Monolith Soft Discusses Developing Xenoblade’s Protagonist

By Laura . June 3, 2010 . 10:05am


While writers Takeda and Takahashi have the same interests (books, movies, etc.) they often had differing opinions about them. This actually worked out rather well when it came to developing Xenoblade’s plot. It made things easy to discuss because each instinctively understood what the other was getting at, and it also allowed them both to propose ideas completely different from each other’s. And when they couldn’t figure something out, Nintendo staff was happy to zero in on the exact problem that both Takahashi and Takeda had missed or happened to encounter a writer’s block at.


The meetings were weekly, every Thursday, a pace that was one Takeda was already used to due to the anime industry, and one that allowed problems to be cleared before they could pile up. This continued for one year before the script was completed, and by the end, no one could tell whose idea was whose, and all for the better.


One of the main points Takeda focused on was the protagonist, Shulk. He is the one character most intimately connected with the player, since you control him. As such, Takeda conjectured that he would also be the easiest for the player to dislike, if he didn’t act the way the player expected him to, or said something the player wouldn’t. The goal? To create a protagonist that wouldn’t be disliked.


One of the solutions to this ambitious goal is to create a silent protagonist, but Takahashi wasn’t having that. He wanted to find another way to make the characters resonate with the player. In fact, by the end of development, there was not one character in the game that could be classified as the “silent type.” This could even be seen in the battles, where your party members constantly cheer you on. He felt that this constant interaction made them resonate better with the player.


Another goal was depth. The world enormous. Colony 9, which is where Shulk picked up the legendary Monado, could have been the setting for an entire game in and of itself. Not only was it large, it was filled with content as well. No matter where you went, there was always something waiting -– a story event, a quest, or simply strong, boss-like monsters. Sometimes, according to Takahashi, there were even spots where you would (ideally) just stop and gaze around and go, “Wow. Places like this exist too?”


In fact, some game events were designed around this idea of “stopping to smell the roses.” The development staff was especially astonished to receive the instructions for one quest: “Collect 400 of this item.”In fact, the development staff compiled together 400 quests, something that even Takahashi was astounded at, in hopes that the player would want to explore more of the world.*


When asked to define Xenoblade, Takeda replied that he would like people to think about the “macro vs. micro” perspective; the enormous size of the world vs. the tiny person that you are. As for Takahashi, he said that one of the main focuses of the game was the growth of the protagonist — that it was, in a word, a journey. He was heading for an unknown future in an unknown land, and one of the most important parts in the game was that he was always moving forward.


*Thanks to Amiiy for pointing out the error.

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  • joesz

    Amazing…That’s all what I can say about this

  • MrRobbyM

    This game keeps on sounding and looking better and better with each passing day.

  • Sounds like the two have a fantastic working relationship as partners. They’re very lucky they get along so well.

  • Vanilla

    Next up, Monolith Soft Discusses Naming Xenoblade’s Protagonist.

    And god knows this is only going to escalate when we get to hear characters say his name. Incidentally, I find (what I’m assuming is) his voice in the trailers annoying. It sounds…unintelligent, I guess? Hard to describe, but it’s not quite the normal fare I hear from JP voice acting and not in a good way. Otherwise I’m all for looking forward to how his story and characterization will play out.

    I really do like the emphasis they’re placing on the world. The backdrops are gorgeous and I’m really going to look forward running around on some of those maps.

    • Aoshi00

      I think they need to work on the name first, you mean they expect us NOT to dislike “SHULK”!? “Get up Shulk!” “Come on Shulk!”. Well, I’m pretty sure it will be changed in the US ver, names were changed for no reason before, and here’s a very good reason.I find the voice of the hero a little annoying too, kind of like the Jpn Snow in FFXIII (and Troy Baker kind of fixed that, as much as he could w/ the char anyway). At least it wasn’t as bad as Vaan, that actor has a very generic voice (not a VA) and sounded like he had speech impediment, words jumbled together you won’t understand unless you read the subtitle.. Good thing they didn’t make him silent though, Crono was fine back then, but I dont think it would work anymore w/ everyone around you speaking during the cutscenes (at least you have to be able to choose the responses like Mass Effect like making him a good guy or a jerk, Shepard sounds like a robot in ME2 though..). I hope this game would have a lot of them like Xenosaga Ep 1/2, not just the talking heads in Ep 3 which felt pretty weird. As long as I could get over the weird faces (especially Shulk and the main girl’s, Vegeta is better but his voice is very raspy like an old man now…) and his name, I’m pretty good :)

  • Amiiy

    “In fact, some game events were designed around this idea of “stopping to smell the roses.” The development staff was especially astonished to receive the instructions for one quest: “Collect 400 of this item.”

    If I’m wrong then this is a terrible idea for a quest, but I read the article and I’m pretty sure it’s a mistranslation. Can’t remember the exact exchange, but Takahashi said that because they wanted to reward the player for every bit of time they put into the game, the amount of items you can obtain from quests grew really huge too. That’s what the 400 was in reference to. The development staff in charge of the quests said they were going to make 400 items, and Takahashi cautioned them that that might be too many for them to handle, but they pulled it off in the end.

    Sorry to be picky, but your translation made the 400 sound like it was in reference to something really negative and fetch quest-ish, which it’s definitely not. :)

    • jj984jj

      Hopefully someone clarifies that mistranslation in this article then.

    • Thanks for the heads up! Fix made. :)

    • Thanks for pointing this out =)

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