The little information we had is that they’re inheriting the legacy of the now-closed mobile game Starly Girls: Episode Starsia, and we have seen a handful of screenshots and pieces of concept art.
In order to know more about them, we went directly to the source and we interviewed Game Director and President Yoshimi Yasuda at Kadokawa Games’ headquarters in Tokyo.
Editor’s Note: Do keep in mind that both Project Stella and Project Europa are still working titles, so they may be named differently when they’re fully revealed down the line.
Also, during the interview, you’ll often see the definition “simulation RPG.” That’s a name commonly used in Japan for strategy RPGs.
Giuseppe: A very long time has passed since the first announcement of Project Stella, and we have seen only three screenshots. Is there a reason for such a Long wait?
Yoshimi Yasuda: We had to create everything from scratch, including all the models and assets. That’s why it took a long time.
Giuseppe: For now, we know very little about both Project Stella and Project Europa, could you share anything more about their nature and features?
Yoshimi Yasuda: Starly Girls was my idea to begin with. I looked back at it, and I came to the conclusion that using the same concepts wouldn’t really match the simulation RPG genre.
I decided to rebuild everything from scratch once more for both Stella and Europa and to try to create them as one IP. It was a big decision, but everything is proceeding well.
Giuseppe: Considering the fact that Starly Girls was originally a mobile game, is Project Europa going to be similar, or will it be a very different game?
Yoshimi Yasuda: It’ll be totally different. I’ve been creating simulation RPGs for a long time, and I’ve come to the conclusion that there are two factors which make SRPG fun and exciting.
The first is building up the characters, while the second is letting players come up with their own tactics and strategies to overcome challenges.
Those two factors will be very important, and unfortunately, they were lacking in the original Starly Girls. We are trying to improve on these features in both Project Stella and Project Europa.
Giuseppe: One of the interesting aspects of Starly Girls: Episode Starsia was the star-level cast of voice actors. Are Project Stella and Europa going to go the same route?
Yoshimi Yasuda: This will remain the same. One of the main points will be to let players enjoy the voice overs. We will try to have top-tier voice actors.
Giuseppe: How do the two new games connect to Episode Starsia? And do they connect to each other in any way?
Yoshimi Yasuda: the IP will actually be unrelated to Episode Starsia. The setting is different as well. Project Stella will be set way before Episode Starsia, while Project Europa will be a sequel to Project Stella in terms of timeline.
I’m the Game Director for both titles, so there will be similarities, but they will be different games from each other.
Giuseppe: Ever since Natural Doctrine, you appear to have tried to find a way to evolve the simulation RPG genre. Yet, God Wars is closer to the roots of the genre. Are Project Stella and Project Europa another attempt to revolution simulation RPGs or are they more traditional experiences?
Yoshimi Yasuda: Natural Doctrine received praise but also a lot of criticism. Due to that, I decided to go back to the traditional and conventional mechanics for a simulation JRPG with God Wars.
Working on them I grasped the major differences between action RPG and simulation RPG. One thing that’s great about SRPGs is having all the data exposed to the players, providing them with all the options and data to think about the strategies they need to complete the game.
I believe that’s the core of this kind of game, and it’s very important.
That being said, while I want to implement this core in Project Stella, I would also like to add an element of revolution to make it even more exciting and fun.
Giuseppe: We heard that part of the team behind the original Front Mission is working on Project Stella. Could you tell us specifically who?
Yoshimi Yasuda: In the world, there are millions of players and tens of thousands of developers, but among those, only few are truly thinking about the future of the SRPG genre. They’re my close friends and partners, but we’re not ready to reveal them yet.
Giuseppe: Are Project Stella and Project Europa being developed with the intention of releasing them in the west?
Yoshimi Yasuda: Personally, I’d love to release them in the west.
Giuseppe: What platforms are you targeting for Project Stella?
Yoshimi Yasuda: It’s still to be determined, but first of all, we’d like to release it for consoles.
Giuseppe: Episode Starsia was based on the “mecha + cute girls” concept. For now, we have seen just mecha for Project Stella. Is it still based on the same concept?
Yoshimi Yasuda: The design and direction may have changed, but the basic concept is still “mecha + cute girls.” We’ll definitely introduce the “cute girls” later on, so please look forward to it.
Giuseppe: Personally, I really loved God Wars, but its visuals didn’t appear to take full advantage of modern platforms, and this may have limited its mass appeal. Is Project Stella going to have better graphics?
Yoshimi Yasuda: That’s a good point. Especially in the last ten years, there has been a lot of evolution in terms of graphics for games. Like what happened for action RPGs, this kind of evolution needs to happen for simulation RPGs as well.
We are definitely aiming to enhance the quality of the graphics for the game. We believe that this will let us connect with more fans and appeal to a wider audience.
My two sources of inspiration are Star Wars and the Battlefield series. They’re great examples of advanced graphics.
That being said, instead of aiming simply for photorealism, I’d like to add a touch of “pop culture” to the graphics. Basically, the concept for the graphics is “photoreal + pop culture”
Giuseppe: You seem to have a strong personal preference for turn-based simulation RPGs, but today many developers are steering toward action games, abandoning turns. Do you think the genre will continue to thrive even in today’s action-oriented market?
Yoshimi Yasuda: Market Data shows that mobile games have surpassed console games in terms of numbers.
This can’t be ignored, but despite this, I believe that an effort should be made to launch more simulation RPGs on consoles. I’m personally pushing for this, and I hope that others will follow.
One of the biggest reasons why the SRPG market has declined is that less creators have been working on this kind of game, which is sad.
I believe that gaming will be more attractive if there will be a variety of genres released globally, including SRPGs.