Monolith Soft's Takahashi and Harada Interview, Xeno2 sold 1,73M copies [4Gamer, jp]

RPGamer

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,179
So there was an interesting section in the inteview (note everything im about to say came out of Google Translate so there are probably errors)

-The interviewer asks about the job advert that went up last year for the next Xenoblade game
-Asks about the focus on "Map Design"
-Takahashi explains that for every game since Xenogears, Monolith always start with the map first
-That way, they can get an estimate of: 1. how many areas there will be 2. how long a player will stay there 3. how long the game will be 4. how expensive the game will be to produce.
-The Example given is; if you have a 10 hour game, with 10 areas; then each area will have to have enough engaging content for an hour of gameplay. And then if each area takes 100mil Yen to make, the whole game will be in the ballpark of 1Billion Yen.
-By getting this out of the way first, they can design the whole game-flow, and then build the characters on top of that. Instead of building characters, then artificially making a world around them.
-Interviewer asks how long it takes to get through all that.

The important part (assuming GT didnt screw with it)

-Takahashi states that the next Xenoblade has been in production for 10 months.
-The map design is finished, as well as the "everything to go with it"; so probably the story, characters,etc
-Currently they're making the assets and putting it together
-He estimates it'll take 2 and half to 3 years in total to finish the game.
-Xenoblade 3 (assuming its that) will likely be out Christmas 2021 (note he didnt say that directly, thats just when the dates will line up)


Exciting

There's probably more as well, still going through it. These Japanese interviews are long and serious stuff.
Interesting, thanks. I hope he counts preproduction to the 2,5 - 3 years and not includes it in the 10 months lol. If it's 2,5 years in total it could release at an earlier date, i don't give up on my Xenoblade 3 end of 2020 game prediction yet, even if it is unrealistic.
 

RPGamer

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,179
He meant as a whole. So slightly less then a year of Pre-production, with about 2 years of Full-Production.

Also I've found some other interesting things regarding the company itself. Which I will post once i've got enough to compile a little summary.
So it will take some time, i need more :) But if they have finished mapdesigns, story etc. and making assets now that sounds like they are in full production already.

Nice, i'm looking forward to your findings.
 

foxuzamaki

Member
Oct 25, 2017
10,326
It's a very rough translation but Harada says now with his promotion he will interact/has an opportunity to interact with the Xenosaga HD community or something and wonders if Xenosaga is a great rpg. Also, he talks about pretty much the whole Xenosaga trilogy with Takahashi and even mentions KOS-MOS on one page... something about her being popular in Japan and not the West. Hmmm, well I'll wait for an actual translation :p
Hmm
 

Onix555

Member
Apr 23, 2019
236
UK
Ok, lots of stuff to cover, gonna put them into tags to not upset the thread as theres literally tonnes even with it summarised. Here goes (additional reminder that this went through the GT blender):

Xenosaga-
-Harada mentions that he only really took notice of the Western Saga fanbase recently in the past few years
-He saw that they wanted rereleases/remasters/remakes, additionally noted that they're apparently a lot louder then other Bandai fanbases in that regard
-He said he joked that "if they want it they should get a petition with 100 thousand signatures"; to which he came back to find theyd done it.
-Said he'll be looking into it, and that he was interested in doing something with the IP, though bringing it to HD would be difficult? (probably regarding all the SD assets in it such as the FMV's)
-Takahashi talked about the first Episodes development, how most of it was spent on the cutscenes
-gameplay was apparently put together in about 6 months
-Went over-budget and over-time, which led to Ep2 being much more conservative in development
-Higher ups were happy with Ep2's development due to it being on budget, but Takahashi was upset because fans were very unhappy with it.
-Wanted to right the ship with Ep3. However he thinks he failed with that and apologises to readers.

Monolith-
-Takahashi talks about all the new hiring going on
-Mentions that while they like experience, good workers. The real trait they're after is a 'love for their work'
-Monolith since conception has apparently had over 300 different employees, with 100 or so leaving over the years
-Good retention of Veteran staff
-Both Takahashi and Harada are very concerned with the current age of Monoliths management
-while the general age is 35, the Managers in particular are all in their 50's. With only about 3 or 4 being actually qualified to direct
-Wants to bring up the new generation of head developers
-Takahashi mentions he's getting on in age, can't work as intensely as before.

