Rune Factory 3 releases in North America today, and in anticipation of the game’s release, we caught up with Rune Factory series producer, Yoshifumi Hashimoto, to learn just what the development team focused on improving with this latest installment.
Which parts of Rune Factory 1 and 2 did you want to strengthen and flesh out more in Rune Factory 3?
Beyond tweaking and strengthening controls in the game, we really wanted to flesh out the idea of the player participating in a living world; with each character appearing in the game having their own schedule and personal life to live.
As with any new game we make, there are certainly new experiences that we also spent considerable time putting into the game, but as a base we really wanted to make the game accessible with a strong sense of immersion. Since this is a game about living a life in a fantasy world, we paid a lot of attention to that, specifically focusing on character AI.
We’ve heard that growing crops in Rune Factory 3 is restricted to caves. How does this affect the game?
Well, as in previous games, there is a large farm at the player’s house. We gave a lot of thought to improving and changing crop growing in this game. So now you can bundle and store crops, using them for new parts of the game which take advantage of your farming ability. We really think that this makes the game much more enjoyable.
[Note: This means that farming is not just restricted to caves as believed previously.]
I never found much of a reason to cook in the original Rune Factory, but I found myself doing it a lot more in Rune Factory Frontier because you don’t get the Fishing Rod until later in the game, which was a great way to make sure the cooking aspect was noticed by the player. Does 3 include any such tweaks?
With the Rune Factory series, we try to take the good parts of previous games and refine them in different ways to give birth to new types of gameplay; much like we did with fishing, cooking, and forging in Frontier. So for those Rune Factory veterans trying out Rune Factory 3, I definitely think they’ll be surprised about how these tweaks led to large-scale changes. We’re
always looking to make Rune Factory fresh and new.
Cooking was more fun in Frontier and the financial benefits were very apparent if you wanted to upgrade your weapons and armor. Forging your own weapons was presented better, too, and I started to do it early on. Did you incorporate any of Frontier’s features into 3 with regard to cooking and forging?
We’ve included the various forging and other elements from Frontier, but we’ve also gone ahead and given the player the ability to pick their own weapon at the start of the game. Beyond that, we’ve also added a new weapon, the dual blades, so please give those a shot, too!
Rune Factory 2 was essentially like having two games in one — first you played through Kyle’s story, and then through that of his child. What led you to base Rune Factory 3 around a single protagonist?
Rune Factory 2 was created with the mindset of giving the player the chance to live through two generations and two stories. The problem with this, however, is that for anyone who wants to experience just the second part, if they don’t get through the first half they won’t be able to get there.
Even for us who made the game, it’s a troubling problem. Gamers paid their well-earned money in order to buy Rune Factory 2, and to think that some weren’t able to get to the parts that they really cared about is upsetting.
So with this in mind, we made Rune Factory 3 with a different type of play in mind — transformation. Now, very close to the start of the game, players can enjoy two different modes of play at the same time.
How do you come up with personalities and occupations for the women you can date in Rune Factory games?
Basically, I try to imagine what a female character living in the world of Rune Factory would be like; their lifestyle, their clothing, etc. I imagine these things, and then give the development staff my ideas. A lot of the work of the female characters has a strong link with gameplay systems within the game, so there’s also a lot of planning involved as to which characters belong in which shops and locations, too.
One nice feature about Frontier was that the town was slightly smaller, but that gave the game more of an intimate feel. How does Rune Factory 3 compare in terms of size?
Compared to Frontier, the world itself is bigger. But on top of that, characters live their own lives and have their own schedules, so it feels even deeper now. Friends will tend to get together to chat in given rooms, villagers will gather at night then return to their homes afterwards — just taking in the life of the town is a lot of fun.
We know you can now take other characters with you to dungeons to fight alongside them. How else has the relationship system in the game evolved in Rune Factory 3? Can you continue to evolve a relationship after, say, you’ve married someone?
Characters who you communicate with and deepen relationships with are definitely a huge help to you in dungeons. You might have a character who at first just runs away in battle. But if you keep working with and interacting with him, he’ll level up and grow more aggressive and become a vital partner in battle. Characters who at first are bad with using magic will become more and more effective with their accuracy and power.
What kind of adjustments did you make to the user interface in Rune Factory 3?
We’ve definitely made changes to the interface to make it easier to play as an action-adventure game, but we’ve changed the interface and play of various sub-game aspects, too. Take a look at the storefront. It really feels like you’re in a store and shopping now, thanks to the refinements in UI.
Thank you so much for talking with me today! I’m really glad to have the opportunity to talk more about Rune Factory with you.