The “Nioh” series has gathered well-known developers under Koei Tecmo, such as Hikaru Shibusawa, Kinuma Hisashi, Hayashi Yosuke, etc. The editorial department of “Famitsu” interviewed the former director of “Nioh” and “Nioh 2”. Mr. Fumiko Yasuda, the team leader of Team Ninja. While reviewing “Nioh 2”, we also asked Mr. Yasuda about the information about the remake and the future trends of the Team Ninja team.
Fumihiko Yasuda(Referred to as Kishida in the text), director of the “Nioh” series.Co-director of “Nioh” with Hayashi Yosuke, and also the director and producer of “Nioh 2”, and is an indispensable key figure in the development of “Nioh”
The development of “Nioh 2” after “Nioh”
—— I heard that “Nioh 2” was developed at the same time as the DLC of “Nioh” (launched in 2017). After the release of “Nioh 2” in 2020, you have continued to develop the DLC and remake of “Nioh 2” without stopping. It can be said that you have been revolving around “Nioh 2” for so many years. Now reviewing the four since the release of “Nioh” Years, what kind of experience do you think it was?
Yasuda: “Nioh 2” is the same as “Nioh”. It has received feedback from many players in the first experience version and the experience meeting held, which is equivalent to developing a series of works with everyone. Therefore, how can we respond to the voices of the players is a question we have been thinking about. I have been involved in the development of “Nioh” since 2012, and “Nioh” and “Nioh 2” are almost seamlessly connected, so I have about 8 years of working on the “Nioh” series and have no time to participate in other project. I can see the release of “Nioh Collection”, which is the result of many years of hard work, and I am really moved, and I am very grateful to the fans for their support.
—— After the release of “Nioh 2”, a new crown epidemic broke out worldwide. Has the development of DLC also been greatly affected?
Yasuda: Yes. The epidemic has caused great changes in the development environment. Although the overall work flow has not changed much, the development aspect has been greatly affected. In the past, we have always developed face-to-face, but with the implementation of online office, information exchange and sharing have become very difficult. Fortunately, it took 1 to 2 months for the team to get used to the online office model. We were already familiar with this development form when developing the first DLC of “Nioh 2”, so the development of the next 2nd and 3rd bullets did not have much impact.
—— How did the players react to “Nioh 2”?
Yasuda: To be honest, the number of visitors greatly exceeded expectations, which surprised us. The clearance rate of the main part of the game is very high, but the situation in the first DLC is completely opposite. We are very sorry for failing to update and upgrade the dissatisfaction of the players.
—— Since the release of “Nioh”, have you been paying attention to the voices of players on social networks?
Yasuda: Yes. The development team especially likes to search for news about themselves on the Internet. We should have seen everyone’s comments (laughs). Regarding the part that players are not satisfied with, we will use it as a reference and thoroughly adjust and modify it. This is the standard that has not changed since Nioh.
——So many places have been revised. It seems that most players are talking about the action of the game, and what kind of comments have they received in terms of plot?
Yasuda: To be honest, we didn’t get too much feedback about the plot. I hope you can discuss it more (smiles). The protagonist of “Nioh” is only William, so we have introduced a system for custom creation of characters in “Nioh 2”. Because both Hayabusa, the protagonist of “Ninja Gaiden” and the heroine Kasumi of “Dead or Alive”, are both charming characters, as Team Ninja, we also want to challenge ourselves. Since the team carefully conceived how to describe the newly created character as “Hideyoshi”, it also received some positive comments.
—— In fact, custom-created characters generally get good reviews from players, right?
Yasuda: Because the player will project himself onto the character, the immersion will be doubled. The advantage of this is that it can be played online in a variety of different appearances, but the price is that the silent protagonist cannot show a fuller and more three-dimensional character personality like a TV series. As with the previous game “Nioh”, we have carefully designed the actions of the characters, hoping that players can have an emotional connection with the protagonist through the actions of the characters. To some extent, I think we did a good job in this part.
—— The way to achieve the strongest effect by combining specific equipment and skills is usually called “build”, which is also the essence of the fun of hacking and killing the game. Have you ever been shocked by the original “build” created by players?
Yasuda: Some “builds” are still within the expected range, but after the release, the number of “builds” beyond our imagination is increasing. It is not easy to reach this level, so we basically did not weaken these powerful “builds”, but enhanced other “builds.” However, some “builds” in the game are too powerful and the difficulty of the game is greatly reduced. This is indeed our fault of inadequate adjustment, which must be corrected. However, this game itself is a game that can use rich strategies to win. These “builds” are also products of players’ discoveries and creations, so they are retained as much as possible.
—That’s it. Speaking of unexpected things, do you expect that Shancha’s popularity will be so high?