Crunch-
-Harada mentions theres a misconception that Monolith doesn't have any Overtime
-This is false, and when there is too much to do, they will engage in it.
-However the distinction they make with this and Crunch is that it has to be controlled and not unreasonable.
-Managers are the ones who have to request OT for devs. They have to have a very good reason for it, and are expected to act in guidelines and not lazily push hard work onto the lower devs. Overall its discouraged, however understood that in tight situations it is necessary.
-Monolith plans everything with the regular schedule in mind, OT is considered an unusual occurrence that means part of the Management chain has failed and needs to be rectified.
-Takahashi mentions that Crunch used to be mandatory in the 90's when he was at Square
-However games were also simpler then so it was less about complicated issues and more so time constraints.
-Games these days are more complicated and larger, so Crunch has changed and is no longer worthwhile these days.
-Takahashi then goes onto to basically denounce Crunch. Calling it inefficient, cruel, not-effective, and also ruins the budget plans/makes them "impossible to plan out"
-Everyone is a lot happier with the set 8 hour workdays that Monolith employ.

Nintendo vs Namco-

-Takahashi touches on working with Nintendo instead of Namco
-Mentions that he misses the freedom of being able to make lots of new IP's (Nintendo are strict)
-However, he admits that with Nintendo they have a lot more money. As well as recognition. So it's a trade off
-Expanding on the Strictness point
-Takahashi mentions that when proposing projects to Nintendo, most of the time you just get swatted down
-As such they bring about a dozen proposals to them at a time, a lot from newer employees that haven't become full directors yet
-However, Nintendo declines all of them; "only Xenoblade is passing these days"
-This actually upsets Takahashi a bit, and Harada also finds it quite sad.

Barriers of JRPG Sales-
-Takahashi talks about the max cap of his JRPG sales
-He mentions that he see's 2 or 3 million being the most he can reach
-Harada mentions the Tales team, which he's worked with before
-With JRPGs the hardest barrier is the first million sales
-If you can reach that, the game naturally gets bigger and bigger sales (likely talking about WOM)
-Mentions the difference with Fighter games sales, which are very front loaded sales wise.
-Takahashi says he's looking for ways to increase the barrier while preserving his ideals.
-Harada suggests looking at FF15, with the BIG hook being the Technology, graphics and massive open world.
-Says that Americans love big flashy technology buzzwords (lol)
-Takahashi says thats very difficult, as they have significantly less budget and hardware power (Switch specs) then Square does
-Takahashi is worried that Xenoblade will lack a hook in the future. Harada mentions that the great stories and characters will still hook JP players
-They talk about Kos-Mos and Noctis popularity. However GT wasnt able to put it together quite well so i'm not sure what theyre exactly saying.

Money and Investment-
-Harada mentions that Monolith doesnt have too much in the way of cash, so investing in bigger games is difficult.
-Takahashi rebuts, saying that XB2 sold 1.73M, and that its improving the situation financially. Although that's probably "about the ceiling" for the immediate future.
-Although he also mentions that Nintendo can put out a game and have it sell 10 million units amazingly.
-Talks about the strength of Nintendos core IP's, and that their great engineers allow them to build upon them
-Which in turn gives them the investment to continue and get even bigger
-Takahashi has asked in the past for budgets like Zeldas, to which he got stiff responses of "First, give us a track record"
-He doesn't appear upset at this though, as he understands they only want to invest that type of money in the BIG deals such as BOTW. The industry-changing types.
-They talk about how invention, innovation, and good quality are the sort of foundations for Nintendo funded games. And mean that fans have high expectations.

Extras-
-Monolith almost went with an un-named company instead of Namco in 1999. That basically would have changed their entire history.
-Monolith plans to keep making RPGs. They make comparisons to the Jojo artist, who's mentioned that he'll only ever make Jojo.
-They wont fragment off into other genres, atleast for the next 5 years or so.
-Takahashi does play through his finished games, he wouldnt feel confident putting them out without playing the whole thing himself.
-Takahashi used to play MMORPGs heavily years ago, but now he's too tired to deal with them lol
-An amusing story about playing AC7 VR while drunk
-Monolith is planning to renovate, as a lot of the furniture is quite old and bland, which they believe is having a negative impact on work ethic.


Well, that was quite a heavy read, and a lot to go through. Tbh there's even more then that, with a section on new graduates joining Monolith and other cool bits. But its nothing too important to know. I do recommend reading through the article though, maybe when the proper english release is out.
 

