We wouldn’t have Phantasy Star Online 2 without the original Phantasy Star Online – not just because numbers work like that, but because a big part of what made PSO2 possible was the foundational work done on PSO. A new interview with director Takao Miyoshi looking back on the original includes, among other things, his admission that if he were given the game to work on today, it would probably be far more conservative and a far less enjoyable game all around:
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.
Miyoshi also explains that one of the big sources of inspiration was the Diablo franchise, which was not popular in Japan but gave the people on the team at least some idea of why the online component could be fun and what to expect. He also talks about the intensity of the pressure around the launch, which included a missile fired by North Korea that left him thinking that if it hit Tokyo, release would be delayed. Check out the full interview for a look back at how Sega’s first MMO came into existence.