Yasuda: We did spend a lot of thought and time on the design, because if it were just a cute but useless cute thing, it would be incompatible with the original intention of Nioh. I am a cat slave myself, so I have determined the basic attributes of a cat, but at the same time I also want to make it more distinctive. So when the designer submitted a character design that combined the steamed bun frog and the cat, I excitedly slapped my thigh, “That’s it!” This is what everyone sees now. In fact, when I was developing “Nioh”, I had the idea to join the character of Shanzha, but at that time there was already a wooden spirit. In order not to flood the game with too many cute elements, I gave up this idea. The protagonist of “Nioh 2” is set to be a half-monster, and there are also many monsters in the game that can become the protagonist’s partners. The setting is also compatible with each other.
—— Indeed, although there are monsters that can be reconciled with such as Tu Bi, there is no monster that can become a reliable partner. By the way, have the stories of the 3 DLCs been decided in the early stages of development?
Yasuda: From the very beginning, we decided to tell the story of the fate of the monsters and the legend of Chuba Yamaru, and to connect the first scene of the main story with the final performance of the third DLC. Although it is determined to change the background of the game, the specific issues such as how to tell the story and which era is the stage are all decided in the late development of the main story. Originally, we wanted to portray a more in-depth story, but we had planned to launch only 3 DLCs in advance, so the story focused only on the Heian period, and the plot revolved around Chuye Yamaru and the mystery of the monsters.
——Speaking of a digression, will Mr. Shizawa Hikaru play “Nio 2” in private? What is his evaluation?
Yasuda: I was quite surprised. He seems to have completely forgotten that he is the president and is very addicted to games (laughs). I heard that he played the second DLC for up to 560 hours, and he also raised the bug he found while trying out the third DLC which is still under development at a very important meeting. “Is it time to say this!?” (smiles wryly).
—— Next, I would like to ask you about the “Nioh” series released on the PS5 platform. Did you decide to release a remake for the PS5 platform from the beginning?
Yasuda: When the development of “Nioh 2” was about to usher in the release of the next-generation console, we have formulated a plan to release a remastered version, and we want to achieve the coexistence of high image quality and high frame rate when the new console hardware is released. The “Nioh” series. However, we did not know the performance of PS5 at the time, so the actual development started after PS5 was released.
—— So the update of “Nioh 2”, the development of “Nioh 2” DLC, and the remake development of “Nioh” and “Nioh 2” for the next-generation console version are all three at the same time…?
Yasuda: It’s really hard (wry smile). Especially for the development of “Nioh 2”, we are not remaking a work that has already been developed, but we need to update the game version while remaking it. This is a very heavy and difficult challenge for engineers and programmers. In addition, we also need to check the game status for different hardware types, which is a huge project.
—— PS5 is equipped with ultra-high-speed SSD, which greatly shortens the game reading time. After the mission starts, it only takes 3 seconds to load and you can enter the level, which is not surprising.
Yasuda: Yes, you can start the game immediately even after you lose your life. This is a great boon to the “Nioh” series that needs to repeatedly tackle levels and ponder the equipment. After the difficulty of the challenge task is reduced, old players can be more engaged, and novices can also improve their skills in equipment combination and enhance the game experience.
—— In addition to faster loading time, the screen performance has also been improved. “Nioh” is a work that has been on sale for a while, and it is obvious that the pictures on the next-generation console have become more beautiful.
Yasuda: “Nioh” is a 2017 work after all, so it is naturally easier to find the difference. But as long as you play for a long time, you can feel the difference in the remake of “Nioh 2”. The high-definition and exquisite picture quality is very stable even in the fierce battle. We have added a lot of elements to the PS5 version that we have reluctantly given up in order to adapt to the PS4 console. If you are a loyal player of the “Nioh” series, then you will definitely feel the earth-shaking changes that have occurred in this.
—— For example, frames will no longer be dropped during a fierce battle, and enemies in the distance will not be blurred and simplified, right?
Yasuda: Exactly. The reason why the enemy in the distance is stiff is to reduce the burden of development. And now new players will no longer experience this rough sense of violation, but enjoy the most perfect state of the work.
—That’s it. Speaking of PS5, I have to mention the dedicated controller “DualSense”. Do you plan to introduce new features such as haptic feedback into the game after understanding the performance of the controller?
Yasuda: Since this is a new feature of the handle, we decided to import it without hesitation. For action games, the tactile feedback of the handle is one of the very important elements. Although there was a vibration function in the past, with the more detailed feedback of the PS5 handle, it will definitely bring a more pleasant action experience.
—— Which design related to the handle function do you most want everyone to pay attention to?
Yasuda: Of course, I want everyone to pay more attention to the feeling of touching and rubbing (laughs), as well as the sense of relaxation when the adaptive trigger function is turned on and the bow and arrow are pulled down and the weight of the arquebus gun is pulled. This part can be adjusted according to the player’s preferences, and players who feel in the way can also turn off these functions in the options. But from beginning to end, these functions are designed to provide players with better performances and better gaming experience services.