DPT120

Member
Oct 27, 2017
1,702
Well deserved. I loved this game. I put over 100 hours into it and was tied for my GOTY.
 

Cornelius

Member
Jan 3, 2018
388
Wut, their audience is larger then ever. Maybe like twice the size now.
Also, you have to be careful when scaling up, you could end up like Rockstar...
New more niche audience? The game sold more than any Xenoblade before (and i don't think thats because of the pandering shonen bits, but they didn't hurt the sales either). I would buy the next game with anime tropes or without, but i really liked the expressions and animations of the faces (better than in Xenoblade 1 or X) so i guess they could use a bit moderate/older anime style.
I guess to clarify. They compares the game to Nintendo titles that sell in the ten millions, and say that they think their limit is about where XBCII sold. Any as for the games audience, I honestly do feel the pivot to a "Shounen" audience has given the game a different type of popularity. Among that audience it seems the game was wildly successful, but now Xenoblade seems to appeal to a less varied audience. I honestly think to some, including myself, the game became a bit trite.
 

Rpgmonkey

Member
Oct 25, 2017
444
I didn't know Harada did these interviews with industry people, I'll have to skim through these. Interesting stuff.

Does Takahashi outright say it's a Xenoblade game, or does he just call it his next project?
From looking through the interview, it actually looks like Takahashi is talking about his general process of making an RPG. It appears to be more general and not about any game in particular.

He talks about the general process of starting a proposal for a project, where he puts together some simpler, broad concepts for the world, characters, and plot. After that the Planners, Designers, and Programmers form their groups and create what he calls the "game flow", which is basically a circular process of adjusting things based on problems/questions that come up, to form the overall scenario of the game.

Harada asks him how long this takes, and Takahashi says it takes about 8-10 months. He also says that's usually also when they're ready to start making assets and such, and overall it comes out to about 2.5-3 years for a game.

That said, you probably can extrapolate from this and assume that his next project is coming in 2021 or so if he started it last year (I don't follow Monolith closely so I couldn't tell you, lol).
 

Dark Cloud

Member
Oct 27, 2017
30,809
Ok, lots of stuff to cover, gonna put them into tags to not upset the thread as theres literally tonnes even with it summarised. Here goes (additional reminder that this went through the GT blender):

Xenosaga-
-Harada mentions that he only really took notice of the Western Saga fanbase recently in the past few years
-He saw that they wanted rereleases/remasters/remakes, additionally noted that they're apparently a lot louder then other Bandai fanbases in that regard
-He said he joked that "if they want it they should get a petition with 100 thousand signatures"; to which he came back to find theyd done it.
-Said he'll be looking into it, and that he was interested in doing something with the IP, though bringing it to HD would be difficult? (probably regarding all the SD assets in it such as the FMV's)
-Takahashi talked about the first Episodes development, how most of it was spent on the cutscenes
-gameplay was apparently put together in about 6 months
-Went over-budget and over-time, which led to Ep2 being much more conservative in development
-Higher ups were happy with Ep2's development due to it being on budget, but Takahashi was upset because fans were very unhappy with it.
-Wanted to right the ship with Ep3. However he thinks he failed with that and apologises to readers.

Monolith-
-Takahashi talks about all the new hiring going on
-Mentions that while they like experience, good workers. The real trait they're after is a 'love for their work'
-Monolith since conception has apparently had over 300 different employees, with 100 or so leaving over the years
-Good retention of Veteran staff
-Both Takahashi and Harada are very concerned with the current age of Monoliths management
-while the general age is 35, the Managers in particular are all in their 50's. With only about 3 or 4 being actually qualified to direct
-Wants to bring up the new generation of head developers
-Takahashi mentions he's getting on in age, can't work as intensely as before.

Crunch-
-Harada mentions theres a misconception that Monolith doesn't have any Overtime
-This is false, and when there is too much to do, they will engage in it.
-However the distinction they make with this and Crunch is that it has to be controlled and not unreasonable.
-Managers are the ones who have to request OT for devs. They have to have a very good reason for it, and are expected to act in guidelines and not lazily push hard work onto the lower devs. Overall its discouraged, however understood that in tight situations it is necessary.
-Monolith plans everything with the regular schedule in mind, OT is considered an unusual occurrence that means part of the Management chain has failed and needs to be rectified.
-Takahashi mentions that Crunch used to be mandatory in the 90's when he was at Square
-However games were also simpler then so it was less about complicated issues and more so time constraints.
-Games these days are more complicated and larger, so Crunch has changed and is no longer worthwhile these days.
-Takahashi then goes onto to basically denounce Crunch. Calling it inefficient, cruel, not-effective, and also ruins the budget plans/makes them "impossible to plan out"
-Everyone is a lot happier with the set 8 hour workdays that Monolith employ.

