Shall we move on to the second of the core elements you mentioned?
There’s just one more thing I’d like to mention with relation to WiiConnect24. It's the city which gives the game its subtitle. The reason why we created a city for this version of Animal Crossing was again to make use of the capabilities of WiiConnect24.
Could you explain what kind of place the city in the game is?
The idea was that this city would be the only one that exists in the world, and that all of the various towns would be connected by means of this city. It's not that the city is actually located on the server. The city is in each player's separate copy of the game, so different data is actually being used by each player with the game. But we designed it so that everyone feels that they are really going to the same place.
But if it's actually separate, how do you give the impression to players that they are in the same place?
Two players cannot actually meet up in the city, but you might get an animal that tells you something like: "Just the other day ----- came to visit!"
So you’ve made it so that if one player goes to the city, the animals will take note, and they’ll then tell other players who visit the city?
As everyone is able to have similar kinds of experiences, it will feel to the players as if they are visiting the very same city.
I see. So what exactly can you find in the city?
The biggest attraction is Gracie’s shop, GracieGrace . Gracie the giraffe is a fashion designer who has popped up in other titles in the series. Now she's finally opened her own shop.
Gracie is a character with a slightly snobbish way of speaking, isn’t she?
That's right. When Gracie makes her occasional appearances in the shop, she’ll check out the player's fashion and will make references to players in other villages. So she’ll say things like “------ in ----- village really knows how to dress. You should take a leaf out of her book!"
So it’s best to get dressed up before heading to the city. You can buy smart clothes in Gracie's shop.
The only problem is that the clothes on sale in GracieGrace are incredibly expensive. The prices can be around twenty times higher than the items you'll find on sale in the towns. What's more, unlike Tom Nook's store, the items on display are fixed for each season, only changing every three months.
The clothes change every season? Just like the real world! (laughs)
Every three months, the clothes on sale will be replaced by items suited to the season, and at the time they change, the prices will be reduced. But even if you go to the sales to hunt for bargains, you could well find that a lot of the clothes are already sold out.
It’s sounding more and more like the real world! (laughs)
Sales always begin at the same time, so when a player hears that there’s a sale starting on that day, they’ll head to the city with exactly the same feeling they get going to the sales in real life.
So this will lead to conversations just as I might have if I bumped into Nogami-san at work: "The sales started yesterday. Have you been yet?"
Absolutely. In a similar way, there’s a new character called Phineas who gives away balloons free of charge. He’ll appear in all the players’ cities on the same day. But you never know quite when he's going to be there.
So one player can let others know by sending them a message saying something like: "I went to the city and got a balloon!"
And the other players will return the message: "I should get to the city right away!" It would be great if players would talk about things like this outside of the game as well. Another part of the game that uses WiiConnect24 is the auction house. Players can put furniture and other items up for sale and other players can then bid for them just like in a real auction. The auction period lasts for quite a long time so if a player realises that, let’s say, they have two vases and don’t need one of them, they can bring it to the auction house and another player might come later on and purchase it.
So even if two players aren’t playing the game at the same time, they can still enjoy interacting?
Right. And the player will find out the name of the player who bought the item and which town they live in afterwards.
There’s also something really great about the model room. Fans of the series will know the Happy Room Academy well. If you can get a good score there...
The Happy Room Academy is the place in your village where you can get the layout of your room judged, isn’t it?
That's it. One day when I was testing the game, I was really thrilled to see my own room displayed as the model room in Moro-san's town! (laughs)
If you get a good score at the Happy Room Academy, your room will be displayed as the model room in other player's towns.
There’s a character called Shrunk who was introduced in the DS title. When he visits your town, he’ll teach you to get in touch with your emotions. Then when you send messages to other players, you can add emotions that he’s taught you such as "surprise" or "laughter". In this title, Shrunk appears in a theatre too.
It seems like everyone’s moved up in the world now that there's a city! (laughs)
Well, not everyone! (laughs) The emotions that Shrunk is able to teach you will vary week to week, just as the line-up in Gracie's shop will change every three months. It would get tiring for the player to keep visiting the city every time something changes, so the pace at which things change is quicker in the town than it is in the city.
So there’s no need for players to trek to the city every day.
Riding the bus to the city takes time, so I would like it if players thought something like: "It's Sunday, so maybe I’ll pop to the city.”
I see. And you can also give your character a makeover to make them look like a Mii at the hair salon in the city, can’t you?
Yes, you can head to Shampoodle , the hair salon in the city.
I’ve always been very interested in Miis. What have you done with them in this version of Animal Crossing?
I worked on creating the Mii, so if I had announced that I wasn't going to use them, I'd have probably got into trouble!
There were actually a lot of people at the start who thought that, this time round, Animal Crossing might feature nothing but Miis. At the start, we tried this as an experiment, but it really felt quite strange and was more unpleasant than anything else. (laughs)
The Miis which appear in Wii Sports and other titles have different heads and bodies from the characters in Animal Crossing, so it must have felt like something altogether different to use Miis.
Also, one of the charms of Animal Crossing is being able to wear different hats and glasses, and experiment with all kinds of fashions. But if we had forced players to use Miis, they wouldn't have been able to enjoy this. There are also players who like the faces of the original main characters in Animal Crossing.
I think if we had made it so that players were forced to use Miis, it would have detracted from the enjoyment of the game. So that’s why we added a setting where your characters could choose the face of a Mii , and were able to put it on and take it off as they liked.
But it’s not just like a mask. You can also use the emotions that Shrunk has taught you, so you can make your Miis look surprised or happy, which adds a really fresh new element to the game.
That’s why I’d recommend choosing your Mii face before you go on a trip.
When one of your friends looks like their Mii and then comes to visit your town, it's really funny! (laughs)
There will also be people who choose to take on the appearance of other Miis, so when you see them, you’re left wondering: “Who’s this?!” (laughs)
If I remember rightly, the biggest fan of that kind of trick was you, Kyogoku-san. (laughs)
In any case, it's clear how more and more new elements were added to Animal Crossing by making use of WiiConnect24. I think we should now turn to the second of the core elements in the game.
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