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Interview: Project Phoenix’s Hiroaki Yura Discusses His Vision for the Game, JRPGs, PS4 and More

by on August 16, 2013 10:30 AM 34

Project Phoenix made the headlines due to the very successful start of its Kickstarter campaign and due to the stellar cast gathered by Director Hiroaki Yura to create the game, including acclaimed composer Nobuo Uematsu, but there’s still a lot we don’t know about this extremely interesting indie JRPG project.

That’s why I contacted Yura-san and arranged a chat with him, in order to ask more details about his vision for what could very well be a revolution in a genre that hasn’t exactly been explored that deeply by indie developers so far.

Luckily for us, turns out that Yura-san really had a lot to say, so take a seat, grab a cup of coffee and follow me into the world of Project Phoenix.

Giuseppe: First of all, could you introduce yourself, your project and team for our readers?

Hiroaki Yura: My name is Hiroaki Yura, I’m the creator, the director and the producer of the game Project Phoenix. It’s a JRPG with squad-based RTS combat mechanics.  It’s going to be primarily for the PC, it will be ported to iOS and Android, most likely for tablets. If they don’t perform well enough, we’re going to have a different use for them. In other words, we’re not going to change the game’s mechanics to suit the tablets. The tablets will need to live up to the standard of the game.

It may be ported to the PlayStation 4 and the Vita, but this isn’t yet confirmed. Once it’ll be confirmed we’ll send you a press release. Our team is made of many people from different backgrounds, from Asia, Europe and America. I gathered the best people I could find for the job and everyone is mostly working on royalty basis. That means that they won’t get paid until we’ll start selling the game in mid 2015.

The reason why we can do this is that everyone is a respected professional in his own field of work, so we don’t require to be paid, because this is a project born of passion. However we do need funds for modeling and similar tasks for Stephen (Unger)’s team, because he needs to hire a lot of people to create characters and environments.

This is the way we’re working, and that’s why we initially asked only for $100,000 (on Kickstarter). Our game is unlikely to go over budget, because we have been very conservative with the budget, so that we will be able to deliver on our promises. I’d like to say that the schedule will be pretty much on time, but there is a chance we might end up being late, but if that was to happen it will be to make sure that the quality of the game will be up to standard.

ProjectPhoenixHeader

The concept of the game will definitely not change whether we’ll have a hundred thousand dollars or five million. The only difference made by the stretch goals, besides the multiplayer, is the ability to upgrade the concept. We will have to hire a new team to create the multiplayer, because it’ll be a completely different feature compared to what we’re making now.

Besides the multiplayer everything is building up on what we have already. For example if it’s music, we’re starting with synthesized music but if we reach the 1,650,000 dollars stretch goal, we’ll have live recording. The ground work is already done. All we need is just to record. That doesn’t take too much time and all we need is the money to get started.

G: People know you primarily as a musician and orchestra director. Is this your first experience as a game director and producer? Do you feel it’s a large change in role, or it’s actually similar?

HY: Absolutely, but it’s very  similar. I understand the intricacies of video game creation because of my experience as a music director. Also, I’m not a composer, I’m a violinist, and while violinists have no place in video game development, but as a music director, I direct people on what to do and how to do it. It’s not so different. In some cases it’s actually easier, because I deal with 120 musicians, while a game director has only to deal with five key men in order to execute his task. I find it much easier than directing an orchestra.

G: Considering that you’re a musician and the team includes other world class musicians like Uematsu-sensei, will music actually play a role in the story or even in the gameplay? I’m thinking about Macross for instance, or about the memorable opera scene in Final Fantasy VI.

HY: We will have a special place for music, but in the end we all agree that we’re making music for a video game–without the video game we are nothing. It’s the same thing with the illustrators and the artists–our team means nothing without the game. So we’re composing the music and creating the art for the game. They will play a large role, but not the main role.

G: What do you think about the current situation of JRPGs in the Japanese and worldwide markets? Does your decision to create Project Phoenix come from the need to fill some kind of void you perceive in the genre?

HY: Absolutely. I only make things that are missing. Currently what we are missing is what JRPG should be in the world today. Basically it comes down to the question: “What is a JRPG?” People have different answers. I’m good friend with (Hironobu) Sakaguchi-san, and I spoke to him about two weeks ago in his office. I asked him what is a JRPG to him. And for him JRPGs are about the characters and how they develop. Hiroki Hikuta, who is the composer of Secret of Mana and also a game director says the same thing.

