The Ultimania magazine released earlier contains a long interview with director Motomu Toriyama and producer Yoshinori Kitase. They explain why the game is linear for the most part and thanks to Newhypes from ff-xiii.net we have a translation:
(At the end of the first paragraph you will have to select the word if you want to view it. This will be my way of marking spoilers in the future.)
Toriyama: We made the map and battles function as parts of the story, so that players get the same feeling as the characters. To achieve this, we wanted the story to progress nonstop, until chapter 11.
– FF13 has fewer towns compared to previous FF games, is this related to the nonstop story?
Toriyama: Yes, it is one of the reasons, but more importantly, it is a result of considering HD graphics will be the mainstream. Considering the amount of works to make graphics that deserve HD, it is hard to make towns in the conventional style. In the limited period of development time, to convey the the great story that deserves the name of FF and to convey the battles that entertain players enough, we condensed each element.
Kitase: this thing is related to whether FF7 remake will happen or not. It is very hard to make games on PS3 in the same style as the games in that era had. Making graphics will take enormous time.
Toriyama: this time we put together each element, and made them function fully.
– Why no MP this time?
Tsuchida: this time the abilities are made on the assumption that players use them based on the situation. For example, Firaga is not always better than Fire. Which is better is based on the situation. But if there is MP system, even in a situation where Firaga is better, it might not be used because of the shortage of MP, or to save MP, players might not use it. To avoid this, only ATB take costs so that players make full use of strategy.
Concept of the story
Toriyama: we made FF13 to show “what is FF”. the concept of the hopeless situation in the game came from the actual situation of the society in the real world.
We want people to find hopes in the hard situation and make miracle happen as Lightning and heroes will do.
– As the first FF title on PS3, you had the storong ambition to introduce something new, right?
Toriyama: Of course. But FF games have always done new things, so not as a first title on PS3, but as a numbering FF game, we took over the spirit. This time, we decided in the first that the concept of FF13 is “the future form of RPG” We imagined how RPG will be in the next 10 years and we designed FF13 that will become the pioneer of the future form of RPG.