Yuji Naka interview by Gamespot (February 2, 2001)
From Sonic Retro
Yuji Naka: Right after Sonic Adventure was done, we started experiments for the network. So, including the experiments that began right after the completion of Sonic Adventure, Phantasy Star Online has been in development for two years.
Gamespot: What challenges did you face in developing a networked game like Phantasy Star Online?
Yuji Naka: As far as creating a network game for the Internet--you can basically connect to the Internet from anywhere in the world--the first challenge we faced was that of language. So, the first thing that we tried to figure out was how to get across the language barrier for everyone connected to the Internet.
Gamespot: Why decide to do an online role-playing game in the first place, instead of a traditional RPG?
Yuji Naka: What we set out to make was a game that would get people to communicate with each other and cooperate. In order to do that, we had to take it online. So, that is why it is online. From the Phantasy Star series we borrowed the worldview and the fact that it is a science fiction role-playing game, but that is pretty much where our influences from Phantasy Star end. We decided not to bring the storyline or any of that across.
Gamespot: So, are there plans to do a more traditional role-playing game?
Yuji Naka: You mean not online?
Gamespot: Yes, perhaps not online, but with a more traditional Phantasy Star story and with the characters. Is that something you would want to do in the future?
Yuji Naka: No, I don't think I'll make that. If I make something similar, it will probably be something new.
Gamespot: The success of PSO in Japan, as an online game, does that encourage you to make more networked games?
Yuji Naka: I think that Phantasy Star Online is doing really well in Japan now, in terms of people coming together over the network--communicating and cooperating. I am really looking forward to that happening on a worldwide level from here on out. So, if that does happen and Phantasy Star Online is a success, then I am looking forward to making other games like that as well.
Gamespot: In the making of Sonic Adventure, Sonic Team visited a lot of different areas like Aztec temples and places like that. Did you get to do that this time around? And what are some of the places that you got to visit?
Yuji Naka: Like you said, we visited different places with the first game, but we haven't done that this time. Instead, we've taken the whole development team and moved them to San Francisco. So, in that sense we are working in the environment of the game. If you look at the Sonic Adventure 2 demo disc [available with the release of Phantasy Star Online] you'll see that the San Francisco environment is in there as well.
Gamespot: The original Sonic Adventure had large adventure areas that led into action sequences. Will that be the case in the sequel?
Yuji Naka: It will be different this time. It will probably be a little bit more action-oriented.
Gamespot: As far as the Sonic character, will he move into other genres? You did the two Sonic Adventure games and went into a different genre with Sonic Shuffle, but do you plan to release new games in many different genres?
Yuji Naka: Since this is Sonic the Hedgehog's tenth-anniversary, I would like to see Sonic trying new and different things. So, it may be possible to see him doing something completely different.
Gamespot: We'll look forward to that. Thank you for speaking with us.
Yuji Naka: Thank you.