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So, you relied more on prototyping to develop the game? Because preplanning is very common, I think, in Japan; you used more of a prototype process to develop this game.
HK: Well, I devoted myself to prototyping, and at that stage I didn't have any picture of the full game at all. However, when we came up with the prototype, and if I thought, "This is going to be fun," then I know that this is going to be successful.
Therefore, we didn't come up with any preplan first. So, after coming up with the prototype, and once we felt that this is going to be a success, then we started thinking about the content.
JY: To elaborate on this: The development took two years' time, but only the last three months were dedicated to mass production of content. So, that means that the remaining months were used for the prototype.
What games have you worked on before Patapon? Were you at Sony the whole time? And what games have you worked on?
HK: I have been working Sony Computer Entertainment for 10 years, and my debut title was Xi [aka Devil Dice and Bombastic]. And the most recent title, besides Patapon, was Bravo Music [aka Mad Maestro]. Now, as you may know, this was an orchestral game, where you have to conduct the orchestra.
So, any time I come up with the game development, the first thing I think about is whether there's any opportunity to use a new kind of interface; that's the general idea.
It's interesting because, I guess over the course of your career, then, in terms of the games you've made, it's games that are more accessible; a little more oriented towards light users.
And what's interesting is that I was just talking to Kouno-san, from Loco Roco, and he started off making games like Legend of Dragoon, which is a really hardcore RPG, and came to the same point; but he said he learned something along the way, every time. So I'm wondering how your experience had been, in learning, and coming up with these ideas.
HK: Well, actually, right after I graduated from university, I was teaching grade school students at a school. However, I had always had a dream of developing games, so therefore I joined a start-up company. Back then, I didn't have any skill at all, but I just had a big dream of creating interesting games. And then, after a while, Sony offered me a position, as a designer.
And you said that I have reached a goal of developing a simple game, however, I don't see this as a goal yet; I still think this is a process for me. And nobody knows; some day I might challenge a more complex game. However, in any case, my adventure would still continue, but I believe that I would always be aiming to make a game that is interesting for everybody.
Did any of your experience as a teacher inform your design effort? Watching children come to terms with learning to understand something -- did that affect your process for developing games that people can understand and learn how to play?
HK: In my previous career as a teacher, what I learned is that if my students are happy, they would learn more; so, we had to praise them rather than scolding them. So, that's the biggest hint I got for the creation of games: I have to make the users happier, so they would feel like they are encouraged to go to the next stage.