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Interview with Rune Factory Frontier's Yoshifumi Hashimoto

Thursday, March 5, 2009

I got into it on a whim, originally; I was craving an action RPG for my DS and the original Rune Factory was there, on the shelf at Best Buy. I knew a little bit about it. I My wife had liked but eventually become sort of annoyed with Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town, and I thought that perhaps I really wasn't Harvest Moon material—but here, this could be a different animal altogether. I still haven't played a real Harvest Moon game, but I know I've fallen in love with Rune Factory.

Rune Factory Frontier is now bringing the series to Wii. Thanks to XSEED, I got the opportunity to ask several questions of Marvelous' Yoshifumi Hashimoto, scenario writer and producer—though perhaps best known to me as the guy whose name is in the "Produced by" slide that I saw so many times when starting Rune Factory 2.


Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions today. A few of us have become great fans of the Rune Factory series, though we weren't Harvest Moon fans to begin with. I personally was still playing Rune Factory 2, which came out here last November, for many weeks, even after I beat the main quest—it really is a game that you can play for a long time.

I know you've been asked this before, but maybe you could go into detail a little bit more; from where did the inspiration for Rune Factory come, and how did that inspiration get developed into the games we're playing now? I really think you've hit on a winning formula, and I'm curious how it came to be.
Yoshifumi Hashimoto:With RPGs, after you level up and progress the game, there’s nothing to do but defeat the last boss. There’s usually a scene before the ending where you return to the first castle you visited. I love games, but this part near the ending where townspeople are nice to you and you can pretty much defeat any enemy is particularly fun, don’t you think?

It really makes me not want the game to end.

In the beginning, I planned the game as something where the main parts of gameplay involve this endgame type of element.

I thought that even in a fantasy world, they may be warriors first and foremost, but they also need to grow crops to live.

I initially planned the game as a sort of everyday life in that particular fantasy world.

Is Rune Factory Frontier similar in structure to the handheld games, where you have simple goals to progress but use complex and long-running systems to use to achieve them? Would you say it's got a similar length and depth, or has that been changed in light of the shift from portable to console? Did you consider making that change, if yes?
Hashimoto:If we did not have the handheld version of Rune Factory, we probably wouldn’t have made it for the home console. We put that into consideration and tried to make it so that all kinds of users can enjoy it. We added more powered up versions of the current features as well as newly-created features as a way to challenge this new home console "frontier" for the series.


What sorts of new systems and features can we look forward to in Frontier? Anything along the lines of forging and crafting like we had in Rune Factory 2?
Hashimoto:Of course! As I explained earlier, we upgraded the system as a new challenge for us and as a way to thank the fans of the series. We made some real enhancements to the forging and crafting systems to make them that much more worthwhile. Not only do you just create items, we have features like how a female character will happily wear a hat that you crafted.

I've heard a little bit about the "Runeys", the little spirits you can apparently collect and use to influence crop growth; do these guys have depth of their own?
Hashimoto:Yes, you can think of the Runeys as spirits of the world of Rune Factory, where they are involved in a sort of food chain. If you want a certain Runey to flourish, you’ll have to eliminate another type of Runey that eats those Runeys, or you can even let them be eaten on purpose to change the environment to your liking.

You can manipulate the Runeys to adjust the environment to allow you to grow crops faster.


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