RPGamer Feature - XSEED Games Spring 2012 Interview

Ys: The Oath in Felghana

Ys Origin

Unchained Blades

Ys Celceta: Sea of Trees
(Not announced)

Discuss on Message Board

Today, we take some time to chat with Ken Berry, Director of Publishing for XSEED Games, about the company's recent Steam announcement (Ys: The Oath in Felghana, Ys Origin), newly announced game Unchained Blades, and what we have to look forward to in the future.

Michael A. Cunningham (RPGamer, Editor-in-Chief): Greetings and thank you for taking the time to chat with us.

Falcom's PC output has clearly shifted more to the PSP in the past few years, so how were you able to convince them to go back and release these games on Steam?
Ken Berry (XSEED Games, Director of Publishing): It's never been about convincing Falcom to release their great catalog of PC titles on Steam as they have always been well aware of the potential benefits. The problem has always been their lack of internal resources to handle the localization programming since they are a small development house and always busy working on new projects. It finally came down to us offering to handle all aspects of localization, including the programming, so that it would require only minimal involvement by Falcom.

MAC: How has PC localization been different than working on consoles? What challenges have arisen?
KB: Not only is this the first time we've ever worked on a PC release, but it's also the first time we've overseen the localization programming ourselves, so that's been very different from what we're used to and a huge challenge. Luckily, we found a great programmer with previous Steam experience to handle the programming, and our internal team is having on-the-job training converting in-game graphic files to English for the first time.

MAC: What made Ys: The Oath in Felghana and Ys Origin the ideal titles to release first?
KB: To be honest, we assumed Ys: The Oath in Felghana would be the easiest since we already had all the edited English text from the PSP release, so that's why we decided to do that one first. It doesn't have all the enhancements of the PSP version such as the voice-overs since it's based on PC code from years ago, but it has other benefits to offset it such as high resolution for a PC screen and Steamworks support. The thinking was that after we get our feet wet with an "easy" title, Ys Origin would be the obvious next choice since it's the only Ys game on PC that's never had an official English release.

MAC: If this takes off successfully, where might you aim next? Might we see more of the Legend of Heroes series on Steam? You're not going to talk Falcom into going back to PC development, are you?
KB: If this takes off and we feel confident about taking on larger projects where we oversee the localization programming, then The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky would be the next logical step as we already have the English script from the PSP release, just like we did with Ys: The Oath in Felghana. If things work out as we hope they will, perhaps Steam will become the ideal platform on which to try to continue the Trails in the Sky series.

As for luring Falcom back to PC development, that is something that they will have to decide on their own based on the sales numbers, but my personal guess is that they would love to come back to PC development if they see a viable market for it.

MAC: Is Ys Origin going to implement Steamworks features just like Felghana does?
KB: Yes. Ys: The Oath in Felghana implements Steam Achievements, Steam Cloud and leaderboards, and we hope to be able to do the same with Ys Origin as well.

MAC: Speaking of Falcom, is there anything else new on that end? Are you considering Ys on Vita? The president of Falcom did mention something about this in his interview with Gamasutra.
KB: We would love to publish Ys on Vita, but Falcom has to finish the title first. As development nears completion and they're ready to talk localization specifics, we'll be ready and waiting.

MAC: Any more PSP games after this? There were hints that Brandish might have been a candidate at one time.
KB: Any more PSP releases after this would likely be digital-only as the market for UMDs continues to shrink. We wanted to work on Brandish, but could never work out the timing as either Falcom or ourselves were always busy with other projects. Sadly, that's a project that just happened to fall through the cracks, but could perhaps be revisited if PSN sales of PSP titles see a big jump now that the PS Vita is on the market and people are able to download PSP games to it.

MAC: Let's chat about Unchained Blades. Some on the Furyu staff also worked on Grandia and Lunar, you say? Looks like even Nobuo Uematsu composed a couple tracks on the soundtrack along with his studio producing the rest, right? How did this deal come about?
KB: Yes, Unchained Blades has quite the pedigree behind it with the scenario designer Takashi Hino having worked on Grandia, the director Toshio Akashi having worked on Lunar, and even Nobuo Uematsu contributing to the soundtrack, though most of the compositions are done by a young and upcoming composer named Tsutomo Narita, who works with Uematsu-san. And don't forget the artists, as 14 different celebrated artists spanning videogame and manga/anime fame each contributed to the design of one major character (well, 2 artists did collaborate on one design so there are 13 unique major character designs).

In terms of how the deal happened, we'd been following the title on Famitsu since before it released and our president was able to make contact with them. They wanted their game to be released in the West so we were able to come to terms pretty easily with FuRyu.

MAC: Is it a hardcore dungeon crawler? Any chance this one might have some features to make it more manageable or accessible for those less familiar with these types of games?
KB: Yes, it is a dungeon crawler similar to Wizardry in its first-person viewpoint and turn-based battles, but it is much more accessible as all the party characters are pre-set and don't need to be created from scratch, plus the movement and battles are much faster paced.

MAC: Are there any other features that make this one standout among dungeon crawlers?
KB: The emphasis on story and voice-acting in Unchained Blades should make it appeal more to gamers that may usually not be into dungeon crawlers. It is very much a story-driven game with over 3,000 lines of voice-overs, so think of it as a JRPG that plays in the style of an old-school WRPG like Wizardry.

MAC: We're curious, are there any updates on when we'll be seeing Grand Knights History?
KB: Unfortunately, no updates at this time. Localization is on hold as the dev team is busy with other projects right now.

MAC: It looks like you're taking a strong digital focus. Would that be an accurate assessment? If so, why is that?
KB: Yes, that would be an accurate assessment. The main reason for this is out of necessity as retailers are stocking not only less titles overall but less units of the ones that they do select to stock. Some of our more niche titles that retailers believe don't appeal to a wide audience have to be digital-only or else we couldn't bring them to market at all, but we will continue to release physical goods for the titles that retailers are willing to support.

MAC: This is just your early 2012 list, and you know fans, we're always looking forward. Can you tease any projects you have in the works for later in the year?
KB: I can say that we will likely be working on a Vita title later this year which will revisit a franchise that we've worked on before, and that this franchise has more than two letters in its name.

RPGamer would like to thank Ken (and the rest of the XSEED staff) for chatting with us about these games. Check out Ys: The Oath in Felghana on Steam now and watch out for the upcoming Ys Origin as well as Unchained Blades coming digitally to the 3DS eShop and PlayStation Network (PSP, also playable on Vita).

© 1998-2017 RPGamer All Rights Reserved
Privacy Policy