How Zero Escape Games Are Developed, Through The Eyes Of The Director

By Ishaan . November 4, 2012 . 4:30pm

When we interviewed him, we asked Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward director, Kotaro Uchikoshi, to give us an overview of the process involved in developing his visual novel-esque games. Uchikoshi’s reply to this request was more amusing than informative, which is why we didn’t include it in the main interview, but it does give one some insight into the process nevertheless, so here it is:


Kotaro Uchikoshi, director:


Prepare a detailed plan for the project→Higher up says no→Revise the project→They say no again→Touch it up some more→Project is approved→Come up with a budget→They say no→Chisel away at the budget→They say no again→Cut more money out→Get the OK!


・Come up with a plot→They say no→Rewrite the plot→They say no again→You re-write the plot  yet again→get the OK!→Write the main scenario →Contemplate what you’ve done→Suffer from writer’s block→You want to die→Drink some alcohol→You get over your slump→OK!


~The following will be happening at the same time as the above scenario~


・The project team will hash out the design →Programmer will create the main engine


・Come up with character profiles→Character designer will sketch out a design→ I say no→Modify the design → I say no again→Designer gets pissed off→Apologies all around→I soothe their anger→Give the OK!→Create 3D character models→ I say no→Create more 3D character models→ I say no again→Create more 3D character models→OK!


・Come up with the puzzle and flow design for the escape sections with everyone →Think with all your might→Think until you feel like your brain will explode→Get into the occasional fight with team members→Make up→Friendships form→The basic specifications are set→Background designer starts drawing backgrounds → I say no→Re-design the backgrounds→ I say no again →Background designer hates me →I say sorry→OK!→Create 3D backgrounds → I say no →Create more 3D backgrounds → I say no yet again →Create even more 3D backgrounds →OK!


・Escape team’s scripter writes the script (subprogram: blocks of program control coding) →I say no→Another script is written→ I say no again→Yet another script→Since there’s no end to it I start writing the script on my own→Write the escape messages →OK!


・Novel group’s script writer starts writing the subprograms→I say no→Another script is written→Yet another no→Yet another script→The script writer is cute so OK!


・Sound chief orders BGM/SE (background music and sound effects)→BGM/SE arrives→I say no→Another round of BGM/SE→I say no again →Even more BGM/SE comes in→The music is so beautiful you cry like a baby →OK!


・Turn scenario into a script →Go into voice recording→Get to meet famous voice actors and get giddy →scripter implements the voices.


~After all that is basically done~


・Debug→fix→debug→fix→debug→fix→debug→fix→debug →fix →…..(Days of hell continue and continue)…→OK!


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  • Roubjon

    Whatever process they have, they’ve got it down because this game is truly something special.  I’m so glad that it exists.

  • MrSirFeatherFang

    I’m sorry I couldn’t hold it in, but whenever I saw an “OK” I heard this guy’s voice:

    • Matías Lopepé

      We all did my friend..

  • Rob Hestar


  • That almost seems like how it is here at ArenaNet XD

    But anyway, shadap and take more of my money! o/

  • It was all worth it, Uchikosi-san. I have this one pre-ordered, I can’t wait to play it :D

  • Shinji Kazuya

    Man, 999 is freaking amazing! Can’t wait to start playing this one! I really hope it’s on par with 999!

    I played the demo on PSVITA yesterday and it was excellent!

    • FitzpatrickPhillips

      I just true ended it today. You won’t be disappointed. 

      • Jesse

        hey FITZ, how do i solve the Garden Puzzle, the coin section on the scale. I dont get it at all and with Gamefaqs guide. Can you help Me?

        • Weigh the coins with the scale, put them in the order into the wall(behind the waterfall).

        • FitzpatrickPhillips

          Bah, don’t use guides. Use your head. Use the scale near the back of the garden and weigh them. Keep notes if you want to remember it. Then match it to the wall.

  • lordroto

    Unfortunately with the last step, there’s the save corrupting bug that was noted in the JP version and still exists in the NA version ;o;

    • Yeah, I think they left out a few “debug” and “fix” steps somewhere along the line. I lost 24 hours of play time that I had to redo. :/

      • Kefkiroth

        24 hours?! How exactly does this bug occur?

        • キロ

           I believe saving in a particular puzzle room (PEC room)–but I have heard it has happened to people in rooms like the Crew Quarters as well! So it is recommended to not save during any puzzle rooms and only during novel sections. ^^

          • Thank god that never happened to me. Platinum it at 34 hours and 21 minutes. *all giddy as he put the game on his shelf*

          • キロ

             Yes, I was fortunate (and even saved in the PEC as I did not hear of this glitch) XD it froze a few times for me, but my 100% completion was clocked at 27 hours and 52 minutes ^^/ (this does not count the freezes, which took 4 hours away I think XD)

          • iamyou21796

            i have a question………so this bug thing……….about saving in a puzzle room…….if you do it in a puzzle room but its during a novel section would you be fine………i was so into the game and a ll of a sudden this bug is getting me all creeped out……….i dont wanna lose my data..please…help

          • キロ

             I think saving during novel section while in a puzzle room is fine! Just not during an actual “Seek a way out” portions. ^^ I was very paranoid too when I was playing XD…

          • iamyou21796

            XD hey THANKSSSS…..yeiiii!!!! ill play now then :D

  • WC

    I’m surprised that they create the characters before writing the story.  I would have done the opposite.  (I have no experience.)  I’m going to think on what that means to a good story.

    To everyone who loved 999 and is wondering if this will live up to the hype:  You won’t be disappointed.  It was amazing.  So much so that I bought it again in English.  Worth every yen and penny.

    • natchu96

      Writing the story first was apparently how 999 was written.

  • heartless141

    i platinum’d the game.
    Overall i like it more than 999 :D but it is not as intense as 999 due to the lack of bloods and stuffs.

  • tubers

    Amazing! Thank you.. Man, imagine a bigger team and IP.

  • PreyMantis

    That’s pretty “bunny” that I “carrot” contain myself! It’s pretty “hopping” awesome to see these “furry” interviews.

  • Clifford M. Samoranos

    Can you please remove the preview thumbnail. Major spoiler…

  • Crok425

     This made my day XD.

  • komiko12

    He must enjoy the satisfaction of saying no.

  • XiaomuArisu

     The script-writer is cute so okXD
    Best director ever.

  • LOL. Tht guy must be an S!

  • Göran Isacson

    Ha ha ha oh god it’s so true. As a writer (even if it’s just of reviews) myself believe me, I know all about how the first version never gets the go-ahead, but truth be told the first version is rarely the best version anyway. Rest of this is basically just saying that iteration happens, and if my classes has taught me anything that’s a good thing. Frustrating as hell, but still a good thing.

  • Best process ever lol ^_^

  • Colonel Custard

    It is ungodly disturbing how this process is so similar to my college classes and work.

    College: Do homework → Professor say rewrite → turn in second draft → professor say no the characters have no needs → come up with a story from scratch that has nothing to do with my original idea→ okay.

    Work: Writes story→ publisher say no → project dies.

  • Insigma

    Well ya didn’t debug it ENOUGH

  • iamyou21796

    so i finished it……….does it really end where i got an end(the another time end after talking with you know who in the b garden???)

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