Before making LocoRoco, did you already work for Sony, or did you join the company right around that time?
TK: I actually got a job working with Sony right out of college. The first game I worked on was The Legend of Dragoon, an RPG for the PlayStation.
I was just a level designer at the time. After that, I was a level designer and planner for the game Ico.
After that, I had a stint as director for a Sony EyeToy game that was released in Europe as Monkey Mania. And finally after that, I was able to start work on LocoRoco.
It's interesting that the projects seem to get more simple as you went on. Legend of Dragoon is a very complicated game, like the Final Fantasy series. Ico is a similar game, but much less complicated.
Then EyeToy being less complicated still, and finally, LocoRoco. Is that just a coincidence? Or is it that as you started to learn what you could take away, and still be left with a good game?
TK: Actually, no. That's just been the direction the company's been heading in the last few years. But with all the projects I've worked on, I tried to bring as much of myself to my work as I could.
For example, with Legend of Dragoon I was able to design the towns and their houses to my liking, and I installed a few slides in the game's castle. I also really like waterfalls, so when I worked on Ico I sprinkled a few of them here and there.
With the EyeToy game, I wanted to draw attention to the music, so I made sure the movement of the monkeys, even their expressions, coordinated with the sounds you heard.
There was also a game idea I'd had for a long time, a game that wasn't LocoRoco.
The concept of the game was to invigorate and cheer up anyone who played it, so I ended up borrowing a lot elements from this idea, and threw them in LocoRoco.
TK: Most of the feedback we got from players was really positive so we didn't want to mess with the original formula too much. But in answer to a few comments we heard, we made the level maps viewable in the second game.
We also wanted it to be easier for first-time players to beat the game with 100% completion, so we made it possible to see the location of the fruit you have to collect. We reduced the penalty for falling on spikes, things like that.
The first game was really well-liked by people. It did surprise them, I think as they weren't expecting it. How important is that user feedback to you in making the next game? You seem to be aiming to forge a connection with people via the game.
TK: Getting that feedback is incredibly important to me. For example, we did hear that some people found the first title too easy. So, for the second game, we added in some hidden areas with really difficult puzzles that even hard core users would have trouble solving.
That's one way we tried to respond to the player feedback we got. It's no easy thing though, pleasing all the people all the time. Like, if we get requests for things that go against the basic premise of the game we won't be able to include them.