With a great software and hardware lineup, 2010 seems to be another great year in gaming. We’re looking forward to E3 to hear (and see) more about those great RPG’s we’re covering and therefore we’d like to introduce you to one of them.
Over the past couple of weeks, The Last Story’s column has had quite a few updates written by an unknown producer and director. Currently the column contains 5 of the 8 entries detailing various things about The Last Story. Below you can read Andriasang’s wonderful translations of these columns. Read them, view the screenshots, get excited for this Wii RPG that will be released later this year in Japan.
* Only the latest column and screens will be shown on the main page. Read the full article to view the other columns.
Tuesday, April 20: Column 8, presumably the last column, was added and contains more information about the battle system.
Column 8: Battle Concept
"We wanted to make a new type of RPG battle," writes the game’s director about how the staff approached the game’s battle system. "We wanted a system that merged real time battles with command selection, something that had an action feel but would also make you think. After much trial and error, we came to the current form."
Joining the "Gathering" and "Pointing" terminology from the last blog post, the director here mentions "Magic Circle." This is apparently something that remains on the battle field after your magic strikes. While not saying exactly what the "Magic Circle" is, the director describes it as an "important element." There are a variety of types of circles, including "recovery" and "flame" types.
Regarding the "thought" part of the battle system, the director says that time will freeze while you’re inputting commands. You’ll also be able to give orders to your AI-controlled party members.
The director finishes: "Combat in The Last Story is powered by a system that blends action with command selection.
The game’s producer gives some background on battle system creation in general. "Before making characters and stages, you have to create the battle structure." With this thinking in mind, The Last Story’s development consisted of a lengthy period showing red and blue scribblings as the characters in combat.
According to the producer, the staff required a great amount of test time to properly show the battle system’s concept of "Order and Chaos."
Column 1: Island
The Last Story is set on Ruri Island. The island is located at the entrance to a harbor, the sole harbor of a continent that’s surrounded by mountains. This content is home to an empire.
As the central point of transportation and defense for the empire, the island is a place of great power and wealth. It holds massive cannons and is home to soldiers ready to defend against enemy invasion.
Ruri City, on the island, has benefited from the island’s wealth, in contrast to the rotting lands of the empire proper. The city apparently has a mysterious power which makes the beasts gather around it at night.
"No one knows the fate of this island, which is about to change greatly," finishes the post.
The director’s post mentions one character, a Count Arganon. Lord of the island, he differs from the carefree nobles who reside within the Empire in his great ambitions. He fully understands the importance of "power," and the value of magic for attaining that power.
The game’s producer (it’s unclear if this is necessarily Hironobu Sakaguchi himself) also contributes a little to the post. He writes that a common understanding between members of the development staff regarding the world of The Last Story is that it’s "A world with little steel." The staff imagined a recognizable world with science fiction elements suppressed.
"We’d like you to enjoy Ruri Island, bathed in abundant sunlight, and the story that unfolds there," finishes the producer.
Column 2: City
In today’s column, the game’s director wrote that in creating Ruli City, he wanted to convey the feeling of actually being there. He also mentioned game-like elements for the city — the changing reactions of passersby, things flying in the wind, and even "desperate escapes."
Wrote the director, "Prior to creating the city, we visited small towns in France and Italy. It was for research. Of course, it’s a fantasy virtual world, so there’s no need to make it match reality. However, by incorporating architectural designs that were made to support life over a long history, we will be able to build a convincing world."
Ruli City serves as the base of your adventures, said the director.
The game’s producer, presumably Mistwalker’s Hironobu Sakaguchi, made note of some of the differences in design between Ruli City and the cities you find in other RPGs. In most RPGs, he explained, designers add dead ends to road ways and create wide roads, all in an effort to keep the player from getting lost. "However, the city of The Last Story is expansive, and if you walk a good amount, you’ll probably get lost. There are few dead ends, and a large number of narrow roadways."
"There’s a reason for this type of setting. Please, walk around Ruli City aimlessly to experience that reason."
Column 3: Knights and Mercenaries
In the world of The Last Story, there’s a harsh separation between two classes of soldiers: "knights" and "mercenaries." This is a separation that’s difficult to cross. Knights are at the high ranks of society. They have nothing to worry about except mastering their skills. Mercenaries, on the other hand, are treated like "disposable units." They must wander like vagabonds in search of work.
The main characters in The Last Story are mercenaries. In the words of the game’s director, they "have dreams of becoming knights, but fight on the boundaries of death as mercenaries." The mercenaries know the sadness of losing loved ones, having their villages burned down, and having all their possessions stolen. They want power because power is all important in order to protect those whom you love.
Writes the director, "’Extreme Power’ is poured onto those who harbor ‘sadness and loneliness’ … however, they must not make mistakes in how it is used."
The game’s producer, presumably Mistwalker CEO Hironobu Sakaguchi, notes that in addition to having a low social standing, mercenaries are detested because they always fight. Knights, on the other hand, are a symbol of authority. They pledge their allegiance to the lords of the land and lead a stable life. People have respect for them as friends of justice.
