It’s been about half a year since the Japanese release of Bravely Default: Flying Fairy and the last time we looked, sales numbers were sailing smoothly, as it was nearing the 300,000 mark back in January. Producer Tomoya Asano, assistant producer Shinji Takahashi and director Kensuke Nakahara look back at their work in a recent Dengeki Online interview.
Bravely Default: Flying Fairy and its numbers look great now, but unlike the game’s sales, the final stages of development weren’t nearly as pleasurable. The development team struggled with numerous detailed tweaks just before the deadline and had to make some last-minute decisions.
“For example, during enemy encounters,” Asano says. “Pressing the A button would skip the camera effects, but we consulted and decided to also allow the D-pad right button to do the same thing. Honestly, it was the last-of-the-last stage of development.”
Nakahara adds, “Just before we presented the master ROM, we prepared revised backup data to switch out to, just in case anything were to go awry. In the end, everything went smoothly and the master ROM upload was approved. The revised data ended up being shelved.”
In commemoration of having achieved 1st place for the Dengeki Online Award 2012’s consumer section, the team was awarded the above impressive Bravely Default: Flying Fairy cake. The game managed to beat Persona 4: Golden (2nd place) and Rune Factory 4 (3rd) in the category.
“In the midst of such competition, I would really like to thank you guys for choosing Bravely Default,” Nakahara said to Dengeki. “Honestly, I believe there were some coarse parts of the game that were pointed out by fans, but we were happy to be able to take those as new challenges.”
Nakahara continued, “I have memorable feelings of having made the game with all of you fans after releasing several demos and hearing your voices. In fact, even so after release. ‘Friend Summons can ruin the balance, so don’t use it too much!’ or ‘I advise people who want to play a balanced game to not revive Norende Village, and especially don’t buy the Angel’s Bow’ were some examples shared between users while they consulted one another. It felt as if they were part of the development, in a way, which I’m very grateful for.”
Takahashi added his own thoughts, “Bravely Default was the first RPG production that I was a part of, and a very memorable one. Especially seeing fan impressions and the game’s reputation after release. I really enjoyed reading player impressions from all over the internet.”
Apparently, director Nakahara always carried around notes called the “Real D’s Notebook” (D for director). It was something that Nakahara had become known for, among the staff, for always carrying it with him. It consisted of emails from Asano glued inside, along with ideas, various memos and results from their meetings.
Dengeki tried to sneak in a picture of its contents, but Nakahara wouldn’t allow it it, as it contains many secrets behind the game’s development.
In fact, there were more than three Real D Notebooks, full of many vivid scriptures and basically the entire history of Bravely Default: Flying Fairy’s development. Nakahara flipped through some of the pages and spotted notes on Friend Summon details and ability names as examples.
To make things more interesting, the D’s Notebook is an actual part of Bravely Default: Flying Fairy, thus the added “Real” for Nakahara’s own physical copy of notes. In the game, the D’s Notebook contains various indexes of information such as job descriptions, a picture book and more. It’s a small inside joke shared among the staff members.
Dengeki asked the three what they would give themselves as a self-assessment grade of their work Bravely Default, out of a score of 100 and their reasons for it.
Nakahara answered first. “Hmm, about 80 points,” he said. “The result of having completed the game itself gets 80 points, but having the very passionate Asano and the rest of the development staff, along with the fans with their enjoyment and excitement adds another 10 points. The extra 10 points, is removed as a penalty for what we couldn’t finish.”
Takahashi followed. “As a person who was involved in the making, it’s pretty tough to say. Similar to Nakahara, if I only think of the good parts that I contributed, there’s definitely a penalty.” As he credited various other staff members who contributed to the game, he concluded by saying, “When I look at it in a rather incomplete way, I’d give it over 90 points. On the other hand, looking at my own contributions, I’d say about 50 points. I still have some ways to go.”
Finally, Asano replied, “Self-assessment is indeed quite difficult. From a producer’s standpoint, I personally worked to the limit of my abilities, to the point I could say ‘I can’t do any more!’ I don’t intend on saying 100 points, but rather, 100%. On the other hand, When I look at it from an objective standpoint of the product or fans… hmm it’s hard to say. It’s safe to say that I did it with a 100% effort, as we wouldn’t have released it otherwise.”
“I put 100% into it and I believe the other staff members put in more than 100%. The development period took a little longer than the original plan, too. I don’t know how to put it but, I believe it’s the same as studies. You can elaborate and do as much as you want, but I don’t believe there are goals or 100 points to it. Next time, I’d like to aim higher and make a game that feels more complete in the future.” Asano concluded.
Bravely Default: Flying Fairy (temporary title—final name TBD) for Nintendo 3DS will be released in Europe sometime this year and 2014 in North America. Back in December, Asano indicated that he was preparing to work on a sequel.