For me it’s not just about the characters, but it’s also about the story of the characters. That’s the most important thing: the story. JRPG for me is like opera. It exists to tell a story and to give emotion, like listening to music or looking at beautiful art. You’re there to enjoy the show, the concept, the performance.

I don’t think the game mechanic is as important. Game mechanics have to be fun and fulfilling. It doesn’t need to conform to one type of gameplay like for instance turn based classic Final Fantasy-like. That’s why I went for RTS. I think it’s a very natural progression. The only reason why they did turn based back in the day was because they could do nothing else. Nowadays we can take things to real time easier.

It’s basically like Final Fantasy Tactics, but in real time, and it kind of feels like the team battles in Warcraft where you don’t make units, you already have a small team that you have to accomplish a mission with.

G: So you actually control all the group members at the same time?

HY: Yes, you control characters in squads, and not individuals. That’s how we are unique. You only control about eight to ten units and you form little squads and skirmish with them. you micromanage your squads, not individuals. Micromanaging individuals feels silly to me. I do like Starcraft and Warcraft, but they don’t feel realistic, because you have to queue many commands to move your army, and professional soldiers or heroes don’t act like that. They act like heroes. They know what to do.

For example in Starcraft marines fire at the zergs only when they’re in range. Let’s say there’s two marines. One is in range and the other is nearby but not in range. The second marine will not fire. That’s stupid because he’s standing right next to another marine firing on the zergs. A marine would not do that in real life.

Our games tries to be very realistic. Even if we’re using chibi (Editor’s note: “chibi” means “small” in Japanese, and indicates super deformed characters with short proportions) characters…it’s three point five heads to a body, not two heads to a body like in Tactics Ogre, so it’s a little bit more realistic, but still chibi and very kawaii  (Editor’s note: “kawaii” means “cute” in Japanese)…we want the combat to feel very real. It’s one hit, one kill.

When Legolas shoots his arrows he kills everyone in one hit, right? It’s the same thing.

G: Does it work the same the other way around? Do the heroes get killed in one hit too, or they’re more resilient?

HY: They’re heroes, so they resist more. They can block, dodge and parry. Some times they can get hit and they don’t loose as much health because they have good armor. They can get into trouble when you fight bosses, because bosses are big and very powerful, so they need to hit the boss many times to kill him, but when fighting normal monsters it’s just a matter of numbers.

The game is going to be like, let’s say…300, the movie. King Leonidas is successful because of the tactical situation and his superior men. Because of that he can slaughter the Persian army. It’s the same thing with our game. The heroes of Project Phoenix can slaughter everybody as long as they’re in a good tactical situation. If they’re caught in the open by a large group of Orcs they can all die.

We’re looking into many kinds of realism, and one of them is basically the fact that one of your heroes is knocked out, another squad member will drag him to safety and bandage him, or bring him to a healer. There are three stances: aggressive, defensive and stealth. If you’re aggressive and want to go forward, somebody goes down, and a tank comes along and protects the wounded character while the healer runs forward and heals him. If you’re defensive you’ll try to get him to a safe place before healing. If you’re in stealth, you’ll try to withdraw until you lose the enemies and then do the healing.

Project Phoenix (1)

G: Project Phoenix has been defined a game with no clear good and evil. Does this mean that the player will be prompted to make moral choices? Will there be a branching storyline and multiple endings depending on those choices?

HY: I’ll be very honest. We are a very small team. It’d be great if we could make branching choices, but I think it would be risky for us. It becomes too complex and I don’t think our team is capable of making a sprawling multiple-endings game, as much as we’d like to.

We’re going to keep it simple and fun. It’s going to be linear, but players will be able to experience many, many side stories, and I think this way is better for us because it’s simple, and it’s effective. It also allows you to explore the lore deeper. You will see the characters make moral choices of course. There are some very heavy questions to be explored. It won’t be like a teenage JRPG like Pokémon. 

G: You actually anticipated my next question. I was going to ask if it’ll be a light-hearted game like a Dragon Quest, or a deeper, darker-themed one like for instance Xenogears…

HY: We will have humor, but it’ll be like Final Fantasy IX, that had the perfect balance between humor and very heavy issues that each character has to deal with. One thing I can tell you about, which is announced…well, partially announced…is about Marcus Stern, our main character. His mother was the queen of the kingdom of Stern and she was signing a peace treaty with the orcs, but she was assassinated by an orc.

