Monolith Soft has created quite a line of titles that all feature dynamic characters and intriguing stories. Those adventures are brought to lift through cut-scenes and lore dumps, and with each subsequent release, Monolith Soft has gotten better with making those aspects more engaging. According to comments from Monolith Soft’s head, the studio still isn’t satisfied with their output, and they’re aiming to improve one element in particular that should draw players even deeper into their creations.

Monolith Soft co-founder and Xenoblade executive director Tetsuya Takahashi has spoke about the studio’s desire to enhance character expressions in their titles moving forward. Rather than having characters voice lines and using dynamic camera movements to keep players invested, Monolith Soft wants to have the characters themselves become even more alluring with their facial expressions.

We’ll have to wait until Monolith Soft’s next game to see how this all comes together, but you can see some comments from Takahashi below that detail what the studio is hoping to achieve. (translation via NintendoEverything)

“When we say we value expressions, we’ve always considered them to be important, and would like to treat them even more importantly in the future. That is to say, we touched upon video game grammar earlier, but there are scenes with mundane conversations, right? If it was a three-minute conversation, one would get fed up with it if it was written in video game grammar. You might mash the button, hoping you’d get to progress. However, when watching a live action movie, even if a scene is about five minutes long, as long as the actors’ performances and chemistry work, even if there is no music or special effects, one would end up watching it all the same. The difference there might be the choice of words, or the power of the lines, but the most important part is the expressions. A lot of actors can speak using their eyes alone, and those things can fill a gap and prevent people from getting bored in live action media, but for games, we can’t reach that level of expressiveness yet. That’s why we want to focus on this more in the future.

As an extreme example, if we were to make a ten-minute long scene, we’d want to make something that can stand on just the verbal exchanges without music or effects, and that’s the goal we’re thinking to aim for. This is just an example though, of course. We aren’t trying to make an actual 10-minute long scene, so don’t misunderstand (laughs).

Getting back on topic, but when just looking at the cutscenes for a game, many have plenty of action scenes and flashy scenes, and there are many titles that I think would make great reference material for future generations. But when it comes to people and people’s exchange of words and emotions, there is a tendency towards their actions, while the showcasing of the silent parts are still mostly stuck in the realm of video game grammar, so I would like it if Monolith Soft could reach that first.”

[Monolith Soft co-founder and Xenoblade executive director Tetsuya Takahashi]

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Comments (1)


2M ago

I do think the xenoblade chronicles series is pretty amazing so far.

But I don't really agree with this at all. Some of the most memorable and emotional scenes from games such as Ocarina of Time, FF7, and Chrono Trigger captivated audiences with simple text and basic graphics.

Resonating emotionally with the player and keeping them invested in a scene isn't about how detailed expressions are, it's about giving the player a well-written world and characters that are believable within context.

Instead of trying to bring film sensibilities to video games with more detailed expressions, what I think modern RPGs need to do is concentrate on not being 60 to 80 hours long just to be 60 to 80 hours long.
Xenoblade 3 had one of the strongest openings I've seen in ages for a narrative video game. Unique, interesting, and mysterious.

Then about 30 to 40 hours in it devolves into your standard Anime/JRPG tropes, conflicts itself, and generally loses sight of what it established in the opening hours as it tries to keep the story going with filler, which feels like each part was written by a different writer who had no idea what the other writers were writing. Instead they should just concentrate on a tighter, more compact, and coherent experience.

It's OK JRPGs, you don't need to be 60 hours long. Length isn't everything. It's how you use it.