Astral Chain writer on how the game’s story was created
Akiteru Naka, the designer in charge of the main storyline for Astral Chain, recently posted a blog on PlatinumGames’ website about the making of the game’s plot. He discussed the process of working with the likes of director Takahisa Taura and Nintendo, and talked about the overall process.
Here’s an excerpt from the piece:
Early on, Taura, art director Hajime Kimura and I got together for a brainstorm session. With Nintendo helping guide the way, we combined three big-picture themes that we all liked: superheroes, police and a near-future setting. There’s a lot that might seem a bit off-kilter or appealingly teenage in the game – some of the side characters, for example, and how the player character poses and calls out when they summon their Legion – and a lot of that came from these early brainstorming sessions as well.
Every time I came up with an idea for the story, I sketched it out like this. I’ll admit there were times when I made more progress on doodling than on actual work… I thought I’d have more early idea sketches to show you, but it turns out that too many of these pages are covered with completely unrelated material to share here. Whoops.
Once we’d established our themes for the setting and story, it was time to get started on a draft. I dug deep, wrote and rewrote, trying to come up with something that connected directly to the gameplay, without anything strictly nailed down beyond those initial themes.
Soon it became clear to me that I could use some help. Luckily, I got assistance from Nintendo, as well as words of advice from PG chief game designer Hideki Kamiya. At last, I had a fully-realized setting, and soon everything I’d been struggling to connect came falling in line like a chain reaction. The result is the story as it is now.
Those story changes can have consequences on other parts of the game, too, of course. For most of development, there wasn’t much of a connection between the Legion and the player character, or at least not much of one beyond that between weapon and warrior. However, with the final setting, the Legions had become much more than simple tools. They’re based on the enemy chimeras themselves, after all. This turned them into essential but dangerous partners that could go rogue at any time – and you’re tethered right to them.
This story detail even dictates how the Legions should move! At first, the top priority for their actions and animations was just to look cool; however, once we settled on that bit of the story, we had to tweak the Legion animations to underscore the low-key but ever-present danger. The end result really makes the Legions stand out, even when standing at idle.
… So you can see I had a lot of help and support from the team. And the result is something I’m really proud of.
In addition to the main storyline, ASTRAL CHAIN is loaded with side quests and other story content from the rest of our game design team! (I did make some tweaks to the dialogue, though.)
You can find Naka’s full blog here.