Friday, 5 April 2013

3. Battling with Volume


Iwata
A lot of different animals feature in this title. Was there ever a risk that 
you'd run out of ideas?
Takahashi
Well, we've pretty much used up all the animal types there are! (laughs)
Iwata
It must have been hard on the development team.
Takahashi
Yes, it was! (laughs)
Kyogoku
Well, with dogs, for example, we'd end up using a whole variety of different
 breeds. (laughs)
Iwata
Well, I suppose players feel more comfortable with animals they are familiar with.
Takahashi
I think that's right. But having said that,
Iwata
Well, alpacas have been popular recently.
Takahashi
Yes, we were grateful for that!
Iwata
(laughs)
Takahashi
And  Leif the sloth finally makes an appearance! (laughs) I think sloths
 are from the margins of the animal world, so there is some sense with this character of an animal being plucked from obscurity.
Iwata
Does it feel like that as you struggled not to run out of ideas, you found
 yourself looking further and further afield? (laughs)
Takahashi
Well, we weren't indiscriminate in our search. We tried to find animals that
 fitted their in-game function and suited the shop where they would appear. That's why we thought that an animal that lives in the forest would work well in the gardening center, so we settled on the sloth. The problem is that sloths are always falling asleep... (laughs)
Iwata
Thinking about the series so far, I get the sense that the specific characteristics
 of each animal fit their roles really well. How do you go about ensuring that?
Takahashi
Hmm. That's a good question. One reason may be that we have always tried
 to draw upon our shared cultural heritage, for example, using proverbs.
Moro
Some of it may make more sense to Japanese people. Take the creature called
 a tapir (a pig-like mammal) that is said to eat dreams. One appears this time as  Luna at the Dream Suite, but I believe that it's only in Japan where we talk about tapirs eating dreams.
Iwata
Oh, is that so?
Moro
Also, we made  Porter a monkey because of the Japanese song 'The Monkey
 Palanquin Carrier' . And the shape-shifting magic of  Japanese raccoon dogs involves money in Japanese mythology, so we decided that they would manage shops. We have projected old traditions about animals into the world of Animal Crossing.
Iwata
I wonder what players outside of Japan think about this? Have you ever had
 feedback saying that it seems odd for this or that animal to show up in a particular place?
Takahashi
Well, we've got kappas6 too!6. Kappa: A creature from Japanese mythology, traditionally taking the form of a human-like turtle that walk on two legs and has a dish on its head.
Kyogoku
They're supernatural creatures! (laughs)
Takahashi
They aren't animals at all! But no one's ever complained about them, so I think
 we're okay.
All
(laughter)
Moro
 Kapp'n the kappa was originally a boatman, but he became a taxi driver in 
Animal Crossing: Wild World7 for Nintendo DS and a bus driver in the Wii game. The latest game sees Kapp'n return as a boatman once again.7. Animal Crossing: Wild World: A social simulation game released for Nintendo DS in North America in December 2005. It was the fourth game in the series and the first one for a handheld system.
Takahashi
While there are a lot of new animals making their first appearance in this title,
 some animals that have appeared in previous titles are returning to their established roles.  Gulliver, for example, has gone back to being a sailor.
Kyogoku
There are a lot of players who were introduced to the series on Nintendo DS, 
so I think it may well feel fresh and new for them.
Iwata
So it will be new to some players, while bringing back memories for others.
Kyogoku
Yes, that's right.
Iwata
In terms of content, this game is really huge. You've increased the number of 
animals, while at the same time, you were coming up with new items of furniture on a daily basis.
Takahashi
That's right. We really made a lot of new furniture this time.
Moro
We felt like we had actually become craftsmen making furniture! (laughs)
Iwata
And this time you had to do it all in 3D!
Takahashi
That's right. We had to pay attention to lighting, emphasize the shading and make
 sure that things would work in three-dimensions rather than on a flat display.
Iwata
If you weren't very careful, you'd be able to see the flaws.
Takahashi
Exactly.
Iwata
Did it ever feel as if you were engaged in a task that had no end?
Takahashi
Yes, we did. When we were in the middle of it, that's precisely how it felt.
Iwata
I thought as much! (laughs)
Takahashi
It was really hard work, but when we finally came to plug them into the game,
 I really felt glad that we had come up with so many items. There's so much variety that you can get your room looking exactly as you want it.
Iwata
How many types of furniture did you decide to make in this game?
Takahashi
Our initial target was to have 50 per cent more than the amount in the last game.
Iwata
Well, it sounds easy when you put it like that, but the volume in the last game
 was already pretty staggering! (laughs)
Kyogoku
Yes, it was! (laughs)
Iwata
You can't make that many new items of furniture unless you really knuckle down
 and stick at it.
Takahashi
Well, I think if we'd just added a hundred more items of furniture, it wouldn't really
 have felt like that much...
Iwata
No, it wouldn't feel like more at all.
Takahashi
Right.
Iwata
But simply focusing on pumping out more and more items would not have been
 enough. They all had to be items of furniture that people would want to decorate their rooms with.
Kyogoku
Yes, and that's why we created a 'brainstorming board' for the whole team, not
 just the designers, so that everyone could come up with ideas, regardless of their specific roles.
Iwata
And as a result, you managed to make 50 per cent more items of furniture than in
 the last game, and with the custom designs8 function, players can  customize furniture according to their own taste. If you multiply the number of different types of furniture by the number of individual designs available, there truly is a huge amount of possibilities.8. Custom Designs: A function in Animal Crossing that allows players to create their own designs. Players' individual designs can be used on all kinds of items including clothes and furniture.
Takahashi
That's right. In addition to items of clothing such as clothes and hats, which were
 in previous titles, you can give furniture original designs at the Re-Tail recycling shop.
Iwata
This means that every time you see a new room, it will make a completely different
 impression and you'll think: "Ah, so you can do things like this too?"
Moro
Right. And for players who aren't comfortable using custom designs, there's an easy
 way to change the color to one you like. You can really make a room that suits you, and the combinations you can use are limitless.
Kyogoku
During development, we often found ourselves discussing who was making what
 kind of house: "If that's what she's doing, then I'm going to give that a try..." (laughs)
Moro
Everyone competed with each other! (laughs)
Kyogoku
We got that excited just within our team, so I can't wait to see what happens after
 the game is released when every player will be making their own distinctive homes! (laughs) I'm excited already!

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