It shouldn’t be surprising that the mercenaries, who don’t know their own tomorrow, should long to be like the knights, writes the producer to close off the blog post.
Column 4: Water
The game’s as yet unnamed director writes, "Within the world of computer graphics, the feeling of water is remarkably beautiful."
He mentions some uses of water in The Last Story’s world — a waterfall in a cave, a large river in the center of town, and "the seas upon which the main characters head out."
In addition to water, this week’s blog post is about sound, which the director feels is important in giving life to the world. "I believe we’re progressing well with sound effect production," he writes. "We placed importance on it from the start, and while it is out of the ordinary from a scheduling standpoint, we started sound development simultaneous with the start of production."
He continues, "In the ‘world,’ there exists ‘sound’ that has been running in parallel for a long time. The influence of this will pull the gameplay and cinematics in good directions, I believe."
In closing, the director writes, "’Water’ and ‘Sound’ — while in the supporting role, they’re also primary players."
[Note: I previously mistranslated the above as "’Water’ and ‘Sound’ — from the supporting role to the main roles."]
The producer, also unnamed, makes note of the how ancient Rome built aqueducts, which made water supply essential for a city. While The Last Story’s main city of Ruli does not have aqueducts, it does have canals which have an effect on the lives of the people. Notes the producer, "The canals lead to the sea, and the sea teaches people that in order to head out on adventure, they need ships."
Based off the comments from the producer and director, It looks like vehicles, at the very least ships, will feature in The Last Story. Finishes the producer, "The world in an island will expand with the use of ships. Vehicles in a fantasy world are an important tool for getting you excited."
Column 5: Star Viewing Tower
Hoshimi no Tou, literally "Star Viewing Tower," is an actual location in the world of The Last Story. Write’s the game’s producer, on The Last Story’s primary setting of Ruli Island, Hoshimi no Tou is a tower from which the stars appear more beautiful. People look up at the stars from this tower, point to their guardian star, and speak.
The game’s director describes one particular meeting at the tower. Two characters meet and speak about their dreams. "In this place that’s sacred to the Arganan Family, their hearts touch for just a moment."
"The girl" whistles a song whose words she’s forgotten, writes the director, a melody about people torn apart that has been handed down in her family.
Both characters lost their parents in their youth, but were able to survive even when surrounded by wars and power struggles. They both have difficult memories, but with time these memories turn into kindness.
"Everyone has a place that is special to them," writes the producer to close off the blog post. "For ‘her,’ this Hoshimi no Tou appears to be an extremely important place."
So who is the mystery girl, and who is the person she’s with at the tower?
Column 6: Story
The director (still unidentified) confirms that the characters depicted in the illustration are the main character and heroine.
"There is a wall between the two," he writes. Based off the director’s comments, it seems that there’s something keeping the two apart and unable to live their dreams together.
The director also writes that in The Last Story, there will be a number of other stories besides the story of these two characters. He mentions:
- The fear of speaking your true feelings
- The mystery of the father who went missing on boat
- The difficulty a leader has in making decisions
- The close accomplice who’s turned to evil
- The foolish archaeologist’s prison break
Concludes the director, "It’s very important to merge battles and gameplay with story. Neither can stand on its own. Once both are connected together, the characters will rise up as "human" within the container of a game."
The game’s producer (also unidentified) states, "The characters who appear in The Last Story all walk their own paths and have their own stories." He likens this to the real world, where no one has lived their lives following the same path as you.
The main part of The Last Story’s story will focus on the main character, says the producer. However, he believes players will also have a chance to be touched by the stories other characters as well. "Once you’ve been touched by that, it’s likely that you’ll be able to feel their [the characters outside of the main character] true feelings, which you did not see before."
Column 7: Of Chaos And Order
Writes the director, "Making order from chaos. Or, pulling the enemies who were in order into chaos. Using one of the main character’s skills called ‘Gathering,’ we wanted to make a system that would let you control that type of situation."
During battle, the current focus of the enemy is marked with a line, called a "Pointer." "This is probably the most special feature when you see this game," writes the director. The pointer’s color can be used for strategy, as it will indicate enemy type, such as soldier, mage, or archer who attempts to disrupt your own mage’s magic chants.
The gathering skill is used to steal the focus of an enemy. Execute the gathering skill, and you make the enemy turn his focus on to you.
One example of this system’s use is in a situation where enemies are focusing their sights on your mage. You can use gathering to turn their sights on to you, assisting your mage in chanting his magic.
"Controlling chaos and order on the battle field ties in to victory," finishes the director.
The producer notes that when playing sports or doing anything where you face off against an enemy, the first thing you do is create a strategy. In order to have all members move in accordance with a prescribed strategy, participants need to cooperate, sending signals to each other and getting into formations.
"Combat in games is the same," writes the producer. "Ordered movements of your allies is the key to victory. But what if there were an opponent who could bring confusion to that order?"
A story board at the blog shows how the gathering and pointer systems work, beginning with the start of battle (above) and continuing to the main character gathering the enemy focus on himself so that a party member mage can successfully cast a spell that makes the main character’s sword more powerful.
Have a happy Easter and stick with us for the latest updates on The Last Story!