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Pokemon's Secret Ingredient
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Pokemon's Secret Ingredient

October 1, 2012 Article Start Previous Page 2 of 3 Next

How do you balance keeping the game accessible, but making it very deep? The framework's there -- you already have the framework of the strategy, and that's remained consistent. But in terms of making the game satisfying to those audiences, how do you balance that?

JM: So, in terms of balancing, what we think our core philosophy is, is really first finding a really fun type of gameplay in its simplest form. It's got to be fun in its simplest form. And then when players pick up the game for the first time, we'll teach them the basics, teach them how to play. For example, football season has just started here in America; how to hold the ball, or how far you need to run to get a touchdown, or something like that. Teach them the core rules and let them know the basics, and just make sure it's fun for them.

And then from there we can continue, step by step, perhaps explaining in more and more detail. But we'll add a lot of the more deep, strategic elements to the game, but not necessarily explain them to the players; we don't really throw it in their face, and they have to really think about that.

For the users who really want to take it to that next level, and for players who really want to get into those deep strategies, they can play with the game, and play with their friends, and figure it out for themselves, or discuss it with other players and then figure it out from there.

You spoke earlier about communication being very important to the franchise, and you just touched on it again in a different way. I was wondering, why is communication so important to the Pokémon franchise?

JM: Trading is really the core concept behind the Pokémon games; it's really the core idea that birthed the Pokémon games, and everything really exists to facilitate trading.

For example, the Pokémon creatures we create, we give them value for players that makes players want to trade them, by giving them moves or setting their statistics, the parameters, and making them attractive, something that people would want to trade their Pokémon for.

Also allowing players to give their Pokémon a nickname, and train that Pokémon and raise it by themselves, so there's some sort of sentimental value as well. Or they might not want to trade it with someone, because they have sentimental value for it. Also, stuff like the Pokédex was created as a collection element to support that trading aspect.

And from there, trading is a lot more fun when you do it with people, so that's how the communication aspect came into play. So you're not just trading within the game world, but also outside of the game world, communicating with other people and trading with them.

When you make decisions to approach new technologies such as online, does that all feed back into that core, key concept for the franchise?

JM: So definitely, like I was saying, trading is the core concept to the Pokémon games, and whenever we're investigating new technology we definitely think about how that can support the trading aspect. In regards to Black 2 and White 2, we enabled really easy trading with using the infrared function; you can just use the infrared to connect with someone right next to you, and really trade very easily, especially compared to previous games. We also have wi-fi internet trading over the GTS, the Global Trade Station.

And we just think it's a lot of fun to trade Pokémon; it's fun to imagine where your Pokémon are going throughout the world, now that you have this global connectivity with the wi-fi trading. For example, Black 2 and White 2 have been out in Japan for a little while now, and it's interesting to see how people overseas are really excited to trade with Japanese players for their Pokémon. And everything really is focused on trading, when we're investigating new technology.

When you sit down to plan a new Pokémon game, what's the first thing that you consider? What is the most important consideration?

JM: In the very beginning, we come up with a theme for the games first. For example, in Black Version and White Version, we had the theme of two opposite extremes -- black and white. And when developing Black 2 and White 2, Mr. Unno was the director, and he came to me asking about what we should do for the theme, and he suggested the theme of resonance.

And when you decide a theme, it becomes a lot easier to really figure out what the direction of the game is going to be; it becomes a lot easier to start designing from that, beginning of deciding what the theme will be.

TU: When I saw Pokémon Black Version and White Version with its theme of extreme opposites, which was kind of represented by the Entralink, I was very excited by that. And when I became the director of Black 2 and White 2, I wanted to have a theme of my own. But what I really wanted to do was expand on the communication abilities of the games, communication features, and that's why I chose the theme of "resonance", because that would allow me to really expand the communication aspect of the games.

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