The Tales of the East brought the story to a new continent as well as encounters with new friends and enemies, and is finally coming to a close. To commemorate this milestone, we conducted a special interview with storywriter Masato Kato, director Daisuke Takeshima, and global version producer Reiyan. Whether you're caught up with the story or not, you won't want to miss this interview. The interviewer is Backy from the global team.
From left to right: Daisuke Takeshima, Masato Kato, Reiyan
- Masato Kato
- Story writing and direction for Another Eden.
- Daisuke Takeshima
- Director of Another Eden Japanese version.
- Producer of Another Eden global version.
(Backy)Thank you so much for your time.
Main Story 2 Tales of the East Part 3 Conclusion is going to be released on the global version so we're taking this special occasion to talk to you all.
First off, can you each introduce yourself and what you do in the team?
(Kato)I'm Masato Kato. Regarding Another Eden, I was involved from the very start of development. I work on the main story's scenario, so basically the story outside of side quests, character quests, episodes, mythos and so on. And after writing the story, I import it into what's called a script, so that it runs as an event in the game data.
(Takeshima)I'm Daisuke Takeshima, the director. I've been involved since around 1.5 years before release. I was initially involved in creation and planning of the in-game field, but changed roles to the game director from Part 3 the Twist. Right now, what I do is to kick off planning and development with game planners, do final checks, feedback, and adjustments for all content to be released including character quests. I also create content specifications and develop fields.
(Backy)Thank you. We're colleagues, but I often watch you on livestreams, so it feels funny when I see you at work. I'm very pumped for the interview.
(Reiyan)I'm Reiyan, the producer for the global version. I was initially on the Japan development team, first as a field planner and then as the field team manager. I was assigned to the team when Main Story 2's development was just gearing up, so I was involved in development from the start. My role is the global version producer now, but as the field manager, I was focused on providing an environment where my team can perform to the fullest. There were a lot of staff members in the team so it was a fulfilling role for me.
(Backy)I was assigned to the global version last November, so the Twist had already been released. Did you communicate a lot when development was underway?
(Takeshima)Up until, the Twist, I talked to Mr. Kato often for field or planning related matters. Since I was the director for Conclusion, I worked with him from the very start of the story writing. I suggested that I wanted more story content for Garambarrel and he really boosted the content for me. (laughs) On the flip side, since work from home started, it's become harder to casually walk up to Mr. Kato and chat to him about something that's on my mind. Of course we use online chat and video calls, but it's unfortunate that we have fewer chances to talk in person.
(Backy)In terms of development, could you tell me how Main Story 2's concept came to be?
(Kato)The only concept there was, was ending the Main Story 2 story. (laughs)
(Takeshima)For Main Story 2 as a whole, there were a lot of characters from the East from the beginning, and I think both the community and dev team were eager for Eastern content. So naturally, part 2 drifted towards a new continent and new adventures, and Mr. Kato took the story setting to the East.
(Kato)That's true. For Main Story 1.5, there was content that was left out in Main Story 1, which I wanted to include but couldn't due to time constraints. Since it was left out, it was supplementary to Main Story 1, and not a second part. So up to 1.5 was the content that I had conceptualized from the beginning.
Now that that was over, we said what shall we do next? And everyone wanted to go East. Since Cyrus is originally from the East, we wanted to create a new setting, which was what the field team and other staff were eager for. So I decided to oblige and made the Eastern continent and story.
Now that I had written 1 and 1.5, the story I hadn't written was Madoka, the wife in the Chronos family. We don't know where Madoka went and there was unfinished business there, so I wrote about her. I wanted to bring some sort of resolution to the story of the Chronos family that had started from the beginning.
(Backy)I got goosebumps just hearing that. I'm going off-track here, but Madoka in Japanese is written in phonetics, but the kanji literation is "円" (circle).
(Kato)In Japanese, it can be read as Tsubura, and Madoka.
(Backy)Personally, I felt this letter invokes a lot of things, including time, harmony, a full circle. Was that your intention?
(Kato)When I was creating the character, I wanted to name her Madoka. Madoka herself is the "circle" and "tsubura" (meaning: round, lovely). As an item, tsubura gems have been implemented since part 1. The idea itself was in my head in a jumble from part 1, and it was a matter of implementation.
So we make you think that spoilerMadoka, the Goddess of Time is actually somewhere else and rules over time, and is involved in the story somehow.... I guess I'm going too far in spoilers (laughs). So we make you think that, flip it on its head, and then it's actually...... (edited). I thought connecting that to the conclusion would make a clean ending, and that's how Conclusion gradually came to be. So in my head, Madoka, the mother was an important role, and from the beginning, I had thought that she'd turn up at the end and would be involved.
(Takeshima)This was one thing that cemented my respect for Mr. Kato. Tsubura gems were not implemented when the game was first released, and it was implemented when the Nopaew Emporium was added, and that's when we named the item. I think it was during 1.5, and the foreshadowing of the item's name and meaning is all implemented and collected in Main Story 2. I'm impressed that even such details are thought out so well.
