NOBUNAGA'S AMBITION: Awakening Interview
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Interview: How Nobunaga’s Ambition: Awakening Builds on the Past Entries

Nobunaga’s Ambition: Awakening is the 16th game in the series, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. A lot of care was put into making it feel fresh and innovative while also keeping the core elements that have given the series such longevity. To get some insight into what sorts of changes were made and the work behind making them, Siliconera spoke to Michi Ryu, the game’s producer.

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Adam Haffen: How long after the 2017 release of Nobunaga’s Ambition: Taishi did development on Nobunaga’s Ambition: Awakening begin?

Michi Ryu: Soon after the release of Nobunaga’s Ambition: Taishi, we had started working on it behind the scenes. This project officially began in 2020.

What is the most impactful change made to Nobunaga’s Ambition: Awakening and how does it set the game apart from previous entries in the series?

Ryu: The concept of this title, “living officers who think and act on their own”, is the most impactful change. In the previous entries in the Nobunaga’s Ambition series, officers acted only when the player gave them orders. In this title, officers are able to think and act on their own in various situations without orders.

In fact, we humans think and act on our own, don’t we? The people in Japan’s Warring States period would have acted without orders from daimyos as well, and we have tried to show that in the game.

As a result, the game has become a very lively creation, with various officers saying various things, and I think it has become a new Nobunaga’s Ambition in which players work together with their officers rather than alone, to unify the country.

NOBUNAGA'S AMBITION: Awakening Interview Leadership Achievement

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How much research was done about Japan’s Warring States period in preparation for Nobunaga’s Ambition: Awakening? Was anything learned about the period that affected initial plans for the game?

Ryu: There was nothing new about the production process. However, as historical studies are made and new discoveries come out, we constantly check documents and books. and improved the expressions in the game based on the latest theories.

In addition, we planned the game based on not only new historical theories, but also around the evolution of game consoles. Thanks to the evolved hardware, we can have more approaches to create an original and realistic Warring States Japan in which each retainer thinks and acts on their own.

Which of the game’s three major systems (Dominion, War Tactics, and Battle) was most difficult to get working just right and why?

Michi Ryu: We had a lot of struggles with the “unification of daimyo and retainers”. In Nobunaga’s Ambition: Awakening, we aim to show the theme of “living officers who think and act on their own”, but it was difficult to decide to what extent retainers should act on their own. In fact, up until the middle of the development process, the retainers were too smart and they would expand their territory even if the player left them alone. That would be boring because there would be nothing for the players to do, right? It’s not good to have officers who are too smart, but on the other hand, the player will be very stressed if we make officers stupid as well. It was very hard to balance (laughs). In the end, we thought out a solution, which is not to indicate what is right to do but to let the players decide.

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Did any major hurdles arise during the development of Nobunaga’s Ambition: Awakening? If so, how were they dealt with?

Ryu: One thing was that since the COVID pandemic happened right after the project launched, it was very hard for us to develop the game with an unfamiliar work style and structure. Not being able to casually exchange information with the team members brought much more difficulty than I had imagined, and I was reminded of the importance of communication (laughs). Chat tools became important in a flash, and we were able to move forward with more communication via video calls, which we didn’t normally use before. Now I’m used to it and I think we’ve also returned to [our] way of working before the pandemic.

And the other thing is the realization of the unification of daimyo and retainers, which I answered in the previous question. Please read that one for more details (laughs).

Conversely, did anything come together easier than initially expected? In what way did it differ from how it was planned to go?

Ryu: Hmmm … I’m not sure. I don’t think anything came together easily (laugh). With all the parts, we made a prototype, reviewed it with the team, and made adjustments several times.

Are there any plans for the future of Awakening or the Nobunaga’s Ambition series that you can talk about?

Michi Ryu: Unfortunately, there is nothing I can say at this moment. The Nobunaga’s Ambition series celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, and I believe it will continue to grow. On the other hand, to be honest, this title is still not well-known outside of Japan. I would like to develop it into a title that can be enjoyed globally, so I really hope that everyone would help to boost this title through the power of the media (laughs).

NOBUNAGA’S AMBITION: Awakening is available now for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and PC via Steam.

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Adam Haffen
Adam is a staff writer who's been working with words for more than five years now. He started playing video games when he was six years old and is a huge action-adventure and RPG fan. His favorite series include The Legend of Zelda and Kingdom Hearts. True to form, he has an endless backlog of books and games that he swears he'll get to one day.