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NISA Europe Interviews Toshihiro Kondo (Part 2/2)

Posted on September 15, 2017 by NISA EUROPE

Question 8
Prinny(A):
We noticed that there is a lot less Action RPG’s coming out of Japan and more Turn-based RPG’s coming out, why do you think that is?

Toshihiro Kondo:
Yeah, I can definitely see that, and that’s a shame, but it has to do with user trends. It’s this idea that you can’t make something too difficult for users out there, maybe there are users out there who aren’t very good at Action RPGs, and this is a shame because ARPG have a strong history and pedigree in Japan, obviously Ys was a PC game and the trend at that time was for games to be super difficult, and the harder they were to clear, the better the user reaction was, so Ys roots are kind of in that. So that the situation adjusts to user needs and requirements.

Prinny(B):
That’s an interesting answer, because with the new “Inferno mode” how did Japanese players feel towards that?

*Toshihiro Kondo Laughs*

Toshihiro Kondo:
There are users out there who really want that, especially in the Ys series, when you have a series as old as Ys, that’s been around for 30 years, the old games are really hard. Looking at Ys VIII the game is probably one of the easier ones, but because you have fans who have maybe been here for maybe 30 years at this point, there are those fans that really want that difficulty, and really want that challenge to play on these really hard difficulties. Overall it’s been really well received by those people who do look for more of a challenge in their games.


On the other hand, even though the games were difficult if you think about it, even Ys 1 and Ys 2 the system itself was very simple you “bump”, you just had to find the right angle to bump the enemy. This is a characteristic of Ys, it’s easy to pick up but difficult to master, which has an interesting learning curve and this is something that we’d like to continue to do in the future of Ys as well. Make it easy for people to pick up and play and learn, but then have a little more difficulty for others.


Since everything is so easy these days it’s a chance for players to have cool and more difficult games. The game is also not like anything else, even Zelda, both are Action RPG’s but both play very very differently, and we feel like we have our own thing going.

Prinny(A):
When we were considering this question, we thought that maybe it had something to do with turn-based games you don’t have to program AI as much, you just have to program their reactions, whereas in open world games the AI is moving around and doing their own thing, it may have been that or maybe in Japan people like to play more handhelds and it’s easier to turn off and on again and pick up and play if it’s turn-based rather than if it was an open world game, so I wasn’t sure if that was a factor or not.

Toshihiro Kondo:
Interesting.

*He laughs*

Prinny(A):
Were you making the game specifically for Japanese fans or of the global community?

Toshihiro Kondo:
Honestly, when you look at the sales numbers, there isn’t a big difference between Japan and outside of Japan, actually, it’s at the point now where if you look at the sales in Asia and the sales in the west they are actually higher than they are in Japan. Meaning that we have to think about our global fans rather than just Japan.

*He laughs*



Question 9
Prinny(A):
Following up from that last question, do you think there is still room to grow for Action RPG’s coming from Japan?

Toshihiro Kondo:
Yes! For sure! There are lots of ideas that we still want to implement into further games, so it’s only going to evolve from here.


Prinny(A):
That is exciting Action RPG’s are probably my favourite type of games, so personally, that’s very good to hear.



Question 10
Prinny(A):
In another interview you said that you wanted your game’s gameplay to be as addictive as popping bubble-wrap, how did you find this formula?

*Everyone laughs*

Toshihiro Kondo:
Actually, it’s not something I came up with it was actually the founder Mr. Masayuki Kato that came up with this. If you play Ys 1, that combat system is really smooth, quick and fun, it really does feel good and something you keep on doing, so that’s probably where the founder came up with that. So with that system being so fun and that feeling that you get by popping bubble-wrap are similar, so that’s where that may have come from.
Obviously we moved on from the “bump” system and now Adol swings a sword or uses magic, but that core feeling of speed and dispatching enemies really quickly is still there, and so that’s something that we still keep in mind as we make Ys as that’s part of what makes Ys what it is. The other thing too is that the stories of each game are kind of sad, or more accurately poignant and so when players beat the game they kind of have that feeling of “Ohhhhh”.

