Interview | Marvelous Talks About Rune Factory 2 (Nintendo DS)

By Jorge Ba-oh 24.12.2010 3

Whilst gamers around the world have been enjoying Rune Factory 3 on Nintendo DS, Europe only received the second Fantasy Harvest Moon game a month or so ago. Following a glowing review, Cubed3 caught up with the producer of the project, and Chief Creative Officer at Marvelous Entertainment to discuss more about the second DS title, the future of the series and the chance of a Nintendo 3DS edition.

Adam Riley, Senior Editor at Cubed3: The Rune Factory series has been highly praised in the media, but has the game’s sales performance lived up to expectations both in the US and Japan? Are you able to update with shipped figures for the series so far?

Yoshifumi Hashimoto-san, Chief Creative Officer at Marvelous Entertainment, Inc and Producer of Rune Factory: We’re always grateful to hear praise for our games. Be it Rune Factory or any other title, we always aim to make something that’s fun and will be enjoyed by a large amount of people. With any game, it’s hard to have a set point and say “if we pass this then we’ve reached our goal”, but with Rune Factory, its sales have lived up to our hopes. But again, with any of our games, I always want more and more people to play and enjoy them.

AR: Japanese sales of RF2 were actually lower than the first game. Why do you think this is, and do you feel the European sales will be stronger?

Hashimoto-san: Rune Factory 2 went on sale right during the New Year holiday in Japan, which I feel had a bit to do with the overall sales. More or less, sales for the original and the sequel were about the same. With the original, though, I feel that gamers wanted to know what a new genre for Harvest Moon would bring, and based on that interest picked it up.

As for Europe, I’m expecting that Rune Factory 2 will do very well. To all the Rune Factory fans out there, I really want to hear your opinion about the series and where you want it to go! Please, try out the game and let us know what you think!

AR: How long did it take to complete Rune Factory 2 and was the development team expanded to improve the sequel, whilst retaining the core members from the first game’s creation?

Hashimoto-san: Development for Rune Factory 2 actually started immediately after the original, so with momentum, that led to development taking only about a year and a half. This is a staff that we truly trust and believe in, so we really didn’t want to mess with something good. We kept the current members as they were, and added new people on top. Doing it this way really aided us in coming up with and trying out new ideas.

AR: Were there any aspects of the game that could not be included for any particular reason, or were there any hurdles faced during the development process?

Hashimoto-san: With Rune Factory series, we try to come up with as many ideas as possible, letting gamers enjoy playing the game in new and interesting ways. So it’s not so much that time limits and deadlines prevented us as much as trying to strike a proper balance in gameplay kept us from putting it all in.

For example, in Rune Factory 2, for a while we wanted to put much more emphasis on living out a student’s life in the game, but since that part was starting to take over the whole game, we cut it down a bit. We really wanted to put in more things like school camping trips, recreation rooms, and other things that we’ve all experienced in school.

AR: Is there any worry that the more casual fans that love the open-ended nature of Harvest Moon will be put off by Rune Factory's stronger RPG approach?

Hashimoto-san: Certainly when we were making the first Rune Factory, we were a little bit worried at the outset, but as we focused more on a fantasy setting, we naturally just stopped worrying about it. In fantasy worlds, there are monsters, and sometimes things can get a bit scary. That’s part of what makes fantasy what it is, isn’t it?

Of course, we’re not shooting for a savage world, either. Rather than have a game where monsters are one dimensional bad guys, we wanted to make it feel like as you progressed through dungeons, you were meeting creatures in their habitat, as they were living their lives.

Way back when, Japan had a lot of wild horses living in the mountains. Military commanders of the time would go to the mountains, seeking out these wild horses. We wanted to make the fantasy experience feel like that. As if you were entering the monsters’ worlds and homes.

AR: What lessons learned from the first game were put to good use in this sequel? And are there any direct links between the two games?

Hashimoto-san: Oh, there were definitely plenty. We took a lot of elements from the first game that we felt worked well, and really tried to refine them in the sequel. There were other cases like trying to work a bit more background to villages and their people through subtext in conversations.

