What made you choose this medium to express yourself?
YW: I like video games. As a medium to express what you really want to say, of course you can do it with books, movies, or music, but you can't interact. The idea of interacting was very interesting. I really liked that, so that's why this was the best medium for me. And because the users are completing the game world. It was beyond even my expectations. There's a kind of chemistry happening between users too.
Or maybe more like alchemy! Does it bother you that when you're trying to create a story and you have a message, even if it's a message that they discover for themselves, the players have a lot of control, and they can just screw around and do silly things that you may not intend to do? Does that change the way that you can tell a story?
YW: Actually, no, I think it's interesting.
I want to actually create a game that has many ways to end it and to
play it -- not only just one way. There's just one way to watch a movie.
I played Silent Hill 2, which is a very moving, psychological game, and it starts you in a bathroom, and the first thing I did was that I made the character crouch in front of the toilet, just because it was funny. And I actually care about games.
I guess you can't make everyone play your game the right way, but I guess if that's what you want, that's a good thing. Some games that are kind of like that already are Western-style, like Grand Theft Auto. They have a similar design scope, but they probably have a different message than the one you might want to tell.
Do you think the two of those things
can go together well? With a game like
Grand Theft Auto, that's one way that this sort of thing you're
talking about is done, where you can have different endings and various
methods of doing things. But it seems like it's different from the message
you might want to tell. Do you think that those two things can go together?
YW: You can match it together, but for example with GTA, it's something you can actually do in the real world, too. If you could really do whatever you want in your world, it should actually change the world, and not just do the stuff that you can only do in the real world.
So it really affects the entire
universe. Do you think -- and maybe you would want to -- but do you
think it's possible to make such a world that's not based on conflict?
It's really hard to make games like
Harvest Moon that are not based on conflict, and still have people
compelled to go through and experience that kind of small-level drama.
YW: GTA and some points of
Harvest Moon are more or less the same, but at the same time, they
are different. It's really up to the producer to put what he really
wants to put in his game. In GTA, you can hijack a car, and so
you can try to improve the way you can hijack a car, for example. But
in Harvest Moon, it's farming, so we've got to try and improve
the way you can farm. Basically we have the same base, but the improvement
of the message is going to be done in different ways.
More than that -- except in the
recent spin-off Rune Factory -- there is no real physical conflict
in Harvest Moon. Even in Spore, there is physical conflict.
Is it possible to make this kind of free world without conflict?
YW: It's possible. You don't need the conflict -- it's really up to the producer. But I think that you can make these games work without having to use a conflict background. It depends on what type of game you want to develop, and depending on that, it's going to change.
It seems really difficult, because if you give players freedom, they're so used to fighting in games, it seems like they would immediately try to do that. Sometimes people try -- even in Harvest Moon -- to take the axe and hit the cow or something like that.
YW: That thing's going to happen, no matter what we're doing. But as producer, you have to think who you're targeting, either kids or adult users. When you create the game system, we can't actually log this kind of stuff, like beatings of the cow. It's really up to the producer, and it's his duty to think about this kind of thing.
It would be very difficult to limit, so long as it was a free world. That would be extremely difficult to do, I think. It would have to be designed in such a way that players would never want to fight.
YW: I still think it's a game design thing. I come back to the same response -- game balance is up to the producer, but you can really do it.
What do you think of virtual worlds like Second Life?
YW: It's like the Matrix -- just a simulation. You don't have any design behind those kinds of games, but it's interesting. For example, if you create this virtual world and the user could fly, there's still no meaning. But it's something you can't do in the real world, so that's why it would be fun.