(Backy)I was assigned to the global version last November, so the Twist had already been released. Did you communicate a lot when development was underway?
(Takeshima)It's hard to say for Conclusion alone, but in terms of the field and planning, I was focused on making sure that players who venture into a new place or new story can always feel excited. Also, I always wanted to bring a new surprise to the table. In Main Story 2, in Part 2 the concept of height was introduced into the field, and we could develop new kinds of terrains based on that. In Igoma in 1.5 there were parts where players could go to higher places, but battles could not take place there. In Part 2, a function to play in the dungeon with a split party was introduced. In Part 3 the Twist, there were time-limited battles added, as well as moving backgrounds that created a completely new image. There were lots of features added on, so Part 3 Conclusion is a sort of culmination of everything we'd worked on so far.
(Reiyan)In Conclusion, I was a manager so it's not exactly something I worked on hands-on. But in Conclusion, whether it's field, battle, scenario, or script, there's a large number of people involved. For the field, it was ten people working on it at most, almost the entire team. So when 10 people are working on the same thing, it's up to me to be aware of what each person is good at, what they'd like to do, their traits and strengths so I can assign them to something where they can realize their full potential. That's something I focused on as the manager. Since there were more and more people working on the project as the release drew close, it was very fun for me towards the end. Everyone was pumped up and full of energy.
(Kato)For me, the biggest thing was how to bring the story together in a cohesive way. While wrapping up the story for the Chronos family, I couldn't just have Madoka come back and Eden being saved, since that would be the end right there. 2 is not the end of Another Eden. So I wanted to save each person from the difficult spots they were in and bring a sort of break, but also leave room to continue beyond that. So I thought a lot about how to make that happen.
I think a lot of players really hoped for a happy ending with all of the Chronos family, though without the father, like they saw in part one. Madoka, Aldo, Feinne, and Eden. In that regards, spoilerMadoka and Eden end up going away. For that, I'd like you to wait and see how part three turns out. For me, a big part of part two was how to find a sort of settlement, an ending to what I started in part one. So in that regard I think I passed the test.
(Backy)That was a humble comment from you (laughs).
In Conclusion, there are the new characters, Necoco and Garambarrel. How did those characters come to be?
(Kato)For Garambarrel, I wanted to write his story as an ancestor of the Ogre clan. Since he's an Ogre and would be part of the party, he would need to be a swell guy. And I was ready to have a handsome, young man that we hadn't had in a while.
So in my head, Garam was formated as a young titan. Since we had decided to make him human size instead of a giant, I thought about what kind of position he would be in among the giants. So we decided to write about his friendships in his side quests and character quests.
As for Necoco as well, I just wanted a cat girl for once, simple as that. I wanted to write about a cat girl! Why hadn't we done it before?
(Takeshima)That's true. Otoha claims to be a reincarnation of the cat spirit, but she's not exactly a cat girl.
(Kato)This game is based around the topic of cats, so why isn't there a cat girl? That's how it came to be, simple. There is a fox lady and other non-human girls. It's strange that it never came up.
When I got to it, I imagined that this cat girl would be related to the cat shrine somehow, and she must be living at the shrine along with Nyanjiro. And along with that, since she'd be a priestess, in close contact with spirits, and that led me to think that maybe Necoco was supposed to be the one who had power passed down from the Sacred Beast.
From that, I'd think why is Altena involved? And the answer is easy- since Aldo had been traveling across time and space since part one, and Altena and Guildna as well as the beastfolk had been involved as well, history was rewritten for the Sacred Beast as well. spoilerSo what Necoco was supposed to receive went to Altena. I thought that would be an interesting story. So in her character quest, we dug into what kind of character she is and her relationship with Altena.
In the main story, I try not to give too much information about the individual characters. Not everyone has all the characters. So if I dig too deep into specific characters, the people who don't have those characters might feel left out or sad. So in the main story, I touch lightly on them, and for their past, their fated destinies, their settings and so on, each person could experience it if they had encountered that character. And for those who hadn't, I don't want to force-feed stories of characters that not everyone may be interested in. So I give a light introduction of them in the main story and leave room in the character quests to learn more about them.
So for Necoco as well, her detailed profile about how she was raised, what her past is, how she was brought to Nyanjiro and was raised by him... I relayed that to the other staff to write her story.
(Backy)I see. That's true, there weren't any cats...
(Takeshima)The timing may have been a bit late, but I feel like it was the perfect time. The Cat Shrine in the East was a nice addition.
(Backy)Next, I'd like to talk about hidden gems.
There are quite a few hidden secrets in Another Eden, and of course we'd need to avoid spoilers, but I'd like to hear about your favorite things that people may not necessarily notice. Like the field or a stage, what you particularly are proud of, in the story or overall.
(Takeshima)This may not be what you're asking, but I'm fond of these spirits that are wandering in a certain village, that's unrelated to the story. Their movements and visuals are very cute.
