Interview with Yuji Naka

Interview Data:

  • Interview Date: Unknown (possibly 2001)
  • Interview Topics: PSO Story, Phantasy Star, Online games, Communication technology
  • Interview Source: external.png

Q: What was your role on the PSO team?
I was a producer.

Q: What other projects have you worked on?
I worked on "Samba de Amigo 2000". Now, I am working on "Sonic Adventure 2" too. PSO release is bundled with a trial version of "Sonic Adventure 2" so I think you can enjoy more than you expect.

Q: Let's first start off by getting to know more about PSO. Many readers are anxious to find out what exactly the game is about. What is the storyline?
"Project Pioneer" is a project of emigration that was necessitated to be progressed because of the decline of mother planet.

"Pioneer 1" an emigration ship for transfer between planets that has super long distance reached to planet "Ragol" that was discovered by automatic probe. Emigration searched around and confirmed the safety. They started full-dressed investigation to emigrate to this planet. They maintained the environment and started the construction of "Central Dome" that will be the strong-hold of life.

Seven years later, full-dressed second emigration ship "Pioneer 2" has been invited from Pioneer 1 and came to planet Ragol. Pioneer 2 has reached to the satellite orbit and just before starting the correspondence with Central Dome, there was a big explosion at the surface of Ragol. And communication between Central Dome has disconnected.

What happened to planet Ragol?
The game starts from where mysterious explosion attacked Central Dome. Player plays the roll of capable hunter that has a mission to discover about the mysterious explosion at Ragol. Player is not only the hunter that was hired by governor. There are many of them to go to search concurrently.

This is the opening story of PSO. So, you are one of the member of Pioneer 2 and have to investigate the mystery of the explosion.

Q: How do the different characters figure into the storyline and the game, itself? Do they have any sort of backstory as they would in a traditional RPG?
The character is the player itself. They are all member of Pioneer 2 and have to investigate the mystery, what happened at Planet Ragol. So who make each character's backstory is not us, it is the player itself. How the character be will totally depends on each player.

Q: How different is the singleplayer adventure from the multiplayer game? Are there stronger story elements in the singleplayer version?
Some of the mission can be play only by a single player mode. It is also fun to play by a single player mode though I made the level little bit higher than the multi-player mode. I think those players who play by offline also think that they need someone to cooperate.

Q: Is there any connection between this installation of PSO and any of the previous titles in the series? If so, can you give us any examples?
The universe of PSO is same with previous Phantasy Star series. Some enemies in previous Phantasy Star series can be seen in PSO too. I think old Phantasy Star fans can enjoy too.

Q: How does the level building system work in PSO? Are you awarded a certain amount of experience points after a battle? Are you able to distribute the points or are they evenly distributed automatically?
Person who attacked monsters get 70% of the experience points. Person who finish the monster get 100% of the experience points. Who supported and used recovering technique don't get experience points.

Q: Is it possible to complete the game in singleplayer mode or will gamers have to play through certain segments online? Or vice versa?
It is possible to play by single player mode though the difficulty is little bit higher than the multi-player mode. So I think you will feel that you need to have a cooperation.

Q: Could you explain how the chat feature works in PSO? Is there an opportunity for gamers to use a keyboard or their controller to type in any messages that aren't preset?
Players use their controller or keyboard to chat with other players. There are several situation that they need to communicate. For example, some doors have three buttons and those must be pushed concurrently to open that door. Like this situation, they need to have a conversation who pushes who. Or when there is a item on the road, players have to discuss who takes that item. Player A is still weak so have him take that item to gain power, etc.

Q: On a personal note, what is your proudest achievement in completing PSO? Are there any aspects that you're particularly pleased with how they turned out?
Word Select System might be a big feature. I have played with Internet based RPG like UN in the past though there was a language barrier and I couldn't communicate well. Though this new system can let you talk freely with other players in other countries. The words and phrases you enter will automatically translated into their own languages. Useful phrase are already installed and you can chat by just choosing those phrases. Also, there are many symbols of face expression. Those should be useful to express your feeling.

Q: How much of an effort was it creating such an unique title? Was this your first experience with working on an online game?
It was really a hard work to create an online game. Internet itself is not originally made for playing game stuffs. So, it is very very difficult to utilize this on games.

Q: What is your opinion on online games? How much more difficult is it to create an online game over making a singleplayer offline title? Do you see online gaming as the becoming the standard in the future?
Like above, Internet is not originally made for playing game. So it was really a hard work to utilize this on games. I think online gaming will be a standard in the future, though I do not think that the offline single player RPG will disappear.

Q: When you create an online game, there are so many more variables to consider during its development. Are there any features that you would've liked to include in PSO that just didn't make it? Do you have any expectations as to how you'd like to approach your next online game with this experience in mind?
Well… To tell the truth,this title expanded its possibility more than I first imagined. Many features have been included while developing. Therefore, I cannot say the exact answer but when the time past and I played this title in the future again, I think I will say that these new system is really old now and I wanted to included something else. I think the technology utilized in this title may be a small achievement but be a big effect for future developing.


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