Nintendo vs Namco-

-Takahashi touches on working with Nintendo instead of Namco
-Mentions that he misses the freedom of being able to make lots of new IP's (Nintendo are strict)
-However, he admits that with Nintendo they have a lot more money. As well as recognition. So it's a trade off
-Expanding on the Strictness point
-Takahashi mentions that when proposing projects to Nintendo, most of the time you just get swatted down
-As such they bring about a dozen proposals to them at a time, a lot from newer employees that haven't become full directors yet
-However, Nintendo declines all of them; "only Xenoblade is passing these days"
-This actually upsets Takahashi a bit, and Harada also finds it quite sad.

Barriers of JRPG Sales-
-Takahashi talks about the max cap of his JRPG sales
-He mentions that he see's 2 or 3 million being the most he can reach
-Harada mentions the Tales team, which he's worked with before
-With JRPGs the hardest barrier is the first million sales
-If you can reach that, the game naturally gets bigger and bigger sales (likely talking about WOM)
-Mentions the difference with Fighter games sales, which are very front loaded sales wise.
-Takahashi says he's looking for ways to increase the barrier while preserving his ideals.
-Harada suggests looking at FF15, with the BIG hook being the Technology, graphics and massive open world.
-Says that Americans love big flashy technology buzzwords (lol)
-Takahashi says thats very difficult, as they have significantly less budget and hardware power (Switch specs) then Square does
-Takahashi is worried that Xenoblade will lack a hook in the future. Harada mentions that the great stories and characters will still hook JP players
-They talk about Kos-Mos and Noctis popularity. However GT wasnt able to put it together quite well so i'm not sure what theyre exactly saying.

Money and Investment-
-Harada mentions that Monolith doesnt have too much in the way of cash, so investing in bigger games is difficult.
-Takahashi rebuts, saying that XB2 sold 1.73M, and that its improving the situation financially. Although that's probably "about the ceiling" for the immediate future.
-Although he also mentions that Nintendo can put out a game and have it sell 10 million units amazingly.
-Talks about the strength of Nintendos core IP's, and that their great engineers allow them to build upon them
-Which in turn gives them the investment to continue and get even bigger
-Takahashi has asked in the past for budgets like Zeldas, to which he got stiff responses of "First, give us a track record"
-He doesn't appear upset at this though, as he understands they only want to invest that type of money in the BIG deals such as BOTW. The industry-changing types.
-They talk about how invention, innovation, and good quality are the sort of foundations for Nintendo funded games. And mean that fans have high expectations.

Extras-
-Monolith almost went with an un-named company instead of Namco in 1999. That basically would have changed their entire history.
-Monolith plans to keep making RPGs. They make comparisons to the Jojo artist, who's mentioned that he'll only ever make Jojo.
-They wont fragment off into other genres, atleast for the next 5 years or so.
-Takahashi does play through his finished games, he wouldnt feel confident putting them out without playing the whole thing himself.
-Takahashi used to play MMORPGs heavily years ago, but now he's too tired to deal with them lol
-An amusing story about playing AC7 VR while drunk
-Monolith is planning to renovate, as a lot of the furniture is quite old and bland, which they believe is having a negative impact on work ethic.


Well, that was quite a heavy read, and a lot to go through. Tbh there's even more then that, with a section on new graduates joining Monolith and other cool bits. But its nothing too important to know. I do recommend reading through the article though, maybe when the proper english release is out.
Nintendo is so damn strict. This is why we can’t get new IP’s. They keep turning them down
 
Nov 1, 2017
1,803
I'm glad the game's good reception gave it better legs than the usual JRPG. Hopefully one day Xenoblade can finally get a Zelda budget. ;_;
 

Dark Cloud

Member
Oct 27, 2017
30,809
It is a shame. On the other hand with how much IPs they've already have, reviving old ones like Kid Icarus could effectively become a new IP.
But we’re talking about Monolith Soft. They don’t want to make Kid Icarus. They make games Nintendo can’t make. Let them make new IP’s as give them more money. I just totally dislike Nintendo’s mindset with new IP’s.
 
