Octopath Traveler devs on character origins, visual style, initial HD Rumble plans, much more
And this photo here is of the characters during their journey, right?
Ikushima: Yes, Asano gave me the guidelines for this image, too. Since our last photo was dark and indoors, he wanted something that contrasted it. He gave me the suggestion to have the characters walking outside in a bright setting while looking onward to their next destination, in particular. I had more trouble with this one than the others. Do we want them looking intense? Do we want them to be facing away from the viewer? This one also ended up being strangely rectangular to boot. (laughs) But I’m really thankful that this image turned out well; it’s as if it’s the gateway to the world of Octopath Traveler.
Asano: Yeah, because we’re seeing our “travelers” set out on their “octopaths”. (laughs) We actually created this illustration specifically to be used in the Nintendo Direct on September 14th
, 2017. We already had several illustrations that showed each character in a lot of detail, so we challenged ourselves to come up with a remarkable image that evoked the extraordinary feeling of adventure this game has to offer.
Ikushima: I wanted to use the sense of depth as much as possible, so that’s why Tressa is rushing off ahead of everyone (laughs).
That’s very much like her!
Ikushima: Yeah, it was very important to me to portray the characters’ personalities through their body language in this picture, too, just like with the tavern image. Speaking of, this illustration’s viewpoint is also as if you’re the ninth traveler.
Takahashi: Something I’d like to note is that we made this image pretty much at the same time as the main theme song for the game. Our composer, Yasunori Nishiki, wrote the theme as an accompaniment to setting out on a journey, and we wanted an image that paired perfectly with the theme song. I remember telling Ikushima that I wanted grasslands with a blue sky and, most importantly, I wanted to see the characters from the back as they’re looking onward to the environment ahead of them, giving the impression of a vast world awaiting them.
Ikushima: I do remember you talking about a vast world.
Is this a location that is actually in the game?
Ikushima: Not particularly, unfortunately. I’d say this is “some place in some region” in the game.
Asano: We didn’t want to play favorites by choosing a specific location from the game. Each of the eight travelers are the main characters; we wanted to do our best to show that not one character is superior or inferior to another. This isn’t something you have to worry about in most games, so it was yet another unique challenge for us with this title.
Morimoto: On that same note, when I was designing the Octopath Traveler ID holder, it was very challenging to decide which location and what positioning to have all eight of them in.
The last illustration that I’d like to talk about is actually the cover art for the game’s packaging. It’s the one with all eight characters walking to the side, where we see most of them from their profile.
Asano: We had been asked to make the world map the motif for the box art since early on, so we figured we’d do that and make it look stylish. However, we actually didn’t make anything at that time, then months and months went by and, well… suddenly it came time to order the packaging. (laughs)
Ikushima: We didn’t really know how the order process was going to go – or even when it was going to happen. So I’m glad we already established a while back what motif we’d go with on the box art.
Asano: I’ve been saying that we’ve been very particular about all of our illustrations thus far, that they’re all down-to-earth which makes us picky about which situations we depict… but this is the only illustration we made where all that flew out the window (laughs).
Ikushima: We didn’t have any other images like this one where we had to consider the spacing and the arrangement. I had to really think about how I was going to clearly and directly convey to the consumer that this is a game about eight adventurers traveling from place to place. I decided to draw the characters in motion, walking directly from the side in order to symbolize the game’s purpose. Actually, before we decided on this to be the box art, I had six different variations. Takahashi, Asano and I went over them all, and the three of us chose unanimously that we should go with this one! I’m really happy that it was a unanimous decision—it’s nice to know that we were on the same page and that we had this sense of unity all the way through development.
Question: Who is your favorite character?
Ikushima: I really like H’aanit. She’s very gallant and her way of life is simply awe-inspiring. Plus, I like tough ladies that know how to fight. (laughs) I should also mention that after I drew just a rough sketch of Linde, H’aanit’s snow leopard, the team liked it so much that they used it as is. I was really happy about that. I really strove to design a strong, dignified female huntress and her beast partner, and it paid off.
Morimoto: My favorite is Cyrus. I don’t want to go into spoiler territory, so I’ll just say this: there are moments with him that make you feel like, “Hell yeah! That’s how a scholar gets it done!” I wish I could meet someone like him in real life. (laughs)
Takahashi: I’ve gotta go with Olberic. There were a lot of things that we changed in his scenarios, but his story was the very first that we created. And thanks to that, he helped to solidify the look of the whole game. So I have a strong personal attachment to him. I think he’s a great character to represent the game.
Asano: I like Ophelia. If Takahashi gets to choose the first character we came up with, then I’m gonna choose the final one we created. (laughs) She was the most difficult character in terms of writing her scenario, her physical design and even balancing her within the game. So, I consider her a great result after some great care went into her.
Question: What did you spend the most time on when implementing HD Rumble?
Takahashi: Well, it was mainly Acquire’s idea to utilize the features. When we first started development, we tried it out on all kinds of different things – we even tried it out on footsteps. For example, when walking on snow or grasslands, it would have a sort of “crunch” to it. But we realized shortly after that having the controller constantly rumble was not great in terms of playability. (Nervous laughter) HD Rumble is fascinating tech, though, so we ended up using it in places where something big happens, when characters break an enemy’s defense in battle, on status effects and the like. We realized that if we used it when the flow of battle suddenly changed, it provided the player with a more exhilarating feeling than they would normally feel.
Question: Why are there NPCs around that don’t talk?
Asano: So, there are NPC townsfolk all around that you can interact with using four of your main characters’ field commands, right? If we increased the amount of people you could bother, it would get pretty annoying – it would feel like you had too much to do. (Wry laughter)
Takahashi: Yeah, if I had to go up to every single character and interact to them one by one, I’d be bored to death. And on the other hand if there were too few NPCs around, then the locations would look barren. We’re definitely not saying that we wanted it to be dumbed down so we decreased the NPCs, or something like that. It’s more of a way to balance the game by making sure it doesn’t feel like work to the player, and making sure that it’s an enjoyable experience.
A final message from chief producer Asano:
Asano: With Bravely Default, Bravely Second and now, Octopath Traveler, we have been releasing approximately one game every three years or so. However, we are currently expanding our development team and we hope we can increase the pace of our releases moving forward! We’ll continue to make core RPGs specifically for fans of Square Enix RPGs all over the world. So, if you liked what you saw with Octopath Traveler, look forward to what we have in store for you in the future!
Translation provided by Oni Dino on behalf of Nintendo Everything
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