A Rune Factory Oceans Interview With Producer, Yoshifumi Hashimoto

By Ishaan . March 31, 2011 . 2:31pm

Last month, Marvelous Entertainment released Rune Factory Oceans for the Wii and PlayStation 3 in Japan. The game is a follow up to Rune Factory Frontier on the Wii, but it isn’t a direct story sequel, although it does feature a few cameo appearances from Frontier characters.


Oceans also has a more fleshed out battle system, and introduces the concept of riding a giant to the series. While the game hasn’t been announced for a U.S. or European localization yet, back in February, we got in touch with series producer, Yoshifumi Hashimoto, to ask a few questions about the latest console title in the series.


I think the first question that comes to mind is, what do you feel the primary difference is in terms of how you approach development, between Rune Factory on portable systems and consoles? Do you focus on different aspects of the series in each case?


Marvelous Entertainment producer, Yoshifumi Hashimoto: On portable systems, I made the game a bit easier in order to enable users to start and quit the game at anytime they like. On the other hand, I made the console games harder because I wanted users to take more time to complete quests in their homes. This was a pretty big difference.


There are two reasons why I did this, one is that I want to make games suited to each user’s situation like time, circumstances and so on. Another reason is I want users who buy both the portable and console games to enjoy a different experience. They’re spending their well-earned money on these games, so I feel that I owe it to them.


When you first began development of Rune Factory Oceans, what were your initial thoughts regarding what you wanted to do with the game and how you wanted the series to evolve?


The first thought that came to my mind was creating a exciting adventure in the sea. In former series we couldn’t enter the sea; we could only see it off in the distance.


At the beginning of development I was thinking of letting players dive into the sea, but I changed my mind because it was making the game much more complex than I had hoped.


Compared to Frontier, the combat in Oceans looks more dynamic and combo-oriented. Could you explain what advances you’ve made to the new combat system and how it works? There seem to be air-combos now as well…?


I did make an effort to add more dynamism and action-oriented combat to the game. With jumping and other features included, players can take to the air in battle to further extend their combos. That all being said, it’s also easy to enjoy slower-paced and grander-scale battles with the giant character, too.


We understand that you can use Rune Abilities to power up your weapons. Are these abilities changeable or are does each weapon come with a specific Rune Ability?


Each weapon has a specific ability and users are able to customize it.


Oceans also introduces the concept of riding a giant, Ymir, to uncover other islands surrounding Finis. How do you come across these islands, and what can you do on them?


Players can ride on the giant, and using his massive strength, pull islands out from the sea. You will notice that on the map, some areas of sea have a different colour than others. On these islands, users can explore and cultivate crops.


In general, Oceans looks more action-oriented and stylish than the games before it. Is that something you plan to continue? To eventually make Rune Factory more of an action series?


I wouldn’t say that the aim is to make it an action series. With Rune Factory, we’re trying to create the ultimate experience of living life in a fantasy world. The closer we try to model this experience, the more elements that we put into it. So I guess action-based gameplay falls out of this approach, rather than is the intended final product.


There are two protagonists this time around, Azel and Sonia. The game makes you switch between Azel and Sonia as you play. Can you control when you switch between the two, or does it happen at certain points in the story?


Well, actually, you don’t really play as Sonia directly. Throughout the majority of the game, you control Azel, who Sonia lives inside. Towards the end of the game, you have the option of playing as Sonia or Azel.


On the one hand, you’re trying to make Oceans more accessible, but on the other, you’ve made it more action-oriented too. How do you balance that?


It’s important to give players challenges to overcome in the game, even while you’re trying to make the game as accessible and fun as possible. It’s these hurdles which give users a sense of accomplishment once they’ve been overcome.


Back in the day, I used to make much more difficult games, but these days I try to make easier games, giving users the self-confidence necessary to surpass challenges as they appear. That’s not to say these games are really easy, or that you’ll never die, it’s just that it’s important to empower players throughout.


