4gamer has published an interview with Type Moon writer Nasu Kinoko regarding Fate/Grand Order, conducted by 4gamer writer and FGO official radio show MC Mafia Kajita.
Kajita asks if Nasu is also involved with seasonal events, and Nasu acknowledges this, using the 2018 summer event as an example; Nasu came up with the idea that it would take place in Hawaii, and Type Moon’s Azanashi came up with the game-like loop elements, and they planned the structure of the event together. They next called in the writers and planned out the finer details, planned the storyline, conducted a check, and then commenced writing the scenario. Once the writing was done, Nasu did a final check before it was handed to the Delight Works planner.
Nasu next discusses what lead to the 2018 summer event being set in Hawaii. After the 2017 summer event, he felt that the next should be a more summer-like event, set in a resort, with the greatest locale and leisure. The “greatest leisure” for otaku is Comic Market, and the “greatest locale” for Nasu was Hawaii; He thus wanted to have a Comic Market held in Hawaii. Additionally, he figured that Aniplex would pay for a trip to Hawaii for research. Unfortunately, the monsoon season arrived early when they were in Hawaii resulting in it raining for the entire week that they were there, and when they tried to go to the Mauna Kea observatories they were unable to do so due to a blizzard, which also resulted in Nasu catching a cold and ending up sleeping in the hotel with a fever from the second day of the trip and on.
The trip was not unfruitful, though; For example, they saw the trees midway up Mauna Kea which looked “evil” and “perfectly Cthulhu mythos-like”, which resulted in them changing final battle to take place there. Nasu says that this was the first time that location scouting had such a direct effect on the scenario, and that he gained a massive amount of inspiration despite the weather and cold, and that his gratitude is expressed in BB’s line at the end of the summer event.
Additionally, Kawaii Kon was coincidentally held at the same time that they were there, and several Type Moon staff members attended, taking photographs of FGO cosplayers and sending them to Nasu who was staying in the hotel sick.
In the end, the 2018 summer event had three times the amount of text of a regular event, and with the art and voice materials factored in, it used up an amount of budget that could have gone into making a second event.
The interview next moves on with Kajita asking Nasu about gaming experiences that influenced him. Nasu says that he initially thought that a game would never impact him enough to have an influence on real life, but when he first played Final Fantasy IV, it resulted in him playing it non-stop for three days and three nights. When he reached the ending, all of the joy was replaced with sadness and a sense of loss which left him thinking about the meaning of life for an entire day. When he recovered from this, he reacknowledged that games have a certain power to them. He had already aimed to become a writer at that point, but he could not forget that feeling of transitioning from fulfilment to loss in video games, and this resulted in him tilting towards video games as a platform.
Other games that left an impression on Nasu were Glory of Heracles III, which he considers to have perfected the use of narrative tricks in RPGs, and may have had a larger effect on him becoming partial to video games than FFIV, and Chrono Trigger, which moved him with how the player could see the beginning and end of a world, which is something that could never be done in real life. Kajita interprets Nasu’s experiences with games to be the catharsis that comes at the end of a story, and Nasu agrees, elaborating on it as the sadness on bidding farewell to a world, and the growth attained from experiencing it, saying that he always wanted to turn that feeling into an RPG.
Ultimately, however, he chose the novel game genre, which he says is good at portraying towns and people, but not the end of a world. While there are novel games that portray the end of a world, the world depicted in those are “the end of the world of you and me”, and not “the end of the world itself”. “World ends” remained in the domain of traditional RPGs, and he was jealous of this, and so was very happy when he could realise this in FGO.
Nasu says that the thing shared by games with narratives, regardless of genre, is how they allow players to enjoy experiences impossible in real life, and that FGO is no exception.
Kajita mentions how stories were considered unimportant in smartphone games until FGO became a success, which also resulted in scenario writers being paid more. Nasu says that when FGO was starting up, he told Higashide and Sakurai that he would like to use it to restore the value of scenarios. Both anime and games post-2010 had a trend of valuing characters more than stories, which left them standing at a crossroads. They nevertheless chose to prioritise the story, and hearing that the value of writers has risen after FGO has him feel glad that he managed to give back to the culture that rose them.
Nasu also notes that in game development, scenario writers are generally considered to be obstacles. This is because games are typically planned by the directors, and the text is left to writers because the directors are busy. The writers are also typically outsiders, which means that the directors can change what they want as they see fit. It is considered to be a replaceable position, which is why the status of writers in consumer games for the past two decades has been very low; Unless the writer is someone with considerable influence, their opinion is typically not considered.
Because most people experience writing essays in school, they think that they too can write stories, and this results in writers being deprecated. Visuals and systems are the core of video games, and as they are more visible this results in more effor and funding being spent on them, while the money spent on the text is paltry in comparison. Nasu, Higashide, and Sakurai worked in the novel game genre which was not affected by this as much, but in most regular games it was very rare to have a writer whose opinion would have a real influence. In Nasu’s case, Fate/EXTRA was an exception, as director Niinou Kazuya placed high value in Fate and asked for Nasu’s opinions.
Kajita says that many games after FGO have put more effort into their stories, and concludes that FGO rewrote the book on the preconception that stories were unimportant in smartphone games. He reasons that this is because regardless of platform or type of game, players fundmentally desire experiences from good narratives. Nasu says that the grand finale of a game that players have been playing for 1-2 years has move players for an amount more than the time they spent on it; If the first chapter was 80 points, the final chapter would have to be 100, and the longer the path is, the higher the score has to be. A final episode has to have a great climax based on what the players had built up to that point, and failing to have one would be inexcusable. When he heard Sakamoto Maaya’s Shikisai, however, Nasu felt sure that they would win no matter what; Nasu explained the story’s ending and what Mashu would say to Sakamoto, and that was all she needed to come up with the lyrics.
Nasu adds that he wrote the final chapter (of part 1) during the first summer event, and seeing players excited was a large motivation for him.