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].