Interview with Yoshitaka Murayama (SRM)

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Interview with Yoshitaka Murayama (SRM)

Postby Antimatzist » Thu Jun 19, 2014 6:17 am

We at the Suikoden Revival Movement hat the awesome chance to conduct an interview with Yoshitaka Murayama. I'll just post it here.

Hello SRM,

In reading through your questions, I could really feel your passion and gratitude for the Suikoden series. I thank you for this. Suikoden as it is now cannot go forward unless Konami makes a move. I touch upon this in the answers below as well, but I strongly believe your efforts are not in vain. I wish you good luck.


What is your personal favourite Genso Suikoden title and character(s)?

Out of the series, I like Suikoden II the best. As far as characters go, to me, I feel like Viktor holds a certain significance as my ideal character.


Aside from the Water Margin, Genso Suikoden has always appeared to incorporate elements of Western mythology as well as Eastern folklore. What were some of your primary influences when developing this unique setting?

We used another old Chinese story called "The History of the Han Dynasty" (Translator's Note: this is not the actual name, I took this from Wikipedia based on the name of a film based on the book. The name is... well, pretty hard to translate, to say the least). It had a large impact on the game itself.

We originally didn't plan on the world to be such a big mix of Eastern and Western culture. Originally, we wanted to differentiate Suikoden from other RPGs, so we aimed at writing a drama around a large group of characters. This is why we used the story of The Water Margin. However, an RPG that was purely based on Eastern culture would sell well in Japan, but we would hardly call that good. So, we decided to add in some Western fantasy elements.

So really, it wound up that way as a sort of coincidence. There isn't any sort of work that we used for reference in that regard.
However, as far as the 27 True Runes and the whole battle of Chaos vs. Order is concerned, Michael Moorcock's "The Eternal Champion" series was a big influence.


What served as your inspiration for each of the True Runes? Were all 27 planned out from the beginning?

The idea of the True Runes came from a card game in Japan. In this game, you would attach Runes to your monsters to give them special abilities in battle. Then, you could change the Runes in order to change your monster's abilities. That was what I used for inspiration. At first, I thought if you took it in terms of a video game, you could give characters magic or special abilities (special attacks). As far as the story and the meaning the Runes would have in it, that came later.

In the beginning, we had some things about the 27 True Runes set in stone, but there were some things we hadn't figured out yet. The stuff we already planned were some of the rough ideas that would be necessary for the story and the world. But we left ourselves some freedom to change how things went and how the story itself would unfold later.


Is there one particular story in the Genso Suikoden mythos that you wish you had a chance to tell?

We had a basic premise for what the successors of all 27 True Runes would do in the very end. Though, I cannot touch upon the specific details.


The intro sequences for Genso Suikoden III and the Genso Suikogaiden games got a lot of fans talking about the series' potential beyond games and manga. During your tenure as series director, was there any consideration for the series to branch out into other media, such as anime or film?

Around the time when we were working on Suikoden III and the Side-Story titles (the Suikogaiden games on the PSX), it wasn't normal to take a game and turn it into an anime. Plus, at the time Konami wasn't very assertive about turning their content into anime or movies. The system they had set up maintained a very passive attitude towards those sorts of things. In other words, you could say that it was a time where games were only made to be games, and nothing else.


In regards to the prequels as well as the more recent "Million Worlds" spin-offs, how do you feel about the direction the Genso Suikoden series has gone in?

It goes without saying that since the Suikoden title itself belongs to Konami that it is not mine. So I don't particularly have anything to comment about in regards to the current trends for the series. That said, right now the Japanese game development scene is in a bad place. Games like Suikoden, where they've used 108 characters throughout the series, require a lot of material to create. So I believe making a game like that is quite difficult right now.


Tell us a bit about what you've been up to since leaving Konami.

I worked as Game Designer on TAITO's "Farewell to the Moonlit Night" (Tsukiyo ni Saraba), and did the Scenarios for Asmic Ace's "Reincarnation Academy: Moonlight Record" (Tensei Gakuen Gekkouroku). After that, I lead the Scenario team on many games, but due to certain circumstances many of them never got released. Right now I work on original manga, world design for social games (cell phone games and the like) and story text for games.