—— In addition, the price of a single set of “Nioh 2” is very cheap. “Nioh 2 Full Edition” can also be upgraded to the PS5 version for free. Why do you provide these services?
Yasuda: “Nioh 2” also launched a download version of “Nioh 2 Deluxe Edition” when it was released, and the content is almost identical to “Nioh 2 Full Edition”. Faced with players who have already purchased the deluxe version, we really can’t let them spend money on the PS5 version. However, for some reasons, it is regrettable that the free upgrade cannot be achieved, and a very small fee is charged to the player.
Ever envisioned making the “Nioh” series an open world? !High-speed reading leads to changes in game production methods
—— Faster reading time also brings about the problem of not having time to read Tips. Will this have a greater impact on future game production?
Yasuda: You are right. In the past, while waiting for loading, we would display the little knowledge that the novice tutorial missed on the waiting screen, but the ultra-high-speed loading prevented us from doing this. Of course, the faster the game reading speed is, the better, but next, you may want to distribute these little knowledge scattered inside the game, so that the design of the game will have to make major changes and adjustments. In addition, the “Nioh” series are inspired by FromSoftwar’s “Dark Souls” series. However, “Nioh” is a mission-based game, and “Dark Souls” is an open world type, which can smoothly navigate every location on the map. In fact, “Nioh” originally wanted to follow this route, planning to build a game system that can be explored freely in a large area, but the helpless long loading time made us finally decide to adopt the task system. However, this mechanism also has many advantages. For example, we can design exquisite and delicate pictures, make rich side tasks, and create exciting battles that allow players to be highly immersed.
—— So if “Nioh” is made again under the PS5 environment, is there any possibility of transforming the open world?
Yasuda: Maybe there will be. The reason why we gave up has always been “unachievable”, and now that it is “achievable,” we will also take it into consideration. If there is an opportunity to make “Nioh 3” in the future, or a plan to develop a new game, maybe we will no longer choose the mission system but make an open world game. The story of “Nioh 2” is centered on Owari, so we considered using Owari as the stage to create an open-world game, but the fundamental problem was not solved, so we gave up immediately.
—— After turning into an open world, the gameplay will change greatly.
Yasuda: The open world has a vast exploration area, which contains rich and colorful gameplay, and the branch elements are also very fascinating. Even if it is made as-is, the space will not run out. In the future, we want to add a lot of unforgettable elements to the game, such as the beautiful and charming natural scenery that can be enjoyed while the characters are moving. “The Soul of Tsushima” can be listed as a benchmark for our reference, and it is very worth learning.
Team Ninja is developing new work? ! Is it a new action in “Ninja Dragon Sword”?
—— You mentioned “Nioh 3” just now, so do you actually have the idea of making a sequel?
Yasuda: Just now it was all hypothesis. I haven’t considered it yet, but Mr. Shizawa might have this intention… I think “Nioh 2” has temporarily put an end to the series. Whether the team will try new projects and grow up to build an evolved version of “Nioh 3” or simply make another “Nioh” is still unknown. But from a long-term perspective, when this moment does come, we will still challenge again. But at the current point in time, we have not yet decided on the sequel.
—— In the previous interview, you said that when the future sequel was released, you wanted to use the end of the Shogunate as the background of the times. Do you still maintain this idea?
Yasuda: Although I really like the history of the Warring States period, the end of the Shogunate period also has great charm. In addition, the “Nioh” series is not only based on Japan, it has already appeared on the European background in “Nioh”. If the story is set overseas, then the era of “Three Kingdoms” is very good, or it is also a good choice to choose an era setting that makes everyone stunned. In short, I will conceive the world setting with an open mind in the future.
——So is Mr. Yasuda’s next project already in progress?
Yasuda: We are advancing steadily. The specific details are not convenient for disclosure, but Team Ninja is best at action games. “Nioh” is not only an action game, but also carefully polished RPG elements and multiplayer parts. While using these elements flexibly, the most important thing is to exercise our housekeeping skills in developing action games. On this basis, infinite possibilities are derived.
—— In an interview on the release of “Nioh 2”, you mentioned that you want to make the latest work in the “Ninja Dragon Sword Series”, but Mr. Carinuma interrupted, “First, we must make the DLC of “Nioh 2″.” At present, the development of DLC has ended. Could it be that…? !
Yasuda: Although I said that I would develop new works when I was free, I never got clear instructions (laughs). It has been 7 years since the release of the latest Ninja Dragon Sword. I also want to bring you some news. Although I really want to make new works, there are many other projects at the moment. Please also play the “Nioh” series first, and I will report to you in time if there is new news.
Compilation: Shiina Pear
Source: Bonfire Camp