The Harvest Moon series has been around since the twilight days of the Super Nintendo, offering up a relaxing but compelling world based around farming and familial relationships. The RPG series has gone from a cult classic to a real success, with several hundred thousand units of new titles in the series shifted in Western markets.
In a recent interview, Gamasutra speaks to series creator and Marvelous Interactive president Yasuhiro Wada about the unassuming series, his unique sense of game design, and creating games with unusual themes.
I have some difficult questions
and some less difficult questions. Which ones do you want first?
Yasuhiro Wada: As you like.
Some easy questions first. So how long have you been in the gaming industry?
YW: 18 years.
Was that from the time when you created Harvest Moon?
YW: Oh no, Harvest Moon was 13 years ago.
Have you worked on other games aside from Harvest Moon, then?
YW: The first year I started, I did
planning work. My first game concept was Harvest Moon, and that
was something like three or four years after I started.
And have you wound up working on
things that are not Harvest Moon after that?
YW: I worked on Chulip, and on a game that wasn't released in the U.S. and Europe called Boku wa Chiisai [Ed. note: that translates to "I Am Little".] It's about an extraterrestrial -- there was a time paradox, and you're always doing the same thing. It's like Groundhog Day -- always doing the same thing in a 24 hour cycle.
What platform was that?
YW: PlayStation 2.
Can you tell me something about the origins of Marvelous itself?
YW: Marvelous was established in 2003, and it was Marvelous Interactive. Marvelous Entertainment was established in 1997. Marvelous Entertainment in the beginning just released soundtracks of games. From 2000, they started to do some animation, too, then they decided to do the game business from there. The first project was just two or three people.
In 2003, they bought Victor Interactive, and became
Marvelous Interactive. Actually I was working at Victor Interactive.
From June 2007, Marvelous Entertainment and Marvelous Interactive have
branched together to become Marvelous Entertainment, and the Marvelous
Interactive part became a digital content company inside Marvelous Entertainment.
How large is Marvelous now?
YW: The development team is about 45 people. Promotion, sales, production, and the rest are 45. So in all, 90 people. And so if we talk about annual revenue per year, it's something around 50 billion yen, or 50 million dollars.
That's a lot, for a small company. Marvelous seems to be getting bigger every year, in terms of what it's producing.
YW: We only had like five or six titles
in 2003, and this year, we already have more than 30 titles. And half
of them are manga-based titles. But the rate of those manga-based titles
is going to decrease gradually. We're going to focus on original titles.