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Drakengard 3: Yoko Taro's "Bad Thought Process" (2 of 4)


Here's the 2nd editorial column by creative director Yoko Taro.  Sorry for the delay in translating this article.  I had a bunch of events this weekend that kept me busy.  This was originally posted on drakengard-3.com.


Hello, I’m Yoko Taro.  Can you hear me?  Alright.

So, this time I’m going to talk about “Making a Character”.  Well, I suppose since we’re going to think about a character who has neither hopes nor dreams, so it may be better if you don’t read this column.  Okay?  Is that alright?  Well, even if it’s not, I’m going to continue.

The absolutely first thing that must be dealt with when creating a character in an Action RPG is the cost.  Cost—.  Money.  Ahh!  That was the sound of your hopes and dreams being blown away!  Even so, the story must go on!

If we were to only create characters we liked, we’d seriously run into some grave problems.  For example, if we were to make a new Suikoden game, even if we created all 108 of the characters, it would be impossible to make the models for all of them.  Events would be cluttered with too many characters on the screen, plus we’d have to create unique faces for each of them; therefore, it would be best if we just killed off at least 90 of those characters……  Simply put, the more characters you have, the more expensive it’s going to get.

That being said, generally in action based games, there are all sorts of enemy characters in which you don’t necessarily see their faces, like those wearing masks.  It’s okay to create a sense of mystery from masked enemies.  It would be even better for these character to cover their mouths, like a ninja.  Since lining up a character’s mouth with verbal speech is such a task, it would be better if we couldn’t see their mouths moving at all.

Then what about those characters that aren’t human but have a monster-like form?  We wouldn’t have to give them specific facial expressions, right?  It may be better, but that in-and-of-itself becomes a problem.  For example, if we have an insect that has reversed-joint appendages, it would be a difficult job for the motion designers.  Likewise, if we have insects with wiggling antennas and a bunch of unnecessary appendages, all of those things need to move.  Trying to animate a boss enemy like a giant centipede would mean certain death. That's why the huminoid figure is much more cost efficient.  No, actually the most cost efficient form would probably be a floating sphere.

Then we have to worry about clothing and other troublesome things.  Anything that might impede movement like a long skirt or a men's hakama are absolutely out.  Additionally, short hair styles are preferred.  If it were at all possible, full-body tights or a sort of clothing that would stick tightly to the character's skin and no hair would be preferable.  As far as character designs go, this is the worst but let's take a break for a moment.

Well, although the mood is rather gloomy, we still need to save on cost.  As a battle action game, we need large bosses, but there is also a device for this.  There's no avoiding the rising costs from designing different bosses with unique movements all the time.  That's why we need to change some body parts, the color, or even change the movement to something that could be shared between multiple bosses.  Also, since any game needs bosses, we have to come up with a clever solution with the programming.  Money, money, money……  Simply put, bosses mean money.  Have you ever thought, "What?  You just changed the color."  From the perspective of the developers who know the sorrow that comes with making short to medium length games, they may say, "Yes, you're right……"  This is why there is no way to see the result of our labors without tears.

So because of this, I often develop my characters by designing the monsters first.  We need to decide on how many bosses we need for however many stages.  I'd really like to have a boss for every stage, but there just isn't enough money to do that.

Then, the next thing we need to plan are the events.  How long do we work on multiple events……  Well, since I mess up this estimate every time, I can't say too much about it, but in the end we may or may not be able to fit in the entire scope of the event.  Plus, the only character who can wrap up these events has to be the main character.
I'm only saying this here, but actually, when we were working on DOD1, we failed on making many of the events.

We originally planned to have 6 partner characters referred to as "Contracts", but it would have been impossible to tell the story with that number of characters.  Since we couldn't fit descriptive FMVs into the camp segments like we wanted to, we had to forcefully change the wording, thusly cutting a large chunk out of the original script which made it necessary to add in supplementary explanations in text between missions……

But looking back now, text-based supplementary explanations also felt new……  Simply, at the time many people had pointed it out, we thought, "Ah!  So that was it!  This would have been junk if we had done that!"  I remember how earnestly we made modifications while scratching at our heads and refusing to give in.  No, actually, there are many things that we humans may understand if we try. (<---said in a monotone voice)

……Umm, yeah, hmm.  Any remaining money is usually used on the main character and other supporting characters, I guess.  Yeah, this is usually how I come up with characters and stuff like that stuff, yeah.
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About Rekkaone of us since 8:12 AM on 08.17.2011

Book of the Past:
I originally got into gaming when my brother broke his collarbone from a stupid skateboarding stunt my father allowed him to do ("Hey, son, won't it be cool if you hold onto the back of my car as I drive around town!?"). As a get well soon gift, my parents bought him a NES, from which his gaming days began. Me, I just enjoyed watching him play, mostly RPGs until I tried them myself eventually. My first game was Dragon Quest and I remember quitting shortly after the first dragon killed me. lol

Since then, though, I have enjoyed games for multiple reasons, mostly because I love stories and characters...and games are the perfect way for me to experience the hard work and strife that the characters have to go through. It's fun and I feel like I can play a part in their story. It's a much better story than mine.

My favorite RPGs of the past are (in no certain order):

Chrono Trigger
Shadow Hearts 1 & 2
Baten Kaitos