How Namco Bandai Is Making More Realistic Characters For Tales of Xillia 2

By Kris . October 17, 2013 . 3:32pm

Siliconera had a chance to attend a talk by Tales of Xillia 2 and Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World character designer Daigo Okumura about the design of the Tales of Xillia games.


Okumura started his presentation by talking about how Tales of Xillia’s graphic style was something of a departure from the previous Tales games. While Tales of Vesperia’s cel-shading looked good, it made interesting, complex character design hard to do. Okumura wanted to switch to the new style to capture more detail and make characters look more like their original illustrations.


Cel-shading also tended to made characters look smaller, again increasing the gap between concept art and in-game appearance so Okumura recommended the new approach. While the Tales of Studio believed that the shorter characters were better from a game design perspective, Okumura convinced them from that from an illustrator standpoint, the new style was better. He eventually put together character models of characters from previous Tales games in both styles, and that won them over.


Naturally, as the approach to character models changed, the team needed to adjust the backgrounds to give the game a proper sense of scale, which Okumura felt the series had some trouble conveying in earlier games. He put together background sketches that were just meant to be internal references, but his art was made public when the game was announced (wayyyy back in August 2010). Since the art wasn’t final, he says he was rather embarrassed at the time.


While Kousuke Fujishima and Mutsumi Inomata are the character designers for Tales of Xillia, the development team is in charge of choosing character colors. Their goal was to establish character relationships through their color combinations. For instance, Milla and Jude were given contrasting color schemes (red and white and blue and black, respectively) to express how different they were as main characters. Similarly, rival characters Gaius (black and red) and Muzet (white and blue) also contrast each other, but those color combinations give them a different feel than Milla and Jude.


The red makes both Gaius and Milla look strong, but the black and white help establish their characters as different from each other.


Okumura then talked to us about his design process for Ludger in Tales of Xillia 2. Early designs had him looking more like a salaryman or sort of generic employee—”like someone who would have a hard time getting a job,” Okumura joked. The first design didn’t stand out to him that much, so he tried to add prettier, more detailed components to Ludger’s design. However, the development team preferred the original, more down-to-earth design, so that led to the Ludger we see today.


Okumura is still a little bit upset with Ludger’s design, wanting something a bit flashier. One of his friends even told him Ludger looks a bit like an NPC. After working on the Tales series for 10 years, however, Okumura joked that was excited to finally be able to design the main characters of a mothership Tales game, only to be disappointed when he learned that Ludger wouldn’t speak and Elle wouldn’t fight.


Finally, Okumura added that while it was an honor to have worked with amazing artists like Kousuke Fujishima and Mutsumi Inomata over the past 10 years, he hoped that one day he’d be able to do the character designs for an entire game on his own.

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  • NightzeroAX

    Can’t tell if Alvin has a “Rape Face” or a “Dat Ass Face”.

    • Ferrick

      it’s a “heh” face

    • MogCakes

      “Yo I tapped that from behind”

  • Freud_Hater

    Red = Strong. Got it.

    • JustThisOne

      Nah, it’s the whole Funny Man, Straight Man thing. Or Good Cop, Bad Cop.

      Red’s the hot headed one. Blue’s the cool guy.

      • Freud_Hater

        But Gaius is really cool and calm and seriously not hot-headed, how does that work? D:

        • JustThisOne

          Uhm.. Uhmm…

          I dunno, passion! Yeah! Burning red passion! *__*

        • MogCakes

          He talks calm but he really just channels the anger into his sword. Hence the sword beams.

  • Arcana Wiz

    So hyped for this game…..

  • JustThisOne

    Hahaha, I really like the idea of a main character that looks like an NPC. NPCs or everymen have the potential to be the best kind of characters! It’s really too bad he can’t talk.

    Also, don’t be embarrassed about that concept work! It was beautiful! I really loved it.

    • James McEneely

      Actually, after you beat the game, you unlock the option to have Ludger voice his lines.

      • JustThisOne


        • Wappuli

          But it’s only to the parts where you make a decision, most of the time he’s still just “. . .” or some random grunts, so don’t expect too much from it.

          • Learii

            that what I don’t like about the game he just “…. “

          • JustThisOne

            It’s cool! It just means I’ll have to make every line he says a celebration!

    • Nana

      Everymen characters are actually the most boring characters ever and make me simply avoid a game entirely. THey are only good for male players who themselves are boring and thus can self insert easily. For everyone else, they’re bad. :/

  • kaimo

    At least now I finally have someone to blame for the recent Tales of games’ languid art direction.

  • Tiredman

    I was rather let down by the character and monster models of Tales of Xillia 1. They are trying too hard to look like modern 3-d FPS game models mixed with the old style, and I feel the dark, gritty colors really lower the quality of the visuals over cel-shading. My entire view is why fix what isn’t broken? I have loved Tales of games since the first ones to release in the U.S. and Tales of Xillia is the first one I don’t feel like replaying.

  • AttorneyAtMusic

    “Put together character models of characters from previous Tales games in both styles”

    I actually really want to see this

  • DivinePhoenix69

    I actually really like Ludger’s design honestly, not too over the top and eccentric, but simple yet stylish.

