Radiant Historia’s Protagonist Was Originally A Sword

By Ishaan . February 11, 2011 . 10:29am

Radiant Historia had an interesting team of developers working on it. The game was originally conceived by Tri-Ace’s Satoshi Takayashiki, concept designer on Radiata Stories, who pitched the title to Atlus because he was fond of their games.


This was revealed in a developer Q&A you can read on the game’s official website.


Takayashiki felt that Radiant Historia would benefit from Atlus’ experience developing role-playing games. Once the pitch was improved, sure enough, Atlus, as the game’s publisher, requested certain changes be made to the concept design. The first was a radical change to the game’s protagonist.


The protagonist of Radiant Historia was originally to be a sword. The story would revolve around those who came in possession of the weapon. Atlus argued, however, that players wouldn’t be able to relate to a protagonist that wasn’t human, and so the protagonist was changed to Stocke, who also ultimately underwent several changes.


The second change involved the game’s timeline. Radiant Historia was originally going to have two separate axes — horizontal and vertical. Lines on the vertical axis would represent different timelines, and the horizontal axis would present the game’s story, which was originally going to be a historical drama. This was changed to the simpler timeline the game presently uses.


The third change was to the game’s ending. Initially, Radiant Historia was going to have a tragic end where everything would end in ruin. This was changed as well. Radiant Historia now offers multiple endings, with one “true” ending. Finally, while the game’s battle system had already been chalked out, Atlus were the ones responsible for the order in which skills were acquired and how they were balanced.


As far as influences go, Takayashiki drew inspiration from fantasy novels, as well as other franchises that have detailed settings and characters, such as One Piece, Gundam, Warhammer and Dragon Quest.


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  • I am a huge SMT fan, so here is hoping they make a more relatable protagonist in their next game, Lol. I can’t take another silent hero.

    • Apollonis

      But what’s more “relatable” than a protagonist whose personality you yourself fill in? The silent fellows are just vessels for the player while if you want original scripted personalities you usually turn to the rest of the cast; I see what you’re saying here though.

      • Hmm, I see what you mean. Though, I don’t feel like the level of choices were deep enough for me to really define my character. I think the best execution is Commander Sheperd in Mass Effect. Having played though as both male and female, I feel like I defined my own character, and could completely relate to them as well

    • PurpleDoom

      I think SMT games work best with silent protagonists, myself. All of the dialogue choices you have to make over the course of the games would be kind of odd if the character had a preset personality, wouldn’t it?

      • See my comment to Apollonis below. I definitely can see both sides, but I think I am getting tired of the silent protagonist. Its starting to represent laziness to me

    • Testsubject909

      What does SMT have to do with this?

      It’s an entirely different series, started up by a person who is outside of the circle of those working on Shin Megami Tensei games… It’s not even a Megami Ibunroku game which has come to be branded a Shin Megami Tensei game in the western world due to recognition of the brand (since suddenly separating all the games made by Atlus in their appropriate category would appear to reduce possible sales, mainly due to how well Nocturne did, surprisingly…)

      Also, it makes me wonder if the original Sword character would’ve been a silent protagonist/plot device.

  • Croix

    Radiant Historia is looking incredible. With this kind of story, I’d have been perfectly okay with a sword as a protagonist, as long as it had a personality. Preferably a snarky one. Maybe even one that likes to sing songs about how its legend began.

  • kupomogli

    While they didn’t specifically attempt to make characters like Dymlos and the other weapons in Tales of Destiny as main protagonists, they did a fairly good job as making those likable characters. I wouldn’t see a problem with the developers of Radiant Historia making the main protagonist a weapon.

    • M’iau M’iaut

      They certainly were party members, and it was their conflict that drove much of the story. Sentient weapons/items are far from an unknown concept in either east or west.

      • Testsubject909

        But they still remain a very alien concept, especially if they are THE main protagonist. The central driving force… Now, if instead they’re a side-character or a plot point character who actually connects you to a variety of other main characters, then the situation changes.

        Though the way the article stated it, it becomes difficult to tell what exactly they wanted to do with the sword… I’m actually more of at a loss as to what the original idea was.

        Was the sword the main character? The absolute main character, or was he just a plot point that connected all the other characters and behaved more like Dymlos from Tales of Destiny? Did the sword even possess the ability to think and talk? If so, what sort of attitude or personality does it have? Since the original ending would’ve been great tragedy, is the sword a cursed sword then? If it has an attitude, what attitude does it have towards his own status as a cursed blade in time?

        Does it even HAVE an attitude? Is it possibly just an object that happens to connect multiple people in time and you can use it’s powers to travel or something? Or perhaps you’re some figureless spirit who uses the soul? It’s really vague at this point, and unless we knew the Exact story behind it, we really can’t tell if a Sword Protagonist is any better….

  • ShinGundam

    What about guns ?

    • Testsubject909

      What about lasers?

      • Zero_Destiny

        What about Beam Sabres?

    • DanteJones

      “No. No machine gun for him.”

