Do you notice a trend toward further realism in game design -- for example, more subtle integration of on-screen HUD elements? What do you think of those sort of design decisions?
RT:We've already kind of started doing that with Monster Hunter. We mentioned that you see the monsters getting tired, and stuff like that. In our game, you only see the players' health. You don't see the monsters' health, so it's very hard to tell when a monster is ever going to die. So, in that respect, it makes the game much more analog, not digital, right?
In that sense, it's easier to build communities. You get people talking to each other because you're like, "Is he going to die?" "Oh, I don't know!" You really get people talking. So, in that sense, having it realistic in that way in an analog sense, I feel that having no gauges and being realistic gets people more together, and that's a good thing.
I like playing games where you don't actually know everything and you just kind of have to go with it, you experience it. There's more tension. There's more intense feelings involved, like, "Is he going to die?" You don't know. And that kind of suspense is a good thing for games.
Designers are really interested right now in how to encourage social behavior in games. What lessons can you share from your team's experience designing social aspects into this game?
RT:The first big thing, obviously, is that the maker, the game creator, should not tell everything to the player -- to make the game in the sense that you have to make the players find out for themselves.
For example, with Monster Hunter, one of the big things is we don't tell everybody all the different monsters you can find. We don't tell everybody all the different weapons you can create. We don't tell them all the situations where all these things can happen. But the players themselves foster a sense of community by having to go around and explore.
And then someone might say,"Hey, if you carve the head of this monster, you can actually get a better thing than if you carve the tail." So, you've got people talking to each other now, and now they want to know more. "Oh wow, this person found out this? Okay, now I'm going to try and find out this."
In that sense, the more you kind of don't tell in a sense -- program a lot of it in, but don't tell all of its little secrets -- the more you can get people to get interested, to get them to research stuff together. In that way, you can build sort of a knowledgebase, but among the users. That way, they all feel a sense of accomplishment, like, "We found out this information. We are this community, and we want to play together."
That is how, at least in Monster Hunter, we foster this sort of community. There's no one answer to anything. You can always have somebody be like, "Well, this is how I did it." "This is how I did it." We get them to communicate.
Along with there's no one right answer, again, it's that concept of because the maker isn't telling everything -- we're not saying, "This is how it is. This is how it is." -- it gets people really talking, because there's no one right answer. For example, when you have discussion groups or even debate groups or whatever in school, you have a group of people and they give all their opinions. So, nobody knows what the right answer is. You can only come to the conclusion at the end. Maybe the entire group will say, "Oh, maybe this is the correct answer."
In that sense, you've now fostered that conversation. Before they got to that opinion, they all had the conversation, they all discussed their opinions, and then they came to a conclusion. So, we feel that is one way to get people really talking and to get people to communicate with each other.