Feb 16, 2018
893
Good info from the interview, interesting to hear about some of the behind the scenes workings of Monolith Soft and Nintendo.
 

WestEgg

Member
Oct 25, 2017
6,787
But we’re talking about Monolith Soft. They don’t want to make Kid Icarus. They make games Nintendo can’t make. Let them make new IP’s as give them more money. I just totally dislike Nintendo’s mindset with new IP’s.
Yeah, I was kind of sad reading about how many IPs get shot down. I think through Monolith soft, Nintendo could become a JRPG juggernaut (yes, they literally have the biggest JRPG already with Pokémon, but that’s practically it’s own market). I’d love to see a ton of quirky and diverse new offerings.
 
Oct 27, 2017
5,939
Peru
Is cool that Xenoblade is getting more recognition at Nintendo and that they're making XC3 but at the same time, is a shame that the IP has become so important that Nintendo apparently restricts Monolith Soft to it.

I really hope that new IP they're producing is an actual new IP.
 

Dark Cloud

Member
Oct 27, 2017
30,809
Yeah, I was kind of sad reading about how many IPs get shot down. I think through Monolith soft, Nintendo could become a JRPG juggernaut (yes, they literally have the biggest JRPG already with Pokémon, but that’s practically it’s own market). I’d love to see a ton of quirky and diverse new offerings.
Is cool that Xenoblade is getting more recognition at Nintendo and that they're making XC3 but at the same time, is a shame that the IP has become so important that Nintendo apparently restricts Monolith Soft to it.

I really hope that new IP they're producing is an actual new IP.
I really hope the new IP we think is coming from Monolith Soft is a new IP. Like let them do more. They have multiple teams.
 

Harpoon

Member
Oct 27, 2017
2,425
A little saddening to read about Takahashi’s frustrations with Nintendo only letting them do Xenoblade. Maybe the medieval fantasy game will be “Xenoblade S” or something after all?
 

Harald23

Member
Dec 21, 2017
6,536
Is cool that Xenoblade is getting more recognition at Nintendo and that they're making XC3 but at the same time, is a shame that the IP has become so important that Nintendo apparently restricts Monolith Soft to it.

I really hope that new IP they're producing is an actual new IP.
It's quite possible it will end up being Xenoblade 3 or X2 or something else in the Xenoblade franchise.

They always start with something else entirely but then always end up sticking to the Xeno series because that's what Nintendo want and it honestly makes sense: the series represents the games made by that team.

Thankfully all these games tend to vary a lot, they are not afraid to throw new ideas and take new directions, and in the interview Takahashi mentions he wants to keep Xenoblade relevant for years to come.
 
Last edited:

Shoichi

Member
Jan 10, 2018
2,473
the talk of working with Nintendo compared to Namco is kind of disappointing. Guess Nintendo of Japan don't want to take to many risks. Sounds like Xenoblade will be here to stay under Nintendo

Quoted from Onix
-Takahashi touches on working with Nintendo instead of Namco
-Mentions that he misses the freedom of being able to make lots of new IP's (Nintendo are strict)
-However, he admits that with Nintendo they have a lot more money. As well as recognition. So it's a trade off
-Expanding on the Strictness point
-Takahashi mentions that when proposing projects to Nintendo, most of the time you just get swatted down
-As such they bring about a dozen proposals to them at a time, a lot from newer employees that haven't become full directors yet
-However, Nintendo declines all of them; "only Xenoblade is passing these days"
-This actually upsets Takahashi a bit, and Harada also finds it quite sad.
 
Oct 25, 2017
6,254
Yeah, even though I like the Xenoblade series I really wish Monolith also made smaller games between these bigger rpgs, I feel they have enough different teams and younger developers now to work on those kinds of projects.

Of course I understand they also help with the development of other Nintendo games but still, I miss the days when could release stuff like Disaster Day of Crisis, Soma Bringer and Endless Frontier all in the same year.
 
Oct 26, 2017
12,970
I kinda get Takahashi's frustration but looking over Monolith Soft's output, the closest they've ever been to making something with mainstream appeal was working on BotW. Most people aren't allowed to do the same kind of shit he does with titles as massive as the Xenoblade games. If he wants to make a new IP, maybe he should consider making something that is less anime, more action-based and has less systems creep.
 

