Everyyear, Sony celebrates games that are released domestically in Japan for all Playstation systems with the annual Playstation Awards. This event started in 1994 and this year’s ceremony was the 19th. On December 3, Falcom won its fourth User Choice Award in a row for Sen no Kiseki. In 2012, it won the User Choice Award for Ys the Foliage Ocean in Celceta (Memories of Celceta), in 2011 it won the same award for Ao no Kiseki, and it won the award for Zero no Kiseki in 2010.
Prior to this years Playstation Awards, Sony reached out to the winners of the awards in 2012 to speak with them on the development of the game and their future activities. Interview # 14 was with Toshihiro Kondo, Falcom’s president and the producer behind the current Ys and Kiseki games.
In the interview, Kondo started with explaining that there was an immense pressure on Falcom performing well with Memories of Celceta since it was their first title on a new platform, the Playstation Vita. There were many unknowns going into it, and they had to adhere to a strict development schedule for the game. Upon its completion, however, they were pleased with the end result- with how it looked on the Playstation Vita’s beautiful screen and the game’s new style of graphics. In the end, it made all the difficulty worth it.
When asked about what he felt about Falcom titles winning the User Choice Awards three years in a row, Kondo explained that when Ys won the award in 2012, despite being the third time on the podium, it felt like he was there for the first. The previous two awards were for Kiseki titles, and while Ys dominated when they developed for the PC market, it felt like after the move to Playstation it was always chasing after the Kiseki series.
Kondo also expressed that he was pleased with the long-term Ys fans following them to the new platform and purchasing the Playstation Vita hardware to keep up with the series. However, when seeing the responses from the votes in the poll for the award, there were many comments that said that it was their first time playing a game in the Ys series. This helped increase the appreciation of the new fans, as well.
Developers have valued encouragement from their users, as such many of the teams at Falcom were extremely pleased that they won the award. The team behind the Ys games has always tried to catch up to the Kiseki team, and made a big effort to never give up in that race. The company shoulders two major titles for its operations, both the Ys series and Kiseki series. Now that both series have won awards, Kondo expressed his gratitude to their fans.
Sony asked Kondo about his memories of the day of the award ceremony. He explained that while he was in the waiting room with other distinguished developers, there may have been some tension in the room. However, he heard someone calling for him and it was Yoshinori Terasawa, the producer of Dangan Ronpa. Kondo explained that he enjoyed getting to meet with other members of the game industry, to talk between each other. He also explained that it was exciting to be called up to the podium for being associated with an Ys title, instead of with a Kiseki title.
Kondo attributes much of the attention from new fans to the speedy action system that is common in the Ys games, as well as the story with Adol’s amnesia, the exploration and mapping of the great forest of Celceta. It’s fun to explore and battles are enjoyable while maintaining RPG elements. The action and adventure of the Ys series is its most enjoyable aspect, unlike the story-focused Kiseki series.
2013 has been the 26th anniversary of the Ys series. This “Ys’ism” atmosphere has become part of the staff, and they will specifically attempt to evolve that feeling. While Falcom isn’t at a stage where he can talk about particulars, Kondo does speak of the next work and that they intend to bring in new components to the system. As of this point, hardware and networking has changed and thus the game will have to change to go with it as well. What do they intend to do about it next time? They are still planning it. However, Kondo also stated that there was a positive response to the touch controls of the Vita with the Ys were good, so that they are considering that process. He promised that they will do their best to accomplish that.
When asked about Sen no Kiseki, Kondo said that this year the title moved the Kiseki series from the PSP platform, to a PS3 and PS Vita release. Sen has changed the Kiseki series, that is no longer in its top-down view, and has seen major changes to its graphics and system. One by one, as towns and fields were created, they were seeking to maintain the feel of the old RPGs in a 3D environment. The story was taken over by new heroes in a new setting, and it could bring in new fans of the series. With the Kiseki series, June of next year will be the 10th anniversary. Kondo stated that the development team has been working tirelessly on the new title and to expect new news on it soon.
When asked about the users playing their games, Kondo compares a new user in the series to a sort of ‘chemical reaction.’ The player and the creator form a valuable partnership. As a result, it’s very important to hear what everyone has to say. The comments- both praising and critical of their works- are crucial to the development process. Kondo added that the comments, both good and bad, also serve as encouragement to the teams.
At the end, they had requested that Kondo give a message to the Falcom fans. He said that at Tokyo Game Show this year, Sony showed the Playstation 4, the new Playstation Vita, and the Vita TV with the anticipation to bring the Playstation brand together. This gives the development teams new motivation, along with the challenges of new hardware. With the advancement of hardware and new projects being planned, it should be exciting for both creators and players. Just as platforms must evolve, they must also evolve as well.Editor’s Note: If you find anything that needs to be corrected in this translation, please give me a heads up in the comments. This was worked on quite a bit over the past few weeks, and I may have missed something from not being able to work on it in one sitting. Thanks! -KM