anibee Features: Hideo Baba!

The Singapore Toys, Games & Comics Convention (STGCC) had a stellar list of guests, and we got to speak to a couple of them!


First up, it's one of Bandai-Namco Games' biggest Producing names responsible for "Tales of Xillia" amongst many other titles - Hideo Baba!

anibee: As a Game Producer, you must have played a lot of video games! What was your favourite?

Baba: Yes, indeed I have! I've always loved games, starting all the way back in the old days where I would go to the local arcades to play my favourite titles like Q-Bert.

But my love for gaming truly took off when I got my Family Computer (known as the Nintendo Entertainment System in English-speaking territories), my first ever personal gaming system and played many iconic titles such as Super Mario Brothers and Dragon Quest. I've never gone back since!

anibee: What about recent titles?

Baba: I do love playing modern titles too. I'm a big fan of Gyakuten Saiban (Ace Attorney) - OBJECTION!

I also am very impressed by the new Tomb Raider, as well as The Last of Us.

anibee: What factors influence how you create a "Tales" title?

Baba: Being a gamer myself, I think it's safe to say that one of the biggest influencing factors when creating a new "Tales" game is the fun factor.

I pay attention to the games I play, take note of what I like about them, and then I try to adapt their ideas in one way or another if it's something really noteworthy - and give my own spin to them!

anibee: The "Tales" series, while very distinctly "Japanese" in style, has gained a huge worldwide following! Why do you think this is so?

Baba: I am always very grateful for the support we get from overseas! There is always a strong influence of anime & manga in every "Tales" game, and with it, come many elements and factors.

Themes like heroism, strong stories of love, friendship, camaraderie etc. These are all things that just about any lover of fiction can relate to, and we take pride in making sure these factors are given lots of attention. I'm proud to say that it's enough to even attract players who normally don't play RPGs and even non-gamers!

anibee: Each & every entry in the "Tales" series is so vastly different from the next in terms of characters, story, etc. Tell us a bit about what the thought process is like in the creation of a game!

Baba: One of the first things we think about when creating a new "Tales" game is the theme - what kind of message do we want to convey to the players? What do the players of today relate to?

Every aspect, both big and small, is discussed in great detail with our team. From the kind of setting we think will be appealing, to even things like the gender and age of the main character.

Deciding on all these aesthetics and plot-related matters is imperative for us before we get down to the nitty-gritty of it all i.e. the programming etc!

anibee: Do you have a favourite character in the series (I happen to like Mint from Tales of Phantasia!)?

Baba: Haha oh dear, that's a tough question!

As producer, all the characters are truly like children to me. They differ so much in their own unique way, but many of them share the same principles; the wanting for adventure, the desire to protect their friends & loved ones etc.

It's impossible to pick one!

anibee: Bandai-Namco Games has recently started a new office right here in Singapore! Could you tell us more about it?

Baba: Yes, we started a new division of Bandai-Namco Games here in Singapore just last month!

The Singapore office here is going to specialise in visual designs such as monsters, environments and monsters, to back the main office in Japan which will continue to do the main programming work. We are always looking out for new talents so please do check us out!

anibee: Any advice for anyone who is looking to work in the video game industry?

Baba: Having a good focus on what it is you want to do in the industry is definitely important.

For the programming side of things, having a good grasp on the latest languages and software is naturally very important. Always keep yourself up to date by observing other works besides the ones in your field. Likewise, for the visual side of things, it's always good to have an open mind.

But the most important things to have are definitely ideas; having a strong, original vision of what it is you want to do can be a great asset!

Truly a passionate visionary and a huge game-buff to boot!

All photos courtesy of Brian Lim!

Special thanks to STGCC for the invite!

- Q