Sega's Yuji Naka
Yuji Naka is an R&D creative officer for Sega Sammy, heading up the Sonic Team division. He is the creator of the Sonic the Hedgehog series, and is currently working on a girlfriend management simulation launch title for the Nintendo DS, by the U.S. name Feel the Magic XY/XX.
(Note: The game was shown in video form only, with players frantically rubbing their stylus on the DS, which was covered with a thick mosaic, purposefully reminiscent of the censorship in Japanese pornography.)
GS: Why did you use the mosaic?
YN: Because Nintendo said we couldn't bring it to the show! Nintendo is officially announcing the DS on October 7th, and they don't want us even to show the hardware, so we blurred it.
GS: Yeah, kind of looks like you were making a joke.
YN: Yep. But you know the DS is actually really a fun system.
GS: Is it difficult to develop DS games?
YN: Oh, it's easy. It's a very interesting piece of hardware. The touch pad is really new though, and this game also uses the microphone, so that was a small challenge.
GS: How do you use the microphone?
YN: There's a scene where there are some candles around, and if you blow on the touch panel, they'll blow out. It's pretty fun! By blowing, you can also move yachts and things. There's really a lot you can do; with the touch panel you can point, or rub, or draw things, so there's a lot of room for entertainment, I think.
GS: Which is more interesting to you, DS or PSP?
YN: Well naturally both have their own good points… the DS has the touch panel of course, and the PSP has a nice, wide screen, the wireless LAN and high specs, so each has it's place, I think.
GS: I hear that you have a lot of women in the team?
YN: About half of the team is female. This game seems like it will be pretty popular with girls as well. It's kind of, how shall I say, naughty. Erotic, maybe. So of course girls love it!
Sony's Fumito Ueda
Fumito Ueda is a product manager at Sony Computer Entertainment, and directed the critically acclaimed ICO for the same company. He is currently working on an action game by the Japanese name of Wanda to Kyozou (also known as Wanda And The Colossus in the West).
GS: When did you first start thinking of making games?
FU: I didn't originally intend to make games per se, but in middle school I had various interests, including movies and games, and when I saw something I liked, I thought I'd like to make something like that of my own. But it wasn't that I wanted to make a game from the beginning - just something that would make people happy.
GS: What kind of games did you play in middle school?
FU: Normal Famicom games. Then I didn't have time to play for a while, but in college I played games on the Amiga, and maybe some arcade titles.
GS: What games specifically do you like?
GS: Do you still play games these days?
GS: What kind?
FU: Recently, hmmm…I've played Prince of Persia and Katamari Damashii.
GS: What did you think of the ending? It's kind of sad once you've gathered everything up.
FU: Oh, I haven't seen the end of it yet! (laughter)
GS: I wonder what kind of person it was who created ICO.
FU: The way I'm different from a normal producer, or a normal person, is that I really like technology, for example graphics technology and computer technology. So I feel like I can find a good balanced way to express what I want to do, within the limits of the technology. No matter what size world I want to create, I can do it, if I think about the constraints of the console, like the PS2.
GS: Why did you name the main character Wanda?
FU: Well Wanda, W-A-N-D-A, is kind of a play on words, because it also means wander, which you do a lot of in this game.
(Note: in Japanese, Wanda also has the same pronunciation as both 'wander' and 'wonder.')
GS: The Wanda to Kyozou music was done by Kou Ohtani. Why did you choose him?
FU: ICO's composer was (female composer) Michiru Ohshima, and I didn't want to create the same image for this game. Aside from that, ICO was a game that both male and female players could enjoy equally. But I think this is a game that male players will enjoy more. So I chose a male composer.
GS: Do you like music?
FU: Of course.
GS: What kind?
FU: I mostly listen to movie soundtracks.
GS: What's your favorite movie then?
FU: Kind of tough, since I don't rank them in my head. But recently, I liked Spiderman 2 and Gladiator.
GS: What was the inspiration for the graphical style?
FU: The concept is to express giant scale comparative to the player perspective, but within the scope of realistic experience for the users. Take a block, for example - in normal games, the size of a block tends to appear much bigger than it would in reality. But in this game, it's a believable size to involve you in the world.
GS: How can you meet these sort of sentimental graphics with an action game?
FU: Well perhaps they're a bit lonely looking now, but it's not done yet. I think that once the game is more complete, and we put in more greenery and such, it should be a bit livelier. But I don't think that a graphical sadness is out of place in an action game, and really that wasn't exactly our intention to begin with.
GS: Why are you making Wanda an action game?
FU: Because I like them. No real other reason. Well, I guess also, since the last game was very quiet and peaceful, I wanted to do something different, even though it did have some fighting elements.
With Wanda to Kyozou, I wanted to create a firm-feeling environment, so the design was very dense. An action game seemed to flow naturally from what I was doing.
GS: What is your dream?
FU: Hmm, I have a lot of them.
GS: For example?
FU: Some day I want something that I have created to make a large group of people feel something. That would be interesting.
This series of interviews featured interview assistance from Tim Rogers, Jamil Moledina and Yukiko Miyajima Grove, and translation help from Yukiko Miyajima Grove and Tim Rogers - thanks to all.