Nier Developer Interview

25 Mar 2010  by   Paul Younger
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In a recent visit to the UK, Yosuke Saito had the chance to do a little bit of publicity for an exciting hack ‘n’ slash title from Square Enix called Nier.  This will be the first title of this kind that Square Enix will be releasing for a world-wide audience.Can we have a brief outline of Nier?Nier is an action-RPG, and so it is a big challenge for Square Enix to work on it. Story-wise, it describes a father as he tries to rescue his daughter from an incurable disease she seems to suffer from.You say RPG – has it got RPG elements, or is this more of an action-adventure game?This game features quite a big percentage of action elements, but it depends on situation. In most situations you do have to turn to some kind of actions to be taken, so that part is quite large, but on the other hand Square Enix has got a very long history and tradition of making good RPGs, so we’ve got the knowhow and experience of those aspects so that we can in corporate a deep story and character growth elements in the game. That is the RPG part of Nier.Isn’t it a bit of a saturated market? This is the first outing for Square Enix in this genre. Is it a bit of a risk?Indeed. As you say, when we solely talk about action games the market is saturated in a way, but this game also features a very good storyline and quite interesting characters. There haven’t been that many action games which feature these elements as well, so we believe that there is an area of the market in which this game can be very popular. JRPGs have experienced their own evolution, but Nier has got a very new format that we think will be very appealing to the western market.How dangerous is it to release such a game, and will this game be released in Japan or is this solely for the western market?We don’t think about any risk involved in a particular region. Up to now, Japan’s games were expected to do well in Japan, and that would have been quite satisfactory, but in Nier’s case we are aiming for success equally in three regions – Japan, North America, and Europe – so that’s one-third each. We want it to be successful and accepted by fans across the world. We’re not looking at a particular region.Would you consider taking the Nier IP further – are there plans to build on it? Do you consider this game to be one layer in an ongoing story?Let’s not forget, this is a new challenge and a new category for us to lay our hands on. We’re really quite nervous about how successful it’s going to be and how well it’s going to go down amongst the gamers outside Japan. If it does turn out to be a success, then we will look at the possibilities of spin-offs or other developments in the future. Like Final Fantasy, Nier has got a number of really attractive characters – not just Nier himself, but other characters as well – so I think there is ample possibility for a very successful series or spin-offs.Would you be able to play with any other character than Nier, or is he the only playable character?The name of the character is in the title so at the moment he is the protagonist, but we haven’t got any particular obsession with Nier being the centre of the story. If we think that somebody else would be more suitable for the next project, we won’t have any hesitation of doing so.Remedy Studios have used character names for franchise titles. Max Payne is the character and is the name of the game; Alan Wake is the character and is the name of the game. There’s a discussion going on about the names – Max is a strong, manly name; Alan, not particularly. What does Nier translate to? Is it a strong, manly name, or is it something like Bob?At the beginning of the project, Nier was supposed to be a boy’s name. He was supposed to be a boy. To this day, we don’t know if it’s supposed to be a first name or a surname, even! We started with a provisional name – we thought we might have a different name, but we just stuck with it in the end; it was never even reviewed. As I said, he was supposed to be a boy to start with, but our story changed and he’s supposed to be a macho guy, now. We asked our colleagues in America and Europe “How does this sound to you? Does it sound a bit strange? Does it really represent who he is?” They said “It sounds fine to us,” so we decided to use the same name.You asked the Americans first?We actually discussed it simultaneously. Us in the Tokyo staff, and the staff from Europe in London, and the staff from Los Angeles were together in Los Angeles to discuss these issues.Is it multiplatform? Is it multiplayer? How does it work, if so?It’s fundamentally a single-player RPG. It is multiplatform – we’ve got the title available for both Xbox 360 and PS3.And your favourite, favourite thing about the game?There is a lot of talk about a character called Kaine. She is a female character who swears a lot and is very foul-mouthed. She’s quite a fiery, spiky character, but at several stages in the story, she reveals a feminine and a softer side which is very attractive because it doesn’t come very often. That’s something we’d like to share with lots of people in the world. You can check out our video interview with in-game footage right here.

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