Yoko Taro Talks NieR, Making Games, Western Games And More

Just recently the very eccentric Yoko Taro took on an interview with another publication site to bring you, the fans of Platinum Games and their work, inside scoops on NieR, making games, Western games and more.

It’s worth noting not to take everything at face-value when reading through Yoko Taro’s responses to publication site Game Informer during the recent interview involving the two.

With that said, if you want to know a bit more about Taro and Platinum Games, you can sit back, relax and wrap a blindfold over your eyes and let the wonderful thoughts of Taro seep into your mind.

Firstly, one of the many questions that the publication site had asked Taro surrounded that of what attracted him to become a video game creator. Taro’s response lies below:

“I used to play at arcades every day from a young age. At that time, video games were considered to be something that delinquents played. So I, being an otaku, felt terrified while I played games. I could go on forever if I started to list the games that I liked, but the title that made me want to make games myself was Gradius. I still remember how shocking it was to see a game where the stages “change” at a time when repetitive stages were popular. Even as a child, I knew that computer graphics would continue to evolve, so the reason I decided to get into the gaming industry was because I was certain that games would surpass films and overshadow all other video mediums.”

Like most creators they are influenced by something, the interview brings up where he, Taro, drew inspiration from. He mentions that he was influenced by Ico on the PS2 and Ikaruga on the Dreamcast, along with other great games from the past.

Game Informer later touched on the disbandment of Cavia, NieR, and how it felt to look back on the two afterwards. Taro responded:

“After we released Drakengard 3, I think everyone was well sick of all the games I made by then, and I really didn’t really want to work anymore. I was thinking I’d probably just go and hide in the mountains and live out the rest of my life as a hermit or something. It just so happens at that time Mr. Yosuke Saito, [who] was obviously a bit tired after his work on Dragon Quest and was not thinking straight, decided to give me another chance with something like Nier. That’s how you saw a new Nier; I’m still not sure how that happened.”

The interview later touched on Automata and if he was surprised by its success:

“Certainly from my perspective and from the fan’s perspective, I think everyone thought Nier was a very dead IP at that point, so I was very surprised when they started talking about doing another one. I [thought] it would be very interesting when I heard that Platinum would be developing another one. I didn’t think it’d be a hit, though; I [thought] probably it’d be a very niche game. But no, there was certainly potential there. Looking back on it, I think the kind of games that Platinum makes are very much for those action-game maniacs, and it’s a very closed-off area, but it seemed like an excellent fit with the kind of really geeky worlds that Square-Enix makes. I think overall, they became a great combination together.”

As of course, this begs the question, will Taro continue to work with Platinum Games? His response lies below:

“It’s not that we’ve got anything lined up immediately, but certainly. I discussed a lot with the young staff on the Platinum team and it would be really great to work with them again in the future. I spoke with our producer at Square-Enix, Mr. [Yosuke] Saito as well about doing that in the future. Of course, the other thing is that if Square-Enix provides the money, I’ll always make anything they ask for.”

Many who’ve played and/or watched Automata usually comment on the OST, however those curious and want to know how closely Taro worked with composer Keiichi Okabe can find out right now:

“It’s almost like the game is a slave to the music in a lot of ways. The emotions that are created in the players themselves are [a result of the music] and the game just sort of follows along behind that. I’m not quite sure how it’s done outside of Japan, but certainly in most Japanese games development, the music is probably done in the last 30 percent of the development cycle, right at the end. Nier [both Automata and the original] is very different [in that] the music was done in a very early stage, and then the rest of the game worked around that and was fitted into that. The way I ordered the music there is that I look on YouTube for music clips, and I’ll get one and I’ll paste it and send it over to [Mr. Okabe], and say, “Right, I want something like this; this kind of tempo, this kind of pace, and [then] there’s 15 frames in here like at the 45 second mark that the bass turns up, so we’re going to have to make it very high-tempo, very exciting, you’ve got to bring the pace up there.” That’s normally the kind of thing I send to him, and I think he really hates that. If you tried that with a regular composer and you made that kind of request, most of them would just turn around and say, “Alright then, you ask the guy that made that to make one for you!” But Mr. Okabe, you see, he quite likes money, so he’ll do anything you ask him to. The theme on the overall Nier team, though, is if you’ll give us money, we’ll basically do whatever you want.”

Game Informer wanted to know why Automata’s gameplay featured a lot of non-traditional gameplay and story elements not found in typical RPGs:

“It is not something grand like pride or self-respect. I think that it’s just that I get bored really easily, and I end up wanting to search for unpredictability when I’m playing and creating a game. However, creating something unexpected is not unexpected anymore, so I might actually create something super orthodox next time.”

On the subject of story and being different, Taro was asked about the “backward scripting” when writing the ending first. Taro explained that he wanted gamers to feel a certain way emotionally at the end of the game, and so he wrote the script for that first and then he worked backward leading up to how he wanted players to feel emotionally by the time they reached the credits (for the very last time).

When asked about a sequel to NieR or creating a new IP, Taro responded by saying that he likes creating sequels or new IP all the same, and that it doesn’t matter which one it is so long as he has the high level of freedom to work on the project. He also joked that he might focus on making a pinball game or a vertical arcade shooter, not that they have anything to do with the NieR franchise but simply because he enjoys those kind of games.

Lastly, after being asked what he thinks of the Japanese video game industry, Taro also gave his thoughts on double-A games and Western games, too:

“I think what’s happening at the moment in the Western video game industry is that there’s very much this polarization into the big triple-A games and also the indies, and there’s very little in the middle to fill that space. What’s happening is Japan is you’ve got a lot of games that maybe aim for triple-A but don’t quite make it there, and they actually come into that gap. So when these then go to Europe and America, they’re actually filling in that gap and they fit in really well in that niche market, and I think that’s why we’re seeing a lot of success with Japanese games at the moment.”

The interview between Taro and Game Informer is much longer than the above, however if you wish to read the full exchanging of words in said interview you can head on over to gameinformer.com.


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