|Born||1965 (age 52–53)|
|Occupation||Video game designer|
Yasumi Matsuno (松野 泰己 Matsuno Yasumi, born 1965) is a Japanese video game designer. Formally an employee at Quest Corporation and Square, Matsuno is best known for his work in the tactical role-playing game genre, specifically the Ogre Battle and Final Fantasy Tactics series, in addition to Vagrant Story and Final Fantasy XII.
Matsuno grew up in a rural area, where he felt his only entertainment were movies, television, books. His hobbies included making dioramas. He was particularly fond of World War II dioramas, that he used to make by researching at the local library. He would incorporate story elements into each of his creation.
His introduction to video games was playing Space Invaders and Xevious at the arcades while waiting for the train. He was fond of The Legend of Zelda and Dragon Quest on Nintendo Entertainment System, and played heavily on the Amiga and PC, including Ultima Online.
He attended Hosei University for foreign policy but dropped out after three years. Shortly thereafter he found work as an economic reporter but found the work unfulfilling. In 1989 Matsuno left his job as a reporter to work at Quest Corporation.
Matsuno began his career at the Japanese video game developer Quest Corporation. In 1993, he served as the director of Ogre Battle: The March of the Black Queen for the Super NES. It is the first installment of an episodic series of tactical role-playing games. On naming the game, Matsuno was inspired by rock band Queen's second album, which contained two songs titled "Ogre Battle" and "The March Of The Black Queen". Even the "Rhyan Sea" in the Ogre Battle world is named after "Seven Seas of Rhye". The next game he worked on was Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together, released in 1995 for the Super Famicom in Japan. The dark political narrative of the game revolving around the reality of war was inspired by Matsuno's outside perspective on events that unfolded during the Yugoslav Wars in the early 1990s, including the Bosnian Genocide.
Although Let Us Cling Together is the second entry released in the Ogre Battle franchise, it featured dramatically different gameplay than its predecessor. While Ogre Battle: The March of the Black Queen was more akin to a grand strategy role-playing game (RPG), Let Us Cling Together was a more intimate, squad-based, isometric tactical RPG. Let Us Cling Together then launched a sub-series within the franchise with Tactics Ogre being used to distinguish the two forms of gameplay in later sequels (notably Tactics Ogre: The Knight of Lodis). Let Us Cling Together has since been well received and in March 2006, readers of the Japanese magazine Famitsu voted it number seven among their 100 all-time favorite games.
Square and Square Enix
In 1995, Matsuno joined Square after quitting Quest. At Square, Matsuno directed and wrote Final Fantasy Tactics for the PlayStation. Similar in design and gameplay to Tactics Ogre, it was lauded for its highly intricate story. After the game's release, Matsuno and his team began development on Vagrant Story. Smaller in scope than Final Fantasy Tactics, it was still highly regarded by critics and has gained somewhat of a cult following since its release. Matsuno supervised Square's PlayOnline project prior to its first beta release in 2001. He then served as producer for Final Fantasy Tactics Advance for the Game Boy Advance system, which shares the Final Fantasy Tactics system but has an entirely different storyline.
In 2001, Matsuno was assigned to work on Final Fantasy XII as director together with Hiroyuki Ito. He came up with the game's original concept and plot. Matsuno reportedly was temperamental and refused to come to work for a month after part of the Final Fantasy XII team had left Square Enix to join Hironobu Sakaguchi's new company Mistwalker. In August 2005, it was officially announced that he had stepped down from his position on the project due to a prolonged illness.
Freelance period and Level-5
In 2006, Matsuno expressed his interest for Nintendo's Wii console in a promotional video, stating that he was impressed with the intuitive functionality provided by the remote controller. He was approached by his friend, the PlatinumGames producer Atsushi Inaba, to work on the scenario for the Wii game MadWorld. While developing the setting, story and script, Matsuno often consulted with the development team and received conflicting orders from the staff members: the game designers wanted to emphasize extreme violence but the producers wished to tone it down instead. Matsuno's ideas and writing for the game were influenced by the necessity to balance these two different points of view. In October 2007, composer and longtime collaborator Hitoshi Sakimoto mentioned that he was working with Matsuno on "some stuff". When the original developers of Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together were assembled to work on a reimagined port for the PlayStation Portable, Matsuno was called upon to handle the game design and new story elements.
Soon after the port was finished, Level-5 president Akihiro Hino entered talks with him to convince him of joining the company. In June 2011, it was announced that Matsuno had entered Level-5 based on his impression of the Professor Layton and Inazuma Eleven series and in order to create the games he wanted to. During his stay there, he developed the fantasy RPG Crimson Shroud for the Nintendo 3DS, which is part of the collaborative project Guild 01 of Grasshopper Manufacture's Goichi Suda, Sega's Yoot Saito and comedian Yoshiyuki Hirai. Matsuno left Level-5 in October 2012 and explained "With my work done on the domestic and overseas version of my latest 3DSWare game, it was good timing for me to step down and take a short break in order to recharge for my next project." In September 2013, he announced a partnership with the American company Playdek to develop Unsung Story: Tale of the Guardians, a strategy game similar to Matsuno's previous titles and set in a medieval fantasy world.
Matsuno founded a "planning, screenplay, and production" oriented company named Algebra Factory in 2016. During the Algebra Factory era, he has been hired by Square Enix to produce the "Return to Ivalice" raid for the MMORPG Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn and by Cygames Corporation for game drafts and management for the mobile game Lost Order.
Matsuno stated that he is heavily influenced by Western games. He is also influenced by films, particularly the original trilogy of Star Wars. He has described the development culture at Quest as a "kind dictatorship" while Square's is more "democratic", and is not personally fond of other team members having input on his narrative work.
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