After that everything changed for the country and Marcus. The country became more xenophobic and created units of the army to hunt other races. Marcus goes against his mother wishes and basically joins an organization of xenophobic templars, killing a lot of orcs.

His real question is not about vengeance though. It’s about why his mother’s murder happened. You’ll be able to discover why as the story progresses.

G: So Racism will be a big topic for the game.  

HY: Yes, it will be a big issue, and this is an issue that we wanted to explore, because racism is a serious issue in the real world today and it was even worse a a hundred or two hundred years ago. We should all be friends, internationally, and this is something people should reflect on. Misunderstanding is the biggest issue in racism.

It’s high fantasy, and the world is very similar to the novels by Tolkien, but the difference is that Tolkien wrote in an era in which racism was even more rampant and people during Tolkien’s time didn’t really understand racism because it was the norm. If you read his novels the orcs don’t have feelings, they’re always terrible, goblins eat people, trolls kill people, and they don’t have any morals at all.

I don’t think that writing a story like that isn’t sophisticated enough for us. Our world will be much more complex. Orcs will have reasons why they do what they do, and the reasons that lead to war will be much more sophisticated than those that are normally part of normal JRPG settings.

Project Phoenix (2)G: So orcs aren’t going to be purely evil…

HY: I’m not going to tell you anything about that yet. You’ll have to find out yourself.

G: Is Project Phoenix going to feature romance between characters? How important is it going to be to the story?

HY: We are thinking to feature romance in our JRPG, but it’s not going to be the main theme. There are more important issues than romance, and our characters won’t have too much time for it.

The problem with JRPGs, or with Japanese games in general these days is that they try to satisfy the otaku, and that’s not satisfactory at all for most people. Just look at the Japanese “Moe” culture. It’s a representation of the otaku’s desires. Otaku demand their desires to be translated into games, like big breasts, big eyes or revealing clothes, but they didn’t use to be like that. It used to be more balanced.

It’s like art. When you listen to music or watch a painting, you need to use your imagination. Imagination is a key theme in Project Phoenix and is much stronger than what you can actually show. Having great and flashy graphics like Final Fantasy nowadays is not working because you lose the biggest weapon you have, which is imagination. This is why it’s failing.

In terms of our game we’re going to make sure that imagination plays a key part in the adventure by, one, making in game characters super deformed, and two, we don’t want to explain everything. So if we’ll have romance in our game, we don’t want to exactly show what happens. We won’t show characters kissing that much. We’ll just show that a little so the players can imagine what the relationship is like. I think this way is more delicate.

G: You’re negotiating with Sony a release of the game on PS4 and PS Vita, what are the reasons behind choosing those consoles instead of others like Nintendo’s or Microsoft’s platforms?

HY: The problem with Nintendo… You know, I like Nintendo and everything…but not a lot of people buy it. I know a lot of fans buy it, but there are so many restrictions with Nintendo, and also the fact that Nintendo in Japan does not accept indie games.

We think Nintendo is taking a wrong approach towards games like ours. I think maybe it has to do with the Kyoto culture…very old companies. Nintendo itself in Kyoto is not that old, because in Kyoto there are companies that survived for hundreds of years, and compared to them they’re relatively young, but in terms of video game industry they are very old. They have a set of rules that does not fit with the core values of our game, basically.

They have interesting hardware, but it ends at “interesting.” It’s not “exciting.”

Our main goal is not to publish on all consoles. Our main goal is to make the best game possible on the best platforms. The reason why we’re going to work on PlayStation 4 is because we’ve been asked by a very small publisher who wants to publish for PlayStation 4, and they’re passionate, and don’t want to influence our creative side. I agreed to that because they understood the intricacies of indie games’ development. That’s how it came to be with the PlayStation 4 and the Vita.

Project Phoenix (3)

G: So there will be a publisher involved for the console version, correct?

HY: Yes, that’s correct, but this is not finalized.

G: You previously told that there’s a 90% chance, right?

HY: Yes, that’s correct.

G: What are your plans for localization?

HY: I want to be very honest. I kind of want to apologize but also explain why I chose just Japanese and English as languages in the first place. Many European people can read English and I think it’s better to make the basic aspects of the game as well as possible before we include other languages like Italian, French, German and Spanish, but we are looking into it.

