Reflections With Soraya Saga Part 1

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As a special treat for Siliconera readers, we contacted luminary scenario writer and game designer Soraya Saga about spoke to her past works. Soraya wrote the scenario for Xenogears with her husband, Tetsuya Takahashi, and came up with the back story for Edgar and Sabin in Final Fantasy VI.

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More on those characters and Ms. Saga’s thoughts on the state of RPGs today are below.


How did you get started in the video game industry?


Soraya Saga: In the beginning of the 90s, I joined Square Co., Ltd. as a graphic designer by answering a job advertisement in the computer magazine ASCII.


Over the years, you had many jobs, spanning from design to script writing. Which is generally the hardest and why?  Which did you find to be the most rewarding?


Both are rewarding in much the same way, but if I had to choose, I find it slightly harder to design because it requires more workspace. The advantage of writing is it can be done anywhere.


How do you create and mold characters? Do you base them on people you know, art, or events in the story?


Mainly based on the plot. First I see them as elements in a larger whole, imagine their possible motivations and relationships, then try to think from their perspective. My personal experiences and point of view might be partly reflected in characters, but usually I don’t base them on actual persons.


imageThe Figaro brothers, Edgar and Sabin, from Final Fantasy VI are memorable characters. Can you tell us how you designed them and the doujinshi you wrote?


Thank you. When the project started there was a list of playable class names, like "one thief, one gambler and two magitek knights". The staff used to bring along ideas to create stories, as my friends took a gambler, a ninja and a painter, I chose a monk and a machinist to design and write. Personally I really like desert landscapes, therefore they naturally became the kings on the sand.


I have a habit of coming up with ridiculously detailed ideas about character’s backgrounds. Thankfully the company took open-minded attitude to the doujinshi subculture back then, so I put brothers’ tales of childhood that didn’t fit in the game into a privately-printed booklet after the game came out. The most part I wrote in that booklet was just trivial things, though.


In general, there are often many things that aren’t used in games. I used to think all the story must be told, but these days I feel there should be room for viewers’ imagination.


Can you tell us about the development of Soma Bringer? Will it ever come to North America and are there any plans to revisit this universe?


Soma Bringer is an RPG for DS. The team focused on developing an enjoyable co-op gameplay, so I tried to make the story simple and clear not to interrupt the fun of playing. As far as I know, whether it’ll be released internationally or not has not yet been determined.


What do you think about the state of RPGs today?


With the technological advances, RPGs have remarkably become beautiful and dramatic, but we learnt from our own experience that games shouldn’t be something just to watch. It’s not that games don’t need good stories, it’s that we developers should think first of what gamers are looking forward. Now we’re trying to get back to basics, to provide sheer enjoyment of games again.


Come back next week for part two where we talk about Xenogears and Xenosaga.

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