In an interview with Den-fami Nico Gamer, Tetsuya Takahashi (Monolith Soft’s president) revealed some eye-opening things about Xenoblade Chronicles 2‘s development. SiliconEra has translated portions of the interview and it’s obvious that the development team struggled to get the game done in time for launch. Apparently they had huge issues with the user interface and in fact lost three programmers in the middle of development.
Katsura Hashino: It was impressive to see how lively the characters of Xenoblade Chronicles were. I certainly felt the love that went into the character CG models. It made me think how they must have been made with such confidence.
Tetsuya Takahashi: Thank you very much. But rather than love, I believe it was more the passion of the workplace. Up until now our characters always took a beating, so we said “this time we won’t let you guys complain.” That was promising to see.
However, on the other hand, things didn’t go well with the UI. We lost three programmers in the middle of development.
Hashino: Oh, is that so?
Takahashi: We had no choice but to do it with our remaining members, and we endured to the very end. The team worked hard, but that part was frustrating.
Perhaps even more surprising is that the game was comprised of only around 40 developers! That’s because over half of their team was busy working on The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. That’s part of the reason they outsourced some of the characters, with tweaks being done internally.
Hashino: How much of it was handled in-house at Monolith Soft? Was the character modeling done internally?
Takahashi: Monolith Tokyo has a little less than 100 developers. Of that group, between 50% to 60% was helping Nintendo with Zelda (Breath of the Wild). Of the remaining 40 to 50 people, several were part of R&D (Research & Development), and the Xenoblade Chronicles 2 staff was made of the remaining 40-plus members.
However, we couldn’t make it with just these members, so we outsourced then revised what we got, and that was the flow of things.
Hashino: So the character models were done externally?
Takahashi: Yes, they were produced externally and adjusted internally. Rex, Pyra, and several other models were done completely in-house from our members. We had some talented new recruits who were assigned with it as well.
Satoshi Eguchi (Former Dengeki Game Media Editor-in-Chief): Nevertheless, it’s quite amazing that you guys made such a large-scale game like Xenoblade Chronicles 2 with 40 people.
Hashino: Was the event design and scenario handled externally?
Takahashi: Those were internal.
Hashino: And with 40 people, that’s truly what you call core members. When you get together the main programmers, main designers, and planners, that’s easily already 40 people.
It’s a miracle the game came out on time and in as good of a condition that it did. You can read our full review right here!