Interview: Tales producer Hideo Baba on Tales of Xillia, more
posted on 10.16.12 at 12:26 PM EDT by (@salromano)
Baba-san discusses upcoming localization, Tales series.

At Comic-Con in New York, we spoke to Tales series producer Hideo Baba about the upcoming English localization for Tales of Xillia, Tales of Xillia 2, the Tales series in general, Baba-san’s thoughts on the western market, and other subjects.

Find our full transcript below.

Transcript

— First, I’d like to talk a bit about the Tales series in general…

Baba: The Tales of series are Japanese RPGs developed Japanese developers which describe worlds of swords and magic. We [the Japanese] grow up surrounded by anime and comics, and we like to implement the features of anime and comics in the Tales of series.

— Is there one character in the Tales series that you can really relate to or particularly love?

Baba: That’s a difficult question to answer. I like all the characters! But if I need to choose one character, this time I’ll pick Milla from Tales of Xillia because I really want the young women in the world to see how cool she lives and how she spends her life.

— With Tales of Symphonia, you had this sort of dynamic story element where, depending on your choices, you either kept Zelos or Kratos. Do you plan on having more dynamic story elements like this in future games where your decisions affect the story?

Baba: Actually, in the next title, Tales of Xillia 2, which will be released on the first of November in Japan, the player needs to make decisions throughout the story many times, so I think this is a very similar system to Symphonia.

— But do these decisions have an effect on the overall story?

Baba: If I talk a lot about how the decisions have an effect on the story, I will spoil it. So I cannot talk a lot about this. But I want to implement similar systems in future Tales series titles.

— Up until Tales of Xillia, the Tales series has not seen a female protagonist. And even in Xillia, she’s paired alongside a male protagonist. In the future, do you see any Tales games as having a single, female protagonist?

Baba: The idea sounds very interesting and possible, but we don’t have any plans to have a single female main character in future titles.

— What goes into deciding which platform a Tales game is developed for?

Baba: I understand that fans in western countries have some interest in the formats, but the biggest market for the Tales of series is still in Japan. And so in Japan, most fans expect to have the game on the PlayStation format, so we are now releasing the titles only on the PlayStation format.

— Can I ask your thoughts on the Wii U?

Baba: We don’t have any plans at the time [to bring the Tales series to Wii U]. But the Wii U is very unique hardware, which has one big screen [on the TV] and one small screen [on the controller], but with the console for development of an RPG, the players need to play for a long time, so we need to create a game in which the gameplay will help players feel less stress.

— Recently, you said you were considering the feasibility of dual audio in Tales of Xillia. Have there been any developments on this?

Baba: I’ve been making efforts to include both Japanese voice-overs and English voice-overs. But with the Japanese voice-overs, it’s not just about data, but the licensing problems. But we are making efforts to resolve this problem.

— Let’s be frank. What does Tales of Xillia have to do in order for Tales of Xillia 2 to be brought stateside?

Baba: Since we’ve decided to release Tales of Xillia 1 in western countries, I really want to bring Tales of Xillia 2 to western countries, as well. But I need more and more users to continue showing interest in Tales of Xillia 1. So please enjoy the game and share your feedback with friends!

— It was recently revealed that Tales of Xillia 2 protagonist Ludger won’t be very chatty until the second playthrough. What went into deciding this, and how will it effect his character development?

Baba: One of the main concepts of Xillia 2 is that we want players to become the hero Ludger. Part of the gameplay involves players selecting his actions and emotions. So, to help players feel that they are Ludger, we on purpose did not include voice-overs on the first playthrough. The voice-overs have a really strong effect in the game, and if Ludger speaks with his voice, the players cannot feel that, “Okay, I’m Ludger,” because his voice is different from the player’s voice. So I chose not to implement voice-overs on the first playthrough.

— Recently, in Japan, you released Tales of Innocence R for PlayStation Vita, and in 2009, Tales of Vesperia for PlayStation 3. Are there still chances for these titles to come stateside?