Dark Cloud

Member
Oct 27, 2017
30,809
I kinda get Takahashi's frustration but looking over Monolith Soft's output, the closest they've ever been to making something with mainstream appeal was working on BotW. Most people aren't allowed to do the same kind of shit he does with titles as massive as the Xenoblade games. If he wants to make a new IP, maybe he should consider making something that is less anime, more action-based and has less systems creep.
I mean this isn’t exclusive to Monolith Soft. Nintendo doesn’t chug out many new big IP’s in general. We can’t even get a new single player IP from EPD with the scale of a Mario or Zelda. They can Retro games too.
 

Prof Bathtub

Member
Apr 26, 2018
1,296
Nintendo did ask Aonuma to pitch new series ideas, but I guess unlike Monolith, he feels more comfortable in his designated series. I guess the takeaway is that views on the management's IP initiatives vary if you have an insider or outsider perspective.
 

NSESN

Member
Oct 25, 2017
10,433
I think it is less about Nintendo not wanting new ips and more they not trusting the Monolith Soft new IPs pitches.
If nintendo was really against new IPs Splatoon and TW101 wouldnt exist, as well Astral Chain.
 

EAD Ninja

任天堂 の 忍者
Member
Oct 27, 2017
680
Nintendo did ask Aonuma to pitch new series ideas, but I guess unlike Monolith, he feels more comfortable in his designated series. I guess the takeaway is that views on the management's IP initiatives vary if you have an insider or outsider perspective.
Aonuma did have a pitch. Whether the game went into full production or turned into something else is another story. But you are definitely assuming "what he feels comfortable doing".
 
Oct 26, 2017
12,970
I mean this isn’t exclusive to Monolith Soft. Nintendo doesn’t chug out many new big IP’s in general. We can’t even get a new single player IP from EPD with the scale of a Mario or Zelda. They can Retro games too.
Nintendo has already proven that they will put their full support behind a game with potential by turning Splatoon into the juggernaut it is now. And they let the MK team work on ARMS for months, allowing them to add another 5 fighters. I don't get the concern especially in regards to Monolith Soft who has made three new IPs under Nintendo (while continuing to work with Bamco), one of which was turned into a series with three massive, ambitious and wildly different games, has been greatly expanded and is now working on at least another action RPG.

I don't see how any of this relates to EPD's unwillingness to make a new single player IP or Retro's inability to release anything at all.
 

Bluewind098

Member
Oct 27, 2017
6,797
Nintendo has already proven that they will put their full support behind a game with potential by turning Splatoon into the juggernaut it is now. And they let the MK team work on ARMS for months, allowing them to add another 5 fighters. I don't get the concern especially in regards to Monolith Soft who has made three new IPs under Nintendo (while continuing to work with Bamco), one of which was turned into a series with three massive, ambitious and wildly different games, has been greatly expanded and is now working on at least another action RPG.

I don't see how any of this relates to EPD's unwillingness to make a new single player IP or Retro's inability to release anything at all.
My only guess for that is Xenoblade being the only one with any level of success and even then it's most successful game was it's sequel. Though then again that was clearly because of it's timing, and having actual marketing. I think Monolith has a similar cult star power like to Xenoblade itself or Platinum games as an analogue. I think they deserve another chance at a new IP
 

Francokid1

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,006
New York City
Kinda sad to hear that Nintendo has a tight leash on MonolithSoft. It makes sense tho, Nintendo wants them to build a stronger resume.
Maybe that medieval IP is a Xenoblade game in disguise. We'll have knights and sorcery until suddenly a giant mech. I'll be cool with that.
 

NSESN

Member
Oct 25, 2017
10,433
Maybe Nintendo managers are just Xeno fanboys and want to play the next Xeno games asap
 

Prof Bathtub

Member
Apr 26, 2018
1,296
Aonuma did have a pitch. Whether the game went into full production or turned into something else is another story. But you are definitely assuming "what he feels comfortable doing".
True, but he did say that he put most of his ideas into a Zelda context, and he needed to forbid himself from incorporating every concept he has into a Zelda project. That's not to say that he's not interested in making a new series.
 

