|This interview appears in the 10/8 issue of Famitsu in which Famitsu interviews Sega's Takao Miyoshi, the main force behind Phantasy Star Online, who also made Burning Rangers, as well as Yuji Naka, the leader of the Sonic Team.
Famitsu: What is the main concept behind this game?
Naka: Since we finally got a console system in which a modem comes packaged in, we wanted to make a game which takes advantage of this, at least at first when we started on the project. After we finished Sonic, we researched and experimented for a while and we reached a concensus that we wanted a game that uses the network for its basis. However at first, we weren't sure what genre this game would be.
Famitsu: Ah, I see.
Miyoshi: At first, we had to think of how the people using the 'net will be communicating among themselves. Once we started to think about it, we realized that everyone playing will be all strangers at first, so we had to think of a method to go around that. So in the end, we decided that everthing will be tied together into a common goal.
Famitsu: A main objective?
Miyoshi: Right, similar to playing Baseball or soccer. So in Phantasy Star(Online), we decided that this 'common goal' will be for the people playing the game to adventure together. So once we decided on that, it was time to figure out how to get a first time player to start talking among the other people and to get them started on their adventure
Famitsu: Are there any similarities to on-line PC games?
Naka: I think there are definately similarities. One of my main goals is to capture the enjoyment of on-line PC games into the Dreamcast.
Miyoshi: We want to make a game that is easy to get into and enjoy. You can gossip, level up, and kick another person's butt every once in a while*laughs*. We want to make a game in which you can do all that. While the games over if you beat it once in a regular RPG, in PSO, as more people play, a sense of an evolving world will develop. For example, you can just make up an adventure story as you go along. We want a game like that.
Famitsu: About how many people could there be in the same party?
Naka: I'm almost positive it'll be four, though I'll be definite once we do some more testing.
Famitsu: Maybe having 4 people max per party is the best solution.
Miyoshi: I agree. If you think about it, having more than that will make the roles of some of the party members redundant.
Famitsu: Now I've heard that PSO takes place around the same time as Phantasy Star 4, and is similar in many aspects...
Naka: Hmmm....instead of calling it like that, it's closer if you call it a side story. While it takes place in the same world, its system is completly different, as well as a completly different story.
Famitsu: Ahh..I see. Now will we be seeing a return of old characters such as Lutz and Alis?
Naka: Hmm I'm not really too sure at this time. They may appear as non-playble characters(NPCs), but we're keeping that portion under wraps for now*laughs*.
Famitsu: It should be fun to play using the weapons and items available in the past games, like guns and boomerangs. It should open up a variety of fighting styles.
Miyoshi: We'll be trying to accomplish that as best as we can. The more we develop using the Dreamcast, we're finding out we can do more things with it. Thats why I think we'll be able to do all those things that we're aiming for.
Famitsu: It really sounds like a new type of RPG the more we talk about it.
Naka: For me, my main goal was not to make an RPG that had cool movies for pretty graphics but rather a game that you'll have fun playing with other people. I wanted to be able to make my own story, to adventure with my friends.....I'd really appreciate it others concentrated on that portion of the game.