Baba: The Tales series team is always working mainly on development of the new titles. Because the number of staff members are limited, the main focus is creating a new title, like Xillia or Xillia 2. So the number of titles which can be localized for western countries is limited, unfortunately.

— Can you, at least, officially shut down a possible localization for Tales of Vesperia on PlayStation 3? There may still be fans holding back importing.

Baba: This is no official announcement that [localization of] the PlayStation 3 version is shut down. Of course, there is the still the possibility. But I don’t have any plans or an official announcement about the localization of the PlayStation 3 version of Vesperia, as of now.

— Recently, you’ve been overseas promoting Tales of Graces F and Tales of Xillia. How have your trips overseas changed your views on the U.S. and European markets?

Baba: Compared to the Japanese market, the U.S. and European markets are still growing up, and becoming bigger and bigger. But console JRPGs and Japanese animations are not so much recognized [in the west] among fans. So I think we need to keep promoting these types of RPGs and Japanese culture, because there is still the possibility of potential users in there.

— Is there anything you specifically like about the western markets?

Baba: The graphics in western games are very photo-realistic, such as Uncharted, Assassin’s Creed, Skyrim. Capcom had Dragon’s Dogma, which is an RPG and performed well in the western countries, as well. But I like these characteristics in western games. I don’t implement these features in the Tales series. But I do enjoy these features in the western games.

— I want to talk, for a moment, about remakes. Tales of Innocence R was your latest remake. And hidden artwork in Innocence R hinted at Tales of Hearts being the next. Is Hearts R your next remake, or do you plan on more remakes in the future?

Baba: (Laughs.) I’m sorry, I cannot talk about what’s coming next. But the remake titles are important titles to the latest handheld or console, and can be enjoyed by both current and new users of the Tales series. So I want to remake titles as much as possible.

— A form of a remake, I guess, that we’ve been seeing lately are HD remasters. Will the Tales series ever receive an HD remaster?

Baba: Of course there are very wide and broad possibilities, so I can’t deny the possibility of an HD version. If the timing and performance power of the team allows for it, it’s possible, I think.

— If you can make any game you like without having to worry about sales numbers, etc., what would it be?

Baba: If I don’t need to worry about things such as sales or budgets, I personally like open-world RPGs such as Dragon’s Dogma or Skyrim, so I would like to develop a title like this. But I don’t mean I want to turn the Tales of series into an open-world RPG.

— Is there any type of game design you particularly enjoy?

Baba: I enjoy a lot of games. But especially I enjoy the game design of Gravity Rush.

— Is there any message you would like to give to fans regarding the Tales series and the coming release of Tales of Xillia?

Baba: I want to continue to release as many Tales games as possible in western countries. And I want to shorten the time between the Japanese and western releases. Right now, it’s a long time, but I want to shorten it. So stay tuned and thank you for the support!

  • Kazziyan

    but we don’t have any plans to have a single female main character in future titles.^That really sucks. I guess it can change.

    Also, nice question got answered. I never knew they were trying. Good to know. I’m surprised he hasn’t shut off hope on Vesperia. Won’t keep any hopes up, but interesting, I guess.

    I’m also glad he plans to keep Tales of very Japanese and influenced by manga and anime.
     
    Overall great interview. Thanks!

    • CirnoTheStrongest

       Yeah was really hoping he wouldn’t be so adverse…Ah well, these things take time.

      Definitely excited to know that he won’t be westernizing the Tales series any-time soon ~

  • Mura

    I’m very pleased to know that Baba is trying for that dual audio as well. Damn licensing but I can understand.

  • Xenovelgr

    Baba is awesome. Very cool interview. Though I wish he would have given an estimate of when we can expect ToX to come out

    • Kazziyan

      I remember reading somewhere else that it’s still a vague 2013 release. I guess they haven’t grounded anything yet.

  • http://www.facebook.com/cbosak1 Christopher A. Bosak

    I own Tales of Vesperia PS3 version. It’s enjoyable and Patty Fleur just makes the game more enjoyable in General. I used to own Tales of Vesperia for Xbox 360, and beat it so I know the story. 

