Takuma Endo interview

Last year at PAX AUS 2023, we had the pleasure of speaking with the legendary Takuma Endo, creator of the Tenchu series, the mind behind Octopath Traveler, and the current President of powerhouse Japanese developer, Acquire.

Left to right: Takuma Endo, interviewer and translator Zahra, and Qualbert.com Editor-in-Chief, Ben.

Join us for our Takuma Endo interview as we delve into the fascinating mind of this influential gaming creator, go behind the scenes of Octopath Traveler, and explore his team’s latest creations!

Zahra: It’s a privilege to meet you, Mr. Endo.

Endo: No, not at all.

Zahra: First of all, for you Endo-san, personally, what is a game that’s left the most impact on you?

Endo: The first games that I made, the Tenchu series, as well as Octopath Traveler 1 and 2, as it sold quite well worldwide, and fairly well known, I think.

Endo-san helped pioneer the stealth genre through his beloved Tenchu series.

Zahra: Why do you think wafu games (Japanese style), and JRPGs are popular with overseas gamers?

Endo: Around the time of the Tenchu series, there weren’t that many Japanese-style games, but we’ve been creating it for around ten years, but its popularity decreased over time, so we’ve stopped making that series. After that, I started creating a lot of different games, and recently we’ve had a hit with JRPGs.

Creating Octopath Traveler

Zahra: Octopath Traveler 2 had the Crossed Paths element, while Octopath Traveler 1 did not. Why did you decide to add the Crossed Paths mechanic to Octopath’s sequel? (Note: Crossed Paths is a newly added mechanic in Octopath Traveler 2 that allows two travelers to interact with one another in a deeper way than in Octopath Traveler 1, which didn’t have much inter-party interaction.)

Endo: Yes, well, we really wanted to create a game were players had a sense of freedom. 

Zahra: The HD-2D graphic style, that mixes traditional pixel art with 3D is stunning, and has really captivated people all over the world. Whatever scene in the Octopath Traveler you look at, the visuals are so pretty that it’s enough to give you gooseflesh. 

Endo: Thank you!

Zahra: Why do you think the HD-2D graphical style has caught on so well?

Endo: Honestly, (on the contrary), I don’t really know. We didn’t think it really would go down this well. I think it was just by chance, to be honest. I just thought that the gamers who played on the Famicom and Super Famicom had these certain memories (from that era of games), and how do we stir those memories, and in order to recreate those memories, we really tried our best. 

Octopath Traveler II graphics screenshot

Octopath Traveler II is the latest in the HD-2D series.

Zahra: Usually JRPG’s and Japanese games in general feature adolescent protagonists. But the main characters of the Octopath series are all adults. So why did you decide to have them as mature adults? 

Endo: The producer from Square Enix really loves Game of Thrones, and so they requested an adult story. We thought the same thing, so we were all in accord with that vision. 

Current Projects & New Games

Zahra: Could you tell me about your current game projects?  

Endo: Lately, in between my larger projects, I’ve been creating smaller games with other creators, as well as trying to self-publish, too, but I’m still just a beginner at it. 

Zahra: Would you mind telling me a little about the games you are currently developing?

Endo: Of course. Firstly, we have a game called Xaladia: Rise of the Space Pirates X2. It’s a shooter game that involves using twin-stickers, as well as elements of crafting. So I originally started creating it as a hobby project, but then put it on the production line to have it made properly. 

Endo: This girl here [Note: Endo-san is referencing the main character from a game called Ancient Weapon Holly] is an ancient weapon, and due to being too much of a threat, is sealed off by humanity.

When she awakens, she has a grudge against humans and wants to get revenge. This game’s main hook, I think, is that you can dig into walls and floors, and bury your enemies into the ground. 

Zahra: Sounds amazing!

Endo: It’s actually a game with a very high difficulty level, and souls-like (where you’re likely to die frequently), so it’s that type of game. There are many dungeon crawler games in this genre, but with Ancient Weapon Holly, I think the game mechanics make it stand out. So please give it a try. 

Zahra: And I just wanted to ask, is it difficult to think up novel ideas during a game’s development? 

Endo: Yes, usually thinking up new concepts is hard, so putting in new mechanics in smaller titles, like these, is kind of like testing them out. Then for the larger titles, such as Octopath Traveler, I can upgrade these ideas. 

We’d like to pass on our thanks to the team at Ukiyo Studios and Acquire for the incredible opportunity to interview Takuma Endo. To find out more, be sure to read our full Octopath Traveler II review and join the Qualbert Discord to chat with Zahra who conducted and translated this interview!

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