  • Kanamion

    I’m probably the minority, but I’ve always prefered Okumura over Fujishima and Inomata. Maybe not his choice of clothing designs per-say, but as an overall illustrator and concept artist. I absolutely love his use of colors and they way they blend. His landscape art is absolutely stunning.

    I’m glad he was the one who pushed the new style for Xillia because I very much like the new approach to the series.

  • Samsara09

    Poor Designer Okumura!The guy must have dedicated many weeks and months to design Ludger and Elle,only to find out he is mute and she is an NPC.But don’t you worry,Elle is charming and Ludger is great.But yeah,would loved a talkning Ludger.

    • Oscar Alberto Abrego Suarez

      I not since Tales MCs are the worst characters of the cast, the fact that Ludger looks cooler and is not annoying makes him the best Tales MC by far.

      • BlakShiranui

        Didn’t like Yuri? That’s a shame.

        • Oscar Alberto Abrego Suarez

          Yeah he is overreated as hell (Just because he doesnt suck as much as his brothers)

  • Göran Isacson

    I admit that I laughed at the part where he was so excited to design characters… and then he’s told to make a really plain main character who doesn’t talk. Can’t win them all, dude.

  • terranoie

    Not a huge fan of Okumura’s designs for tales since it seems that Inomata and Fujishima have set the style for character designs since day 1 but it would definitely be interesting to see. Personally I’d love it if the three worked together more to make badass designs!

  • Romored

    “He hoped that one day he’d be able to do the character designs for an entire game on his own” – That’s what I hope as well, I really like Okumura’s style.

  • Suriel Cruz

    Not that I don’t like this graphic style, but Tales of Vesperia’s cel-shading looks Amazing, stronger for the ‘Tales of’ World, IMO.
    Too bad, I don’t think they’ll be working around it anymore, since it is difficult and to be honest, games this days appear to be a ‘cup of tea’, instead of a whole ‘jar of tea’. In terms of its longevity and details… I mean, you don’t even walk around the World Map anymore. Those kind of details, were the ones that makes an RPG experience more enjoyable.
    In the end I LOVE ‘TALES OF’ and I’ll end up playing ANY.
    I’m too loyal to not to. ^ ^

    • Anthony Birken

      Amen, now if I only had like…a multiplayer boss run or something~

  • Kioku

    I wish at Okumura will finally get to design characters for a Tales mothership title

  • Dimentionalist

    He’s my favorite Tales character designer. I hope he gets a game to himself.

  • Calintz YT

    I don’t want an MC that looks like an NPC.

    • DyLaN

      I think NPc is a little bit too harsh. Generic/Normal looking is more appropriate perhaps?

      And well, it made sense in context as he the player avatar like Yu in P4.

  • Yan Zhao

    Im glad he made the changes. I prefer Xillia’s character models over the other 3D Tales by far.

  • DyLaN

    I’m definitely on the bandwangon abt Okumura doing the design for the next main Tales game. No offense to ppl who liked Fujishima/Inomata artstyle, but I always find the 3D models of the characters designed by Inomata/Fujishima to be more appealing than their character art. Its not as severe in the case of Okumura style though. (Strangely I can live with the status/cut-in art)

    I like all of the 3D model style of Vesperia/Graces/Xillia/2 btw. Just tht I agree tht Xillia/2 have the best ones.

    • Shippoyasha

      While I can agree, I wish the other designers’ works are further refined as well. It’s not like they hit an absolute ceiling in that regard. Look at how CyberConnect2 keeps revamping and improving their Naruto models for example. And the amazing ways they are animating JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure character models, which would have seemed impossible only a few years ago.

      The Okumura style is very pretty in its own right. It’s just that I don’t want them to give up on the older style or constantly trend towards realism. I mean, Western games give us realistic games again and again and again. I kind of expect the outrageous and wild designs out of a Tales game. If they must, I think it’s best if they can go back and forth or come to some middle ground in the future.

  • leingod

    Tales of Contemporary? Sure why not… this is the first time they’ve done something like this I believe.

  • Tatsuya Fabre

    Finished it a while back. Enjoy it in 2014 guys!

  • RaikageV

    Why… doesn’t he talk (I haven’t looked into any ToX2 news so far so idk)?

    • Oscar Alberto Abrego Suarez

      Because Baba wants you the player to be the protagonist, Ludger is merely your ingame avatar nothing more.

      Best protagonists take action than babbling.

  • FitzpatrickPhillips

    Ironically, Ludger is easily the best looking protag out of them all.


    >Okumura is still a little bit upset with Ludger’s design, wanting something a bit flashier.
    sorry, okumura. but enough with the bishies protagonists in JRPG. Lugger has a great design. he remember me of these 80s-90s journalists movies

  • Bell

    I really like Ludger’s design. I’m glad they didn’t do anything ridiculously flashy, especially for a protagonist with no speaking lines.

  • k.b.a.

    OMG this. looks like i’ll be playing tales again

  • I still have to play the first Tales of Xillia. ;_;

  • Ric Vazquez

    Having a silent hero on a Tales game, not very bright in my opinion

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