Prinny(B):
Yeah! I’ve been there!

Toshihiro Kondo:
But then there is that feeling a while later, you want to experience that again, so yes the addictiveness of the combat is one side and the other side is poignant and a touch of sadness of the story, those two things come together to create the series.

Prinny(B):
So I feel that in Ys Seven, the second to last boss, without spoiling it, when you get that reveal, you're like “wow”.

Toshihiro Kondo:
Another thing Mr. Kato told us is that you have black and white movies, you’ve got from when they move from the so called “Talkies”, but a great movie is a great movie, and it doesn’t matter how much time has passed, and we’ve obviously moved on to colour and all these crazy things you can do now in movies, Mr. Kato told me, “keep that in mind when you create games,” this idea that a great whatever is always going to be great.

Prinny(B):
Timeless?

Toshihiro Kondo:
Yes! Timeless!

Prinny(A):
Good phrase.

*Everyone laughs*



Question 11
Prinny(A):
Have there been any parts of your games that you’ve removed kind of like a deleted scene from a film?

Toshihiro Kondo:
A lot!

*He laughs*

Toshihiro Kondo:
Although recently that has actually gotten a lot less. There is also the other side of the coin as well, in that even though there was something that was never planned to be in the game, someone will come up with something and we are all like, “you know what, we have to find a way to put this in”.

Prinny(A):
I know from a film perspective when fans find deleted scenes that absolutely love it, as there is extra content that they can enjoy from something they like so much, so is there anything that you can share or are allowed to share with something like this?

Toshihiro Kondo:
Yeah, but for us, we don’t really delete scenes because they don’t fit with the game it’s more because we don’t have time.

Prinny(A):
Oh, I see!

Toshihiro Kondo:
It’s more, “Well that wasn’t able to get implemented.” A good example in Trails in the Sky, when we were making it, it took us 3 years and we’d only made half of the game. So we were told by our bosses, “we don’t care how much is finished as long as it goes out!”

*Everyone laughs*

Toshihiro Kondo:
So one thing about that, we first didn’t like the idea of releasing a half completed game, so we thought about movies and how do you end a movie in a way that you want people to go see the next one.

Prinny(A):
Cliff-hangers?

Toshihiro Kondo:
You probably know that in the games industry sequels to a game don’t usually do as well as the first game in the series, and so we thought really carefully about how can we end this in a way that players would really want the next one, so that’s how we came up with the ending to Trails in the Sky.


We really don’t like the idea of cutting something and just leaving it out, we want to find a way to use it no matter what, so this is what we try to do.

Prinny(A):
So you’re saying that you’ll never leave anything out and always find a way to put all the content you thought about into the series somewhere?

Toshihiro Kondo:
Yes, that’s right! For example, there was one part where I really wanted Estelle to go back to her home, but there was no way to do it, so we thought that we couldn’t do it in 1 so we’ll do it in 2, so at the beginning, she does that.

Prinny(A):
Oh, amazing, so it always finds a way in. That’s really nice to know.
Toshihiro Kondo:
So in a way we don’t “fail” to put something in, we make it so that it just “failed” to get into this one.

Prinny(A):
So at least for fans, they will know that they will always have all the content… eventually.

Toshihiro Kondo:
Yes!

*He laughs*

Toshihiro Kondo:
To use a food analogy, we don’t have leftovers, we find a way to use everything.

*Everyone laughs*



Question 12
Prinny(A):
So we heard that when you were younger your dream was to open up your own arcade, would you still like to do this?

*He laughs*

Toshihiro Kondo:
Probably when I was in the first or second year of elementary school, there wasn’t really home consoles back then so if you wanted to play games you had to go to the arcade. The reason I wanted to own an arcade was so that I could play all the time and whenever I wanted, and that’s kind of no longer necessary, now I can play at home as much as I want.

