Rune Factory Was Inspired By Dragon Quest, Says Producer

By Laura . June 29, 2012 . 5:42pm

Rune Factory, producer Yashimoto Hirofumi states, was originally created as a celebration of the tenth anniversary of Harvest moon.


His initial concept, he reveals to Nintendo president, Satoru Iwata, was to use a more western-based idea—placing the concepts of Harvest Moon in an open fantasy world. The original inspiration came from his experiences with Dragon Quest, in which his favorite moment was wandering around the world after having beat the final boss and talking with all the NPCs (who would constantly sing praises of the hero). He felt that this openness and exploration is the best part of an RPG, and so he strived to include it in Rune Factory as well.


Because of this, Rune Factory doesn’t just concentrate on the adventure aspect or the farming aspect. Sure there’s an evil villain and dungeons to explore, but you don’t technically have to go after them. You could just enjoy farm life if you want. Or you could pursue your favorite girl (or boy) in a romantic relationship.


Hashimoto focused just as much effort into the communication with other town inhabitants as he did with the farming and other events. He didn’t want any nameless NPC girl standing behind the store counter, saying the same line all the time, so instead he introduced a character, complete with name, who would react to recent events and change her lines accordingly.


As he described to his staff, “I want to create a small but rich microcosm in the DS, where every single person’s lives shine like jewels in a treasure box.” To Iwata, he compares both series to living in the Hobbit village in The Lord of the Rings.


One way this is achieved, he says, is through the movement of time, seasons, and weather over the course of the game. These influence character actions, so you would not only find yourself planning your “life” differently, but you would want to see how other characters are spending their time in different situations. To create characters players would love, Hashimoto almost always had a hand in design. According to him, he loved designing—it was part of why he wanted to create movies at first.


This is especially prominent in Rune Factory 4, where the main theme is “passionate love, sweet marriage”. There are more dating events, the events are more dramatic, and you can go on adventures with your child and wife. The story still exists, but in the end you could ignore the evil king and just farm, or you could defeat the evil king and go back to farming. (Here, Iwata laughs. “So you have to return to farming in the end?!”)


This may have worked so well that Hashimoto has received letters from fans saying, “I was supposed to make lunch for my husband, but instead I made it for XYZ [in the game] today!”


Letters like these, he says, move him more than anything could. Seeing and hearing the voices of the players—whether it’s in letters (“My toddler smiled when (s)he touched the game!”) or in ASCII graffiti—is one of the main reasons he loves creating games. It’s this love of watching his joy become other’s joy and his plain old passion in the interest that gives him the energy and motivation to create both Rune Factory and Harvest Moon series at the same time.


(A bit too much energy, perhaps, as he states that he would love to work weekends, too, but if he stayed at the company for too long, then he’d get chased out.)


Also, the audience of Harvest Moon and Rune Factory differ, increasing the range of people playing his games. Harvest Moon attracts primarily elementary school children and 20+ year-old mothers, while Rune Factory usually attracts high school students and males in their mid-20s. Because of this, there’ve also been people who’ve gone from Harvest Moon to Rune Factory and then back to Harvest Moon.


Image of Hashimoto courtesy Nintendo. Rune Factory 4 will be released on July 19th in Japan for the Nintendo 3DS.

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  • Will Jay

    Rune Factory 1 and 2… Not so much.

    3 captured a lot of these things, however. Glad to see Rune Factory really has some love put into it, though.

  • s07195

    I dunno, marrying the girl was part of the plot in RF3…

  • revenent hell

    I like how the enjoyment of an open world and talking with NPC’s in DQ effected his decisions about the game(s) he created. Not that ive ever played a harvest moon or rune factory game but enjoying an open world and having NPC’s with names more than “girl with blue bow” and so forth are always fun and entertaining as well as differing dialgue depending on events has always been a fun aspect for me to find.
    I almost want to play an RF game but the whole farmville thing is a little off putting to me so thats why I havent. I would find it enjoyable for a small period of time but after a few days I think id get bored with it,but I realy do like the artwork behind the games and I can see why so manypeople enjoy them.

  • Barrylocke89

    The Harvest Moon+Rune Factory Demographic tidbit was actually pretty interesting. I never realized that Harvest Moon was a popular game for elementary kids.

  • This guy loves his work! =D

  • riceisnice

    “Furthermore, Rune Factory 4 has also been announced for Europe and North America to be released early 2013.”

    Shut it, I say it’ll happen!

    • Maybe not early 2013, but it’s coming over for sure. :)

  • I just hope that he won’t push himself too hard…. There’s always a limit to what a human can do…

    • Mrgrgr and Unacceptable World

      Well at least the company here care for his health enough to chase him away.^^

      Not like a certain company lol.

  • Mrgrgr and Unacceptable World

    Man I really loves all the iwata ask here. It shows the passion of the game creator for us the fans of the series.

    Not to mention, we also find the motivation to create the series and with some humour inserted inside there.^^

  • RaikageV

    “Sure there’s an evil villain and dungeons to explore, but you don’t technically have to go after them. You could just enjoy farm life if you want. Or you could pursue your favorite girl (or boy) in a romantic relationship.”
    Actually there WERE games where you first had to fight the final boss in order to be able to marry.

    • Adrian Burnham

      Well hopefully, that won’t be the case with Rune Factory 4.

  • Rogerrmark

    Another amazing fruit of Dragon Quest =P

  • I’m sure there are no lack of games that have been influenced by DQ in some way given how prolific the series is.

  • Göran Isacson

    “I was supposed to make lunch for my husband, but instead I made it for XYZ [in the game] today!”
    ha ha, I don’t know if that is sad or hilarious. Or both.

  • Binku Muja

    Rune Factory 2 needed you to marry in order to whelp the next generation to move the story along and Rune Factory 3 needed you to marry to move the story along as well. (orly? yarly!) ლ(´・ω・ღ`)

    Suffice it to say, for me it’s Rune Factory, Harvest Moon, then back to Rune Factory. Harvest moon’s artwork is a bit weird to me, but I can still plough through it-but I much prefer Rune Factory.

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