We start off this series of exclusive interviews with GameArts president Youichi Miyaji. Since the 1992 debut of Lunar, GameArts has been renowned for developing critically acclaimed and well-loved RPGs. Last year the company completed work on two highly anticipated titles, the PlayStation 2 RPG Grandia III and the newest installment of the Lunar series, Lunar Dragon Song (known as Lunar Genesis in Japan). Furthermore, at Tokyo Game Show 2005 GameArts not only announced the development of its first-ever MMORPG project Grandia Online, but also revealed its entering into a strategic partnership with Japanese MMORPG giant GungHo Online Entertainment. Below you will find Mr. Miyaji's thoughts on these and other important issues regarding GameArts.
Q: Mr. Miyagi, we have many questions for you, but first could you tell us about the impetus that made you enter the game industry?
A: About 25 years ago, I purchased a Commodore PET 2001. That was the impetus that made me develop videogames.
Q: Grandia III was released in Japan on August 4th 2005. How did it perform in terms of sales and what are your expectations for the game's release abroad?
A: In Japan the game has sold about 300,000 copies. Among Japanese RPGs it has gained popularity as a BIG title. I'm extremely happy about Grandia III being anticipated by fans from abroad as well. Please enjoy [playing the game].
Q: You announced the development of Grandia Online during Tokyo Game Show 2005. Compared to already available, popular MMORPGs such as Square Enix's Final Fantasy XI, NCsoft's Lineage or Blizzard Entertainment's World of Warcraft, what will be the characteristics of Grandia Online apart from a world based on the Grandia universe? Also, how is the title's development progressing?
A: GameArts is a company with [a lot of] technological muscle, hence Grandia Online will become a game unlike any other, buzzing with originality. [The game's] development is progressing just fine. We will most likely be able to reveal it at this year's Tokyo Game Show 2006. As far as the characteristics of the game are concerned, it will be the first MMORPG that allows [you] to experience an adventure. Since at this point in time we are still before the presentation, I sadly can't say more than that.
Q: Is there a possibility that Grandia Online will be released not only in Japan, but also abroad (in North America, Europe or South Korea)?
A: Of Course. However, because the game's administration will also be unique, the partner will be important.
Q: GameArts has recently become a consolidated subsidiary of MMORPG giant GungHo Online Entertainment. What kind of effect will this have on GameArts (as a game developer)?
A: The administration service side and the product development of online games will be unified, hence I believe we can offer one [complete] product.
Q: Will GameArts continue to develop console-based (offline) RPGs after having become a consolidated subsidiary of GungHo? Are you already actively planning or developing games for next-generation platforms?
A: Of course we are also working on a next-generation title. Preparations are already underway. Also, I'm thinking that we will be able to announce quite a surprise this year.
Q: Talking about Lunar, you recently released the first installment in a decade with Lunar Genesis (Lunar Dragon Song). However, Lunar Genesis is not Lunar 3, right? Looking at the sales and reviews of Lunar Genesis, where do you think the series is heading in the future?
A: As far as Lunar is concerned, I have produced Lunar 1 and 2, but since then have not been involved in the series. If I have time, it is my dream as a creator to produce [another] Lunar game.
Q: Mr Miyaji, what games are you playing yourself?
A: I'm playing RTS (real-time strategy) games. I love CDV's games. Right now, I'm fighting as the German Africa corps.
RPGFan would like to thank Youichi Miyaji and Rika Okabe for their cooperation and support in enabling us to present this exclusive interview to our readers.
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