Tajima-san, what, in a word, do you do in this game? I’d like you to explain it for someone who doesn’t know anything about it. At first, the main character works at a clothing boutique, right?
That’s right. You recommend items to the customers and have them buy them.
Then as the shop becomes more prosperous, you eventually gain your own boutique.
That’s right. But developing the business isn’t the goal.
What is the goal?
A wide variety of customers will visit your store. You can figure out their tastes by talking to them and looking at what they are wearing. The main point of the game is to choose fashion items that suit them.
I’ve heard that before anyone knew it, there were over 10,000 different items.
I was surprised when I heard that here, too. I didn’t think there were that many.
Who decided to make so many?
Yoshida-san, president of syn Sophia.
For any other game, making 10,000 items would be impossible.
I originally thought we should first make 1,000 clothes and other items, and then after checking how balanced they were, consider whether or not to increase the number. They agreed, but when I saw them the next month, they were talking how we needed 5,000 items!
In other words, you couldn’t get across to them how best to proceed. (laughs)
Exactly. (laughs) I told them that if they did that, later adjustments would be impossible, so they should make the basic format of the game first. They said they understood, but then said they had made 5,000 items and it wasn’t enough so they were going to increase it to 8,000. There was no stopping them! (laughs)
When you make a game in that way, it will definitely founder. Someone’s got to apply the brakes! (laughs)
They just kept making more and more, until they said they wanted to surpass 10,000. It was out of control. But after they had crossed 10,000 they said, “There are too many clothes to adjust,” and, “Now I know why you were trying to rein us in!” (laughs) That’s why ever since this spring we’ve been working feverishly hard.
But I can understand why they wanted so many. There are 16 fictional brands within the game. When you try to co-ordinate outfits out of the varying designs of the brands, 1,000 items isn’t enough. When we created the first test, I think there were only a few hundred. Is that right, Yamagami-san?
Yes, there were about that many.
Within those few hundred items, there were tops and skirts and trousers, but nothing you wanted to combine into outfits. In order to create the outfit you want, you need lots of different types of clothes and accessories. I think that’s what syn Sophia had in mind.
Also, Yoshida-san, syn Sophia’s president, is really into fashion. That may be another reason they made over 10,000 items!
In the end, going over 10,000 items has made it possible for players to enjoy creating any kind of look they desire.
Well, I’m glad that in the end we could make use of the 10,000-plus items without any going to waste, but to be honest, when I gave the green light, I had no idea that development would take two and a half years. I thought it would take about a year and a half. Why do you think it took so long? Surely not just because of the 10,000 fashion items…
About a year after development began, we kept making new clothes in order to make the game more fun, and it simply took too much time.
We had tackled the basic system for co-ordinating clothes right away, so that aspect of development got off to a good start. However, when we entered the process of trial and error for how to make it feel more like a game, development began to drag on.
What do you mean about making it more like a game?
Personally, I can have fun just co-ordinating outfits. I even have little fashion shows at home.
I see… (laughs)
But not everyone would enjoy that so much.
In other words, someone like you who knows about fashion would enjoy it, but someone with only general knowledge might not see the appeal.
At first I myself didn’t understand what would be fun about it. I had never had much fashion sense, so I didn’t know what kind of clothes to recommend. When I would choose clothing items and hand them to customers, they wouldn’t buy them. They’d make a beeline for the door. Tajima-san would always tease me for being so clueless when it came to fashion, but I couldn’t see what was fun about selecting clothes.
So what took the most time was figuring out how to make the game fun for guys like Yamagami-san who don’t know about fashion.
I feel a little better now that I hear that. But then, while you were working all this out, you were sent to Nintendo of America. Did you wonder what to do?
Definitely. I didn’t want to abandon the project. I really didn’t know what to do.
After all, you kicked the whole thing off by swearing to Yamagami-san that you would stick with it to the end.
I know! I went to Hattori-san, and begged her!
Enter Hattori-san, who was confronted by a frantic Tajima-san.
What did she say?
She said the game would be done in three months.
Hmm, I’ve heard that one before. (laughs) That’s how you get drawn into some pretty intense work.
We had actually planned to be finished by the time Tajima-san went to America in September last year. That’s why I could tell Hattori-san that it would be done in three months at the longest.
But then it took another year and a half!
When I became involved in this project, only the part about serving customers was properly done. They told me you had to choose items from among the many cute items available and make recommendations to customers that would please them. But if I chose something that seemed cute to me for no clear reason, the customers would head straight for the exit!
Same here. (laughs)
I wasn’t really the type to make a point of reading fashion magazines. Like Yamagami-san, I didn’t have a good grasp of fashion, so even when I tried playing the game, I didn’t know how to enjoy it. Then, when Yamagami-san asked if we could somehow finish it up in three months, I was completely stumped.
But you eventually got over it, right?
That’s right. In general, girls are interested in fashion, but not everyone knows as much as Tajima-san. They don’t all know a lot of fashion terminology or how to combine colours, and knowing how to match brands is something that you pick up as you grow up. If an adult such as myself couldn’t enjoy the game, it would be even harder for girls whose parents still buy their clothes. So as we thought about how to make the game enjoyable for everyone, we decided to include an introductory segment, something like a tutorial.
Even a tutorial would be impossible to make in three months.
Yeah. So I asked Yamagami-san for an extension.
When I took the request before Iwata-san, he said sometimes retreat is the best option. I mulled it over, but I thought there was a chance of success with the tutorial Hattori-san had suggested, so I asked Iwata-san to let us continue. He said it was alright if I thought we could do it, so we soldiered on.
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