Silicon Studio is best known to western gamers for the adorable little heroes of Bravely Default.
Bravely Default brought JRPGs back to basics where they grew too cumbersome and into the present where they lingered too long in the past, and players of all strokes loved it - Nintendo said it sold more than 200,000 units in its first three weeks of western release.
It was the result of a dream collaboration between Silicon Studio and Square Enix, the latter providing the concept and ideals and the former providing the technical grit and gusto to fill in the details.
The studio is now at work on Bravely Second, laboring in quiet as fans in both hemispheres wait to brave, default, and level up through endless job combinations.
But Silicon Studio got its start working on the technology behind games - its post-effect processor Yebis 2 is still a significant part of the business. We talked to Silicon Studio president Takehiko Terada about the future of the Bravely series and balancing tech with gaming.
CVG: What project have you showcased at GDC?
Takeda: We are a gaming tools provider in Japan, we also develop games. This year we're showing one of our products which helps out with game development.
It's called Yebis 2, and it's a post-effect engine, which can be used to make scenes more realistic by adding post-effects. We have high-dynamic range glare, motion blur, every post-effect can be implemented in our Yebis product.
Our game engine is supporting the device. We're one of the first developers to get access to the device.
Can you talk about what you're doing with it?
We're still figuring it out.
How has working with Square Enix on the Bravely Default series been?
It was a very good cooperation. We focused on development, they focused on the big picture. They did the concept design, and we developed the details.
How long have you been working on Bravely Second?
We started in September, so about six months.
So far Bravely is a 3DS series. Do you like it best there or do you see it expanding in the future?
We may expand in the future, but we don't have a clear plan yet. We're talking about that, maybe using other devices, but we don't have a clear plan.
On 3DS we're really using the 3D capability. The scene is in 3D, but it's not just regular 3D, it's designed to be best seen in the stereo view. Even just a regular indoor scene is designed to have a feeling of depth.
How has that affected your design approach?
We wanted to use every feature of the device as much as possible, so we took using the 3D capability seriously
Many games just have two cameras and make normal scenes 3D but we designed every environment to be best viewed in 3D.
Did working with 3D in Bravely Default inform your approach to Project Morpheus?
Not directly. We want to use that technology in the best shape, we want to focus on how we can use the power of the device.
We take a particular device, and see what is possible with the particular combination of the contents and the device.
How has the experience of bringing Bravely Default to the west been?
We're excited about it, we wanted to do it. It's a very Japanese-style game so we had some concern that it's maybe not welcome in the west, but the result was good.
Western dramas helped inform the game's narrative. Were there any other elements that were chosen with the West in mind?
We didn't get into that. We only care about the voices matching up with the Japanese voice actors as much as possible. Other than that we didn't change anything.
Do you have a release window for Bravely Second?
Square Enix will decide when, but we don't have a date yet. Of course the development timeline is decided, but that doesn't mean it will be released right after development.
Do you see more games besides Bravely Default coming from your partnership with Square Enix?
Square Enix is our shareholder, so we have a very good relationship with them. Hopefully we have another game coming from our relationship.
"In the future we want to have a really realistic game, not like Bravely Default which is really cartoonish"
What defines Bravely Default as a series?
It's not like a Final Fantasy where each game has a totally different story. It's a sequel so we have some portions of the previous.
We're trying to make a stronger franchise, just like Final Fantasy. We plan to continue with numerous titles.
Will it stay in the same overarching story?
We may decide to change the world, but at this point we'll continue in the same one.
What do you see coming next for Silicon Studio?
We're a game developer, but at the same time we're focusing a lot on the technology side. We have a very beautiful rendering engine coming, and hopefully we can expand our tech business in the US as well.
In the future we want to have a really realistic game, not like Bravely Default which is really cartoonish, but a more realistic game.
Few studios do their own games on top of licensing out technology. How is that working for you?
We started as a technology company and started developing games after. For us it's really natural.
How does one inform the other?
The game development team, they don't have to care about technology, because the R&D team develops everything so they can focus on the gameplay itself.
How does the game side inform the R&D team?
The team gives good feedback to the tech team. The tech team focuses too much on technology sometimes, they go too far, and sometimes they have something that's just not necessary in the game, or is too complicated. So they help each other to make a great product.