After upgrading the basic elements we’re looking into having a stretch goal to add those languages. I’d love to see more support from Europe, as the majority of the pledges are now from the United States and Japan. I want to ask the European fans not to loose faith in us…I’m going to tell you a new announcement exclusive to your website. The localization in Italian, French, German and Spanish will be in the $2.175.000 stretch goal, which is the next stretch goal we’ll add.

Some people think better cinematics or better animations or a new storyline are more important, but I think these are extras that we don’t necessarily need before localization in these languages. So I’d really like to ask people  from these countries to help us push the Kickstarter campaign so that we can localize the game in their languages.

After the stretch goal about more languages we’ll upgrade the cinematics, the in-game animations and there’s actually another storyline that we call the “13th Legion” storyline, that is going to be a totally separate story about a completely different character that happens at the same time during the game. I can’t tell you the amount of that stretch goal…but it’ll be very expensive (laughs).

We have a core group that works only with royalties, but to make this storyline I’ll have to hire more designers. I can’t expect the people we have now to do it by themselves.

G: You should bring Sakaguchi-san on board!

HY: Sakaguchi-san (laughs)?

G: That would be great no? You have Uematsu-sensei already after all. 

HY: Yeah but Skaguchi-san is a system creator, so he’d want to change the whole system, so we probably won’t have that (laughs). We can’t ask him to just do level design…that would be rude (laugh). Maybe I’ll ask him to join us for dinner instead.

G: With expensive wine like Uematsu-sensei says?

HY: Yes, Uematsu-san likes any kind of alcohol. Be it yellow, red, or white…he likes everything (laughs).

G: Will additional localization have voice acting?

HY: No, there won’t be voice acting. There isn’t just translation, but also bug testing to do for every language, and it’s very difficult. Unfortunately my French is only preliminary and my Italian is limited to my music education, so I can’t really listen to voice acting in those languages and decide if it’s good or bad. In terms of English and Japanese I can, of course.

Talking about the English and Japanese voice acting, the English one will be directed by Donna Burke, but we’re not going for anime approach to localization. English anime voice acting is…

G: Horrible…

HY: Yeah, I don’t like it. We’re going for a very serious approach, like films.

G: Thanks a lot for taking the time to answer to my questions. Is there anything else you’d like to tell our readers to conclude this interview?

HY: I don’t know if I can answer all the questions, but it would be great if everybody could talk to us. There’s a lot of room for misunderstanding because there’s so much hope in people that want a good JRPG, and I used to be in the same shoes, and now I’m developing a game that hopefully everybody will like and delivering on everybody’s hopes.

We hope we can deliver, but we need feedback, because this should be everybody’s game. It’s not just for Japan, but for the whole world. We’re going to listen to feedback as much as possible, and to everything that is going to make our game better, because we want to make the best JRPG possible.

We’ll have a forum ready by the end of the Kickstarter campaign. It will have a section for backers only, but there will also be one open to everyone. You’ll also be able to become a backer even after the Kickstarter campaign, since we’ll have a Paypal option open for quite some time, so please give us as much feedback and advice as you can.

If you still haven’t backed Project Phoenix and would like to pledge your support, you can do so on the official Kickstarter page. Every little bit helps!

Join the Discussion

  • foureyes oni

    oh i am so excited for this game!

    • Frankiemazz

      You and me as well. This game sounds extremely interesting, and Uematsu!

  • trhvmn

    Looks like Yura knows exactly what he wants from this game, and I like the sound of it. Now I’m a lot more excited… I’ll see if I can get some money to support the Kickstarter.

  • GS01R

    Cool Interview!

  • Nicholas Perry

    “We’re going to keep it simple and fun. It’s going to be linear, but
    players will be able to experience many, many side stories, and I think
    this way is better for us because it’s simple, and it’s effective. It
    also allows you to explore the lore deeper.”

    Thank you.

    I’m getting sick and tired of open ended “choice” based RPGs.

    • Allisa James

      Mmm for me it depends on how it’s done. For instance, the Shin Megami Tensei series has always had multiple endings but that happens to be a long standing tradition and one of the defining features of the series. Also I really enjoy the ending paths since they tend to be developed very well.

