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Falcom, Sen no Kiseki, and the quest to make a full 3D console RPG

Nihon Falcom, the 31-year-old game developer behind classic role-playing game series like Ys and The Legend of Heroes, has one incredibly ambitious New Year's resolution in mind. In the year 2013, their plan is to make a full-on 3D RPG...on consoles, no less, despite the fact they've developed almost exclusively for the PSP since 2006.

The Legend of Heroes: Sen no Kiseki, originally announced two weeks ago, raised a lot of eyebrows when people learned it would be a PlayStation 3 and PS Vita dual-release project, Falcom's first. "We had a lot of gamers who really brought it home to us that they wanted to play this series on a home console," Falcom president Toshihiro Kondo told Famitsu magazine this week. "To some extent, we also wanted to flex our muscles and explore what we could do on the PS3 and Vita."

Why the push toward 3D graphics, though, instead of the intricate pixel-based art that's been one of Falcom's trademarks over the years? "I think we've been able to prove through the previous games that we're able to provide a story scenario and gameplay that really satisfies gamers," Kondo replied. "Ever since we started work last year, our next big push has been to make the leap over to 3D. The confidence we've built in that field is what led to Sen no Kiseki."

Not that there haven't been any growing pains during the shift, a fairly monumental one for a company with a permanent staff of only around 50 people. "It was hard at first, certainly," Kondo admitted. "We had to go through a learning process, one spearheaded by the designers on our team that have experience with 3D tools. Most of our 2D visual staff have experience with 3D as well, and they're able to take advantage of that knowledge in this project."

But Kondo is serious about making it work, to the point where Sen no Kiseki is the only major release Falcom is planning for 2013. "Sen no Kiseki is the only completely new and original project we're releasing in 2013," he said. "We're putting everything we have into this. I'm not planning on having people wait for long for details, either. We'll probably have another big blast of info out before it gets too warm outside."

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