Yasumi Matsuno, whose works include Vagrant Story, Final Fantasy 12 and games in the Tactics Ogre and Final Fantasy Tactics series, is working on two new titles under the name Unsung Story. One is a digital card game being developed by French board game designer Christophe Boelinger; the other, said to be the centerpiece of Unsung Story's world, is a more traditional tactics-style video game envisioned by Matsuno. That game's title is Unsung Story: Tale of the Guardians.
The games are part of a collaboration with Carlsbad, Calif.-based Playdek, the developer of hobby and tabletop games for digital platforms, like Ascension, Agricola and Summoner Wars. Playdek and Wizards of the Coast announced a partnership to bring Dungeons & Dragons games to mobile platforms earlier this year.
The first fruit from Playdek and Matsuno's partnership, the Unsung Story digital card game, is due to be released next year.
Matsuno is tasked with developing the world in which Unsung Story games will exist. According to an official announcement, Unsung Story games explore the medieval fantasy world of Rasfalia, "where knights, wizards, archers and magical creatures roam a lush landscape that holds the secret stories of more than half a century of bloody war."
In an interview with Playdek CEO Joel Goodman and Yasumi Matsuno, the veteran game designer — formerly of Square Enix and Level-5 — said his medieval fantasy world will involve a conflict between nine countries, each with their own races, religions and cultures. Matsuno says he's tapping into his love of fantasy and European history in creating Unsung Story's vision.
Matsuno envisions a tactical strategy game that's complex and deep, featuring a hero who's not a "superhero," he said, but an ordinary soldier in a medieval land.
"In the past, I was deeply involved as director of games," Matsuno told Polygon in an interview, "but this time I wanted to participate in the project as an original story game creator." Matsuno noted that he's been involved in this capacity before, creating scenarios for Platinum Games' MadWorld.
"I really enjoy making AAA big budget console games," he said, "but I also enjoy playing those games on smartphones and tablets. I've been approached by Japanese mobile publishers in the past, but most of the games in Japan are based on a card battle games. I've been refusing those offers.
"But I'm very interested in smartphones and mobile platforms. I thought this [collaboration with Playdek] is going to be a perfect match. I appreciate the quality of the mobile games being released in the U.S."
Playdek CEO Joel Goodman says the current plan is to release Unsung Story games for mobile platforms, with other digital releases possible. "We're creating our core engine to be platform agnostic. We do plan on putting in as many gamers hands as possible," Goodman said.
Goodman says the collaboration with Matsuno, and having him create a new original intellectual property with them, has been a dream come true. In our interview Goodman called Matsuno's Vagrant Story his favorite game of all time and explained that the collaboration is still in its early stages.