Fire Emblem: Three Houses devs on inspirations, world-building, approach to Byleth, Dimitri’s eyepatch, more
Does the world-building of Three Houses have any connection to other games in the Fire Emblem series?
Kusakihara: I don’t think so. At least, not as far as I can tell. I mean, there could still be some mysteries in the land of Archanea that we don’t know about yet. There are some items in the exploration quests that are evocative of past titles, and that was all thanks to the developers at Koei Tecmo. I think it was all really clever. There’s a location by the name of Oghma Mountains that comes up, but this is due to us having Celtic mythology as an underlying, central theme rather than it being related to past Fire Emblem games. In Three Houses, we used names from mythological themes as locations and towns instead of character names. This was a result of us imagining a sense of realism for the world.
Mr. Yokota, we’d like to hear your thoughts on what kind of game Three Houses is to you as a single entry in the entire Fire Emblem series.
Yokota: Our concept with this game was our desire to expand the scope of sim-RPGs. SRPGs tend to have the stigma of being really difficult, so we chose to go with gameplay that’s more similar to an RPG for the student training portions. In doing so, we were able to expand the scope, but we still wanted to retain that charm of SRPG difficulty somehow. So from early on in the planning stages we challenged ourselves to accomplish these goals, and we ended up creating a really solid experience for the player. We were particularly concerned that some players might find the new growth system confusing considering it’s changed significantly from past entries, however we’ve seen how many people have been enjoying the game, so I think we nailed it.
Kusakihara: Even we at Intelligent Systems had a lot of challenges on this entry. The development structure was one of them, but we also needed to make something that looked like a “Fire Emblem” game even though there were some big changes in this title. I’ve always wanted to avoid getting hung up on the restrictive idea that there’s something definitive that makes a game a Fire Emblem game, and I wanted to demonstrate to all the younger staff at Intelligent Systems that it can still be Fire Emblem even if we tried this or that out.
Are your future prospects for the series expanding at a greater pace now?
Yokota: I’d really like them to. (Laughs nervously) Now that all the DLC is out, we’re actually finished with everything. It feels like school’s out!
So you’re saying Hilda’s brother won’t be added to the game?
Yokota: Nope! (Laughs) I think the only one who really knows what kind of person he is is Kusakihara.
Kusakihara: Holst and Glenn are kind of similar to Columbo’s*** wife: you don’t know whether they exist or not, but they come up in conversation from time to time. It’s the same concept as with crests; I wanted that to signify that the world is more expansive than what the player sees in the game. I think that gives the player the sense that the world of Fódlan really exists as a result.
***Oni Dino’s Note: “Columbo” was an American television show about the titular detective in the late 70’s.
Yokota: Looking back on development, I’m really impressed that a game with this much content was made in such a short amount of time. I really have to give my sincerest thanks to both Intelligent Systems and Koei Tecmo.
We here at Nintendo Dream have been writing about Three Houses since its launch. It really is a game you can enjoy for an extended length of time – I’ll bet there are many fans who are still playing through it today. Is there anything you realized while making the game or while watching players actually enjoy the full version that you’d now like to say to the fans?
Kusakihara: Social media nowadays makes it easy to see people’s reactions, so something we realized is that people are enjoying the game in ways far beyond what we imagined. So first and foremost, we have to say thank you to all the fans for loving this game as much as they do. People are really finding out different ways to enjoy the game – we see the screenshots people upload and it surprises us every day. (Laughs) I mentioned earlier how it felt like the game had a life of its own, but the expanse of the world of Three Houses has exceeded our expectations and it feels like we’re handing it off now, in a sense. It’s a little sad, but that’s how I know we’ve really created something so special. Nothing would make me happier than seeing people’s love for this game for many more years to come.
Yokota: There are certainly characters who are exceptionally popular, but I feel like all the characters are loved in Three Houses. There were a lot of characters that we worked really hard to write, so I’m very grateful… But man, I knew Dimitri was gonna be a hit. (Laughs)
Kusakihara: He’s pretty popular with Nintendo Dream, too, right? (Laughs)
Yokota: I’m really relieved that people have their favorites among each of the unique house leaders, too. I’d feel really bad if someone said to me that one of the leaders is a complete waste. Claude, Dimitri, Edelgard—each of them has their own unique charms. So, to the people who are overwhelmed by the amount of content in the game and are hesitant about picking it up—to those people, I say that you can experience the full story by playing through just one route. So I hope you give one of the stories a shot. And to those who’ve played the main story but haven’t taken the plunge on the DLC yet, I say check out the new characters. There are interesting and new interactions between them all, so it’s the perfect time to jump in. And to those who have already played the game 4 or 5 times, or even more—wow, thank you so much! (Laughs) I hope you continue enjoying Three Houses.