During E3 week, our friends at VentureBeat had a chance to interview Aya Kyogoku, one of the main director’s of the Animal Crossing Series.
In the interview she discusses the franchise in general, talking about Happy Home Designer, Amiibo Festival and Smash Bros., among other topics.
Read on for some of the main Q&A.
On why make an Animal Crossing that focuses on designing homes:
Aya Kyogoku: In Animal Crossing, home creation and home decoration was an aspect of the game that a lot of people enjoyed. But that’s only one part of living out your life in Animal Crossing. When we were developing Animal Crossing, we had to come up with ideas for houses that the animals have when they first move in to your town. They have a set of furniture and decorations they use. That was very fun for us as developers. We had to think about, what kind of things would this animal like? What kind of life do they lead? Trying to figure out what they’d want was very fun, and we tried to think of a way we could get this kind of experience to players as well. That’s where the origins of this home-designing concept came from.
On whether Happy Home Designer is still a sim game or if there’s more of a win state:
Kyogoku: This is more of a simulation that’s focused on house design or house creation. When you get a request — it might seem initially that you get a request from an animal, they give you a certain theme, you create a home based on that theme, you get a good evaluation, and that’s the goal. But actually, the theme is just a guideline. The fun starts when you can expand on that theme using your own originality and creativity. In that sense I think the sense of freedom that you experience in Animal Crossing is still very much present in Happy Home Designer.
On whether there’s a budget with each house project that you have to work with:
Kyogoku: No, we got rid of the idea of a budget. Whether to include one or not was something that we thought hard about and discussed amongst the development team. What we wanted to get out of this game was for the player to reflect their creativity in the game. We didn’t want any constraints from budgeting to be an issue. In real life, depending on the budget you had, you might have to give up on some things you wanted to see. We didn’t want that to happen in the game world as well.
On amiibo support:
Kyogoku: That’s one of the functions of Amiibo, to be able to invite animals and create this scene where you can take a picture of a birthday party or a concert that’s going on. That’s one big aspect of the Amiibo function. To be sure, Happy Home Designer can be played without any Amiibo cards. The animals will hang around in front of Nook’s Homes thinking, oh, I want a house like this. You’ll talk to them and take on their requests and build their houses. But with the cards, you can reach out to animals in particular. You’ll be making a call and saying, hey, would you be interested in building a house with us? For a lot of Animal Crossing fans, it’ll be great to be able to reach out to their favorite animal at will and come to build a house for them. That’s one feature. The second feature is, in the Animal Crossing series, there are two general types of animals. The ones that move into your town, they become residents, they become your neighbor, you develop a relationship with them. Then there are characters like Tom Nook or K.K. Slider who serve a special role in the game, but don’t necessarily live in your town. Using Amiibo cards you’re able to build a house for them as well, which is something new.
On how Nintendo is branching out with Animal Crossing in the forms of Happy Home Designer and Amiibo Festival:
Kyogoku: This time around, there’s obviously this new thing called Amiibo. The development team for Animal Crossing, we just really wanted Animal Crossing Amiibos. We thought it would be cute. We thought fans would be happy. In the past, Animal Crossing has only been Animal Crossing, but we thought that with the addition of Amiibo — how could we make an Animal Crossing game that would be fun by adding Amiibo features? What resulted was Happy Home Designer on 3DS and Amiibo Festival on the Wii U. This was a way to try different ways of playing Animal Crossing. We kept thinking, this idea might be fun, that idea might be fun. Eventually we ended up with these two different games. Amiibos are really cool figures, but beyond that, the biggest difference is the way they’re linked with gameplay. It’s important that there’s a game to go along with Amiibo. We felt like Amiibo could benefit from an Animal Crossing twist and Animal Crossing could really benefit from Amiibo as well.
On what’s next for Animal Crossing:
Kyogoku: Obviously, as you said, we’re in full development for Happy Home Designer and Amiibo Festival. We’ve been focusing on that. When we think about Animal Crossing, including the main Animal Crossing series, as a development team we’re always thinking about what to do for the next installment. Whether that’ll be a cutout and an expansion of a certain feature or a full-blown Animal Crossing game, that hasn’t been decided yet, but as a team we’re constantly thinking about what we can do for the series in the future.
On Villager in Smash Bros:
Kyogoku: Naturally, things like that wouldn’t happen in the world of Animal Crossing. But at the same time, Smash Bros. has its own set of rules. In that sense a lot of people have enjoyed it. Along that same line, there was an Animal Crossing course added to Mario Kart 8. The world view and the feel of Animal Crossing was really well-reflected in that course. You see Isabel speeding around on a bike, which you don’t usually see, but it’s still enjoyable. For myself and the fans, I hope we’re able to see these animals not just limited to the world of Animal Crossing, but in other series as well. Seeing that happen makes me happy.
In addition to this interview, Nintendo uploaded two new videos, a new Japanese commercial for New Leaf with singer/model Kyary Pamyu Pamyu and a new trailer for a 3DS Theme.
You can watch both below: