Jump to content

We ♥ Phantasy Star Online


Recommended Posts

Polygon is publishing a series of interviews with members of PSO's development team. They've done two so far.


First was this one with Yuji Naka, conducted by email:



However the one I recommend reading first is their interview with director Takao Miyoshi, which is livelier and more interesting:



I've always thought that Burning Rangers had a lot of similarities to PSO (even before they released that themed DLC mission for PSO ver.2) - but I didn't know that it was once envisioned as a network co-op game!:



Takao Miyoshi: I did the planning and original concept for the game. [...]

I was more of a director and supervised the overall project. At first the planning document was just a single piece of paper, then it expanded from there. If we go back to the very beginning of it all, it goes back to the Sega Saturn. We were trying to make an online game on the Saturn for a long time. That’s when we first started exploring online gaming.


At the time, I was working on a game called Burning Rangers. It was initially created as a network-compatible game with four players who go on a rescue mission. But there were network issues that we couldn’t overcome, so it was released as a regular, offline game. That was a game that I had created with online in mind but [in which the online part] didn’t make it past the planning stage.


Wow, Burning Rangers was originally planned as a four-player online game?


There’s a lot of flying around in that game and the maps are very complicated. So for PSO we said, “No flying allowed!” because that made things too complicated. That’s why you can’t leave the ground in PSO.




The thing that stands out is that I was so young. If I had known the complexities of creating and running an online game such as PSO, I probably would never have made it the way it turned out. I would have made prudent decisions and figured out how to simplify it. We didn’t really understand what it was going to take, so we took many risks and pushed things through. Consequently, that was probably the right move. The “Word Select System” is a good example. I don’t ever want to make something like that again.



The pressure was intense. This probably won’t make it into the article but this was around the time when North Korea launched a missile over Japan and it landed in the Pacific. I remember thinking that if the missile had landed in Tokyo, it would delay the launch. It would cause such a commotion that we would have to delay the launch, and we would have more time to work on the game. [laughs] That’s how psychotic I was at the time.


Working with Yuji Naka:


Because Naka began his career as a programmer, do you think that background helped him in coming up with ideas for the game from a producer’s standpoint?


Naka’s concern was not for how hard the work was going to be for the team. His concern was that the ideas were awesome and had to be included in the game so that the game would be great. His philosophy was “you don’t know until you try it,” and ideas didn’t stem from whether it was possible or “hey, this would help make our job easier.” They came from pure enthusiasm: “We’re going to do this, so you’ve gotta go make this happen.” So we’d take those ideas or problems, put our heads together, and figure out solutions. We were creating things that didn’t exist, so we would come up with possible solutions and try to convince him that what we came up with was practical and worked better than his initial ideas.


The process doesn’t sound super fun.


It wasn’t really fun, but it’s the way a genius works. He would never bend on his ideas. Once he had an idea, it was impossible to steer him away.


He was unwavering?


Some people would say that. He was very strict. But, that’s why we were able to accomplish something that wasn’t possible under normal circumstances. I think consequently that’s what made the game fun.


He also talks about the influence of Diablo ("I had heard that Dragon Quest was inspired by remaking Ultima with a Japanese audience in mind. So our concept was, “Let’s make a Diablo game that would appeal to the Japanese audience.”"), the role of Panzer Dragoon artist Satoshi Sakai, single- and multiplayer difficulty balancing, how MAGs originated as dragons that followed the player, and the Xbox and GameCube versions.


He also talks about making Christmas NiGHTS:



You worked at Sonic Team for a long time. Did you work on Nights?


I wasn’t involved with Nights, but there’s a spinoff called Christmas Nights. I made that game.


Christmas Nights is great! It features Sonic the Hedgehog and has tons of content. It was a super piece of fan service.


Technically it was free in Japan, as well. It was a pack-in with the Sega Saturn, but for people who already owned a Sega Saturn, we distributed it for free if they sent us the shipping cost. It was designed as a fan service. We made that in two months.


You should be proud of that.


I wasn’t supposed to make it. I was asked to just create the planning document. So I wrote up a two- or three-page planning doc for Christmas Nights and handed it in, saying, “Please go make this.” And I left to go to the U.K. to make Sonic 3D Blast.


You moved to the U.K.?


No, a dev team called Traveller’s Tales in the UK was making the game, and I went for the last two weeks of development. Up until then, I had been working from Japan, sending documents to the UK, reviewing their work, and sending back feedback. But for crunch time, I flew out there to finish the game.


When I returned to Japan two weeks later, nothing had been done with the planning doc I had written for Christmas Nights, and I was told there was nobody else to work on it. So from the day I returned from the U.K., for two months straight, I basically lived at work making Christmas Nights. It was in the peak of summer, and I was holed up at the office listening to “Jingle Bells.” [laughs]


Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

I'm afraid I haven't played in a while. I was meaning to check whether my login still works but I don't seem to have the game installed. I could try again if people want to start doing something regularly ( I never did get to episode 4, or even the island on episode 2...) but I have downloaded and not started PSO2 either. I'm in the middle of 3 switch games atm. Should finish one.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well I played a couple of times this week with friendly strangers and my character is now lv.22. No complaints with Ephinea and the game itself is as great as it always was. 


If anybody fancies arranging a game, drop me a PM and we'll try and sort out a more direct communication method than 'checking this thread'.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 5 months later...

And finally today, February 15th it's the 20th anniversary for PSO EU release date!