  • Fantasytales

    Nice interview im glad he wants to keep the tales series the way it is that’s the only reason why i love the tales series because of the anime feel it has, i wouldn’t want it to be changed. i got myself a 360 just cause of vesperia but i still hope it comes out on PS3 at least he didn’t shut down the possibility. also happy about the HD remakes hopefully it happens soon i would love to replay tales of the abyss in HD.

  • http://www.facebook.com/wolfe.wallace Wolfe Wallace

    You keep releasing them Mr. Baba, and I’ll keep buying them.

  • http://twitter.com/AceOfCakez Ace

    Really great interview questions. Hoping for a release date for Tales of Xillia sometime in the near future. 

  • vertical09

    “I don’t implement these features in the Tales series. But I do enjoy these features in the western games.”
    And don’t ever start implementing them Baba~

    Welp. We know how we’re going to get more Tales games here now, sooo….*turns into walking advertisement*

  • An chan Yumi

    No questions for PSP’s Tales for VITA pfff…

    Only “Xillia”, “Xillia”, “Xillia”
    One worst mothership Tales of.

    • fireemblembeast

      Don’t hate Xillia just because it’s a PS3 exclusive. >;3

      • An chan Yumi

        I finished Xillia a year ago and it accumulate too many defects for the 15th anniversery of great serie.It was shorter and almost as linear than ff13, nothing to do with the surprise that was TOA for the 10th.

    • Speedo Redempteur

       first xillia is the next localised game.so of course people that haven’t played the game want to know more.

      Second xillia wasn’t bad at all.
      It had plenty of good things inside and was a total commercial sucess and is getting a sequel..
      it’s not that bad.
      While xillia changed a lot of things it was still a tales of game and quite fun ( i know because i’ve platiniumed it )

  • margherita mastropaolo

    i’ll buythis great game on day one,also i hope they’ll bring us tales of xillia 2 as well,judging but what we saw this sequel looks gorgeous

  • margherita mastropaolo

    i’ll buythis great game on day one,also i hope they’ll bring us tales of xillia 2 as well,judging but what we saw this sequel looks gorgeous

  • ShinobiMuramasa

    Excellent interview and question choices! Thanks a lot!

  • zakou

    …Why did so many people try to stop me in belive that there still is Tales Of Vesperia possiblity for western audience when here you hear it straight from the horses mouth “STILL POSSIBLE”

    Thank you Sal, this interview gave me some new hope in Tales of HD releases and something i badly want “Tales of Vesperia”

    However only one thing remained i wanted to know but forgot to ask.

    The question was:  How did Tales of Graces F in US/EU without telling the actual numbers itself, and if the Tales of Graces F sales was enough for Tales of Xillia 2 to be released if Xillia 1 has the same sales as Graces F.

    • Arrei

      Companies will rarely ever give a straight answer for these sorts of things. Keeping doors open and all that. People say to give up on Vesperia PS3 because things like the age of the game and the existence of the 360 game for 30 dollars point to “no release”, but they’re never going to just go “Nope, not bringing it over.”

  • Learii

    ♥ thank for the inffo Baba ♥

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001059050301 Jermaine Brendon Ramradj Kanha

     Man, I’d really like to see Tales of Symphonia returning to the Western as an HD remake for the PS3 – that epic was classic!
    If they’re going to make Tales of Hearts R, they should make it for the 3DS – oh please god, do that! I mean, a fanbase was built thanks to TotA 3DS (especially in Europe).

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001559914929 Timothy Solis

    Nice interview! Covered a lot of questions that other interviews stray away from. Hoping soooo bad for dual-audio to make somehow ~!

  • http://runicfencer.deviantart.com/ Mistral

    I’m glad to see he wants to keep the feel of Tales games as they are. Some companies risk changing a series image just to fit in, but they remain steadfast. I admire that about them. Really excited for Xillia 1 in English and Xillia 2, which i’ll definitely buy. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Keichi-Morisato/100000966444006 Keichi Morisato

    Hideo Baba is my new video game hero, so many of my favorite japanese game companies are trying to westernize (and most often doing so horribly) and either abandoning great franchises or ruining them by trying to westernize them in order to appeal to a wider audience.

