I feel as though I can relax with this game. Do you feel it's important to create a game where people can escape from the stress of their lives and relax while playing?
KE: We didn't specifically try to create a place for players to go to relax, necessarily. But it is a place that is all your own, for you to do what you want with it. So in that sense, I guess that's the freedom you were talking about earlier -- as a result of that, if it becomes a relaxing space, then great.
There are certainly things you need to take care of if you want to make a space that is all your own, that is your ideal space. You still need to run around town and make sure there are no weeds; you'll likely still run around town looking for fossils. There are kind of "have to do" things and there are certainly goals.
Individual goals will differ. It's not just a leisure town. It's a town with a to-do list, but the to-do list shouldn't feel like bad pressure, if that makes sense. It's good stress, as opposed to real-world bad stress.
This game is quite different. Most games, even a Mario game, you play to completion. You might play it again, but that's starting over. This is a game you'll play for a long time. How do you design for that?
KE: At a certain point it will end, but in the same way that life does, every day -- to day, to day, to day -- it keeps going. In the same way, we wanted your life within Animal Crossing to keep going, so we built into the game a mechanism to be sure that there are always new discoveries for players. You like something one day, and then you may discover that you didn't like it as much as this other thing. So there's always something to strive for.
We also built into the game a feedback mechanism, where you're always getting feedback from within the game, from animals saying they like certain items and asking you if you'll trade with them, or playing with friends. Friends may give you feedback and you can see what they're doing with their towns, and get new ideas.
So it's always about this constant discovery, and also adding a lot of variation within the game. There are always a lot of different paths you can decide to go down. We want it to feel like a story that was never going to be done. It was never going to be finished. So that was something we tried to achieve.
It's been out in Japan since November. Are you surprised at the amount and length of play you've seen from players so far?
KE: I'm not really surprised. I actually see how that could happen. One reason for this is, especially if those players aren't playing alone, if they've found a way to share everything they've done within their town with other people -- whether it be through the DS Image Upload tool that recently went live here in The States that's been out in Japan for awhile now.
We've built into the game ways in which people can share their towns with their data and their creations, and I'm sure that people are receiving feedback. Something as simple as the turnip prices, if you had a network of friends who were playing the game, you have that many more opportunities to sell high.
The game is built to encourage communication, and I think probably those people are taking advantage of that. We'd love to see the same thing happen in the U.S., in the Americas, and Europe as well.