Sunday, 7 April 2013

1. IwataAsks: A Fresh Start for Animal Crossing

This interview (parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 , and 6) are from: http://iwataasks.nintendo.com/interviews/#/3ds/animalcrossing-newleaf/0/0 
Iwata
When we originally announced the release date of Animal Crossing: New Leaf via 
Nintendo Direct, and when I saw the response to the subsequent Animal Crossing: New Leaf Direct, it made me realize once again just how many fans have been eagerly awaiting this new Animal Crossing game. Now, after an extremely long development period, you've finally reached the finish line.
Moro
Yes, we have.
Kyogoku
That's right.
Iwata
I would like to ask you today about how you went about making Animal Crossing: New 
Leaf. Could I ask you to start by briefly introducing yourselves?
Kyogoku
Certainly. My name is Aya Kyogoku and I work in the Software Development
Department. Together with Moro-san, I was the director of the game and worked
on all sorts of things, from the overall game concept right down to the smallest details.
Moro
I'm Isao Moro, and I also work in the Software Development Department. Like 
Kyogoku-san, my job as director was to have an overview of the whole project, as well as ensuring that all of the more finely detailed content on the system side was in place.
Takahashi
I'm Koji Takahashi from the Software Development Department. I was in charge of 
coordinating the design of the game.
Iwata
So on this title, Moro-san and Kyogoku-san, you were both directors.
Moro
Yes.
Kyogoku
That's right.
Iwata
Having two directors working in parallel is somewhat unusual. How did you divide up the 
work?
Moro
Our skills lie in different fields, so it ended up being divided quite naturally.
  For Animal Crossing: City Folk for Wii1, both of us lent support to Hisashi Nogami-san2, who was the director, and from that time, things fell into place with respect to our different roles.1. Animal Crossing: City Folk: The fifth title in the Animal Crossing series, a social simulation game released for Nintendo Wii in North America in November 2008.2. Hisashi Nogami: The director of previous games in the Animal Crossing series, working in the Entertainment Analysis & Development Division of Nintendo's Software Development Department. In the past, he has participated in an Iwata Asks interview discussing  Animal Crossing: City Folk.
Kyogoku
Our roles developed naturally out of the previous game, without us having to make any
particular effort to define them.
Iwata
It can be difficult to have two directors, but I gather that you didn't experience too many 
problems as you have a similar outlook and a shared sense of what's important.
Moro
Yes, that's right.
Iwata
Working on this game, did you come to understand the hardship Nogami-san had gone
through as director? (laughs)
Kyogoku
We certainly did! (laughs)
Moro
Everything became painfully clear! (laughs)
Iwata
Come to think of it, it's been more than eleven years since the first Animal Crossing3 game
came out on Nintendo 64.3. Animal Crossing on Nintendo 64: This game was originally released for the Nintendo 64 system in Japan in April 2001.
Moro
You're right.
Iwata
As each title in the series was released, a very specific worldview has been established 
in the game, with people having a clear conception of what Animal Crossing is. With this title, how did you go about determining the direction that the development should take?
Kyogoku
So far in the series, you have always moved into a town, got a loan to buy a house and
 worked at Tom Nook's shop.
Iwata
To put it in extreme terms, the game was basically about repaying your loan.
Kyogoku
Right. (laughs) That was simply a matter of course for the series, but we felt that if we
 made the next game in the same way, a lot of people would think: "Oh no! Not again!" So this time, we decided to press reset and make a fresh start as we developed the game.
Moro
Our goal as we began working on development this time was to make a new type of 
Animal Crossing game.
Iwata
So your starting point was a desire to make a new type of Animal Crossing, instead of 
having the players simply repaying their loan to Tom Nook. What kind of ideas came about during this process?
Kyogoku
We came up with all sorts of things, though naturally a lot of them were rejected. For 
example, we considered the idea of giving the player a new tool that could be used in an activity alongside fishing and bug catching – panning for gold in the river. (laughs)
Iwata
Panning for gold? Well, that was certainly a different idea! (laughs)
Kyogoku
It was, wasn't it? (laughs) There were ideas like that, which we came up with out of a 
sort of desperation. But at the same time, we hit upon a theme for this new title quite early on. This was the idea of being able to arrange lamps and benches, build bridges – essentially being able to make a whole town.
Moro
In previous titles in the series, the emphasis was on customizing the interior of your
 home. All you could really do outside was to plant trees and flowers. But this time, we wanted to make it so that you could customize the entire town.
Iwata
In Animal Crossing games up until now, you could plant flowers in the town, artfully
 arrange trees and install things like bridges or fountains, but these felt more like special events. Ultimately, the only place where you could really do as you pleased was inside your house.
Moro
Yes, that's right. But with this title, we wanted to make it much more fun to explore 
other players' towns by allowing each player to bring out their own personality in their town.
Iwata
Whereas players might once have wanted to show off their homes, they will now want
 to show off their towns.
Moro
Right.
Iwata
Was the idea of having the player become the mayor one that you came up with fairly
 early on?
Kyogoku
No, we actually added that quite a bit later. For about the first year, Katsuya Eguchi-san4,
Nogami-san, Moro-san and I were talking in a small group, and we were worried that if we said, "You can place all kinds of things around the town in the new Animal Crossing game," then players would simply take that as being a single element of the game and not see it as a big deal.4. Katsuya Eguchi: The Department Manager of the Entertainment Analysis & Development Division of Nintendo's Software Development Department. He has produced the Animal Crossing series, as well as Wii Sports and Wii Sports Resort. He also worked as a general producer during the development of the Wii U and was the producer of the Nintendo Land game. He has participated in a number of Iwata Asks interviews including those on the  25th anniversary of Super Mario Bros.and a special edition of  Iwata Asks at E3 in 2012 discussing the Wii U
Iwata
So you were afraid that even if you underlined to players that they could now show off
their whole town, they perhaps wouldn't fully realize just how novel this was.
Kyogoku
Right. Then, during this process, we were preparing to make a presentation to Shigeru
Miyamoto-san and Takashi Tezuka-san5, and we started to wonder how we could possibly sum up the idea behind the new Animal Crossing in a single key word or concept.5. Takashi Tezuka: The General Manager of the Entertainment Analysis & Development Division of Nintendo's Software Development Department . He has been involved in the development of many series, including Super Mario, Yoshi and Animal Crossing. He has participated in a number of Iwata Asks interviews, including discussions of  the 25th anniversary of Super Mario Bros., the  history of the Legend of Zelda series on handheld consoles, an interview with the producers of Super Mario 3D Land, in addition to special interviews at E3 in 2012 about  New Super Mario Bros. Uand  New Super Mario Bros. 2.
Iwata
And this ended up being: "The player is the mayor."
Kyogoku
Yes. The player becomes the mayor, so he or she can put up bridges and install various 
items and objects. This makes the whole feature similar to public works projects in the real world.
Iwata
So your initial concept was that the player could place a variety of objects in the town, 
and then that inspired the idea of the player being the mayor and making decisions about the way the town should look.
Moro
That's right. When we put it all together so that the player became the mayor and 
constructs the town by means of undertaking various public works projects, it really worked well.
Kyogoku
But the problem was that there was already a mayor...
Iwata
Ah, yes.  Tortimer.
Kyogoku
We were asking ourselves: "What should we do about Tortimer?" (laughs)
All
(laughter)
Moro
And we decided to have him retire.
Iwata
So you forced him out of office! Mayor Tortimer retired! (laughs)
Moro
He accepted it gracefully. And fortunately, we found a place where he could live in 
his retirement.
Kyogoku
He's living there now, happily! (laughs)

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