Development for Final Fantasy XII began in 2001. Final Fantasy Tactics creator Yasumi Matsuno, originally announced as producer and director, was forced to bow out of both roles midway through the creation of Final Fantasy XII due to health concerns. In his place, Hiroyuki Itō and Hiroshi Minagawa took over directorial duties while Akitoshi Kawazu, of SaGa series fame, became the executive producer with Square Enix president Yōichi Wada. Matsuno’s departure was regretted by series creator Hironobu Sakaguchi, who declined to play Final Fantasy XII beyond the introduction.
Basch was initially meant to be the main character of the story, but the focus was eventually shifted to Vaan and Penelo when the two characters were created later in development. The development team explained that their previous game, Vagrant Story, which featured a “strong man in his prime” as the protagonist had been unsuccessful and unpopular; the change regarding Final Fantasy XII from a “big and tough” protagonist to a more effeminate one was thus decided after targeting demographics were considered. With the casting of dorama actor Kouhei Takeda for the voice acting and motion capture, Vaan nevertheless became a little less feminine and more “active, upbeat bright and positive” than planned.
At the early stages of development, Minagawa revealed that numerous ideas and features were planned for the game, but were dropped from the final stages due to certain constraints and hardware limitations. Some of these included the ability for a second player to join in the gameplay, enabling for a two-player mode. Another idea that was given a considerable amount of thought was the ability to recruit non-player characters to join in the mob hunts. Due to the physical limitations of the console and multiple number of characters joining the fray, the development phase took longer than expected, causing delays. [Info from Wikipedia]
In these images, we can see a different design for Bash and some old screen of the gameplay, with what it looks like a different HUD and maybe some more differences (can you see any?). If you find more beta screens, send us an email!
[Thanks to D-vide for some of these images!]