Saturday, July 12, 2008

Archiving on Ico & Shadow of the Colossus

You cannot count the number of interesting webpages you bookmark and link to, thinking they'd stay up there like stuck in time, forever, only to realize that months later, when you return to read them again, they're gone, and you go oh sh*t.

So there, from a translation of another Fumito Ueda interview found on The Rabbit Snare, originally published at the Game Yarouze! 2006 website. Considering that Rabbit's last blog post dates back to 2006 (!), I was actually amazed that this one remained available today, but I have the atrocious feeling that this won't last that long.

Enjoy! ^-^

Sorry to start off with such an abstract question, but what was it that made you conscious of the fun of “playing,” not just games, but the act of playing itself?

I was attracted, not by the idea of playing within a well constructed set of rules, but by the idea of playing, experiencing, and adventuring within a real world. As a child, what appealed to me more than “the fun of playing games,” was the emotion conveyed by the works I experienced, and the way these works brought their worlds to life.

When did you decide to become a “creator?” And if there was a particular piece of work or event that inspired to do so, please tell us.

I guess if we’re talking about inspiration, it’d be the anime and manga that I saw and read as a young child. It was probably when I first thought about how wonderful it might be to be someone who touches others through his creations that I found my inspiration. Also, I’d always loved making things, and I wanted to become a craftsman of some sort from an early age.

With there being so many different forms of media, what was it that lead you to become a maker of video games?

There were several reasons, but the largest was that, as a new form of entertainment media, it was a new frontier. It was a media with less routine and more opportunity to make a difference through individual ability.

Once you decided to work in the game industry, what studies or preparations did you undertake?

Of course I’d loved games since I was little, but, to be honest, I didn’t have a particular desire to work in this industry at first. It just happened that more than anything else, it was an industry that suited the knowledge, abilities and techinical skills I already had. Video games are where the joy of planning and coming up with concepts, both of which I learned form creating modern art, and the purely techincal skills required for art and CG, are fully utilized.

What was your field of study when you were a student? What elements of your education have you found useful as a game creator?

In college, I majored in abstract art. My seminars didn’t require us to focus on paintings or drawings, so my interest moved towards creating installations and interactive art. To me, modern art is less about expressing things through technique, and more about planning, ideas, and concepts. So the ability to “think” has been useful to me in making games. Another thing I learned in college was to question existing conventions. By the way, as far as techinical skills, I think I’ve learned the majority of mine after leaving college.

In the process of game making, do you refer to any other media, outside of games?

When in production, I try to fill my thoughts completely with video games. I guess you could say that I turn to movies and music for reference as other forms of entertainment media which, compared to video games, have been established in regards to their production techniques, forms of expression, and marketing methods.

I imagine that making CG animations and making games are rather different things, but are there any particularly large differences between the two?

It goes without saying, but the need to involve the player, and the necessity of adaptability within a game are the largest differences. Also, the techniques for the production of games and “game theory” are not yet fully established, unlike CG movies, or movies in general.

What does it mean to “design a game?” Using ICO and Shadow of the Colossus as examples, tell us about game design.

Project planning, level design, adjustments, and so on — there’re many stages within game design, but to put it in plain terms, it’s a job that requires coming up with a theme or concept with a hook. ICO is a game about holding a girl’s hand and escaping from a castle. Shadow of the Colossus is a game about climbing and defeating giants.

In a game production requiring a large staff, just what sort of talented individual would be your ideal staff member?

Certainly having good artistic sense and strong techinical skills are important, but more than anything else being supportive and attentive is important to me. Of course that means being attentive and sensitive to the needs of players, but being attentive to the rest of the staff is also critical. Aside from that, someone who enjoys gathering information and someone who can work quickly is ideal.

What does it take from a director to lead a large staff and work towards making a game?

It takes someone who knows exactly what he or she is aiming for.

What is the attraction for you to this form of expression we call “games?”

Its incompleteness. It’s a wild, undeveloped media with so much possibility.

Tell us your three favorite games, and your reasons for choosing each.

There are so many that it’d be hard to narrow it down to just three, but one game that I’ve liked for a long time is Lemmings. I typically don’t like “management” style games, but Lemmings is different.

What do you think about an experiment like “Game Yarouze! 2006??

I think that an influx of people with new and unique sensibilities will provide a good stimulus to many people in the games industry. Also, I think it will act as an opportunity for people with similar intentions to gather, so I’ll be looking forward to seeing some truly fine works born from it some day.

Any advice for those considering participating in “Game Yarouze! 2006??

Once your idea becomes a product, if it isn’t something that wouldn’t absolutely want to have, if you wouldn’t buy it without a moment’s hesitation, then it won’t be enough.

Thank you for your time.

You can read more interviews on Open Senses and Game Informer (which also includes words from Kenji Kaido about the design choices regarding the boss battles in Shadows of the Colossus).

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