The 2019/9/12 issue of Famitsu includes an interview with director Taura Takahisa, supervisor Kamiya Hideki, and producer Nishimura Eiji regarding Platinum Games’ latest release, Astral Chain for the Nintendo Switch.
The interview begins with Taura being asked about what it was like directing a game for the first time. He says that as Astral Chain is a new IP, he did not know what answers would be right, and trial and error resulted in him being told things were wrong more than right, which made him realise how difficult it is to stand on your own two feet. He says he had heard many times that directors stand alone, and while he had always thought this to be true, the solitude was beyond what he had expected. He says that the experience made him reaffirm that Kamiya, who has been a director many times, is amazing.
Kamiya says that his first experience directing was with Resident Evil 2, but because it was a sequel, he had a sense of direction on how to do things, which made it relatively easy. With Astral Chain is completely new, Taura’s job was more difficult. He says he hopes that this leads to Taura gaining confidence, and that he makes good use of his experience in the future.
The interviewer points out how both Kamiya and Taura got their first experiences as directors after handling the game design in big hits- Resident Evil for Kamiya, and NieR: Automata for Taura- And asks if they felt any pressure due to this. Taura says that did not apply to him as working on Astral Chain was nothing like working on Nier, and that if people come expecting something like it, all he can do is apologise and say that they are completely different things. Astral Chain is him making what he likes, how he likes it. Kamiya, who was 26 when he got his first directorial position, says that because it was his first time, he was working too frantically to be able to feel any pressure.
It is pointed out how Kamiya got his first directorial position at a younger age than Taura, and Taura says that this is what sets Kamiya on a completely different level from him, but Kamiya says that Taura’s history as a game planner is far longer than his, and that Taura is also a far greater planner than him, pointing out Taura’s involvement with The Wonderful 101, adding that Taura has a tendency to pretend that it does not exist (Taura denies this, pointing out that he lists it on his Twitter profile). Kamiya says that being able to become a director after gaining so much experience as a planner is a strength that he does not have, that he is envious of.
Taura is asked how his experience as a planner helped with the development of Astral Chain, and he says that there are many parts in Astral Chain that he personally tested before implementing, but this approach also resulted in the problem of him being unable to see the greater whole and having trouble balancing it all out. He says that nevertheless he enjoys putting things together with his own hands, and intends on continuing with this approach in the future.
Kamiya says that personally handling important parts in addition to overlooking the entire project as a director is one of Taura’s strengths, and says that because Taura personally adjusts things like response times, games he works on reflect his touch strongly. Taura says that there are also cases where things are first created and he makes adjustments after the fact, and he says that he does not think of it as a strength as much as it being simply fun for him.
The interviewer asks if Nintendo had any input, and Taura says that they helped to point out parts that were hard to understand, making the game more user-friendly. Platinum also took extra care with the difficulty settings, as their games have a tendency to be thought of as difficult, and there was in fact a point in time in development where Astral Chain was far more difficult. Kamiya says that first-time directors have a tendency to make games that are hard to clear, and Taura’s response is that it still was not as difficult as Viewtiful Joe. Taura says that his intention is not to make the game difficult, but to give players the opportunity to choose a difficulty level that suits them.
Both Taura and Kamiya say that the release of a game is the part that they hate most, because when they play the game they still keep finding parts that they would like to change, but no longer can, and Kamiya likens this to a door being shut in your face. Producer Nishimura speaks for the first time at this point, saying that even when the door is shut, Kamiya and Taura will try to force it open. Kamiya reminisces about The Wonderful 101, saying that they kept adding new things up till the very end, and says that when working on games he enjoys that part and would like to continue at it for years.
Part 2 of this article is available here