The Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition producer and director talk about the project, the upcoming console title, and more.
Let's begin with what led to the development of the remaster.
Tomizawa: The two main factors were the year of the 10th anniversary of Tales of Vesperia, and realizing that the number of titles that could be played on current hardware was dwindling. So part of it was responding to the players who said they still wanted to play those games. We also knew we could do a worldwide simultaneous release while reaching platforms like the Nintendo Switch and PC that we haven't made headway into, to reach more new players than ever before.
The original announcement was at Xbox E3 2018. What was the reception like?
Tomizawa: So grateful we were shocked. It really hammered home how beloved Vesperia was overseas, and how much it's maintained that level of passion all these years. I was literally shaking.
Higuchi: Not only that, but this is a remaster of the Playstation 3 release, which was never released abroad. So there's also the fact that we finally answered the foreign fans' eagerness after so long.
It is well-known abroad, isn't it? What about other games?
Tomizawa: Perhaps not all of them, but several of our projects are taking the foreign reception into account.
Anything new in the remaster?
Tomizawa: Nothing new compared to the PS3 release, but we do intend to bundle some of the paid DLC, like costumes, and limited-time items, free of charge.
Higuchi: Players who have only experienced the Xbox 360 version can look forward to the new elements from the PS3 version, like new characters Flynn and Patty, new cutscenes, and extra voice acting.
It supports FHD graphics now, right?
Tomizawa: It depends on the console, but we have polished the graphics in many ways with the understanding of FHD rendering. Also, previously only combat rendered at 60 frames per second, but now the entire game runs at 60 FPS.
Higuchi: In particular, the effects and 2D rotation look noticeably better. And just being in 60 FPS really changes the experience of navigating around environments.
Will the animated cutscenes be remastered as well?
Tomizawa: The animation has been upscaled to FHD. The cutscenes are rendered in-engine, so they'll be rendered to your normal resolution.
Have there been any difficulties in development because the environment has changed so much in 10 years?
Tomizawa: We have all the original source code and other data, so of course we started by seeing how much of it could be ported to our new environment, but... it was more unique than we expected. (chuckles)
Higuchi: Vesperia was the first HD game in the series to start with, so we kind of made it as we went along. Looking back at it now, there's some terribly tricky engineering in there, and a fair bit of homegrown processes. And the animation was done by Production I.G., and it was their first HD product as well - I remember at first they asked "is this even possible?" It was certainly a transitional period.
So it wasn't an easy port.
Tomizawa: We have our methods. The original staff have also helped a great deal, so we managed to figure it out somehow. Thinking about the process now, there were many times where we really felt the motion of history from back then to now.
Higuchi: I've actually been fairly hands-off development. I was available if anything happened, of course, but it seems to have gone fine.
Any plans to remake or remaster other older games in the future?
Tomizawa: Our first priority is to get as many people as possible to love Tales as long as possible, so we want to give them the opportunity to experience the games that form the series' origins. We haven't decided if that's going to be through remasters or remakes or something else, but we are open to requests.
Does that mean you, Mr. Tomizawa, are going to be a producer on the Tales series?
Tomizawa: That's right. I will be involved in future projects on home consoles, including the new one announced at Tales Of Festival 2018, as producer.
Will you be managing the Tales IP as a whole, like with God Eater?
Tomizawa: The series has gone a long time without a home console release, so we'd like to focus on releasing one new console product for the moment. But as we move forward, I expect to expand from working with the console teams to mobile and events and help them work together, as well.
Speaking of mobile, you just announced the new game Tales Of Crestoria. Can you tell us more about it?
Tomizawa: I'm not working on it myself, but I know it's taking a different path from the "all-star" games before and trying to be its own, entirely new story. They're hoping to reach everyone out there enjoying RPGs on their phones and become a new entry point into the series.
And what's the status of the new game you're working on?
Tomizawa: I can't share anything yet, so you'll have to wait for more information. But I've been informally involved with development from the start, and what we always had on our mind was brand value and what fans love in our games, and we've talked a great deal about those ideas as a team. The entire team is working with love.
What can you tell us about the organization?
Tomizawa: Bandai-Namco Studios is managing it. They've built up this series from the start, so their people are reliable.
Higuchi: I'm working on other things right now, but I've seen Mr. Tomizawa talking with their staff all over the Bandai-Namco Studios offices on a nearly daily basis. He definitely has all lines open for this project. Personally, I'm very excited to see what happens.
Tomizawa: In the future I'd also like to open lines to the fans, so we can hear what they're looking for. Until then, we hope they have fun playing Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition.