I just happened to notice the other day while browsing Nintendo of Europe’s site, that they actually translated an interesting discussion between Satoru Iwata, Final Fantasy creator, Hironobu Sakaguchi, and Metroid producer, Yoshio Sakamoto, in August 2010. I never caught wind of this, so perhaps some of our readers haven’t either.
It’s an odd trio that you think wouldn’t have much in common, but after developing the original Final Fantasy, Sakaguchi worked with Sakamoto on an adventure game titled Nakayama Miho no Tokimeki High School. Squaresoft and Nintendo developed the game together, and it involved the player’s character transferring to a school that Japanese celebrity, Miho Nakayama, was attending.
The two developers discuss their styles of development and how they’re similar. Sakaguchi gives away a little more information regarding how he developed The Last Story as well, saying it’s the first game since Final Fantasy VII where he chose to flesh the game and its systems out, and then inserted the story into it where appropriate. The only other game he’s approached in this manner is the original Final Fantasy.
“There are also places in games,” Sakaguchi says, “such as the moment when you open a castle door for the first time, when you think, ‘I’d like some story here’. For The Last Story, especially because I wasn’t making it using my usual method but rather started by implementing the game systems, there were times when I’d have to begin by finding such places.”
“I was thinking about where I could bury the story, as it were,” he elaborated. “That’s why I used a new method of writing the script, trying to write it in map units. During the process of making these into a game, I’d think ‘where can I bury this episode?’, and if the order I buried the different parts changed, there were times when I’d also change the flow of the story.”
“I think players hate it when they play a game where the story isn’t developed where they want it to. Can’t you imagine them thinking ‘I’m being pushed around by some self-important story writer’?”
Going back to his castle door reference, Sakaguchi emphasized: “So when the door opens with a thud, as well as playing the dun-dun-dun-duuun music and displaying a message saying ‘this is ___ castle’, that is the moment for adding some kind of story. That was the thing I was most aware of on this project.”
Food for thought:
In the Tokimeki High School game, Nakayama’s true identity was hidden, and it was up to the player to get to know her. The quirky part is that Square wanted this to be a game that had players making use of telephones, and so, there was a number that players could call to listen to hints regarding the game and its story.