Can you describe Monolith’s relationship with Nintendo?  How often do you assist with Nintendo’s first party games versus working on your own stuff? 
Takahashi: There’s both kind of work that we do.  Whenever we’re working on one of our own titles like Xenoblade Chronicles X, we’ll have weekly development meetings with Nintendo where we discuss our progress with the game. Whenever we’re not busy with our own projects, we have the opportunity to help out with some of the projects that are being developed at Nintendo.  A recent example of this is Splatoon.

With the scale of this game, was it tough to know when to limit production? Because you could keep making this game forever and just keep adding more content, correct?
Yokota: So there was a time in development where we actually considered creating many different planets that you would be able to explore one after the other. Then we realized how limited the experience would be if we tried to spread out the content, so we decided to just focus on one planet. The question then became how many continents we were gong to make. Once we mapped it out and realized how much content we wanted to be available to play on each continent, the number that we came up with was five.

Has learning how much to bite off, how much of a project you can tackle, been a tough lesson to learn throughout your history of game development?
Takahashi: [Laughs] Rather than say it’s a lesson I've learned over time, I think I have to relearn it every single time. Honestly, this is a very difficult task and this time around is the first title we're developing in HD. That really changes how you’re planning has to work because your understanding of the development time in terms of cost is completely different.

I remember hearing from Nintendo about the difficulty of developing Pikmin 3 in HD, what are some of the lessons that Nintendo brought to Monolith on that front?
Yokota: So when we were first talking to Monolith about the technology, we spent about six months discussing how we were going to pull off creating a game that's going to be in HD and that's going to be an open world. We knew this was a really monumental task, but through the good cooperation with them we were able to succeed in finally making it.

So with the team's experience now in the open-world genre, I'm curious if you can offer any tips to the Zelda Wii U team? Is there some knowledge that can be transferred there? I know Monolith helped work on Skyward Sword.
Yokota: So as it turns out, in the development of this game we had a lot of opportunities to prepare reports and feedback on the technology and the different kinds of problems that we encountered. When we're able to share those documents internally, they're going to go to all the other teams so they’ll be able to draw from them and I hope that those guys working on that game will be able to benefit as well.

Is there any chance that you'll be supporting that team once again after this project is fully done?
Takahashi: I mean I suppose it's possible, but we haven’t heard anything. I would want to say that Monolith Soft is always available and we would love to help anytime people ask us.

It must be refreshing for the team to work on something from Nintendo to cleanse the Xenoblade out of your system every once a while.
Takahashi: Sure, absolutely. It would be nice.

Click to the next page to learn Takahashi's and Yokota's favorite RPGs of all time.