ByDave Ramos, writer at
I'm obsessed with Mega Man and Mr. Robot and a huge fan of Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts. Follow me on Twitter: @DaveFinalVR
Dave Ramos

Project Prelude Rune will be the debut game of newly announced Square Enix company, Studio Istolia, a Tokyo-based studio with the aim of producing 's for a worldwide audience.

Square Enix had this to say:

"The aim of the studio is to provide unforgettable stories that will inspire players in their own lives, and bring new game experiences to everyone around the world."

[Credit: Square Enix]
[Credit: Square Enix]

Like many of Square's games, Project Prelude Rune will be a role-playing game.

According to Square:

"The project aims to build a new RPG with a new fantasy: unfolding across a vast land teeming with life. Nurtured by the earth, the many peoples of this land dare to dream, fighting for what is just—and this is their tale ."

Square closed the statement by saying new information on the title will come at a later date.

The Producer

Producer Hideo Baba
Producer Hideo Baba

While we can't tell too much about Project Prelude Rune itself based on the minimal information given—descriptions and concept art— there is a number of things we can learn from its Producer.

Hideo Baba is the only named staff of Studio Istolia thus far. For those unfamiliar, Baba, more commonly known to fans as "Baba-san," has been working in the gaming industry for over 18 years and has been with Namco Bandai since at least 2004. He is most known for being the Producer of the Tales of series.

During his time as Tales series Producer he had an ambition of bringing as many of the series' titles to the west as possible and had a passion for the fan base.

To give an example of how of Baba worked with the community: he hosted an annual Tales of celebration event in Europe where fans from all over would come dressed as their favorite characters from the series. A cosplay competition was held and the winner would become the Tales of ambassador. The lucky fan would often receive a free copy of the latest game along with other prizes and go on to promote the newest game to various countries within the EU, hence the ambassador title. Hopefully some of Baba-san's practices will make their way to Studio Istolia.

Notable Tales entries are:

  • Tales of Symphonia
  • Tales of Vesperia
  • Tales of Xillia
  • Tales of Zestiria
  • Tales of Berseria

All of the Tales games have similar story themes in common and their own set of summons similar to . They are all action JRPGs with an anime aesthetic. With Baba having been the former producer of the all action JRPG series and the action combat of both Final Fantasy XV and the upcoming Final Fantasy VII Remake it should come a no surprise if Project Prelude Rune is also an action .

What is most notable about the Tales games' titles is the "ia" at the end of most of them. The reasoning behind this is unknown but now can be said to be a trademark of the producer. Each Tales title's name had a meaning to it and was not just a random word chosen. This proves true for the name Istolia which is Greek for "story." Makes sense for studio focused on JRPGs.

Potential Square Enix Staff Involved

[Credit: Square Enix]
[Credit: Square Enix]

Upon a translation of the jobs the Studio is seeking to fulfill, there are two notable things:

  • 1. They are looking for a Character Designer, which means Tetsuya Nomura will likely not be doing character designs for the project.
  • 2. There is no posting for a game Director.

It's the second point that drives the most interest.

While it's possible that Baba-san would be directing the new game, why wouldn't he be announced as Director in addition to Producer? If a Producer was named and the Director was not named, nor is the studio looking for a new Director, then perhaps both Square Enix and Studio Istolia already know who that Director will be.

Given that Final Fantasy XV Director Hajime Tabata has stated in recent interviews that he wanted to work on creating a new IP, it's possible that he could be at the helm of this new project.

Final Fantasy XV is still not complete, about 70% of the staff is still working on DLC and other future updates to the game. However, given the many positions Studio Istolia is looking to fill along with Square Enix's infamously long development cycles, and Directors working on numerous titles at once—Tetsuya Nomura is directing both Kingdom Hearts III and the Final Fantasy VII Remake— Hajime Tabata directing Project Prelude Rune is not far-fetched.

[Credit: Square Enix]
[Credit: Square Enix]

What are your thoughts on the new Square Enix studio? Sound off in the comments!

Source: Kotaku, Square Enix


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