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[Interview] Rune Factory 5 director on the long wait, same-sex relationships, future, more

Posted on March 26, 2022 by (@NE_Brian) in News, Switch

Nintendo Everything recently had the opportunity to speak with Shiro Maekawa, the director of Rune Factory 5. We discussed a variety of topics including the lengthy wait since the series’ previous entry, the inclusion of same-sex relationships, and more. Maekawa also expressed interest in remakes / remasters of previous titles and indicated that it won’t be another ten years for a new Rune Factory game.

You can read our full discussion with Maekawa below. 

Rune Factory has been around for many years with entries on consoles and handhelds that really feel distinct from one another. Getting a signature feel to stand out from other games of this genre is difficult, however, so what goes into ensuring each new entry is accessible for newcomers but also retaining that Rune Factory feel that will keep existing fans of the series happy?

This is just my opinion, but two key factors give Rune Factory its distinctive feel. The first is its warm, cozy atmosphere, which both the game’s story and its kind, unique cast reinforce. The second is a combination of farmwork, romance, and adventure. These three interlinked systems form the foundation of any Rune Factory game.

Is it difficult trying to find that sweet spot between spending time at your farm and also going out exploring into the world? Some other games that have tried to take a similar approach to Rune Factory have pacing and balance issues that tend to favor one over the other, or simply put more emphasis on one aspect making the other feel far from polished.

As I mentioned above, farming and adventuring are both important gameplay elements, but we let the player focus on whichever they prefer.

We strove to create a game where players who only want to farm and players who only want to go on adventures will feel equally satisfied.

Rune Factory 5 has had a long history with being multiplatform, but seems to find its most comfort and beloved fans with Nintendo systems. What was it like building this new entry from the ground up for Switch?

Since our development company changed, we had to make almost everything from scratch.

Each Rune Factory title we release receives more praise and sells more units than the previous entry, so trying to outperforming our earlier titles once again with Rune Factory 5 proved to be quite difficult.

Rune Factory 4 released in 2012, so it ultimately took a decade for a new entry. We’re aware that the closure of Neverland played a big part in this, but can you give any additional insight as to why it took so long for Rune Factory 5 to come to fruition?

It all had to do with timing. Our company drafted plans for Rune Factory 5 multiple times, but various factors repeatedly prevented us from proceeding with them until now. I’m sorry our fans had to wait so long for the next entry.

Some games in this genre use a real-time clock to measure in-game days, but in the Rune Factory titles, it only takes about an hour of real time to experience an in-game day. Why does this structure continue to be the best format for Rune Factory 5’s gameplay loop?

Time actually passes more slowly in 5 than in 4 because certain things, like moving around the world, take longer to do in comparison to a 2D game like 4. One in-game day is over 20 real minutes. We worried that players would find this pace sluggish, but many have told us that they like not feeling rushed. Even so, time in 5 moves much faster than in real life, and I think this pace is just fast enough to let players experience a full day of changes and the characters’ daily lives.

Rune Factory 5 includes a feature that’s pretty uncommon – voice commentary tracks from almost all of the game’s Japanese voice actors, talking about the game’s development, that can be accessed from the main menu. What inspired you to include this in Rune Factory 5, and will we ever see voice commentary from the game’s English cast?

I believe it’s common to include such commentary in Japanese games.

It’d be nice to include commentary from the English cast as well someday.

Fans are really looking forward to the ability to pursue same-sex relationships in the western version of Rune Factory 5, and it’s nice that Japanese players have been able to enjoy this feature thanks to a post-launch update. Do you think this option will be supported in future entries?

Players can technically pursue same-sex relationships in Rune Factory 4 by changing their outward appearance, but this feature was never truly implemented. We received a lot of feedback from players who wanted the ability to pursue same-sex relationships from the start, so we made sure to include them in Rune Factory 5. I think it’ll be a standard feature in any future games.

Does the team have any interest in remastering or remaking any other entries in the Rune Factory series?

I’d definitely like to consider that if fans are interested.

What do you envision for the future of the series? Fans are hoping it won’t be as long of a wait for Rune Factory 6!

Thank you for all your enthusiastic support for Rune Factory!

We don’t currently have any concrete plans for another title, but I’d like to keep the Rune Factory series going well into the future.

We’ll do our best to make sure the next title doesn’t take another 10 years!

Rune Factory 5 is now available on Switch in both North America and Europe.

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