Star Ocean 5's producer on why traditional JRPGs are so hard to make now
"SO5, with its seamless gameplay, is created like an open world, but it's a scenario-driven game, so it wound up being a tremendous amount of work."
- Star Ocean 5 producer Shuichi Kobayashi
A new interview with Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness producer Shuichi Kobayashi sheds some light on the challenges of developing traditional Japanese console RPGs on HD consoles -- from both a design and production perspective.
The game, which is out in Japan and due out in the West this summer, marks a turning point for the franchise. Kobayashi goes into detail on how the game has moved away from static cutscenes -- a staple of the franchise, and the genre -- in favor of storytelling alongside gameplay.
But he also talks about what a challenge it is to create a game in the genre at all, given the level of detail and volume of content Japanese RPGs are known for:
... when you think about creating RPGs, you have to consider everything that goes on in the game. Even something as simple as a town -- you have to figure out who populates the town, what they do, how they speak, how they move, and so on. You might even have to change these elements in response to event that occur as the player progresses through the game. Star Ocean is very scenario-driven, so a lot of thought has to be put into these things.
There might be easier ways to handle all of this, to maybe lessen the amount of scenario work or character planning. For open-world games, maybe there's a big overarching storyline, some sub-quests, and various characters who might not need that much detail, but the world itself is just really big. That's one way to do it. SO5, with its seamless gameplay, is created like an open world, but it's a scenario-driven game, so it wound up being a tremendous amount of work.
The interview, over at Anime News Network, is an interesting read if you're curious about the inner workings of high-spec JRPG development in 2016.
Kobayashi has spoken before how he took on helming the franchise at publisher Square Enix, to save it and maybe even help save the genre, outside of top-tier games, at the publisher.