Hideo Baba on Tales of Xillia and the Future of the Series

Saturday, May 25th, 2013

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Tales of Xillia Cast

In an exclusive interview with Game Informer published recently, Hideo Baba gave some insight into the ever popular Tales series. Hideo Baba, the producer of the series, used the interview to discuss Tales of Xillia, the direction of the series as a whole, and current efforts to see more of the games localized.

One of the big things discussed in the interview was the creative process around the Tales series, and the challenges of creating new games in such a long-running franchise:

What are some of the challenges of keeping a series fresh after being around for so long?

What I always keep in mind is, “the reassurance in the freshness.” This means I always consider the best balance between innovation and the basic strong points of the series, which allows [players] to enjoy the basic features as well as the new gameplay with ease. For example, the storyline and the world were created from scratch to enhance the brand new fantasy world and theme for each title, though some titles such as Tales of Xillia and Tales of Xillia 2 are set in the same world as an exception. On the other hand, we develop a battle system for every title where anyone can enjoy it with the simple and real-time control and feel exhilaration.

Tales games are known for the characters. Can you walk us through what goes into the character creation process?

First, we consider the detail of characters such as height, weight, age, physical type, gestures, facial expressions, and weapons. Each character has a unique way of speaking since that is one of the clearest ways to express and describe the personalities of characters. Next we consider what the characters’ motivations, burdens, and principles through their journey are. These detailed settings are created so that players can empathize with characters.

Hideo Baba also discussed the continuing efforts to localize the games for Western fans:

In the past, North American fans have been frustrated over entries that didn’t make it over here. How do you see the future of the series in North America?

I think the ideal situation is if we can bring all the titles to the overseas fans, I would like to do so. However, we cannot consider the overseas releases separately from the business perspective, and we need to discuss which title to release overseas considering the localization. If the series can be enjoyed by as many fans in the western countries as in Japan, there are possibilities to solve the problem. In order to do so, I have been aggressively attending overseas events and done grassroot activities for the past two years to make the series more recognizable and have more people interested in it. I believe if these activities succeed, it can be instrumental in making it possible to bring more titles overseas.

He also shared a bit about Tales of Xillia, which is set to be released in North America on August 6th of this year:

Can you talk about Tales of Xillia’s story and what themes players can expect to encounter?

Tales of Xillia can be played from two different perspectives, Jude and Milla, so I would like you to play the game from both perspectives to understand the world of Xillia more. Some story events are only experienced in Jude’s route and others are only seen through Milla’s playthrough, which I do not want fans to miss. The major theme of the storyline is “conviction.” The storyline addresses the determination to adhere to your convictions and beliefs, and to bear the repercussions that these convictions cause.

Lastly, Hideo Baba also touched on the future direction of the Tales series:

Xillia has a more mature art style. Do you see this trend continuing for future games?

I can surely say that the art style of Tales of Xillia will be a basis for future titles. We introduced the life-size characters to better portray the atmosphere and scale of the adventure, and so players can feel as though they are exploring the world. Though the characters are expressed in life size, the texture is not photo realistic, but is based on the anime and water-color style, which is one of the traditional characteristics of the series.

Where would you like to see the series go next?

Since the storyline is one of the most important elements in RPGs, we have been considering different ways of portraying the narrative so that players can fully immerse themselves into the story. I would like to develop a new Tales of game where players can enjoy the adventure seamlessly.

Overall, it was an enlightening interview that should be of interest to fans of the Tales series or JRPG fans in general. Check out the full interview here!