Rune Factory is an interesting series from a design standpoint. It took everything great about Harvest Moon, added more variety to it, and gave it an almost medieval fantasy "feel." Innocent Life went the other way and turned it futuristic. What other kinds of feelings do you think you could create from the Harvest Moon formula?


This is actually a toughie, because if I say too much then the cat will be out of the bag. What I can say, is that I’d certainly like to create more varieties of life simulation games. Because, with Rune Factory for example, I feel that there were a lot of fans of traditional fantasy/action games who had fun actually living a life in a fantasy world, as opposed to just battling all the time in a fantasy setting.

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  • This game really sounds interesting and the combat oriented gameplay sounds intriguing. If it does come out to America, I may go out on a limb and try to experience a game like this (or maybe they will do a demo)? It sounds and looks fun but just something Ive never experienced.

    • Zero_Destiny

      Wait. I’m not trying to poke fun at you or start hating on you again but America? What happened to CONUS? lol Did you screw up or do you now see the light of day and will include Antarctica and Hawaii. XD I’m not sure if you would like Rune Factory. It’s not all action you know. It’s still half Harvest Moon gameplay. If we do get a demo you should hop on it but I suggest waiting for some scores for a game like this so you can get a feel for it. I just have a feeling that it may not be what you think it is.

    • Ren

      This doesn’t have to do with anything with the actual discussion, but term you might want to use to refer to your country to be technically correct should be either US, USA or States, the same way you should always call Nederland as Netherlands and not as Holland. America refers to the whole american continent even if people (half)wrongly use it to refer to the USA, so when you say America you mean you also want the game to also come out on Mexico, Venezuela, Ecuador, Porto Rico and etc. Your country’s name and abbreviation aren’t dirty words, you can and should use them.

  • BelmontHeir

    This game looks really promising.

  • HarryHodd

    Really like what I’m hearing. So many things you can do and ways to play the game. Greatly anticipate a NA release.

  • Wackoramaco87

    Always love reading these interviews! Keeping my fingers crossed for a US/EU release.

  • Draparde

    I had no idea the combat was that improved over Friontier. that’s awesome.

    • And as far as i’ve seen, is a lot harder! COOL!!! HARD YEAHHH!!!


  • Rune Factory is reminding me more and more of Dark Cloud,which is a great thing.

  • Zero_Destiny

    I remember Innocent Life. I thought it looked cool but I heard bad things from even fans. I’m actually kind of hoping the NGP can bring that series back and make it better. I think that would be so cool. Rune Factory for the 3DS, Innocent Life for the NGP. I like that. Well anyways I’m really excited for this game. Nice interview and I hope to see it in (hopefully both versions) the west. :)

    • puchinri

      Same. I like Arte Piazza so I wanted to try Innocent Life, but it sounds absolutely terrible after people talk about it.
      And that would be very cool! (And maybe both on the Wii/PS3 again at some time~.)


    When he makes that comment about “letting the cat out of the bag”, it almost sounds as if he’s hinting at a new Harvest Moon spin-off. ….Or maybe it is just a new game in the RF series that doesn’t follow the same timeline as the others. Either way, I’d love to play both.

    • puchinri

      Agreed, it makes me anxious but excited.

  • Maxwell3000

    From the gameplay trailers I saw, the combat had me interested from the jump. This will remain on my radar

  • PrinceHeir

    i have been saying this for months now.

    where’s my Maid Mode and Swimming Contest? :P

  • DanteJones

    The more I read, the more I like! Can’t wait for this game.

  • puchinri

    Much of what Hasimoto says makes me happy and glad that they put so much thought into the games and how to accomodate players. But I am still disappointed with the news too. I guess we’ll still have to wait a while until RF matches HM as far as gender balance goes (if it ever does). I’m actually not as pumped for the game now, but I am still looking forward to playing it eventually.

