Interview: Harvest Moon Creator Wants To Make Games That Give People Strength

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The last time we spoke to Harvest Moon creator, Yasuhiro Wada, he was still employed at Grasshopper Manufacture, alongside longtime colleague, Yoshiro Kimura, both having made the move from Marvelous Entertainment. Wada was reportedly working on a Nintendo 3DS title at Grasshopper, but late last year, both he and Kimura resigned from their posts at the company.


Recently, Wada announced that he’d started up his own company, Toybox Inc., which aims to create games “for love, peace and earth”. Following the announcement, Laura and I got in touch with Wada to ask him a few questions about Toybox and the direction he hopes to take the company in.


What new game has moved you the most, and what impression did it leave you with?


Yasuhiro Wada, Toybox founder: I would say [The Elder Scrolls] Skyrim. This holds true for Oblivion, too, but I feel that this series truly advances the RPG dream and brings it closer to the day it is realized.


You’ve had 20 years of experience in the games industry, working at a large company. Now that you’ve created your own company, how do you feel? Why did you decide to go independent?


My experiences have always been living in the world of large companies, but with me there, I become a barrier to the rise of the next generation. With a small company, there’s a limit to what you can do, but you have more freedom with what you can do.


In a sense, Toybox is like an accumulation of all your experience. With these experiences, what kind of environment are you hoping to create at the company?


I hope for a company where there are different types of people in the company, and we can all communicate with each other directly and frankly, and work as one to create [new games].


Is there anything you wish to do at Toybox that you couldn’t at either Marvelous or Grasshopper?


I wish to deal with game creation not as a part of the management, but as a creator. In a large company, no matter what you do, you always have to deal with the management side of things.


You’ve mentioned that you want to create a game that can bring joy to people, and be useful in the world. What did you mean by this?


I feel the world needs games that emotionally move people and give them the strength to live another day, and games that you would have fun talking about with your friends and family.


You said that you’re in your 40s on Twitter. Is there anything you couldn’t do before that you can do now, at this age?


My thoughts and beliefs haven’t changed that much from before, so now that I’m this age, I don’t think there’s anything new that I have to tell people. However, it is true that I’ve gained more experience and have achieved more things, so now I’m capable of building my own company and have been blessed with the support of people around me. I think this is the most important treasure [I have].


Looking at developers [in Japan] these days, what kinds of games do you think they’re interested in making? And what about publisher interests?


This isn’t a question of what’s good or bad. Among developers, there are people developing as a business, and there are people developing because they want to create things.


The programmers want to compile a program quickly and efficiently, and designers want to create a game that appears beautiful. There are various kinds of producers, too. Just as there are people who want to create big budget works, there are those who want to create small, niche games.


This is why I don’t believe you should think of game design as having a trend. There are as many designs as there are creators. Also, this may be obvious, but publishers, including Toybox, have to succeed as a business, so they have to be mindful of production budget, so being a game development company is not easy.


Mobile games and social games are popular right now, and the 3DS and Vita are out, too. Looking at the games market, which platforms will you have Toybox focus on?


Toybox is especially mindful of the contents of the game, but we don’t have a preference with regards to medium. We plan to develop for all platforms.


That being said, currently we’re developing for a portable game system.


Is Toybox going to finish the 3DS game that was in development at Grasshopper?


Toybox is not currently developing a Grasshopper game. The wonderful staff at Grasshopper is developing Grasshopper’s game.


Does Toybox have a long-term plan? For example, is there a vision that you want to see through five years from now?


Our foremost goal is: “We create our own, and we publish our own”. This way, we will have no choice but to create games with great content that would make both the business world and the players acknowledge Toybox.


You plan to self-publish both retail and downloadable games?


About the publishing, at present, nothing has been decided.  Our goal is to publish not just downloadable titles, but also packaged games. Ultimately, what’s going to happen with regards to our current project is still up in the air, though.


Is there anything else you’d like to say to fans that follow your work?


Toybox was just recently born as a company, so there is still nothing to show for it. It’s a small company, so we can’t create anything as amazing as Skyrim. Even so, we are aiming to create something that no one else, only Toybox, can make. When you play it, I’m sure you will enjoy it like nothing ever before. We are making preparations so we can announce something at E3, so please look forward to it.


This week, Wada is scheduled to give a talk at the Game Developers Conference about the origins of the Harvest Moon series.

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