EDGE - - THE MAKING OF... - Kat­sura Hashino Game direc­tor

When choos­ing Per­sona 5’ s lo­ca­tion, how con­scious were you of the Shin Megami Ten­sei se­ries, which is also set in Tokyo?

I didn’t want to over­lap with that, which leans heav­ily on the phrase ‘the real Tokyo’ to add re­al­ism and con­vey the dual na­ture of our own so­ci­ety. In Per­sona, these are ul­ti­mately comin­gof-age sto­ries de­pict­ing the men­tal de­vel­op­ment of high-school­ers. A vague, but fa­mil­iar, fic­tional city might be use­ful in con­vey­ing the uni­ver­sal­ity of the high-school ex­pe­ri­ence.

That choice took a long time. How mind­ful were you of de­lay­ing de­vel­op­ment?

I guess the truth is that my plan­ning did take longer than ex­pected, which caused some trou­ble for my staff. But I’m a firm be­liever that lock­ing down the set­ting is the first step to giv­ing play­ers a sense of im­mer­sion. Once I re­alised why it had to be Tokyo, the rest of the plan­ning came nat­u­rally.

What’s the se­cret to good UI de­sign?

Be­fore I be­came a direc­tor, I was a plan­ner that pri­mar­ily han­dled bat­tle sys­tems. This gave me ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing with the place­ment and func­tion­al­ity of UI in bat­tle and camp menus. The main UI de­signer for Per­sona is some­one I’ve been work­ing with since my plan­ner days. We talked end­lessly about things like place­ment that wouldn’t con­fuse the player, the move­ment and line of sight, the po­si­tion and tim­ing of vis­ual com­po­nents, the colours and so on. We wanted to make sure the UI was as stress­free as pos­si­ble – to help play­ers keep their fo­cus on the game­play. Imag­ine an as­sis­tant quickly hand­ing tools to a doctor dur­ing surgery. That’s how I pic­ture it [laughs].

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