More recently, you penned a Magic the Gathering manga. How was that experience for you, and how do you find that writing for manga differs from writing for games?

I got involved on this project through the request of a good editor friend of mine back from the Konami days.

The biggest difference between [scenario writing in] manga and games is, for games, we have to make the cutscenes as short as possible while maintaining a steady flow throughout the entire adventure. For manga, however, constantly changing the scene would only serve to confuse the reader, so I had to minimize the amount of scene-changing that I was used to. This was the part I found most difficult at first.

Working on this Magic the Gathering manga showed me various hardships that I had never seen in games, so it was an incredible learning
experience in that respect.


Since setting up Blue Moon Studios, has Konami ever reached out to you in regards to coming back?

There were never any offers to return to Konami as an official staff member. However, they have contacted me a few times with various offers which never came to fruition.


What are your plans for the future? Is there anything you're working on now that even Western fans can look forward to?

It’s hard to say with certainty what will happen in the game industry, but one of the projects I’m currently involved with is targeted mainly towards the overseas audience. However, we’ve only just launched the project very recently and are not sure when things will actually get off the ground. When we do have something to show, I’ll be sure to post a message about it on my homepage.


How do you feel about how the RPG genre has changed since the early Playstation days?

Modern RPGs take a tremendous amount of resources to make. In the PS1 days, Japan was still a very robust game market, allowing for the creation of many ambitious titles, including Suikoden. But nowadays, more and more companies are shying away from making AAA blockbuster RPG's – it’s usually reserved for the very famous IP brands that nearly guarantee a return on development costs.


Yoshinori Kitase of Square-Enix recently stated that a remake of Final Fantasy VII would be difficult for them to achieve due to "budget and staff availability" problems. What do you think this says about the pressures of HD development in the gaming industry today?

As I mentioned previously, the average consumer game is extremely difficult to make nowadays. Instead, what we’re seeing across the industry as a whole is the gradual transition to social games for smartphones.

But in a way, there are other factors already in place before even considering the rising HD developments costs of games. Entertainment is and always has been a gamble. I believe that once we’ve stopped innovating, we can only go downhill. The current situation is not exactly ideal.


Recently, designers like Keiji Inafune and Yasumi Matsuno have found success on Kickstarter for funding their newer projects. What are your thoughts on the platform? Would it be something you would consider using for a project of your own?

I believe Kickstarter’s notion of “by the fans, for the fans” may very well be the solution to the aforementioned problem.


What sort of advice would you give to someone trying to create an impactful and memorable story?

You’ll find similar advice on many How-to-Write-a-Scenario guides, but to write a story is to write about the nature of humankind. Each and every character in a world goes through their lives thinking various thoughts. To portray that is to write a story. When facing hardships, how do humans think? How do they act? Placing yourself in their shoes is the very first step and is needed every step of the way.

In the case of Suikoden, whether it’s a leader, his close confidants, or a common soldier, no matter the character, you have to consider their thought process and how that leads to their actions. When you take it all as a whole, we have a story.


And, finally, is there anything else you would like to share with the Suikoden fans and the SRM?

As mentioned above, the consumer game market in Japan is facing difficult times now. However, from my experience, game companies do not turn a deaf ear to the pleas of the fans. Of course, often times nothing is borne from it, but let us not forget within these game companies, there are many who are truly passionate about games, and of them are many who love Suikoden.

Suikoden is not something I could ever make myself, nor does it belong to me personally. Yet, I am truly grateful and touched to see everyone’s everlasting love for Suikoden.

Thank you so much.

Sincerely,
Murayama

Thanks a lot to our translators Hsing Chen and Matthew Alberts for their hard work!

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https://www.facebook.com/notes/suikoden ... 1931478328

It would be cool if you could share this as much as possible!

