What was it, for example, that made you think you needed to make something completely different?
I made a lot of discoveries after getting my cat. For one thing, the basic way dogs and cats move is completely different.
For example, if there’s something across the room that they want, a dog will go straight toward it. But a cat stops and looks at it. Then, while glancing at it, it pretends like it’s uninterested, but gradually draws closer, until finally pouncing on it.
I see! It’s how they approach their prey. In that aspect, their basic movements are completely different.
Right. So in this game, for example, if you throw an item like a beach ball, the dog sprints right after it, but the cat stares at it, then pounces.
I think that’s because cats are hunters. Snuggling up to things is also a movement unique to cats.
When there’s something a cat likes, it lithely arches its back and snuggles up to it.
That’s marking. A dog marks his territory by peeing on it. But a cat rubs against something, to mark it with its odour, saying, in effect, “This is mine.”
I’ve heard that rubbing its odour on something it likes is an expression of affection.
So when two cats like each other, they rub against each other.
Right. I wondered if we could show that kind of relationship in the game.
We wondered how much of the animation for dogs and cats could be shared, but the way they move is so different that in the end they ended up being almost completely different.
Well, there are some similar aspects. Like their tail joints. But the curve of their backbones is completely different. So before, if we had the cat sit, it looked like a dog! (laughs)
And the way a cat’s tail moves. (undulating his hand) It moves slowly...like this.
Dogs wag their tail vigorously.
And the way they sleep is different. (slouching with his arms up) Cats sleep like this.
If we didn’t do that much in the game, cat lovers wouldn’t think of them as cats.
A cat owner would be able to immediately tell if a cat shared the same pose with a dog.
Yes. So it was hard work making them look like real cats. And the biggest problem when I first got my cat was the furniture. A big challenge when you have a cat is that it will scratch the furniture. You can teach a dog to obey, but even if you can train a cat a little, it generally pays very little attention.
A dog will obey humans, but a cat does what it wants.
And cats act up in secret. I guess that’s its natural behaviour, though, so it can’t be helped. And cats like going to high places. If you put something breakable up high, you’re safe with dogs, but not with a cat, so we had to think differently about how to set up the room.
You had to make lots of things that you wouldn’t have otherwise - if the game had just been about dogs - so that the cats could jump to higher places.
Right. So we made a lot. Like cat towers for the cats to hop up on .
When you represent height, the way you handle the camera changes, right?
So it was much harder than first expected.
Many of the staff members said it became much harder because we put in cats. (laughs)
And aside from the cats, there are a lot more motions for the dogs this time.
And the coats are much better this time, with people in-house calling them “super-soft and fluffy.”
Yes. When we tested the game on Nintendo GameCube, there was a dog whose hair had grown in...
That’s right, you experimented with it on the Nintendo GameCube console when you first wanted to make a game like Nintendogs. Why didn’t that go anywhere and how was it decided that it would be released for Nintendo DS?
The project started when I thought it would be fun to raise a pet in the television, but I thought the Nintendo DS hardware was much better suited to it.
With the Nintendo DS systems, you can use the stylus to pet it.
But with Nintendo DS, we couldn’t show the character of the coat. We now had more hardware power, so we could go back to that super-soft and fluffy feeling. (laughs) And it’s in 3D, so you can pet around their back.
Konno-san, the dogs are super-soft and fluffy, and this time their individual characteristics vary, right?
Yes. We made it so you can choose from dogs with different characteristics such as different sizes and leg lengths, and some are fat and some are lean. Even if a Golden Retriever is the same colour as others, its size may be a little different, so you can recognise your own dog because, say, its legs are a bit longer.
It may be the same breed - Golden Retriever or Shiba Inu, for example - but each one is slightly different, so you have a much stronger feeling this time of which puppy is yours.
That goes for personality, too.
Right. I wanted to change personalities in order to further express the individual characteristics. For example, I wanted to bring out differences of personality, with quiet ones and lively ones and cautious dogs and friendly dogs, and ones that like this or don’t like that.
It’s easy to talk about personality in words, but representing that is quite hard.
Yes. So we were adjusting that right up until the very end of development.
And there are so many breeds that it’s like an illustrated guide to dogs!
Oh, sorry. It isn’t exactly that, but the breeds are broken down by pattern and colour and you can view each one, so you can learn quite a lot about the breeds.
There are even different types of shepherd dog, for example.
Right. Even for your standard shepherd dog, there’s the sable colour type and so on. Depending on the dog, there are about four types. The differences in colour of toy poodles, always a popular breed, are also easy to see.
I think you can learn a lot about dog breeds just by looking at this game!
There are about three types of Sheltie (Shetland sheepdog). My Sheltie at home is tricoloured. There’s one similar to that, so I’m going to choose that type! (laughs)
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