Also, there is a scene where you move across the water. When we were making the initial plot, we hadn't decided that players would be able to move like that. Someone made a proposal mockup, and it looked great so we decided to move forward with it. Everyone took initiative to make it happen, and because of that we were able to run with it and refine the quality.
The field team was initially small at the beginning of Main Story 2, but there were a lot more team members when Conclusion was in development. For some, it was their first time developing a field, but thanks to the feedback of other staff, we were able to raise the bar. I hope players get to enjoy all of the scenery in the story.
(Reiyan)For myself, it's a village on top of the trees called Pador. It's a village that players will enter for the very first time in Conclusion, so I think it's a pivotal place where players should feel excited in anticipation of the story to come, and Mr. Takeshima did a great job. It was astonishing to see it come to life. A village placed on the tree tops is rare, and was never done before in Another Eden. I heard it was complicated to develop compared to the other towns and villages before it, and I'm sure it was difficult.
Mr. Takeshima and the other members put a lot of effort into Pador, and I think it was worth the hard work. I was very touched when I saw the completed village.
(Takeshima)It's hard to imagine if you haven't done it, but natural objects are harder to replicate than man-made objects. On top of that, it's difficult to create a place with multiple height levels. But we had already made a field with levels at the beginning of Main Story 2, so the proposed field had multiple levels. I felt a bit sick when I saw it (laughs).
Of course, having multiple levels makes the artwork pop that much more, so a lot of the proposed fields had depths in level as opposed to flat fields. It's understandable that a field with layers would look better, but it's very labor intensive.
(Reiyan)Places with height are pretty exhausting to make. But once it's completed, it's great to see.
(Kato)When I first saw that village, I was a bit spooked. It wasn't ready at all when I saw it, and the people developing it didn't really know what to do with it. They were worried if they were on the right track.
Since I was already navigating the field, the village should already be well underway, and I was a bit worried if it'd be ready, but in the end there was a lot of depth in it. It was very nicely done.
(Backy)In this update, there is a lot of content that the community was eager for, like Feine's 5-star and the Replay Story feature. Do you take community feedback into account when developing features?
(Takeshima)Our customer support team makes a report of the feedback we receive, so I look at that regularly. As for Awakenings such as for Prai, the ground rule is that we do it based on the storyline, so we make sure to tie it in with story content that the character has an important role in. We do take popularity into account, but the back story and content are essential, not just popularity. So it can't always be done quickly.
As for additional features like the Replay Story feature or improvements, we take a survey within the development team of what features or updates they'd like to see, and look at it alongside the feedback we get from users. We take both into account when considering levels of priority or release timing.
If there's something that's highly requested but is also difficult to implement, we take the feature into account and consider if it's worth developing instead of something else that might be enjoyed more. So we may change priority levels based on feedback, but it's not always easy.
(Reiyan)Just the other day, we chatted about requests we got from the global version users.
(Takeshima)I got some questions from social media. I looked through all of them, and answered many of them.
(Reiyan)There are the Japanese and global versions, but they're not completely independent. I was on the Japan development team before, and I've worked closely with Mr. Takeshima and Mr. Kato, so it's easy for me to chat with them and share feedback or voices I hear from the community, now that I am the producer for the global version. It also made me realize that the feedback we get from both versions is actually similar.
(Backy)Things like filtering or sorting items, the sort of features that help users become more immersed in the game are highly requested in both versions.
(Takeshima)When the development team's thoughts, the community's requests, and the right timing all fall into place, features get implemented.
(Reiyan)If we were to make it happen, we want to make sure it's done right, not just something we did off the cuff. We try to make sure that it's beneficial.
(Backy)I feel that the Another Eden team has a lot of people who strive to stand in the same position as the players. I'm expecting great things.
Lastly, I'd like to hear from each of you about what you'd like to tell global version players who are going to play Conclusion.
(Takeshima)Main Story 2 was first released on the global version in December 2019. We took a long time to develop it and it's finally ending, so I hope you enjoy the story of Madoka and the ending that wasn't told in part one. It's also a culmination of everything we developed in Main Story 2, including the various fields, game experiences, scenery, and new characters. I hope you enjoy the adventures with Aldo in this new setting. Main Story 2 is ending, but 3 is coming, so I hope you can be patient and look forward to it.
(Reiyan)Thank you for waiting a long time for the completion of the Tales of the East. I think there's quality and volume that's fit for a grand ending. We're proud of the work we've done, so we hope you enjoy it.
(Kato)You didn't leave anything for me to say (laughs).
It was definitely a long ride. I feel bad that we made you wait, but it's a sort of turning point for Aldo and Feine's family.
Many of the staff are still young, so I feel that as Another Eden releases new versions, the staff also experience growth and Another Eden's bar is raised as a result. As the story goes on, Another Eden itself is stronger, bigger, and more whole. I think the players will also feel the team's growth. At the end of Main Story 2, there's a sort of ending. I want everyone to enjoy it to the fullest and continue to follow the team's growth.
(Backy)Thank you for your time today.
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