      I hate it, though, if open choice endings are put in just to pander to the West or some other bull like that. Linear is not bad, especially if everything is fleshed out properly. JRPG developers need to learn to stay true to what would be best for their game.

  • Nicholas Perry

    “English anime voice acting is…

    G: Horrible…

    HY: Yeah, I don’t like it. We’re going for a very serious approach, like films.”

    I whole heartedly disagree with this and almost find it insulting.

    English Anime acting is no worse than Japanese Anime acting,

    • Giuseppe Nelva

      You’re very free to find “insulting” something that does not involve you at all.

      Most English Anime voice acting is very low quality, and having worked in anime localization for quite a few years (voice acting supervision included) I can definitely testify to it. Like it or not, that’s how things are.

      It’s a matter of budgets, number of lines to be done in a single shift (which is normally excessively high for anime, leaving very little room for correcting mistakes and perfecting the job) and lack of a long standing tradition.

      There are exceptions, but those (few) exceptions are exactly those that follow the same methods and work pacing of film voice acting.

      • Kconroy

        Giuseppe Nelva

        Thank you for making such an opinionated comment. I will block this site from now on.

        • Giuseppe Nelva

          Feel free. If you can’t stand other people’s opinions, the problem is on your side :D

          • Kconroy

            I don’t have a problem with your opinion all. In fact, I thanked you your opinionated comment. I do have a problem with you making assumptions on thinking I had a problem with other people’s opinions making me looks like an intolerant douchebag. Nice political swerve. -_^

            I’m blocking the site because my Pc has a problem with this site’s layout for some reason. Now that we’re done making assumptions, Good day gentlemen. :)

      • towhomitmayconcern

        gotta say i disagree with this as well. When we appeal to invisible majorities, we can always expect a non-sequitur. And, if we are going to appeal to generalities, I would say that anime fans have less idea of what constitutes voice ACTING and only focus on how a voice sounds which is naturally much more subjective than acting quality and can indeed be influenced by the quality of the dub as a whole.

        This isn’t even bringing up how acting has less to do with the dubbing process. Just because you don’t like a script an actor has to read doesn’t mean the actor cannot play the part. Half the time, people dislike the script editing that often times took place in dubs and conflate that with voice acting and thats not fair at all.

        while budgeting is definitely a concern, generalizing your experience to the whole is insulting to those who do put their hearts into their acting and despite their budgetary concerns are capable of pulling out voice acting quality that surpasses the Japanese originals. We have slew of very gifted English VA now compared to before when anime was first getting its footing so forgive me for not finding your comment very honest.

        • Giuseppe Nelva

          Which is why I said “Most”. I’m not generalizing. There’s a few good ones, but they’re the minority.

          It’s not even a matter of the actor’s personal talent. It’s simply a matter of budgets. Most anime are done on very low budgets (because they don’t have very high sales expectations), which means having to work with a pacing that’s much higher than film and most often even higher than games.

          You can be the greatest actor on the world, but when you have to work with a very high number of lines in a shift you’ll botch quite a few of them, and you won’t have the time to retry.

          Also, tradition plays a very important roles in artistic endeavors. Japan has an extremely long standing tradition for voice acting, where the US’s tradition is relatively young.

          If voice acting quality was made only by the actors’ individual skills, we’d have much better voice acting across the board.

          • towhomitmayconcern

            I’m sorry, but i’m not sure what you think “most” implies. Qualifiers don’t change the fallacy here. You’re saying the majority of dubbed anime is bad because of your experience and thats not good reasoning i’m afraid. You’re still sticking to the same generalization.

            while I can agree that they aren’t as budgeted as should be, but that alone does not mean the voice acting will turn out badly. Take Growlanser 2, Disgaea, Lunar Eternal Blue, etc for instance. Really small budgets, with decent dubs. I remember Growlanser 2 having a big impression on me where they included a making of video where they showed the voice actors and how much passion they had for their roles in the game and how the process went down.

            Now lets compare this to FF 10 where they have a huge budget for everything. The infamous laughing scene is what i’m referring to. Many would call that a botch, as you say, however; was it really a botch? Tidus was clearly playing a joke on Yuna when he laughed like that, but many fans found it to be the worst example of dubbing ever. Another example, and I’m gonna get a lot of heat for this; however, the character Lymle in Star Ocean 4 is derided because of her voice acting. Many accuse of her of not having enough emotion, but thats exactly the point. Lymle’s character lacks basic emotions.

