Saturday, 7 September 2013

STGCC 2013: Hideo Baba (Interview)

Picture Credits : STGCC

Some of you will know this Japanese game producer from his popular game series, the "Tales of" series. This series includes titles like Tales of Xillia and Tales of Graces, released in 2011 and 2009 respectively.

Picture Credits : STGCC

It was an honour to meet such an awesome game producer, although this is my first interview.
I was nervous at first, so i couldn't really churn out many questions to ask..
Will try to become a better interviewer!

Before i go and babble on, here's the interview with Hideo Baba!


We would also like to credit the other bloggers who were in the same round robin interview group as us, so if you're interested, do check out their blogs too!

The Neo Tokyo Project

//If we missed out anyone, please drop a comment and we will credit you too!


Q: What is the direction that the Tales series is going in the coming years? 
Hideo Baba: As you know, the Tales of Xillia’s 15th anniversary was released this month in Singapore. The Tales series has a very long history. We will be looking forward to celebrating the 20th anniversary, but that is all the information that I can talk about as of now.

Q: So I guess, Tales fans in Singapore can expect at least a new Tales title every year then?
Hideo Baba: Sorry, I cannot make any promises about the time frame in-between releases of new titles, but I would like it if we can correspond with that timing. Since Tales of Xillia, it takes a long time to localise and translate the titles into English, but for future titles, we will do our best to shorten the time difference between the release of the Japanese version and the English version.

Picture Credits : STGCC

Q: That sounds great! About localisation, one of the games that many Tales fans are interested in is Tales of Hearts. Was that they discovered is that Tales of Hearts has not been translated into other languages. Will Tales of Hearts ever be translated?
Hideo Baba: I've already received many requests about Tales of Hearts from fans overseas who do not speak Japanese. Personally speaking, I would really love to bring Tales of Hearts to the overseas fans. However at the same time, I need to also consider about how this will succeed in terms of business.  As the market overseas is still growing, I will also need to predict when would be the best time to release the translated Tales of Hearts version. So nothing has been decided yet about the Tales of Hearts series on the translation aspect, however I personally would really like to bring the game to all the overseas fans. 

Q: So, how about the mobile games? There were quite a few Tales series mobile phone games; will they ever be imported into a console or in some way that will be available for Singaporeans to play?

Hideo Baba: As you know, there are many different titles currently released on the mobile phone. One of the most difficult things is the fact that in Japan, we developed the game under collaborations with another companies, so we are unable to decide its release to overseas countries on our own. Personally, again, I would like to bring all of these to the overseas fans, but the current situation is so that we are only able to release the mobile games in Japan.

Q: The Company has trademarked a lot of 'Tales of ' names recently. May I know what the sudden taking of trademarks is about?Hideo Baba: To consider the possibility of future titles, the main team got together and came up with a couple game name ideas, with regards to the main theme and the story line. Hence we looked into it to check if it was okay to use that title for the future games. Therefore we trademarked these names.

Q: So are these new games concrete plans, or?
Hideo Baba: Currently, it has yet to be decided and is not a concrete plan. But, we still need to check if it's okay to use these titles, so we're just looking into the possibilities. When we decided a theme, we will deduce a best title with regards to explaining the theme, but there are times that we have found out that certain names have already been registered in the overseas market, so we cannot use the names. To avoid this situation, we will check the availability of the titles ahead of time.

Q: What do you think, in your opinion, makes a good game? Is it the visual side, game mechanics, story line, music, etc?
Hideo Baba: I believe that the most important thing about making a good game is having a new gaming experience with the game. Of course, the music, graphics and etcetera are important and are still big features of the game, but having a new gaming experience is the most important game feature. My thinking process is that games are interactive entertainments, so the video game must bring a new game experience to the users.

Picture Credits : 

Q: Then for the new Tales series, are there any plans to use any new technologies to enhance the 'new experience' for gamers?
Hideo Baba: Of course, I always use the new technologies to bring out the new gaming experience to the users. But, I believe that the idea is still more important than the new technologies.

Q: In terms of ideas, when you're managing a team full of creative people, how do you manage the team and all the creativity coming from the talents?
Hideo Baba: For example, when talking about graphics, there will be many teams, like teams for making backgrounds, monsters, characters, motions, and visual effects in-between scenes. In the background graphic team, there will be people from this team who want to try making monsters. So, it will be impossible to respond to all of the creators by letting them do all that they want to try. However, if people in different teams rotate between teams, it would be easier to see how other teams operate. This also help spread around the knowledge within the different individuals and also helps the teams work together more easily, and to create a common understanding. For example, one team like the monster team could help the graphics team out with a certain problem and maybe solve it out for them. This policy can also keep in all the motivation between the teams and aid in the development of the games.

Q: Are there any big problems that you face? And how do you deal with these problems?
Hideo Baba: When placed in a very difficult situation, we will call each of the team's leaders to a meeting. We will then discuss how other teams will be able to help a certain team with a problem that they are having trouble on. This is the process we use to solve our problems. I will then decide which proposed solution is the best solution as to solving the problem stated, and proceed on with the development of the game. Sometimes, it is too difficult to solve the problem in terms of schedule or cost, so we have no other choice but to give up on that problem.

Picture Credits :

Q: As the Tales series has been running for a long time, how are you able to keep up the inspiration and aspirations up for the series?
Hideo Baba: I think that the most important thing is to love the development of the game. Developers and production staff who cannot love the development of the game, will not be able to continue working on the development of the game. Development of one game can take a very long time, maybe even three years, and within the three years there will be many ill travels or problems happening. Whenever I come back to my desk from a meeting, there will always be a long queue of staff waiting for me, asking me for advice on how to solve their problems. So I need to have a love and passion for the games' development to continue giving advice on how to solve problems across the board of the numerous teams as to making the best game possible. Sometimes this involves giving up on one part of the game, or making very difficult decisions. Hence the passion and love really helps me on giving me the feeling to continue with the production of the games.

Q: All in all, which team do you think is the most important contributor to the game series so far?
Hideo Baba: I would say that, all the team members are equally as important to the development of the game. I cannot lose any person of my team, if not i would not be able to continue the development of any more of the games.

Q: What do you feel each time a new Tales game makes it out of the production line and into the market?
Hideo Baba: Upon release of some of the games, I actually go and visit some of the retailers selling the game on its day of the release. When I see customers take the game and bring it to the register to pay for the game, I almost cried. Whenever I see customers bringing the games up to pay and bring it home to play, I will remember about the past three years of development of the game, and the process of making the game, and then I will become very touched and moved by the gesture.

-Transcription/Commentary by Rian
-Layout/Pictures/Posting by Rian

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