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There Were Only 40 Developers Working On Xenoblade Chronicles 2

Xenoblade Chronicles 2 director Tetsuya Takahashi was recently interviewed by Japanese publication Denifaminicogamer. One of the things we learnt is that Monolith Soft’s Tokyo studio has around 100 developers. However, there were only forty developers from Monolith Soft working on Xenoblade Chronicles 2. 50 to 60 Monolith Soft developers went to Nintendo to aid them in developing the majestic The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The remaining 10 staff members were involved in Research and Development. For comparisons sake, there were over 100 developers in total working on The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. So Xenoblade Chronicles 2 had a much smaller number.

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28 comments

  1. I remember Squaresoft gloating about how Final Fantasy 7 had over 100 developers… Either development tools have come a long way or the Xeno 2 crew has some serious skill.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. The article that the game is about, Xenoblade Chonicles X. It has an adaptive resolution in portable mode that rarely if ever reaches 720p and sometimes reaches as low as 368p.

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      2. Sorry, I meant Xenoblade Chronicles 2.

        Also you knew that already or you wouldn’t have said

        “And also explains why it’s resolution is questionably low.” and “That’s not what I heard about the Xenoblade 2 on portable mode.”

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    1. Wrong. That’s not the reason. It was an intentional design choice and likely would have been the same regardless of their staff number.

      The Blades are your weapons and your equipment. That’s what the game is designed around. The Blades and accessories equal 5 slots and affect your stats, the exact same as equipment did in the first game.

      And besides, good riddance to those old armors. XC’s equipment looked ugly as sin.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This deserves MUCH more attention. Reducing development staff while still maintaining quality is the key to making it so not every game has to sell 12 million copies to turn enough profit on the investment.

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      1. The degree I agree with you really depends on what you mean. The nice thing about a free country when you’re talking about skilled workers (completely different ball of wax for unskilled workers), is such conditions are typically self regulating. If they’re offering work conditions significantly below industry standard, skilled workers like high end programmers can find work elsewhere. If they aren’t, it tells us that they probably don’t mind the long hours. I have no idea what the industry standard actually is in Japan, or how severe the time crunch was, so it’s hard for me to say.

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      2. The gaming industry has been plagued with crunch time for nearly two decades now, and quality of life is the number one cited reason for programmers leaving the industry.

        When an entire industry has a problem, there is no self regulation. For example: my wife is a physician who recently finished residency (the 3-7 years of training post medical school, not including the years that go into a fellowship program after). Suicide rates of resident physicians has been terrible and the hospitals have been running all sorts of programs to talk about how to solve physician “burnout.” Every residency program in the country expects around 80 hour work weeks with regular day/night shift flips + study, research, papers etc. So after eight years of training, many docs enter residency and find out they can’t handle the work load (physical, mental, emotional, whatever). There’s no where for them to go, and most have $200-300k in student loans. If they don’t finish the program, there is no other industry where they can pay off those loans. Fortunately, my wife has a strong support group and our family handled things well enough, but many of her colleagues have struggled.

        I could post countless articles about crunch time in the game industry, but here’s a nice recent one I just read, from Game Informer of all places:

        http://www.gameinformer.com/b/features/archive/2018/01/16/crunch-the-video-game-industrys-notorious-labor-problem.aspx?PostPageIndex=1

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      3. “When an entire industry has a problem, there is no self regulation. ”

        “quality of life is the number one cited reason for programmers leaving the industry.”

        So in other words, exactly as I said, skilled workers can leave if they want. The issue is that it’s a very popular industry regardless of conditions, and people are willing to make that sacrifice to be a part of the industry, exactly the same as every artistic creative field.

        I have compassion for your student loan problem. My wife and I are in a similar position. The medical industry though is fundamentally different in that it has an actual supply problem. People are using doctors more than ever before, and it’s more time consuming and expensive than ever before to become a doctor. Creative fields have the opposite issue. People are jumping over themselves to sacrifice everything they can to be a part of them. If you’re willing to work an 80 hour week to be in the video game programmer as opposed to an accounting software programmer, that’s not a work conditions problem, that’s a specific field being less valuable than another by dint of more supply than demand. So, as I said, if these people can’t get work anywhere else in their respective fields with better standards, I agree. If they’re going out of their way to make sacrifices for the chance to do a very competitive thing that they knew at the outset would be low reward, that’s their choice. In a free society, you get precisely what you’re willing to pay for. If you’re willing to work insanely long hours for a job, that’s precisely what you’re going to get. So like I said, whether I agree depends on the specific circumstances of these workers. If they saw “work 70 hours a week and get to be a part of the Xenoblade Chronicles 2 team” and said “absolutely, that would be amazing”, I’m not very concerned because they got precisely what they wanted.

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