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Re: Interview with Yoshitaka Murayama (SRM)

Postby bluemask » Thu Jun 19, 2014 10:26 am

*Tears of mixed emotions*. I'm a bit disappointed though, that we never get to learn more about the Suikoden mythology. However, now that it is perfectly clear that Yoshitaka is not having any possible comeback in Konami, I guess one can only dream about the continuation of the core series (not that I disregard other Directors such as Junko Kawano though...)

Also, I'm not a fan of the spin-offs... really.

But nonetheless, I'm still happy he is still in his senses about Suikoden :)

Thanks for sharing!

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Re: Interview with Yoshitaka Murayama (SRM)

Postby KnightOfTruth » Thu Jun 19, 2014 10:33 am

What sort of advice would you give to someone trying to create an impactful and memorable story?

You’ll find similar advice on many How-to-Write-a-Scenario guides, but to write a story is to write about the nature of humankind. Each and every character in a world goes through their lives thinking various thoughts. To portray that is to write a story. When facing hardships, how do humans think? How do they act? Placing yourself in their shoes is the very first step and is needed every step of the way.

In the case of Suikoden, whether it’s a leader, his close confidants, or a common soldier, no matter the character, you have to consider their thought process and how that leads to their actions. When you take it all as a whole, we have a story.


This is a great tip here! I wish more companies would focus on telling a story by having characters who are true to who they are purported to be. That is definitely one of the things I loved most about the Suikoden series - they took the time to show realistic characters!

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Re: Interview with Yoshitaka Murayama (SRM)

Postby sticky-runes » Thu Jun 19, 2014 11:30 am

The biggest difference between [scenario writing in] manga and games is, for games, we have to make the cutscenes as short as possible while maintaining a steady flow throughout the entire adventure.


Interesting that he says this. A lot of games these days seem to have more cutscenes than gameplay.

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Re: Interview with Yoshitaka Murayama (SRM)

Postby BrucePrintscreen » Sat Jun 21, 2014 12:29 pm

He sounds like a nice, humble person :) And most of what he says doesn't come to me as a surprise: he confirms a lot of what we thought.

I like that he considers Viktor his favourite character because I always saw him as the real "main character" of Suikoden. To me, there will never be Suikoden without Viktor.

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Re: Interview with Yoshitaka Murayama (SRM)

Postby patapi » Sun Jun 22, 2014 4:09 am

And yet Viktor is missing from Suikoden III.

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Re: Interview with Yoshitaka Murayama (SRM)

Postby sticky-runes » Sun Jun 22, 2014 4:30 am

Well they had to do Suikoden games without Viktor eventually. They've created this world with it's own history and mythology and you can't have a character being present for every single war and adventure that takes place in it (unless if they decided to make Viktor into some kind of fairy godfather who never ages and keeps reappearing like Viki and Jeane)

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Re: Interview with Yoshitaka Murayama (SRM)

Postby Neclord X » Sun Jun 22, 2014 4:44 am

Modern RPGs take a tremendous amount of resources to make. In the PS1 days, Japan was still a very robust game market, allowing for the creation of many ambitious titles, including Suikoden. But nowadays, more and more companies are shying away from making AAA blockbuster RPG's – it’s usually reserved for the very famous IP brands that nearly guarantee a return on development costs.


I think we all realized this years ago. :lol:

But I still think they could always sacrifice some graphics and make anything big. I'm focking tired of games that look really well but last barely a few hours.
Last edited by Neclord X on Sun Jun 22, 2014 4:46 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Interview with Yoshitaka Murayama (SRM)

Postby Sasarai10 » Sun Jun 22, 2014 4:46 am

BrucePrintscreen wrote:He sounds like a nice, humble person :) And most of what he says doesn't come to me as a surprise: he confirms a lot of what we thought.

I like that he considers Viktor his favourite character because I always saw him as the real "main character" of Suikoden. To me, there will never be Suikoden without Viktor.



Huh...real main character??? Then what about Leknaat,Viki and Jeanne who appear in all games? Viktor appears in just 2 games of the serie,although he has a major role in the main plot in both games. It's like saying that SUikoden series "stopped" after the release of S2 because Viktor stopped appearing

I'd say Leknaat is the real "main character"...after all she is related with the main purpose of each game: gather all the stars in one place. :wink:

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Re: Interview with Yoshitaka Murayama (SRM)

Postby sticky-runes » Sun Jun 22, 2014 5:07 am

Sasarai10 wrote:
BrucePrintscreen wrote:He sounds like a nice, humble person :) And most of what he says doesn't come to me as a surprise: he confirms a lot of what we thought.