Eolz

Banned
Oct 25, 2017
7,599
FR
Ok, lots of stuff to cover, gonna put them into tags to not upset the thread as theres literally tonnes even with it summarised. Here goes (additional reminder that this went through the GT blender):

Xenosaga-
-Harada mentions that he only really took notice of the Western Saga fanbase recently in the past few years
-He saw that they wanted rereleases/remasters/remakes, additionally noted that they're apparently a lot louder then other Bandai fanbases in that regard
-He said he joked that "if they want it they should get a petition with 100 thousand signatures"; to which he came back to find theyd done it.
-Said he'll be looking into it, and that he was interested in doing something with the IP, though bringing it to HD would be difficult? (probably regarding all the SD assets in it such as the FMV's)
-Takahashi talked about the first Episodes development, how most of it was spent on the cutscenes
-gameplay was apparently put together in about 6 months
-Went over-budget and over-time, which led to Ep2 being much more conservative in development
-Higher ups were happy with Ep2's development due to it being on budget, but Takahashi was upset because fans were very unhappy with it.
-Wanted to right the ship with Ep3. However he thinks he failed with that and apologises to readers.

Monolith-
-Takahashi talks about all the new hiring going on
-Mentions that while they like experience, good workers. The real trait they're after is a 'love for their work'
-Monolith since conception has apparently had over 300 different employees, with 100 or so leaving over the years
-Good retention of Veteran staff
-Both Takahashi and Harada are very concerned with the current age of Monoliths management
-while the general age is 35, the Managers in particular are all in their 50's. With only about 3 or 4 being actually qualified to direct
-Wants to bring up the new generation of head developers
-Takahashi mentions he's getting on in age, can't work as intensely as before.

Crunch-
-Harada mentions theres a misconception that Monolith doesn't have any Overtime
-This is false, and when there is too much to do, they will engage in it.
-However the distinction they make with this and Crunch is that it has to be controlled and not unreasonable.
-Managers are the ones who have to request OT for devs. They have to have a very good reason for it, and are expected to act in guidelines and not lazily push hard work onto the lower devs. Overall its discouraged, however understood that in tight situations it is necessary.
-Monolith plans everything with the regular schedule in mind, OT is considered an unusual occurrence that means part of the Management chain has failed and needs to be rectified.
-Takahashi mentions that Crunch used to be mandatory in the 90's when he was at Square
-However games were also simpler then so it was less about complicated issues and more so time constraints.
-Games these days are more complicated and larger, so Crunch has changed and is no longer worthwhile these days.
-Takahashi then goes onto to basically denounce Crunch. Calling it inefficient, cruel, not-effective, and also ruins the budget plans/makes them "impossible to plan out"
-Everyone is a lot happier with the set 8 hour workdays that Monolith employ.

Nintendo vs Namco-

-Takahashi touches on working with Nintendo instead of Namco
-Mentions that he misses the freedom of being able to make lots of new IP's (Nintendo are strict)
-However, he admits that with Nintendo they have a lot more money. As well as recognition. So it's a trade off
-Expanding on the Strictness point
-Takahashi mentions that when proposing projects to Nintendo, most of the time you just get swatted down
-As such they bring about a dozen proposals to them at a time, a lot from newer employees that haven't become full directors yet
-However, Nintendo declines all of them; "only Xenoblade is passing these days"
-This actually upsets Takahashi a bit, and Harada also finds it quite sad.

Barriers of JRPG Sales-
-Takahashi talks about the max cap of his JRPG sales
-He mentions that he see's 2 or 3 million being the most he can reach
-Harada mentions the Tales team, which he's worked with before
-With JRPGs the hardest barrier is the first million sales
-If you can reach that, the game naturally gets bigger and bigger sales (likely talking about WOM)
-Mentions the difference with Fighter games sales, which are very front loaded sales wise.
-Takahashi says he's looking for ways to increase the barrier while preserving his ideals.
-Harada suggests looking at FF15, with the BIG hook being the Technology, graphics and massive open world.
-Says that Americans love big flashy technology buzzwords (lol)
-Takahashi says thats very difficult, as they have significantly less budget and hardware power (Switch specs) then Square does
-Takahashi is worried that Xenoblade will lack a hook in the future. Harada mentions that the great stories and characters will still hook JP players
-They talk about Kos-Mos and Noctis popularity. However GT wasnt able to put it together quite well so i'm not sure what theyre exactly saying.

Money and Investment-
-Harada mentions that Monolith doesnt have too much in the way of cash, so investing in bigger games is difficult.
-Takahashi rebuts, saying that XB2 sold 1.73M, and that its improving the situation financially. Although that's probably "about the ceiling" for the immediate future.
-Although he also mentions that Nintendo can put out a game and have it sell 10 million units amazingly.
-Talks about the strength of Nintendos core IP's, and that their great engineers allow them to build upon them
-Which in turn gives them the investment to continue and get even bigger
-Takahashi has asked in the past for budgets like Zeldas, to which he got stiff responses of "First, give us a track record"
-He doesn't appear upset at this though, as he understands they only want to invest that type of money in the BIG deals such as BOTW. The industry-changing types.
-They talk about how invention, innovation, and good quality are the sort of foundations for Nintendo funded games. And mean that fans have high expectations.