  • M’iau M’iaut

    You definitely can see these are the same minds who did Radiata Story. They did not avoid the possibility of a tragic ending there, so it not surprising they might explore similar concepts. Such remains a difficult broad market sell in the West, though.

    The sword as main concept sounds great but I do understand the change. It likely would have been covered as more a collection of small tales around the sword. That movie Red Violin a few years back was either a love it or not sort of thing.

    One thing that is certainly clear — this team is not afraid to play around with convention. Bring this game on!

    • Testsubject909

      Also, the change to a central protagonist as opposed to a gifted/cursed item isn’t a bad choice per say… I mean, think back to one of the most successful if not THE most successful time traveling game out there. Chrono Trigger…

      Of course, anything I can say from here on out is nothing but conjecture, and wild hopes… So all we can do is just wait and see how they play it out, and guess how they would’ve done it with a sword instead.

  • Altritter

    I like all of the game’s initial ideas more than the ones they went with, but the game does still look pretty good. Here’s hoping.

    • Testsubject909

      I believe that, from the industry’s viewpoint, we’re the minority.

      Can’t blame them for attempting to step down towards a lower denominator… At least they didn’t chicken out and go all the way down.

  • “The third change was to the game’s ending. Initially, Radiant Historia was going to have a tragic end where everything would end in ruin. This was changed as well. Radiant Historia now offers multiple endings, with one “true” ending.”

    I would have liked for Radiant Historia to have gone this route. I wish there was an RPG that has taken this route or ended in tradegy (and not had a sequel to right the wrongs)*. At least they offered multiple endings.

    *I’m happy to hear any suggestions on RPG’s that do contain these.

    Everything else I like the suggestions Atlus made. The initial ideas were interesting and Atlus may have plkayed it “safe” but I feel it was for the best as Radiant Historia is still looking and sounding great and it’s shaping to become not just one of the greatest DS RPG but possibily on any platform.

    • M’iau M’iaut

      Visual novels have tragic ends among their paths and VNs were clearly an influence on this games design. Many SMTs have not good to quite bad ends, so it says a little something when Atlus made the changes.

      Without the epilogue, which indeed changes things, Lunar2 ends sadly. At least two of the paths in Vanguard Bandits lead to Gundamesque ruin. Tragic ends can also be found in Valkyrie Profile and Eternal Sonata. Interestingly in the case of VB and VP, they are multiple ending games, so both the happy and sad customers get satisfaction!

      For other recommendations, Ever 17 is the US published visual novel I’m mainly thinking of. Each girl’s endings have ones where you (and/or her) die, although you don’t need to experience all to unlock the true end. Even Disgaea is one you need to work at a little to avoid tragedy at the end. Shadow Hearts’ good end is the hidden one which may not be canon given how the sequels play out.

    • [The Hunter] Doomrider

      Have you played Drakengard?

    • FireCouch

      Have you played Radiata Stories? That game has a pretty tragic/unclear ending.

      • M’iau M’iaut

        Yup, but that’s another multi-ending game where the choice is left to the player whether they wish to experience or not. Even without a guide its a decision point where the either/or is pretty clear.

      • Zero_Destiny

        I got a happy ending SPOILER

        Where you save Ridley and return back to the city holding hands all cute.

        I then chose to ignore that there were sad endings :P

        • M’iau M’iaut

          And I guarantee a tsundere girl with strong yandere leanings will be most appreciative after you showed how much you loved her!

          (You should have probably *spoilered* details about the good/bad end though :P)

          • Zero_Destiny

            lol Don’t start the whole tsundere vs. yandere debate again. I don’t think Silicon Era can handle the awesome power of said debate anymore. And edited above statement. Didn’t think it was much of a spoiler but it’s all good now. :P

        • (MASSIVE MASSIVE spoilering below!)

          I totally did not see that as a happy ending because:

          a.) YOU LEAVE GANZ TO DIE FOR NO GOOD REASON AT ALL WTFFF ;____; I was yelling at the TV like a crazy person. SCREW YOU TRI-ACE, HE WAS MY FAVORITE *so many tears*

          b.) My friend and I assumed that (given their changes in appearance) Jack and Ridley became the new Silver and Gold Dragons, and thus the cycle of destruction would continue with them…

          • Zero_Destiny

            SPOILERS CONTINUE through the whole message I was so happy when Ganz returned to you later in the game. It was like the good days. But than he had to go get himself killed. *cries* I still shed many, many, many tears when I think about how it happened. I was yelling at Jack to save him. But it was the fate he choose and in the end I couldn’t prevent it. :( Even so I won’t let it get me down. I still got the girl in the end, and I don’t know any man, women, or form of existence that could argue that Jack and Ridley don’t make a cute couple. :D Plus I like to think positive. Maybe we ended the cycle.

  • neo_firenze

    Please tell me I’m not the only one who instantly thought of Grimoire Weiss from Nier (the best game of 2010 in my mind) when I read the title of this post.

    Also, the idea of the stories of a sword passing through many hands and the initial different timelines both sound like ideas in line with the SaGa series. Which gives me good feelings about the people who came up with those ideas, even if they did get changed.

