaker/contents/map bookmark set
    • Postcard set by sparrows
    • Folded poster by sparrows
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  4. Reward no longer available

    Pledge £60 or more About $79

    Special Box Set Edition

    A special boxed edition, housed in a handmade, clamshell box with magnetic closure mechanism. Includes an exclusive postcard set and folded poster by sparrows. Limited to 250 copies only

    Each special edition will be hand numbered and shipped to you by a tracked courier service

    Includes your name listed in the book as a benefactor

    Includes:
    • Special edition of 500 Years Later: An Oral History of FFVII
    • Codebreaker/contents/map bookmark set
    • Postcard set by sparrows
    • Folded poster by sparrows
    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Reward no longer available 240 backers
    £
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    Pledge £60 or more About $79

    Special Box Set Edition: EXTENDED RUN

    A special boxed edition, housed in a handmade, clamshell box with magnetic closure mechanism. Includes an exclusive postcard set and folded poster by sparrows.

    250 new editions added due to popular demand!

    Each special edition will be hand numbered and shipped to you by a tracked courier service

    Includes your name listed in the book as a benefactor

    Includes:
    • Special edition of 500 Years Later: An Oral History of FFVII
    • Codebreaker/contents/map bookmark set
    • Postcard set by sparrows
    • Folded poster by sparrows
    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 249 backers
    £
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

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Funding period

- (30 days)