    I kind of hope they do another take on a futuristic life sim, or HM. I hear IL was pretty terrible, but Opoona is such an immersive game. It’d be nice to see MMV, Neverland and Arte Piazza get together and work a title that can blend the respective games (HM/RF/Opoona). Whether it’s another life sim or HM produced wouldn’t matter, as long as it happens~.

    • Joanna

      I am actually surprised that by 5 Run Factory games they still haven’t given us the option of a female protagonist from the start since female gamers make up a sizable group of Harvest Moon and Rune Factory players. :|

      All your praise on Opoona is making me want to try it out. I wonder if it’s hard to find….

      • puchinri

        …I know! When you put it like that, we are long overdue. There really wasn’t an excuse from the start (capability-wise), but now that we’re this far in, it’s a serious disappointment. I’m also disappointed on the ratio of bachelors to bachelorettes in Oceans. It’s one thing that we can’t play as Sonia whenever we want, but another that there’s 1:3 in terms of guys:gals.

        Haha, I suppose I do mention the game a ton. But only because I was very impressed. I was at odds with myself for a long time before I decided to finally get over the look of it and pick it up, and it really surprised me (and still does!). I know whenever I go into Gamestop, there’s at least one new copy (and it’s only $10), but it’s pretty cheap on Amazon too I believe.

        When I think about it, most of the classic activities there are in HM/RF are present in Opoona (mining, fishing, jobs, I hear even farming in some way), and since ArtePiazza did do IL, I don’t think it’d hurt to give them another shot at a futuristic HM. I think they’d do a better job than MMV and Neverland even in regard to a lot of things (sizing the map and giving actual activity, etc.). But I do wonder how things would go as far as relationships with other characters. They feel deep yet distant in Opoona.

        • Joanna

          Yeah, the ratio is disappointing. Although I am happy we even got the option….I just find it weird because I recall there being an article on here from Raising Star Games and Marvelous about how the HM games have big female following compared to other games/game series. So I thought since RF is a HM spin-off, a lot of the gamers would overlap…and therefore it would seem rather obvious to give the sizable female group a chance to play as a girl and woo guys. Hopefully next game will include the full option…since theis one gave us a female protagonist and some guys. (And for the 3DS/DS, they could always do a “Girl’s Side” like some of the GBA/DS games did).

          I don’t think you mentioned it too much, but your comments stood out to me because I recall seeing the game, but passing it over because I didn’t think it was an RPG at the time. Now I’ll be keeping my eyes out for it next time I go into EB Games. :3

          • puchinri

            Indeed. And that’s a good point, I believe I remember reading it somewhere as well (but not where).

            Oh okay, I’m glad, haha. Yeah, same here! And most reviews would have had me believe something completely different (though since I’ve gotten so far in, I checked a few reviews on gamefaqs and found them way more useful than any of those from IGN, etc.). It’s definitely a RPG (I believe it’s been called a life sim RPG?), and a fun, innovative one at that. I hope you’re able to pick it up and enjoy it! (If and when you do get it, tell me when you start and how you like it~. I think I might actually go play Opoona and ARF now because we talked about them. x’D )

          • Joanna

            yup, I will. It was entirely my fault, I saw the cover and it gave me a puzzle-vibe so I didn’t even bother checking if it really was a puzzle game. I do like puzzle games too, but only on handhelds and for short bursts.

          • puchinri

            I got the same feel from it initially. And when I checked the wiki to see reviews and reception, it didn’t do much for me (nor did going to other sites). (And I stand corrected, it’s called a lifestyle RPG.)
            (And puzzles are definitely better suited to on the go for me as well.)

  • So is the time slower so I can farm by day and kick ass by night….or rather evening before I get too tired?

  • Releaseee plzzzzzzzz 0.0 wanna play xD

  • Joanna

    Oh man, HM/RF are such time sinks….and this one is sounding just as bad, if not worse. When will I never finish one of these games, let alone all of them! D:

    Still looking forward to it nonetheless.

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