Ho tagliato la parte sul remake di Ys4, che tanto non diceva nulla.
Retail orders for Trails of Blue have exceeded your other titles, which means new players are jumping into the Trails series at different points, but the games have so much mythology. How do you get them up to speed?
Trails of Blue has 200,000 retail orders, but even though initial orders were not that high Trails in the Sky [FC] shipped more than that. In terms of opening orders, Trails of Blue will be our biggest opening day shipment. When Trails in the Sky first launched the opening orders were maybe in the tens of thousands, but the game did ship over 200,000. We think it's the same fans that are following the Trails series and who have learned of the quality of the series. We feel like we are catering to those fans and they do know the history of the series.
There are people who would see the artwork or try the series because of good word of mouth and perhaps start from Trails of Zero or play Trails of Blue as their first Trails title. Those same people tend to go back and check out earlier titles like Trails in the Sky [FC] as well. We do feel most of them are familiar with the series and know what it's about.
I think word of mouth is spreading in the West, but we have a lot of catching up to do.
Because the Trails series are such huge games with large amounts of text to translate, although Xseed released the first title it not that easy to release SC and the other games in the series. We would like to continue to work with Xseed and come up with some kind of way to release all of the Trails titles together. Perhaps, Vita would be an option in the future because the PSP market is down right now.
I'm sure you know this, but my readers really want to see SC and Third in the West.
Yes, I know. We'll do our best!
questa credo sia la prima volta che Kondo parla di distribuire tutti e 3 i Trails in the Sky assieme...
The Ys series like The Legend of Heroes have been Falcom's core titles and now Trails feels like it branched off and became its own thing. Falcom used to make quirky games too like Gurumin. Are you going to continue to develop new IP that takes you out of your comfort zone or are you going to focus on the IP that your company is known for internationally?
The way we make games now is different than before when we were primarily developing PC games. We would like to take the knowledge we gained and use our development skills to create a new IP.
How do you balance the risk and reward? On one hand you have a title that will be your biggest launch ever with the Trails series and at the same time new IP is often difficult to launch?
Falcom is a small developer even compared to other companies that make RPGs. In terms of series we make, a lot of the games tend to be a large story split into a couple of different games. For example, Trails in the Sky FC and SC continue in the same story. At first, we had some fans complain that in SC it takes place on the same world map as FC does. But, once they played more of the game they got to see the new areas and content added in SC. They found they enjoyed being familiar with the world from FC, as well. In that sense, it can work out well where we are working on one long term project and splitting it into a couple of releases.
The reason I gave that example is because one Trails game is so large it takes up a lot of our development resources. By comparison, Gurumin or a comparable new IP would have a much smaller development team. Less than half the members of the Trails team. We would test out a new IP that way and if it's successful we would expand the team and the world. Gurumin was made by five or six people.
Western developers tend to have a very big team working on one title. Here, we tend to focus on the creator's main idea and expanding from there with a small team. That's how we probably differ from other developers when it comes to our development philosophy, we're much more focused from the start to the end of a project.
Did you get a chance to use Sony's PhyreEngine as a way to develop new IPs faster?
Yes, we are working with the PhyreEngine. Being able to use that, it seems to be compatible with PlayStation Vita and PSP. Moving forward, we've already created an internal team to specialize working with PhyreEngine.
In the past, all of our projects have used their own original engine. It was not very efficient, but it allowed us to do things maybe we couldn't have done per title if they were sharing the same engine.
Can you elaborate more on what things you could do with an individualized engine over using a common engine?
Once we moved to PSP a lot of the releases share a common engine. Our PC games we made earlier had different engines. The difference between the Ys engine and The Legend of Heroes engine is the Ys engine is centered around action. We had to program it with good collision detection and other elements for action oriented gameplay. Whereas The Legend of Heroes series, those games are focused more on event scenes and telling a story. The engine we created would let us put in small details, controlling the characters as they explore the world, and having the event scenes to move the story forward. That's where different engines helped out.
At Falcom, our programmers tend to want to work with their own stuff. They don't like working on middleware, which was developed other places. Moving forward, technology is getting to the point where we do need programs like the PhyreEngine to control 3D data and libraries. For graphic formats, if the libraries are off that could create problems. We have to get everyone here on board working with the same engine.
Falcom has grown a lot from the PC days and now you're more of a console focused developer. When you look at Japan, what do you think is the greatest change in the market?
Twenty years ago, Falcom was only work on the PC platform and PC-Engine (TurboGrafx-16). The biggest difference now would be working on the consumer oriented platforms to release our titles.
Before we would license those out to Hudson or NEC to bring a PC game to a console. Now we can work on consoles directly and together with Xseed we have been able to work directly on bringing the console games outside of Japan.
Twenty years ago, games were very simple. One game could be played by pretty much anyone in the world. Games now have gotten so complicated you have to be aware of the differences in each territory in terms of gamer's preferences and cultural issues since there is more text and story in games these days. In addition, the install base for consoles is different depending on what territory you're in too. That's another way gamers are segregated. That's probably the biggest difference. Before you had one pool of gamers you could sell one single game too. Now, each territory has their own cultural influences and system preferences.
And now, that you're starting to have a growing presence in the West how are you going to handle all of these different groups?
When it comes to the style of our games, I'm often asked what are you going to do about selling your games in America or appealing to Europe. Other Japanese publishers have been saying they've been trying to keep the American and European markets in mind when creating new games to try and build a worldwide appeal. Ideally, that would be nice to have a style or an initial concept that matches American or European tastes. However, all of our experiences are based in Japan, so that is hard for us to do. Even if we made a game trying to cater to what we think are American tastes we don't think the game will turn out very well because we are not America.
The best we can do is make the games we know we can make and we know the users like such as The Legends of Heroes series. From there try to expand that by partnering with an overseas publisher like Xseed and finding like minded people. Ghostlight will release The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky in Europe. That is a game where we didn't look to European tastes or American tastes, but hopefully there will be a group of Europeans who will appreciate it for what it is. With the small number of programmers we have here, it would be difficult to make a game for say Xbox. We are going to concentrate on what we feel are our core strengths and get gamers around us, sort of starting off as a small snowball and rolling to make it bigger and bigger.
Before you mentioned licensing your titles to NEC. Do you think one day you would license out your IP to a Western developer, perhaps to Xseed who can make a Western oriented title?
[Laughs.] If Xseed is willing to do that it would be interesting. I'd like to see how that would turnout. Perhaps, it's something we can discuss together.
Acquire's Twitter feed said you met with the company's president and Nippon Ichi, so what can you tell us about your meeting?
I don't think he was tweeting about any firm details. It was about Nippon Ichi, Acquire, and Falcom who have strong PlayStation presence. It was him gathering us to say it would be nice if we could work together in the future given our ties to the PlayStation brand.
Thanks to that tweet from the Acquire president, the chance of a Falcom character making it into a Nippon Ichi game increased greatly.
Falcom has committed to supporting handhelds like PSP and soon PlayStation Vita. However, in the West because public transportation isn't as well developed we drive and play games on the couch at home on big screen TVs. Are you concerned that supporting handhelds while they are popular in Japan may make it difficult for you to expand in the West?
The easiest would be to release games for PS3 and 360 so American gamers can play it on their big screens. The Vita is pretty close to HD screen quality. Especially, with Sony's PhyreEngine where games can be developed for Vita and PlayStation 3 we are hopeful we can develop games for Vita and PS3 together or have Vita games running on HD screens. We're still looking through the engine and all the possibilities.
Even in Japan, we hear from fans they would like to see games such as The Legend of the Heroes on the big screen.