Dengeki PlayStation # 653 – A Review of 2017 With Toshihiro Kondo

Much like in the 4gamer interview I posted recently, Dengeki PS # 653 also ran a number of questions to a variety of game developers and directors regarding the past year. These people include Yoshimi Yasuda (God Wars), Fumito Ueda (Shadow of the Colossus, The Last Guardian), Hideo Kojima (Metal Gear Solid), Souhei Niikawa (NIS President), and more.

Toshihiro Kondo was included with these creators, and below the cut, I’ve translated the questions and his answers from this article.

Question 1: Can you look back on 2017 and tell us about your impressions of the year and your work during it?

We finished out the year after releasing both Ys VIII -Lacrimosa of Dana- and the Legend of Heroes Sen no Kiseki III for PS4. Ys VIII brought in a bunch of new challenges with it. Until now, the Ys series has always been happily taken in by its core set of fans, but we sought out many new fans with Ys VIII, and have received some great feedback from it. Sen no Kiseki III changed [its series] to the PlayStation 4 platform, and while it brought a climax to the story, it was also a difficult journey. Thus, the story continues on to Sen no Kiseki IV, which will be a major turning point for the Kiseki series as a whole. So we’re firing ourselves up to get back onto our feet.

Question 2: Of the games released or put on sale in 2017, please tell us about what stood out to you from an occupational standpoint.

Since I had very little time to play games this year, I didn’t get to play it myself, but I would have to say Undertale (PC / PS4 / PS Vita). It has both a unique system and setting, and I’ve heard that the story itself is very enjoyable. I believe that it will influence other games that are developed in Japan. Its developer, [Toby] Fox, will likely have an impact on other games that is similar to what we had [note: referencing Falcom as a whole] during our high point around the time that Brandish was released. I plan to play it at some point next year.

Question 3: Please tell us a bit about the reasons that drive the development in the company from your position.

Game development is, of course, important. As a result, having the skill to make these games so that they sell well is a big point for the company. About 80% of Falcom is made of up developers. Everyone is from different places and has different beliefs and interests, but more than anything else, everyone loves game production. It’s as if they all felt inspired to give back to the games that moved them as children, and that this became their number one incentive to become a part of the game industry.

Question 4: What was the most important thing you found while engaging in management of game development?

Game sales are our number one priority. However, we often need to reflect on the capabilities of the staff and wonder where the usefulness [or strengths] of the staff are. Unfortunately, we are not geniuses. In fact, we only have one or two people who are ‘above average.’ However, when we bring everyone together, we have the support [and the ability] to create these games that we make. For that reason, we have to take into consideration the skills of each of the members of our staff. By doing this, we can increase the quality that we had anticipated for from the start. In that situation, we have to take this into account for the sales of our titles.

Question 5: 2018 is the 5th anniversary of the Sen no Kiseki series, with its newest title, Sen no Kiseki IV coming out. What do you want people to notice about this particular title?

As you can tell from its ‘The End of Saga’ subtitle, Sen no Kiseki IV will be the ending chapter of the Sen no Kiseki series. It is natural that there are a variety of things that need to be settled so that we can put an end to [this arc.] We hope that those who have been following this series from the start will be surprised, as there are many things coming together that are from Sora no Kiseki, Zero no Kiseki, and Ao no Kiseki. We see this story as a major turning point for the Kiseki series as a whole.

Question 6: Falcom maintains a steady position with sales of the works and software. What do you believe is your biggest challenge for 2018?

I think it will be completing the long-running Sen no Kiseki series. Afterwards, we will have to take another look over the games of the Kiseki series. And once we have our minds in place there, we will make a push to increase our sales ratios of our games in markets outside of Japan. Our own style will not change in terms of development and marketing, but we want to build up our reputation through partnerships [with other companies] and strengthen the sales of the Falcom brand in international markets.

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