I like that he considers Viktor his favourite character because I always saw him as the real "main character" of Suikoden. To me, there will never be Suikoden without Viktor.



Huh...real main character??? Then what about Leknaat,Viki and Jeanne who appear in all games? Viktor appears in just 2 games of the serie,although he has a major role in the main plot in both games. It's like saying that SUikoden series "stopped" after the release of S2 because Viktor stopped appearing

I'd say Leknaat is the real "main character"...after all she is related with the main purpose of each game: gather all the stars in one place. :wink:


Leknaat doesn't get physically involved with the story (except in the first game when she helps banish Windy's monsters) she just acts as a guide and overseer.

Viktor has a realistic attitude towards every situation. Tir and Riou don't actually react to anything that goes on, they are just our vehicle for progressing with the story and hearing what everybody else has got to say. Viktor has moments of friendship and sadness and anger, we feel a lot more emotionally connected to him than we do with the main characters of S1 and S2. And he's the go-to guy for when we need a job done that is too dirty and risky for the more "noble" characters, and those who are less experienced with warfare, to get involved with. Heck, Viktor even gets chosen to wield a true rune (The Night Rune) so he's essentially more of a hero than the characters we play as.

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Re: Interview with Yoshitaka Murayama (SRM)

Postby Antimatzist » Sun Jun 22, 2014 5:41 am

Neclord X wrote:
Modern RPGs take a tremendous amount of resources to make. In the PS1 days, Japan was still a very robust game market, allowing for the creation of many ambitious titles, including Suikoden. But nowadays, more and more companies are shying away from making AAA blockbuster RPG's – it’s usually reserved for the very famous IP brands that nearly guarantee a return on development costs.


I think we all realized this years ago. :lol:

But I still think they could always sacrifice some graphics and make anything big. I'm focking tired of games that look really well but last barely a few hours.

It's not only about graphics. In Suikoden, you have to design well over 120 characters, make 3d models out of everyone, and then you only have the characters. You still need to create the towns, dungeons, worldmap... even if you say you don't want the very best graphics, this will still be more expensive than PSX days.

Imo, they should move for Suikoden VI on Wii U.

1. I just like the system more than PS4 and X1.
2. This system is craving for high quality third party games. With Xenoblade Chronicles X coming, it will be in the focus of RPG player before the release of FF XV in 201X.
3. I'd say it is cheaper to develop on Wii U - but that I don't know.
But maybe the most important reason:
4. It does not have to compete with better looking games.
Because on PS4, everyone would expect high level graphics which Suikoden just cannot offer (and never has offered). On Wii U, people say "Wow, that looks really good for a Wii U game!".

While overall sales would suffer from developing for Wii U (which will be maybe #1 in japan, but #3 in the rest of the world), Nintendo gamers would love it and it wouldn't get lost in oblivion. People are still talking about Skies of Arcadia (which was released on Dreamcast and Gamecube), just because it was one of the best of very few RPGs on their systems.

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Re: Interview with Yoshitaka Murayama (SRM)

Postby Jack of All Trades » Sun Jun 22, 2014 9:02 am

sticky-runes wrote:
Sasarai10 wrote:
BrucePrintscreen wrote:He sounds like a nice, humble person :) And most of what he says doesn't come to me as a surprise: he confirms a lot of what we thought.

I like that he considers Viktor his favourite character because I always saw him as the real "main character" of Suikoden. To me, there will never be Suikoden without Viktor.



Huh...real main character??? Then what about Leknaat,Viki and Jeanne who appear in all games? Viktor appears in just 2 games of the serie,although he has a major role in the main plot in both games. It's like saying that SUikoden series "stopped" after the release of S2 because Viktor stopped appearing

I'd say Leknaat is the real "main character"...after all she is related with the main purpose of each game: gather all the stars in one place. :wink:


Leknaat doesn't get physically involved with the story (except in the first game when she helps banish Windy's monsters) she just acts as a guide and overseer.

