Yoshio Kiya (木屋善夫) was born in 1960 and after graduating from an automobile vocational school, he worked as a car repairman. In 1981, he brought an NEC PC-6001 computer and began programming as a hobby while continuing his repair work. Around this time he also began visiting a computer store that sold Apple computers in Tokyo called Computer Land Tachikawa. The store was owned by Masayuki Kato and his company Nihon Falcom. Over time, Kiya began showing Kato his original software he had created eventually leading to Falcom publishing a game he had made in his spare time called Galactic Wars 1 in June 1982. This started a working relationship between Kato and Kiya where he would create an early version of a Japanese RPG that was published by Falcom in 1983 called Panorama Toh. While not containing states or other modern RPG conventions, the title is still considered one of the earliest Japanese developed RPGs.
After he official joined Nihon Falcom as an employee in June 1984, Kiya would release the seminal Dragon Slayer. The title was a very early example of an action RPG that was the beginning of Falcom's Dragon Slayer franchise, a series of loosely connected games designed by Kiya. The following year would see the release of Dragon Slayer's sequel, Dragon Slayer II: Xanadu, a side-scrolling action RPG that proved to be a huge success for the time. Over 400,000 copies of the game were sold and it helped to popularize the concept of an action RPG in Japan even more than than the original Dragon Slayer. Over the next few years Kiya would play a key role in the growth of Nihon Falcom, personally designing many of their early classics such as Romancia, Legacy of the Wizard, Sorcerian, The Legend of Heroes, and Lord Monarch, all entries in his Dragon Slayer series. Kiya is also credited as contributing to the development of several other Falcom titles including being a part of the production staff on the first two Ys games, as well as directing Popful Mail and Brandish among other contributions. However, after directing The Legend of Xanadu in 1994, he left Nihon Falcom because he wanted to work on DOS and Windows computers but Falcom didn't want to move away from PC-88/98 development at the time.
After leaving Nihon Falcom, Kiya went to work for Nihon Application, now known as Creansmaerd, where he is credited for working on games such as Last Imperial Prince and the Gekirin series. He eventually became a Chief Technology Officer at the company and the General Manager of the Online Games Division. In the mid-2000s, while at Creansmaerd, Kiya would work again with Falcom indirectly when his company helped create the MMO Sorcerian Online, which he was an advisor on.
- Japanese Wikipedia Page
- Profile on Yoshio Kiya (Game Preservation Society).
- 2008 Interview (Rikunabi Next).
- 2007 Interview (4Gamer).
- Information from 2017 Talk with Yoshio Kiya and Tomoo Yamane (VGDensetsu).