Edge Interview with Naka, Oshima and Iizuka

Interview Data:

  • Interview Date: Unknown (1997?)
  • Interview Topics: NiGHTS, Character, Design
  • Interview Source: Edge Magazine at Y2 external.png

Edge #35 (Typed by Andreas Tunek)

People:Yuji Naka (YN), NiGHTS producer and level designer
Naoto Oshima (NO), NiGHTS director
Takashi Iizuka (TI), NiGHTS planner


Edge:When did you begin working on NiGHTS?
YN:After finishing Sonic & Knuckles we had a brainstorming session which lasted six months.Actual project development started around April 1995.

Edge:NiGHTS does not have a stereotypical Japanese look. Where your visual inspirations European?
YN:NiGHTS has an elegant look…….I did not travel a lot to reserch it, I only went to the USA. Nevertheless, I can imagine the game will please players of any nationality. Sonic made a very big impact inthe States and Europe, but I don not think giving NiGHTS a completely different look was a mistake. We are confident of its success.

Edge:Why did you introduce a new character insted of writing another Sonic sequel?
YN:Yes, it would have been easier to use Sonic, but we thought that people were expecting more, so we created a new character in a new world. We also wanted to take a long break from the Sonic series, so when we approached it again, we could make a significantly more advanced game. Many companies continually capitalise on their succesful titles, bringing out more and more sequels until the market gets saturtated and the players get bored. In any case, it is difficult to keep coming up with new idees for a familiar series. We're only human after all.

Edge:Human, but obviously, you must consider yourselves very talanted developers………..
YN:Anybody with a good basic idea and a very strong will can develop a game such as NiGHTS. We are not geniuses at all! Our achievement was to turn the idea into a reality. There are plenty of better games than NiGHTS in Europe and the USA- we certainly do not bellive that our game is the best that could exist (laughs). Rather then seeing ourselves as geniuses, our style is much more to say that 'we are doing our best to make a good product!'(laughs). We really belive we are normal people. To make a good game you have to be very cose to the user.

NO:Pehaps we are closer to children…………

YN:Since I'm 30, it's perhaps difficult to say I'm a child! But it is true, we love videogames………


Edge:When you write games, do you have the experiebced gamers, or novices, in mind?
TI:When we started NiGHTS,one of our first conserns was to create a world where players would be able to improve their skills even after a lot of play. We didn't wantto create a game where, after finishing the first stage, you go directly to the second and never look back. We wanted a game where even an experienced player could continually go back to try new things. We have also incorporated features into the game which make it different each time you play. For example, we included an 'emotion parameter',so each of the inhabitants will sometimes like NiGHTS and sometimes hate him.Their feelings will be unforeseeable and these inhabitants will live their own lives vhile the game is taking place.

Edge:Is the finished game faithful to your original concept of NiGHTS?
YN:Initially we wanted to create a game with a slow rhythm, a game where the plater would be able to fly at ease……….but during the developmentwe progressively increased the speed of the game until it reached the level it's at now.in fact, we instinctively came to a game speed closer to a Sonic-type title. In retrospect, the gameplay feels much better now.

Edge:Is NiGHTS using the full potential of the Saturn?
YN:Not in my opinion, no-we belive it is possible to do much better. NiGHTS is our first Saturn game, so before starting, we spent some time studying the machine. And we still have to study it! There are so many the Saturn can do that we have not had a chance to try yet. We used the best of our skills in programming NiGHTS and we were limited only by our own capabilies. We were more than satisfied with the Saturn.

Edge:How did you come up with the lead character?
NO:To begin with, I did some research into US and Euroopean culture and decided I wanted to design a character similar to an angel. In a sense, this was a consious effort to create somebody who would contrast with Sonic. Sonic was very cool, but more or less one dimensional, character. NiGHTS, on the other hand, has emotions-he'll laugh one minute and become very angry the next.

Edge:How important to the game's succes is the design of the characters?
YN:In order to design a commercially succesful game, we feel it's not enough to simply make a game where the main character is liked by a majority of users, or where the character plays a role as a communivator in completing the game whitout difficulty. What we aim to do in thes game is to propose something revolutionary in our existing cultures through rhe use of innovative new characters and by ignoring the normal concepts of game design.


Edge:Flying is a huge part of the game, why do you think that will be fun for players?
YN:When one dreams of flying like a bird, the sensation is exceptional. We want to make this dream come true for players- that is the fundamental design concept behind NiGHTS. Thus we belice we've created a totallynew kind of game where players can experience the refreshing feeling of flying -it's something they'll want to come back to again and again.
We've also introduced a new timing factor, which meand NiGHTS can be played in shorter sections, but will still be addictive and accesible to all level of players.

Edge:Do you belive that games players are older now than when you made Sonic the Hedgehog?
YN:No, we still target a wide range of users. For women and younger players the pleaure will be in completing the game, and for experiensced gamers, the replay value-the fact that you can go back and find new things each time you play-is given priority.

Edge:What has been the biggest problem in the development of NiGHTS?
YN:The biggest problem was to enhance the plability. What we tried to attain was a 'smoth and comfortable' feeling, but we could not get this to a satisfactory level with the current Saturn pad. So, after combining the ideas of the whole team, we developed the analogue pad. As it turns out, the biggest difficulty has turned into one of the game's biggest charms.

Edge:How do you rate modern videogames?
YN:Recently, the next generation games have placed the emphasis on graphics to the detriment of gameplay. Sometimes, very complex worlds actually ruin the playability of the game. While designing NiGHTS, we paid particular attention to the gameplay. It is a very important point for us. We tried to create NiGHTS purely from the perspective pf the player.

Edge:If you've been disspointed the next generations games, which titles do you actually enjoy?
NO:I like games like Populus. but also Tetris………
YN:I like Namco's old titles such as Rally X. On the PC, I like Lemmings and Alone in the Dark. I also enjoy Mr. Miyamoto's games-Mario Brothers, etc.
TI:It's the same for me. I like old Namco games like Pac-man, SNES games like Donkey Kong, Super Mario Brothers, etc. New games are to difficult for us (laughs).

Edge:What are your plans now that NiGHTS is finished?
YN:I'm going to take a rest and enjoy life-I think that if you are not enjoying your life and what you are doing, you cannot create games that people will enjoy. So we are alternating between rest and intensive work. Creative ideas are born from our spare time.


Rate this interview

rating: 0+x

Use the +/- buttons to rate the interview.

Post a comment

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 License.