*He laughs*



Question 13
Prinny(A):
Well to follow up on that question, if you ever did want to, London is very short on arcades, maybe you could open one here.

*He laughs*

Question 14
Prinny(A):
Before you started working at Falcom you used to run a Falcom fan site, how do you still keep in touch with the fans?

Toshihiro Kondo:
So Falcom at the very beginning it was really a lot of direct communication with the fans, but there was a long period before I became president where there wasn’t a lot of that, so the things that I’ve done to get that communication again is first to revive the live performances of the JDK band and the second is that I make every effort to get out more to do public talks in Japan and lots of fan events, I’ve made an active effort to make sure to participate in these events and to see the fans of our games.

Prinny(A):
So to go back to your roots?

Toshihiro Kondo:
Yes, exactly! To have this communication with the fans, so much so that I get in trouble in the office, people say to me, “you’re going out a little too much!”

*Everyone laughs*



Question 15
Prinny(A):
If someone came up to you and asked you to tell them about Ys VIII, what would you tell them to encourage them to play the game?

Toshihiro Kondo:
That’s a difficult question, but this goes back to my earlier answer about what makes Ys, so I’d focus on telling them about the combat and what makes it so fun. Getting into the combat so much that you are in the zone, that will naturally make people want to continue playing if all you are doing is playing to get to the next story trigger, how interesting is that really? But with Ys, because the combat is so much fun and you naturally want to progress and play and see more.


So what I told the team at the beginning is, “don’t rely on the story for anything, imagine you’re making a game where all there is, is combat and the whole thing is one combat location to another, think about it like that, and make it so that a player will enjoy even if there is no story there at all, and that they would still want to play from the beginning to the end.”


If we are able to create a game where it follows the same sequence, Adol washes up on shore, he does some exploration, he meets some party members and they keep going till they reach the end, but imagine if there is no dialogue or anything and still making it fun, so if we focus on that we’ll definitely have a game that people want to play.

Prinny(A):
I guess this refers back to the founder, Mr. Masayuki Kato, saying that he wants the games to be as addictive as popping bubble-wrap, and that’s the main focus.

Toshihiro Kondo:
Yes, exactly! The ideal thing would be to create a game where it’s just as fun to play on a Nintendo 8-bit system as it is to play on a modern one. If we follow that principle and made Ys VIII on an old Nintendo system it would be just as fun.

Prinny(A):
So it’s very accurate to say that gameplay comes first above all else?

Toshihiro Kondo:
Oh yes!

 


Question 16
Prinny(A):
Is there anything you’d like to say to the NISA Europe fans?

Toshihiro Kondo:
Some of the fans out there may have never played any Ys games before or even heard of a Ys game before, but I’d like them all to give it a try. Usually, in a series, the first ones in the series are looked up to as the classics, but we thought about this when making the game, and we wanted to make something that was unlike anything before, something that was the best in the series. So from that angle, it’s the best, you can start here and you’ll be really satisfied from the volume.


It’s got the biggest volume of any Ys game. Usually speaking, Ys games can be cleared in about 20 hours, this one will take you at least 40 hours to do. Even in Japan the series has a 30 year history and you have players who have been playing the series since the beginning and they loved it, you had people who had never heard of Falcom and this was the first game they played and they loved it too, so this is a really positive sign that this is a good game.


We did everything we could to make this game the best that it could be, and it’s a great place to start for Ys and a great way to learn about the history of this really long running series, so please, even if ARPGs aren’t your thing, give this one a try.

Prinny(A):
Thank you very much for your time and for answering our questions.

Toshihiro Kondo:
Thank you.

End of Part 2/2
Translation by:  Alan Costa
If you missed Part 1/2 of this interview don't you worry, this Prinny has got you covered below, dood! 

Click Here For Part 1/2

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