            All of this is to say that calling something a “botch” is more up to individual opinion than anything. Not saying you’re wrong here, I’m saying there’s more going on than just budgets leading to bad acting. From my understanding, actors can read lines over and over until they get something satisfactory. Once they actually record it, they can’t go back and redo it anyway.

            as for tradition, animation in Japan was inspired by Walt Disney’s works which were already voiced. If anything, the tradition of animation voice acting is stronger in the West, than it is in the East. Unless you mean something else entirely all i’m seeing is strawman.

            as for the last point, are you trying to say that the skill is the same for every voice actor? Thats what it seems like to me. You can’t very well say that budget concerns lead to bad voice acting when you know quality voice actors tend to come with high wages which may be beyond the budget of dubbing processes for anime/video games so the natural thing to do is to hire less qualified actors to save money. Chaos Wars comes to mind. The company hired family and friends to do the voice acting for the game. None of these people had acting experience and it shows.

          • Giuseppe Nelva

            Considering the examples you bring for “decent dubs” your idea of a “decent dub” evidently differs from mine.

            Also,tradition is for voice acting, not for animation. North America produces most movies, and imports less, meaning that it needs a lot less voice work than other countries do.

            It’s animated production isn’t anywhere comparable in terms of volume and local popularity to the Japanese production, where animation is basically the main form of audiovisual media, and that created a stronger and much more rooted voice acting tradition in Japan.

            In north america the best actors go to hollywood, they don’t normally lock themselves in voice acting studios unless it’s for extremely high budget production that are more an exception in their career than the norm.

            In Japan many of the best actors do voice acting, because there voice acting is considered at the very least on par (and by many more relevant) than live acting or stage.

            Saying that English voice acting on average is on par with Japanese voice acting is pretty much like saying that Japanese live films are on average on par with hollywood, which is a tad ridiculous.

            but again, if lunar or growlanser is your idea of good voice acting, we don’t really have common ground for discussion here.

            They weren’t terrible for the budget they had, and I’m sure they put a lot of effort in it, so it’s probably isn’t the actors’ fault, but we really aren’t at a level that I consider even nearly decent, sorry.

          • towhomitmayconcern

            all thing considereds, you’re saying that voice acting is tradition is Japan which implies that there was voice acting before animation and thats simply not the case. The practice started in the west, Japan was inspired by western animation and both practices, as I mentioned includes voice acting. Separating the two is not only non-sequitur, it misses the point. We are talking about voice acting for animation. Voice acting is something specific for animation. Acting of its own is was present before animation in both societies. Its simply wrong to say that voice acting is tradition in japan solely because of fame.

            Whats more, fame in of itself does not mean that Japan will have better voice acting. You bring up live acting, erroneously, but thats for a later point, and how Japanese live acting are “bad” compared to western hollywood acting. This is ironic as because this style of acting in Japanese live action is exactly the style of acting used in Japanese voice acting.

            also, those “many best actors” in Japan tend to do voice work for big budget animations similar to hollywood actors here. Its an individual thing for those in Japan to, as you say, “lock themselves” in a voice studio for low budget anime; however, i would say you’re over selling the issue there, however, i’m not the most learned in this area

            as for the other point I said i’d come back to, animation in the west is huge multimillion dollar industry here. We have animated characters that are more famous than scientist we’ve produced (how many Steve Hawkins theme parks we have world wide? How many Disney theme parks we have world wide?) and as I’ve said, these same characters have lead to the creation of anime. Its anime thats not as popular in the west and thats do to cultural differences and maybe even xenophobia, but thats not the same as animation.

            as for your separation and apparent derision on my opinion on decent voice acting, you ignore reasoning and instead focus on individual impression on the voices. Annoying voice acting doesn’t mean the voice actor can’t act. I want to see commentary on acting style and not how a voice sounds. If you focus on how the va sounds, then yes we don’t have much to agree on here, but I simply hate dismissals.

          • Giuseppe Nelva

            Tradition isn’t made just by time, but also by volume. So yes, Japan has a much more solid and rooted tradition of voice acting than English countries.

            The only one missing the point here is you. The quality of voice acting is created by the final results, not by the individual skills of an actor.

            Any voice actor, director, or anyone that ever worked on it will tell you that voice acting is more of a team effort than any other kind of acting.

