Rinoa was designed by Tetsuya Nomura, who also overlooked her CG game and movie model creation. As a textbook blood type AB, he's often found working (and smoking) rather than playing games or being social. A strange habit of his since working at Squaresoft is collecting silver accessories. He wears so many that when he walks he jingles like a cat's bell.
At the time of Final Fantasy X's release, his favorite characters included Tidus, Jecht, Kaldea Orchid, Dauragon C. Mikado and Red 13. He also enjoyed watching MTV, fashion show footage and reading manga. His favorite artist was Atsushi Kamijo and favorite manga was 20 Seki Shounen. Despite all these interests, his workaholic nature leaves him in front of computers most of the time.
Name: 野村 哲也
Birthdate: October 8, 1970
Birthplace: Kochi Prefecture
Fave Colours: black & silver
Fave Food: coke, fried shrimp
TV Hobby: PRIDE & K-1
Nomura left Kochi for Tokyo when he was 18, joining a vocational school to study Advertisement Design. At the age of 20, he happened to come across a 'help wanted' ad for Squaresoft, with pictures of Yoshitaka Amano's art. He remembered the art since his days in High School and applied for the job, despite having no idea about Final Fantasy games.
After Hironobu Sakaguchi had seen his drawings during an interview, he joined Squaresoft in April 16, 1991. He first worked on Final Fantasy IV debugging. Later, he worked on the Final Fantasy V battle graphics (such as monster designs and Gilgamesh) and some Final Fantasy VI battle graphics (such as Shadow and Setzer).
For Final Fantasy VII, he was given a leading role as Character Designer and much of his input went into the major story concepts. As soon as the FF7 works were over, he began designing the main characters of Final Fantasy VIII. With FF8 he became more involved with storyboards and not just the battle sequences, making him a main staff member.
"Final Fantasy is a work that cannot be made alone."
–Nomura, after FF7 was released
The Squaresoft team was smaller at the time so it benefited from constant internal communication between scenario, music, graphics and quality assurance. It was not unusual for the script of a game to be modified because of input from a completely different department.
Nomura was in Los Angeles after FF7 was released. While exchanging emails with Scenario Director Yoshinori Kitase, the idea of starting a 'school-days' story came up. They agreed that a lighter story would be nice for once. The first design for FF8 was Squall. Nomura and Kitase thought of what kind of world would have this kind of character and they worked from there.
The first design for Squall had long hair and seemed like a music artist, he looked very effeminate. Kitase didn't like this so it was changed. Kitase also admits to having changed the script so that Rinoa was in the foreground more after seeing some black and white sketches of her. This is why Rinoa has the most screen time in the FMVs.
Kitase then wrote the story for FF8. After reading it, Nomura and others drew storyboards for scenes. For FMVs, these storyboards are sent to an animation studio for motion capturing. There, actors mime certain scenes of the scenario with sensors on. At the same time, the studio films their facial expressions. These expressions are later used to make the facial motions more realistic.
In a short interview about his design for Rinoa and Squall, Nomura explained that he wanted to make Squall reserved until someone told him Squall's design resembled Cloud from FF7 too much. He then did many changes to differentiate the characters. He and Kitase decided that Squall would be calm in the beginning but if something interested him, he'd speak a lot. They added many nuances to their character personalities, rather than detailing biographical backgrounds. Since the personality of Squall was the opposite of Rinoa's, this went into their designs and their speech habits.
It was easy for Nomura to draw a beautiful young adult character with the level of technology but Rinoa was hard for him to draw. He did not want her to be too beautiful, because the only impression a player would have is "how beautiful". Nomura's intention was to make a character that was cute looking and unforgettable because of her personality. Only a girl with the kind of personality he had in mind would succeed in making someone like Squall change.
Nomura came up with Rinoa's personality from "inside his head" rather than any outside inspiration. He created a short list that contained Rinoa's unique vocabulary and unusual habits and handed it to Scenario Director Kazushige Nojima. Rinoa was meant to capture Squall's heart without relying on features that would make her beautiful in the classic sense. Furthermore, it worked. Rinoa was unforgettable despite being neither voluptuous nor striking. Nobody noticed that she had stubby eyelashes, small lips and a goofy but sincere smile when compared to the other characters. Everyone remembered the character design as a whole rather than as a beauty.
FF8 was the first game in the series to depart from using super-deformed characters. For FF7, Nomura drew in a manga style that wasn't his "true" style. He believed that after Parasite Eve, the Squaresoft fans would be ready for his real style. With real sized (8 head proportioned) characters, the advancements in using CG, and the team becoming used to using the new technologies, the limits of having super-deformed characters show human emotions and feelings became apparent.
In the Other Side of the FF DVD that came with FF10, a short junket with several Squaresoft staff was included. Of particular note, Kitase spoke of how voices could have added a realistic dimension to several of FF8's scenes. He always wanted to implement voices since FF7 but they never had time to record it all, much less decide what would be voiced.
One scene that Kitase believes needed voices was the ending of FF8. Rinoa is about to cry and whispers Squall's name while he's in a pinch. She wraps her arms around him and shouts his name again. The scene pulls at your heartstrings. Even with the emotion in her face, there was a dilemma of her not having a voice. Only in FF10 were voices finally able to be used in a way that realized their ideas.