Back in December we asked the SCEE community to submit any questions they had for Akihiro Hino, President and CEO of LEVEL-5, the developer behind Ni No Kuni. The Community Team picked their 10 favourite questions and today we have the answers for you.
Don’t forget that those who are feeling inspired by Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch can still enter our familiar design competition and win themselves a one of a kind custom Kigu in the style of their creation.
Right, over to Hino-san…
Whose idea was it originally for you to collaborate with Studio Ghibli, and who took the most convincing to get the game made? (Marchie-G)
Akihiro Hino: This was my idea. I’m a huge fan of Studio Ghibli’s works and I wanted to work with them. The person who needed the most convincing… perhaps the producer, Mr. Suzuki!
Who was the driving force behind how the story was told – Level 5 or Studio Ghibli? (MKR_Bone)
Akihiro Hino: The framework of the story was complete, but there were countless discussions with Studio Ghibli with regard to many things, including for example, the final scenes of the game.
What, if anything, can you or have you learned from the rise of Western RPG’s such as Fallout, Skyrim and Mass Effect? And what do you offer that they can’t? (LevelUpJordan)
Akihiro Hino: One of the defining features of a Western RPG is the level of freedom it gives the players. Often times, Japanese RPGs tend to be story-driven where the player follows it along a linear path, so the amount of freedom you get in Western titles is actually a little mind-blowing at times. With Ni no Kuni, we tried to put a lot of thought into the level of freedom we allow players.
Which part of making the game was the most enjoyable? (ItsActuallyAdam)
Akihiro Hino: Making the game while referencing Ghibli’s graphics and settings was the most enjoyable part of the process. On a personal level, it was amazing to have my own scenario come to life in Studio Ghibli’s animation!
It took over a year to translate the game, what are the biggest hurdles to overcome during the translation process? Did the experience give you any ideas on how to speed it up for future projects? (Alestes)
Akihiro Hino: There was a lot of care and diligence put into the localisation the game, not to mention the sheer volume of text we had to translate. Ni no Kuni used dialects and plays on words in the Japanese version, so we ensured that these nuances were carried over to the different languages.
Finding the perfect release window also seemed to be a factor in the slight delay in getting the game to our fans, but, I think this is probably an unusual case in terms of the length of time for localisation.
If you could choose any film studio to make a game for, who would it be? (Sarah-hiMe)
Akihiro Hino: There isn’t really a specific film, but I would love to tackle a Spielberg film. Pixar’s films also interest me since they seem very compatible with games.
What came first – developing this game, the main character or the general plot? (cheekyMcB)
Akihiro Hino: The ideas came at the same time. We wanted children to enjoy the game, but we also wanted the message to reach the child within every adult and that’s how the character and the setting came about. Often times, people tend to dislike games that may look childish overseas, but I’m glad to hear that it’s been received well thus far.
Why do you think other companies are veering away from this style of RPG and instead focusing more on a western-style action-packed approach? (MoltenArmour)
Akihiro Hino: Perhaps gamers don’t enjoy putting in long hours of gameplay anymore. In Japan, it doesn’t seem like too many people are veering away from RPGs, but if they are, it might be because there are so many different game styles, with social aspects becoming such a huge factor. The desire to spend less time on any one game seems to result in people desiring more action oriented games rather than RPGs.
Are there any dream collaborators that you’d love to work with? (SurrealNightmare)
Akihiro Hino: There are many, but I cannot comment on any of them at this point. I hope you’ll look forward to our announcements in the future.
What’s next for Level 5 – have you guys got another project in store for PS3? (iisc2k7)
Akihiro Hino: I cannot discuss specifics at this time, but I hope to continue creating exciting RPGs for our fans.