            You cite Disney movies, but how many moves does disney produce? The volume of animated series and movies produced in the US is not even near to comparable with the volume produced in Japan, and that, over time, is what produces a much more solid tradition.

            It boils down to the fact that In Japan animation is a primary form of audio-visual entertainment, and it’s treated as such. In North America this isn’t the case.

            if you ignore how the voice acting sounds, you can’t comment on its quality.

          • towhomitmayconcern

            going by the definition of tradition in this sense, no its not determined by volume and how could it? Volume is associated with what is popular at particular points in time and some years, popularity wanes. That doesn’t mean the tradition is broken though. In any case, here’s the definition:

            “cultural continuity in social attitudes, customs, and institutions”

            And to act as if I’m only talking about Disney movies just shows how biased your point is. When I refer to Disney, I”m not simply talking about its movies. Mickey, Donald, and Goofy all predate the Disney movies. That should have been obvious when I mentioned Disney inspiring anime as it was a particular Disney character that inspired it and that was Mickey Mouse. That was well before the movies started. Just so we are clear, I’m talking about Disney’s animation history as a whole, and not just Disney’s history alone, but Merry Melodies, Warner Brothers,M.C.M, Popeye the Sailor, Tom and Jerry, Scooby Doo, pink panther, rocky and bullwinkle, Peanuts etc. Warner Brothers frequently used famous actors of the time to play parts in their cartoons. Family Guy, Futurama, Simpsons, etc all do that now

            and no, i’m not missing the point. My point is inclusive of the team effort. Did you not see when I said I agreed with your budgeting point? If you’re reading what you want to read, there is no point in me typing to you. The issue here is how much budgeting damages the over all product and I argue that its not enough to truly show in the voice acting unless the company went totally insane and hired non-actors instead of even mediocre actors to save money.

            and no animation is not a primary form of audio-visual entertainment there. There’s a reason why Otaku isn’t a term of endearment there. It seems to me you’re caught up in the internet anime fan’s idea of Japan. I’d suggest some cultural studies and read up on social issues there. I’m not denying that anime is a large market there, but its not a social movement or an animation paradise.

            And really? You’re going to ignore the theme parks, clothing lines, multiple successful movies, parades etc etc etc that we have in the west all dedicated to animation? Gundam been huge in Japan for years before that statue got made. How old is Disneyland now? How wide spread is Disneyland?

          • Giuseppe Nelva

            No matter how many studios you name. Their production isn’t nearly as large as the production of animation in Japan.

            And if you think that volume of production doesn’t contribute majorly to create tradition and mastery, you’re completely off target.

            Your assumption that budgeting issues aren’t enough to damage the quality of voice acting is completely off base as well and, I mean no disrespect, shows that you have no experience whatsoever in the field.

            Lower budget means having to do a lot more lines per shift, which involves doing a rush job, Rush jobs are not conducive to quality in any kind of acting.

            By the way. Theme parks don’t make voice acting better. You seem to be bringing in totally unrelated arguments for the sake of proving a false point.

            I also advise against talking about a country when you don’t know much about it (and the funniest part is that you suggest “cultural studies” when you quite evidently have absolutely no idea on Japanese culture).

            “Otaku” is not a blanket term to define all Japanese animation fans in Japan. It just indicates the most fanatical, that dedicate their whole life to it. As a matter of fact, the term “Otaku” isn’t even just related to Anime. It’s related to any form of fanatical dedication to a hobby, whatever that hobby is

            That’s why there are movie otaku, gun otaku, tank otaku, videogame otaku, overclocking otaku, circuitry otaku, ruined building otaku… hell there are even railway otaku.

            For every Anime Otaku in Japan there are hundreds of normal people that watch Anime as their main form of audio-visual entertainment, from young kids to salarymen, each category with their dedicated sub genre.

            Might want to get your facts straight before you suggest others to do cultural studies. It’d help :D

          • Guest

            @disqus_C874mvvA7k:disqus

          • Guest

            @disqus_C874mvvA7k:disqus ;)

          • trhvmn

            Disgaea’s dubs are considered decent?

        • Guest

          @disqus_C874mvvA7k:disqus
          pour water on burnt surface ;)

  • Mildra

    Sadly, I cannot jump at it at this time. His “I don’t think the game mechanic is as important” comment rubbed me the wrong way, since mechanics and what they bring to the table ARE a big deal for me (after all, the mechanics in Eternal Darkness and Remember Me got in the way of enjoying the story). Either way, what I get out of this is the same “JRPGs nowadays” comments and emotive gobbledygook from the pitch. While there’s a few decent points, I find that my OSR comparison still stands.