There are direct connections between the two games, but nothing that would prevent a new player from fully enjoying or understanding the sequel. There’s a little girl in the first game, who by the time of the second has grown up and you can actually marry. The sort of things that fans pick up on and can enjoy, but even if you don’t it’s not a big deal.

AR: How has the game been refined, and does this sequel make more/better use of the touch screen and dual screen set-up?

Hashimoto-san: We ended up redoing the controls and screen layout of the game from the ground up, which I feel really makes it a lot easier to play and control. Using button activating macros also made handling farming and battles a lot easier.

AR: Coming into Rune Factory 2 as a fan of the original, what new aspects can be expected?

Hashimoto-san: We really went through the whole game and tinkered with everything we could to make the good parts even better. Going through and altering foundational systems in the game made formerly problematic areas a lot better this time around.

Then, of course, there’s the fact that Rune Factory 2 is really like two games in one. With gameplay spanning two generations, you can really sink your teeth into a much larger and colourful world.

AR: How will the Wi-Fi Connection be used? Did any consideration go into things like new downloads (such as new weapons, etc) or even a multiplayer aspect (online co-op play, etc)? If not, please explain why.

Hashimoto-san: For the Wi-Fi Connection, we put in item trading and sugoroku. We did consider putting in battles, but stayed with just sugoroku for competitive play.

Sugoroku is actually a game that’s traditionally played during the New Year’s holiday in Japan. It’s not played as much as in the past, but there’s still a good number of people who do. Since games like backgammon and other ones like sugoroku are popular in the West, we felt this was something that everyone could enjoy.

AR: Yasuhiro Wada has previously said he sees Rune Factory as becoming its own franchise, separate from Harvest Moon. Would you agree that this is more apparent in this sequel?

Hashimoto-san: Certainly, I feel that Rune Factory isn’t just a sum of small changes, but an evolving work all to itself. I’m actually in charge of both Rune Factory and Harvest Moon, so during development I try to get the teams to one-up each other, competing to evolve their game even further.

AR: What would say to those yet to make the leap into the world of Rune Factory - how would you convince them to make the purchase this time round?

Hashimoto-san: I wanted to make a game where you live out a life in a fantasy world. Like in Lord of the Rings, I wanted the player to live in that very first Hobbit village. Like in Harvest Moon where you live the life of a farmer, this time I wanted to let you live a life in a fantasy world. Not a game where you’re trying to defeat an evil lord or something like that, but where you’re living a life, making the things you need to get along, discovering and meeting monsters, and even getting into a scary situation or two. And along with all this, meeting a girl, and falling in love with her.

It’s with all of this in mind that Rune Factory was made. You can’t live a fantasy life in the real world, but in Rune Factory, you become the main character, and you can see what it’s like to live in a fantasy world. Please, give it a try!

AR: After the success of Rune Factory Frontier on Wii, can fans expect another home console version?

Hashimoto-san: Absolutely. In Japan, we’ve recently announced “Rune Factory Oceans” for home consoles. With this game, you’ll be able to experience challenges that are only possible on a console system. Now that there are giants, everything happens on a much larger scale. I really hope that in the near future we can talk again so that I speak more about what makes Rune Factory Oceans tick.

AR: What are your thoughts on the 3DS system, and will you be making Rune Factory 3DS?

Hashimoto-san: The 3DS is really, really fun. Even developing for it is fun. Having both sides - the developer and the gamer - have fun with making and experiencing a game is really important. The attitude you go in with when you make a game really comes through to the player on the other end.

As far as Rune Factory on the 3DS, it’s certainly something I’d like to do in the future. But as with any game out there, it’s always easier to create a game if you know you will have the support of fans. So it certainly helps if we receive support from our European fans for Rune Factory 2. Please give it a try!

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Great game. With luck, the third one won't take too long getting here. Smilie

Sean (guest) 25.12.2010#2

Huge fan of the Harvest Moon game, how similar (or not similar) is Rune then?

Sean (guest) said:
Huge fan of the Harvest Moon game, how similar (or not similar) is Rune then?

Hopefully someone (Shane?) can give you an answer, but in the meantime have a look at this review to find out more about RF2 Smilie

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

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