I'm pretty sure I bought it on launch date, but can't quite remember for sure. I know that I didn't go online straight away though - Dreamkey wouldn't let you use your own ISP and instead you had to pay per minute through BT. So it wasn't until sometime in the summer when two things happened - DC:UK had a cover mounted Action Replay that bypassed the Dreamcast region lock and I picked up a copy of US Dreamcast Magazine which had a demo disc with a new version of the Seganet browser that allowed you to change the ISP details within the Dreamcast settings. (yes - this is obviously so ridiculous)


Tonight I booted up my Wii to play the GameCube version running on private servers. I managed to join some complete randoms and they had luckily just finished Mines...




Yep - getting this screen still feels great! Happy Birthday PSO! :wub:


Link to comment
Share on other sites

11 hours ago, luth714 said:

How do you play the GC version online? I’ve got my Wii U hacked with Nintendont on the Wii Homebrew channel...can it be set up via that?

Yes! Although I used Revolution it works with Nintendont aswell. You must play w game from an ISO dump in order to utilise the Wii WiFi adapter: 



The other benefit of this, is that there are ISO patches that offer improvements. I've patched my PAL copy to enable progressive scan, widescreen, increased draw distance, and most helpful of all - utilisation of the C-Stick to switch between 4 custom button pallets increasing the available slots from 6 to 24!


These patches can be found on the downloads tab here:



Let me know if you get it working and fancy a run sometime! 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 year later...

Hi everyone


I’m just looking for any thoughts if possible.  I’ve posted here as it seems to be relevant to the target audience but of course, mods, feel free to move to ask the forum if that suits my post better.


I’ve been thinking about revisiting this game for sometime after dipping in and out of the forum and thinking about what I use my limited spare time to play games for. The lack of a new official release pushes me to go back here to where my first online experience all started.


I’m really looking for any opinions as to the best way to play it. I’ve contemplated buying a Dreamcast but that seems quite expensive and I wonder about the reliability of the memory block things. I then considered the GameCube and pondered whether or not it will be worthwhile me buying a Wii U or a Wii given the cheaper prices and also backwards compatibility? 


I’m open to any suggestions and welcome any thoughts at all!… 


Thanks very much 


ps I don’t own a pc so any home mods etc would be really tricky (unless there are any kind forumites obv !)


Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm not playing the game in any form at the moment so I don't have any direct experience to advise on. I spent a bit of time on the Gamecube private servers many years ago but it didn't feel right without my old crew.


If I was going back to it now I'd first do some research on which version has a community that fits how you want to play, has enough numbers in your play time zone, and sounds friendly. The must have for me would be a way to back up character saves, having that fear of a memory card corruption lifted would be lovely.


It's always going to be my favourite game of all time. All the best with getting back into it, I hope you find a way.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I haven’t really played much of late. Family life means I don’t get regular game time and I don’t really find PSO engaging unless you have regular sessions with friends. 

There are certainly plenty of options these days. I’m pretty sure you can play online using DC, GC, Wii and Wii-U, but I’m not sure how easy those options would be to set up without a PC. 

@MW_Jimmy are you still playing online regularly?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm not playing super regularly but I am always up for playing it more often!


Recently had a game online with @acidbearboyand another friend on the Schthack server and is playable across GC, Wii and Wii U (our 3 man group actually had each of us from each generation of consoles playing together - wild!)


- GC setup is the easiest, no modding, but requires expensive broadband adapter

- Wii is the cheapest and requires softmod and a rip of your GC disc - but can continue to use GC memory card and gamepad

- Wii U is the most complex setup but it's the one I used because it's HDMI and can play on Wii U pad!

- Both Wii/WiiU have some excellent QOL patches that can be applied to the disc image such as proper wide-screen, reduced pop-in, rare item drop messages so you don't miss red boxes, etc

- Schthack servers also offer original and modified drop rates which is much more friendly!


In terms of setting up Fossil Arcade has some YouTube videos - and if you want to get into PSO proper I recommend joining the Schthack Discord to organise some games. I sometimes jump on PSO randomly and most folks are quite high level - at most it feels around 20 players online. A few might join you randomly but most will have often pre-arranged through the discord.


I'm not familiar with the PC servers/version/setup at all - I think it is more popular online but I just prefer the convenience of consoles.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you for all your thoughts. Decided to plump for a wii and have that and a pso v2 winging it’s way to me. If anyone can direct me to a reputable place to have a distanced softmod done that would be great ; I don’t have the means to complete it here (or even the tech where with all prob more importantly…)

Very much looking forward to hearing that music again and that loading screen….


Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

Thought I’d post a little update given how much help I’ve been offered through pm’s and these posts. 

Have played for 20 hours so far with my ranger, made with no regard for class and have had such a different, wonderful time.


Memories have been consistently come to mind of my old play throughs, mainly online and with speed for experience points. Given I’m offline only (at the moment) the levels and play have such a different vibe. I unlocked ruins the other day on normal and just enjoyed looking at the rooms, the little art details. It’s been quite the experience. 


I’m now contemplating a secondary force character and possibly looking to to and ensure it’s a class that drops the spread needle in ruins very hard. That was my legitimately owned weapon of choice back in the day and I do fancy a little trip down memory lane.


Still remaining quite on the fence about going online and modding in general. I very much like the idea of save back ups but the online play seems quite closed to people playing with friends etc from my reading. 


Thanks again for all your various messages and the like. I’m very appreciative 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue. Use of this website is subject to our Privacy Policy, Terms of Use, and Guidelines.