    • [The Hunter] Doomrider

      “Nier (the best game of 2010 in my mind)”

      Yes <3

      I thought about Weiss too, but only after reading Croix's comment ("With this kind of story, I'd have been perfectly okay with a sword as a protagonist, as long as it had a personality. Preferably a snarky one.").

  • Jirin

    But…but…I like the original ideas. They were unique and different. And the sad thing is, that was the *reason* they were changed.

    What happened Atlus? You used to be cool.

    • Testsubject909

      They went for a less radically different design, which… if you look at it from a designer’s point of view and a business point of view… Is pretty damn smart.

      I mean, for one thing, his horizontal + vertical axes storyline+timeline could’ve become a bit too much of a mess. The development for this could’ve taken far longer and thus would’ve drained in a bit more resources. Also, the increase in complexity means more time in the oven to wipe out all the bugs and all the kinks of the game itself.

      Also, the singular tragic end can turn off a lot of people. I know many can accept it, others revel in it, some love the idea as it pushes stories further ahead, but though the multiple end route is safer and a bit of a cheap cop out. It provides a more efficient answer. Also, if said “true end” still remains his tragic end, then all is fine still. Unless said “True end” is this impossibly difficult to crack accumulation of circumstances across time to eradicate any long-term misery in which case gamers would need to get out of their way to end the originally planned tragic ending.

      As for the protagonist change… Eh, it’s 50/50 for me on this one. I can see why they do it, but I can see how it’d work out otherwise… Unfortunately, there lies one overwhelming truth in the end.

      Innovation doesn’t sell. Look to any truly daring and innovative games out there and you’ll see, the great grand majority of them do badly… By numbers alone, most games with good stories actually sell bad in contrast to games with good stories. So to publishers, they’d probably be more appeased if a game had a bad story rather then spent time building a good one.

      Our gaming industry’s a bit screwed up. But innovation is a risky business and if they don’t see any revenue coming back because of it… Well yeah, that’s a lot of pain right there.

      And though you might know a few dozen people who want the game, and you’ve seen hundreds who’re talking about it online. Hundreds, dozens, they’re not the thousands or millions that they need to get back the money they invested on the project. No revenue means no more games. No more chance at pushing the genres forward.

      Now, of course, you could also argue, this is a DS game. Typically they cost less to make. Though ultimately we don’t know how much this game cost them unless they came clear and up front with us.

  • DDanny

    Really not a fan of “true endings”. It kinda beats the point of having multiple routes to me, since one of them is always going to offer a a more complete experience in the end, and it feels like that was the route the creators wanted you to go for.
    I’m glad it’s not going to be a tragic ending, but still why not leave all endings viable like in the main megaten games?

  • Zero_Destiny

    So we went from awesome sentient sword to a stock main chara even named Stocke as if to add insult to injury. :( Still can’t wait for it none the less. Should be great.

  • glemtvapen

    idk, the sword protagonist sounds like a fresher story. Reminds me of them Swordians. Besides, you don’t always need to relate to the character.

  • I’m really tired of people telling me that I can only relate to human beings, specifically adolescent males.

    They need to take some classes on writing fiction.

  • Jelly_Filled

    Anyone else notice that Fennel in that screenshot looks a lot like Degwin Zabi from Gundam?

  • This is interesting.

    After reading the interview, I thought their original ideas were really creative. I don’t think that having a sword as a protagonist would be difficult to relate to. From the sounds of their first plan, it looks like the game would of focused on the characterization of the sub-characters, and their relation to the events of the world. In a way, it reminds me of Valkyrie Profile (1 and Covenant of the Plume) and how the central character plays more of an observer role. They merely get caught up in the events around them, while trying to achieve their personal goals. I think storytelling with many sub characters has the potential create a really good setting. They were originally trying to make it more of a historical drama, after all.

    That being said, I totally respect their decisions to change all that. Ultimately, you make games to make money. You have to find a balance between quality and cost effectiveness. It just makes me wonder what kind of games developers would make if they had no constraints at all. If you didn’t have to worry about the market, the cost and the deadlines – what kind of super delicious game would they cook up?

  • Yesshua

    Actually, I’m none too fond of what I read in this article. The developer had an idea for non-traditional storytelling in an RPG (I think the only comparison might be Mother 3?) but Atlus had it changed to a more standard form. The developer wanted to buck the trend of happily ever after endings, but Atlus wanted to stick with tradition again. The developer had a pretty crazy idea for the in game timeline, and Atlus toned it down to a (slightly) less unique layout.

    I think I will buy this. This game looks fun. However, this game doesn’t look like it’s going to break any new ground. It’s sad to see how it could have. Imagine how powerful a story might be if it followed a sword around, a tool of death. Imagine killing your previous owner. Imagine knowing things that none of the characters could know, and watching helplessly as they make mistakes. Imagine the experience of checking each and every storyline methodically, until discovering at the end that ultimately no wielder of the sword could save the world – each had their own flaw that undermined them in it’s own way.

  • Sounds like the original ideas were better. Kudos to Atlus for stifling creativity!

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