Viktor has a realistic attitude towards every situation. Tir and Riou don't actually react to anything that goes on, they are just our vehicle for progressing with the story and hearing what everybody else has got to say. Viktor has moments of friendship and sadness and anger, we feel a lot more emotionally connected to him than we do with the main characters of S1 and S2. And he's the go-to guy for when we need a job done that is too dirty and risky for the more "noble" characters, and those who are less experienced with warfare, to get involved with. Heck, Viktor even gets chosen to wield a true rune (The Night Rune) so he's essentially more of a hero than the characters we play as.


Seconded. Viktor is a the kind of character the Water Margin is centered around as well.

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Re: Interview with Yoshitaka Murayama (SRM)

Postby BrucePrintscreen » Mon Jun 23, 2014 2:07 am

Exactly. Leknaat, Viki, Jeane, are supporting characters. You wouldn't say that Miss Moneypenny is the main character of the James Bond series, nor that Desmond Llewelyn is the most important actor.

Viktor has everything to be a classic hero: he's brave, strong, funny, tragic. He's the same man who looks so shady that both Riou & Tir are afraid of him at first, and who mourns both Daisy and Annabelle. He's the same who jokes about his stupid lion flag and how he has a trick to enter the Muse city hall but in the same time brings a bottle to the mayor and have a drink with you to tell you your backstory. He has a lifelong feud to Neclord but his final monologue to him is hilarious. Viktor is like Indiana Jones and such bigger-than-life heroes.

And Flik is the perfect pair with him: as quiet as Viktor is nervous, he also mourns someone, he's a super strong fighter but super shy when kids dance around him.

I only read parts of Water Margin but indeed, it is this kind of adventurers that you meet in it. Characters have to be more than a design and a few witty sentences, or a mystery that only extreme fans would research: they have to be entertaining, and nothing is more entertaining than an adventurer!

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Re: Interview with Yoshitaka Murayama (SRM)

Postby Wolkendrache » Mon Jun 23, 2014 1:57 pm

BrucePrintscreen wrote:Viktor has everything to be a classic hero: he's brave, strong, funny, tragic. He's the same man who looks so shady that both Riou & Tir are afraid of him at first, and who mourns both Daisy and Annabelle. He's the same who jokes about his stupid lion flag and how he has a trick to enter the Muse city hall but in the same time brings a bottle to the mayor and have a drink with you to tell you your backstory. He has a lifelong feud to Neclord but his final monologue to him is hilarious. Viktor is like Indiana Jones and such bigger-than-life heroes.

And Flik is the perfect pair with him: as quiet as Viktor is nervous, he also mourns someone, he's a super strong fighter but super shy when kids dance around him.

I only read parts of Water Margin but indeed, it is this kind of adventurers that you meet in it. Characters have to be more than a design and a few witty sentences, or a mystery that only extreme fans would research: they have to be entertaining, and nothing is more entertaining than an adventurer!


IMO, what makes him so interesting is the mix of being multifaceted and having no profession that would force him to follow any stereotype. Thus, it's actually easier for players to identify with Viktor than with a prince or knight or an orphan child.

Viktor is indeed simply an adventurer, a free man (free from obligations), who deliberately fights for justice. Novel characters are not like this, they have a particular profession before and after joining the rebels. The similarity between Viktor and Lu Da (aka Sagacious Lu) is that they are relatively ordinary/vulgar characters, but both of them are thrown into an environment that requires a more lofty behaviour and language which they absolutely don't master. The results are very hilarious scenes (Water Margin chapters 3-7).
"Within the four seas, all men are brothers" Shuihu Zhuan

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Re: Interview with Yoshitaka Murayama (SRM)

Postby Sasarai10 » Tue Jun 24, 2014 5:22 am

I think Boz can make up for Viktor's absence in S5..what do you think guys?

He has similar personality and physically looks pretty much like him (big guy who looks scary by the first time you meet him)


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