An Inviting Mini-World: How Nintendo Made Animal Crossing
June 20, 2013 Page 2 of 3
And as you show it off you see what other people have done with their spaces, that will also shape the way you feel about your own town. It should be this kind of automatic feedback mechanism when you play with another person and see what they've done. So it definitely shifts and changes, but it's all a reflection of that person's values -- the values and beliefs they hold.
With New Leaf, we were able to take that self-expression to the next level. You can customize not just your character, but your town this time, and you can apply designs to furniture, and you can share all of this with the Happy Home Showcase and through the Dream Suite. So all of this has been made for people to share their own reflections of their personalities.
[Ed. Note: Happy Home Showcase is a passive in-person multiplayer service, and Dream Suite is an active online multiplayer service.]
Speaking about player expression, on one hand it is easy to share things like the way you lay out your room, or the designs for clothes, but to go back to the question of values, how do you share your actual beliefs? Can a game reflect who that player is and is that something that you want to do?
KE: As for someone's beliefs and how much you can actually convey through a game like Animal Crossing, I think it also depends on how expressive the person is through the tools within the game. There are certainly famous personalities in Japan who have created elaborate towns in Animal Crossing, and you can really see their personalities through what they've done with that space. Certainly, again, it depends on how adept a person is -- it's not good or bad at playing the game, it's how well they express themselves, through the tools that are available in the game.
Another thing you might discover through this, you might be playing with a friend and you go into their house and, "Wow! It's a mess!" You'd never seen that part of that person's personality, and, "Okay, maybe Person A isn't as neat and tidy as I thought they might be." So these kinds of things -- there is a lot of discovery that can happen in a game even if someone's belief system isn't explicitly stated.
I think that this game is more free. It's been awhile since I played an Animal Crossing, but I feel like you have freedom. Weeds don't pop up as much. There are more choices. The animals don't seem to get mad at you as easily. Was it your decision to make the game more free for players to enjoy it without consequences?
KE: Yes, you're absolutely right. With regard to the animals and their not getting so angry so easily, our basic stance is that these animals are friendly. There are certainly some stronger personalities among the animals, and that's reflected in their conversations, but they all still default to loving the player character. That's something we made sure to put across through the text.
In regards to town living, we didn't want it to feel like a place you had to go, like it was a pain, or a hassle, or anything like that. Something as simple as watering your flowers, while it's something you still need to do -- flowers will still dry up -- we added things like your flowers will sparkle after you've watered them, so the player doesn't have to be like, "Okay, I've watered that one, I've watered that one..." There's a visual cue there that says "Okay, I've taken care that, that's done. Let's take care of something else."
We've tried to lighten the stress of town life and made sure it's somewhere players want to go, not somewhere they have to go.
Mr. Resetti has also been made a nicer guy this time.
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