Extras-
-Monolith almost went with an un-named company instead of Namco in 1999. That basically would have changed their entire history.
-Monolith plans to keep making RPGs. They make comparisons to the Jojo artist, who's mentioned that he'll only ever make Jojo.
-They wont fragment off into other genres, atleast for the next 5 years or so.
-Takahashi does play through his finished games, he wouldnt feel confident putting them out without playing the whole thing himself.
-Takahashi used to play MMORPGs heavily years ago, but now he's too tired to deal with them lol
-An amusing story about playing AC7 VR while drunk
-Monolith is planning to renovate, as a lot of the furniture is quite old and bland, which they believe is having a negative impact on work ethic.


Well, that was quite a heavy read, and a lot to go through. Tbh there's even more then that, with a section on new graduates joining Monolith and other cool bits. But its nothing too important to know. I do recommend reading through the article though, maybe when the proper english release is out.
The Xeno and Nintendo bits are pretty interesting (and disappointing). Thanks
 

TheGreatLugia

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,347
An English summary of the article just went up: https://xenomira.wordpress.com/2019/06/07/the-tribulations-of-xenosaga-created-xenoblade-harada-breaks-it-down-vol-7-we-asked-takahashi-tetsuya-about-monolith-soft-summary/

Here are some sections that stuck out to me:

  • Takahashi describes the company during Ep I development as “a sleepless town,” working without any holidays. He explains this as the reason for the disaster that was Episode II, saying:

Takahashi: We swung too far in the opposite direction. There was an atmosphere of “working within deadlines and budgets,” so as to not be a sleepless town once more. And so, we end up with a game where, sure, we didn’t become a sleepless town again and we worked within budget. But we sacrificed a lot to do that, and when it released, the players’ reactions were… less than stellar. So we took that feedback in, and now the atmosphere is more “This isn’t the right way, we have to change this,” but we’re already working on Episode III at that point. There were many people who said, “we worked within budget, so who cares?” But we acknowledged that be that as it may, we ended up in hot water because of it. So we tried to course-correct, but we couldn’t fix all of it. I’m very sorry. But the only reason the Xenoblade series exists today is because of those three games, I think. The experience we acquired from making Xenosaga was an immense asset for us.
Monolith Soft has sent Nintendo 10+ business proposals for approval over the years, but the only one that has bee approved recently was Xenoblade, says Takahashi.
Citing the success of Final Fantasy XV, Harada says that he thinks that a bigger focus on technology would get JRPGs over “the one million (sales) wall.” Takahashi was skeptical, saying that while it may work for some, he doesn’t think that approach would be feasible for Monolith Soft’s budget.
 

Apopheniac

Member
Oct 25, 2017
5,864
I mean, if Monolith Soft is only gonna be making RPGs anyway, at least for the foreseeable future, how much does it matter that they're all gonna be under the Xenoblade name? It's not like they're forced to adhere to any strict formula for the series, nor are they even forced to connect all their stories - just add other letters after their names like with Xenoblade X.
 

Eolz

Banned
Oct 25, 2017
7,599
FR
Citing the success of Final Fantasy XV, Harada says that he thinks that a bigger focus on technology would get JRPGs over “the one million (sales) wall.” Takahashi was skeptical, saying that while it may work for some, he doesn’t think that approach would be feasible for Monolith Soft’s budget.
This bit is funny considering the sales of XC2 and some other games.
I'm not sure Harada gets the JRPG market to be fair (cf his Xenosaga petition).
 

RPGamer

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,179
He meant as a whole. So slightly less then a year of Pre-production, with about 2 years of Full-Production.
Google translate into german (and i think in english too) makes it sound to me like he is talking about game development in general, not the new title they are working on.

Also the Xenomira article.

Tbh, with news of Tales of Arise not coming to Switch; I need a new Xenoblade badly to wash away my disappointment and annoyance.

Sucks if true, but they could still port it. It somehow has a FF 15 vibe, i guess they want that audience, hope it will be still a good Tales of game.