    Also, maybe its just me but the fact that the question “What is a JRPG” can have so many answers IS A PROBLEM WITH THE TERM.

    • Aza

      I think he meant that the game mechanics are not as important for defining what JRPGs are, not that that they are not important per se. His point was that that the uniqueness of JRPG experience doesn’t lay in turn based combat (which most JRPGS tend to have), but in characters and storytelling.

      • Mildra

        You’re saying the exact same thing he did in a different coat of paint.
        Which still ignores the fact that “JRPG” is a poorly defined genre, hence why I don’t use it. Also, it being about characters and storytelling is a weak definition of a genre’s “experience” (emotive language if you ask me), considering how one could say that about ANY character-centric game.

  • rpgmaniac

    Very nice interview GZ! I enjoy it very much, also it was very funny at times especially when u ask him to bring Sakaguchi on board hahahahaah :P also I agree that English voice acting in JRPGs sucks compare to Japanese & I’m very glad u also agree with that, it’s hard to find a game journalists who don’t afraid to speak his mind because most of them afraid the bashing from dub-lovers afterwards, so yeah glad to know u r not one of those guys who play it good for every1.

    Keep up the good work I want to know more about this game about it’s battle system especially & about the in game graphics, do they plan to enhance them if the kickstarter go overly well? like do them more realistic like Fire Emblem games for example I would like that very much! so get this info if u speak again with him plz :)

    • rpgmaniac

      “Hiroaki Yura: Have you played Starcraft and Warcraft?” he asks me. “You know those
      team missions where you don’t have Barracks? You can’t make new units,
      peons, or farmers? You do missions in small teams. [Project Phoenix] is
      basically that. That’s the closest description I have for you; it’s that
      and a little bit more.”

      It seems I get the answer I was searching for from another interview ^__^ I am a huge fan of StarCraft I play this game from all the way back to 98 when it first came out & I have SC2 also so this example was perfect, now I get it perfectly, we micromanage our squad-based Heroes at real time individually, this sound very interesting because I love those missions from SC where u control a few elite units through a mission & u don’t have the option to build any extra stuff so u must be very careful with what u have, still I want to see some gameplay video with some battles before I say I’m sold, & better graphics/models/animations during battle is also very welcome.

  • Aya Hamada

    “It’s basically like Final Fantasy Tactics” that’s all what I need to read ^.^

    • Aya Hamada

      i Liked how Hiroaki referenced this interview in his latest update :P

  • griever_gf

    I decided not to support this project because of real-time combat.
    We NEED a turn-based JRPGs, it’s a heart of this gentre.
    We NEED something like BoF5: Dragon Quater battle system. Not another korean-MMO-stupid action bullshit…

    • foureyes oni

      unless its on a vita or ds i don’t see turn-based JRPGs making a comeback on consoles. Turn based JRPGs need to evolve for this next gen maybe not necessarily into the more action realm but something needs to change. I honestly couldn’t see myself enjoying the old school turn based jrpg that much on a next gen console even though i love a lot of those older games (i’d still buy it though lol).

  • Warboss Aohd

    “The problem with JRPGs, or with Japanese games in general these days is
    that they try to satisfy the otaku, and that’s not satisfactory at all
    for most people. Just look at the Japanese “Moe” culture. It’s a
    representation of the otaku’s desires. Otaku demand their desires to be
    translated into games, like big breasts, big eyes or revealing clothes,
    but they didn’t use to be like that. It used to be more balanced.”

    Thank you!

    “Talking about the English and Japanese voice acting, the English one
    will be directed by Donna Burke, but we’re not going for anime approach
    to localization. English anime voice acting is…

    G: Horrible…
    HY: Yeah, I don’t like it. We’re going for a very serious approach, like films”

    This i disagree with.

  • Splintee

    “Talking about the English and Japanese voice acting, the English one will be directed by Donna Burke, but we’re not going for anime approach to localization. English anime voice acting is…”

    G: Horrible…

    HY: Yeah, I don’t like it. We’re going for a very serious approach, like films.

    So they didn’t saw Persona 3-4 LOL…

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