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Game Design Psychology: The Full Hirokazu Yasuhara Interview
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Game Design Psychology: The Full Hirokazu Yasuhara Interview

August 25, 2008 Article Start Previous Page 4 of 5 Next

Do you think it's possible to give the player too many goals, all at once? Like, again in GTA, or in the open part of Uncharted, do you think it's possible to have too many things the player could do, so they get overwhelmed?

HY: Hmmm, that's difficult... Well, you have individual goals, like in GTA where you're trying to kill X enemies within one minute, but I don't think that is the goal -- the real goal of the game.

There's a difference between making a game and making a virtual world and putting it in a package. It's the job of the game master to take that world and give you the motivation to move through it. If you don't, then that won't leave the player satisfied.

If you're just trying to keep the player playing as long as possible, then that's like an online game, where the focus is much more on communication -- "Hey, how are you, let's go kill that enemy," you know. That communication aspect is part of the game, yes, but...

That kind of scenario seems to allow a group of people to determine the goal, to an extent. That's an interesting way of thinking about it. From my perspective, sometimes when I start up a game, it says "You can do this, and this, and you can customize your character, and then you change his color, name him, then you set up your party...", and it's just too much. They give me too many options, and I don't want to play.

HY: Yeah, naturally.

And how do you avoid that? How do you decide what's the most important for the player at a certain time?

HY: Mmm... For example, you could make the setup process the same every time and have it so you can start it right away; I like games like that. Then, after that, you could go buy your own equipment to customize if you like, or make your own designs.

People who want to do that could, and those who don't aren't forced to. Keep the basic experience simple, and allow players to explore it at their pace.

Yeah, sometimes the problem with optional things like that is that if the hardcore player will want to try it, but then they'll burn themselves out because it's too much.

HY: I definitely understand that. When you begin the game, you're on a high; it's like "Aaah! What am I going to do?"

And this seems to happen a lot in MMOs, for example.

HY: Exactly.

You start at level one and everyone else is at level 60 or 70.

HY: Yeah, and then you just say "Forget it" at the start. (laughs)

So in your opinion, how has design changed from 2D into 3D?

HY: I think it's mainly in the camera -- its positioning. That can change everything. If you place the camera to the side, then it's a "2D" game, but in a 3D game, it's all in how well you can express the world to the player, how clearly you can show elements and obstacles. There are lots of approaches to solving that problem, so there are lots more possibilities to explore.

What was the first 3D game that you worked on?

HY: Sonic R, I think.

Was it difficult to make the transition -- to decide what was important for 3D back at that time?

HY: I definitely spent a lot of time thinking about the camera -- whether it was too close or too far. If it's too far, then you'd start to have polygon issues, but if I put the camera down lower, then you couldn't see far enough ahead. So I experimented with raising the camera when there weren't too many polygons on screen, and so forth. It was a major headache for me.

So field of vision was a big problem. And in terms of considering what a player could do in a 3D world, was that a difference for you? Did it require extra thought?

HY: Well, even when I was making 2D games, I always think in terms of a 3D world. It was the same back in the Sonic days. For example, you're never going to take a loop in Sonic from the other side, so I never really considered that when constructing the course maps.

That's interesting to hear. I guess that would make sense, why it wasn't a difficult transition. Did you draw your designs in 3D style at that time as well?

HY: Yes. There was the corkscrew in Sonic 2, for example, right? I had to think all that out in 3D. Also in Sonic 2, you had these pipe passages where you would be thrown around all over the place until you came out somewhere else; I had to work out all the layers involved in that layout.

It's funny how quickly you drew him again. It seemed very natural, like "Sonic? Okay!"

HY: (laughs) Lemme draw one more.

Article Start Previous Page 4 of 5 Next

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