  • fireemblembeast

    Thank you for using so many of our questions, Sal.  This interview was very informative! ;D
    Hideo Baba’s answers were great, too. He always puts so much energy into the series for us.

  • PrinceHeir

    “Let’s be frank. What does Tales of Xillia have to do in order for Tales of Xillia 2 to be brought stateside?

    Baba: Since we’ve decided to release Tales of Xillia 1 in western countries, I really want to bring Tales of Xillia 2 to western countries, as well. But I need more and more users to continue showing interest in Tales of Xillia 1. So please enjoy the game and share your feedback with friends!”

    getting this along with Grace F(yes i should be ashamed)

    Baba: (Laughs.) I’m sorry, I cannot talk about what’s coming next. But the remake titles are important titles to the latest handheld or console, and can be enjoyed by both current and new users of the Tales series. So I want to remake titles as much as possible.— A form of a remake, I guess, that we’ve been seeing lately are HD remasters. Will the Tales series ever receive an HD remaster?

    Baba: Of course there are very wide and broad possibilities, so I can’t deny the possibility of an HD version. If the timing and performance power of the team allows for it, it’s possible, I think.

    much better answers than the JoJo Interview ^^

  • http://www.facebook.com/JaeWhy SasuleUchiha

    This interview is great. No useless question at all.

  • KurisuMakise

    I know I wasn’t the only one who asked about Vesperia or Tales of Innocence R, so I’m glad that was asked Sal. The response given was hmm…it makes me thread cautiously. On one hand it could just be PR speak and nothing will really get done. On the other hand, there might be some plans, perhaps during an “off” season for Tales if they decide to transition to PS4 quickly. What does concern me though, was Baba did not address TOI:R despite it also being asked, instead defaulting to Vesperia PS3. Does this mean TOI:R is indeed planned and Baba could not talk about it or is Vesperia PS3 a higher priority? 

    Ah…I feel so…not satisfied. However, his comments assure me that we’ll probably get TOX2, provided we do our part. I’m looking at you PrinceHeir, go get TOGF, don’t hurt the cause! And of course, buy TOX1 on release or as soon as you can, I will of course do the same. TOGF is honestly my RPG of the year. It got me back into JRPGs, got me back to Tales and funny enough, is the first Tales game I’ve beaten on my own without friends (I did broken sessions in Symphonia with my friends, that was good fun). I’d totally love the chance to play with people online in Tales in the future, as meeting up with buddies for local play isn’t as easy as it used to be. 

  • PrinceHeir

    Hey Sal, since your asking a lot of Namco representatives, can we get a Harada-san interview from you??

    i want to ask him a few questions abut Tekken Characters like Devil Kazuya and Tekken Hybrid Costume packs(with Blood Vengeance costume)

    as well as the future of Sou Calibur(although Daishi Odashima is the one to be ask) i think Harada can answer this though(plus i want to ask if he can still contribute to the series)

    pretty please Sal!!!

  • http://twitter.com/RaiuLyn Raiu

    Good job on squeezing answers out of Baba… Now I can rest easy….

  • Wing Beelezemon

    A bit disappointed about what he said about the Wii U.

    In other theme, I do not care if they put the voices in Japanese or not, but If they leave them, definitely I would be happy. What I do want is to keep the opening with the same song, the opening of Xillia is just amazing :) In Abyss 3DS they took away the voice in the American version (not sure if they did the same with the others), and it still hears well, but I’d like more with its original lyrics.

  • http://ryuz4ki57inenglish.wordpress.com/ Thomas FROEHLICHER

    I like the way the question about Tales of Vesperia was asked, it was very clever. However I don’t like how Baba-san DIDN’T respond. Can’t those Namco guys take a little responsability for what they’ve done?

  • Yoshi Yamato

    Tales of Vesperia still have little chance huh. Well I hope that small chance will come true