Main Story 2 Tales of the East Completion Celebration Dev Team Deep-Cut Interview

Main Story 2 Tales of the East Completion Celebration Dev Team Deep-Cut Interview

Introduction

Here are the outtakes from the interview that we hadn't published! Please be warned that there are spoilers ahead.

Interview

Garambarrel's birth story

(Backy)This may be a tricky question. Were there any cases where the story turned out to be a different one from the initial plan?

(Kato)It's not common for our team to completely change our plans for the main story.

(Takeshima)That's true. I can't think of anything major.

(Kato)One change was Garambarrel. Initially, Garam himself was meant to be bigger in size, being from a giant race. So he'd walk around as a giant-sized character. So we planned on that and tried it in different ways, but it didn't work out (laughs). So I said alright, that's fine, and I thought of a story where he is a giant when he meets the party and shrinks into human size when joining the party, due to something like magic or other effect. But I thought it's too obvious, and too convenient. Story-wise, I felt it's sort of sloppy. So in the end I made him human-sized from the beginning.
We decided that, and I was able to sculpt out why he is human-sized. He's a sort of new species within his clan, an oddball existence. And that's how I put the pieces together to write out his story. There are times like this when it's not possible to do what was initially planned, but we find a way to make it work and work around it by reworking the story. We'd never just give up, and just try to roll with what's possible. It's something that works well for our team.
Instead of giving up, we think about how to make it happen, and put our heads together to think of how to make it better. There hasn't been many cases where we have a initial plan and it suddenly goes south because of scheduling issues. In Main Story 1.5, we did have to release some of it later than initially intended, but it was never an issue of dropping something altogether or changing it completely. I don't think it had happened in our team.

(Backy)Mr. Takeshima, how about subquests or things other than the main story?

(Takeshima)I don't think any story endings changed in the Main Story 2 subquests. In terms of mid-way changes, there were times when we wanted players to venture inside some of the areas and towns instead of just passing through. So we made suggestions to Mr. Kato to make some additions in the story.
Additions like that include small events in Nagsham and Itoise in Main Story 2. In "Conclusion," we also asked Mr. Kato to add a bit about Garambarrel. I think cases like these are good examples of our teamwork in action.
I can also think of some cases where we came up with things along the way and added them. In a certain event in "The Twist," we were thinking of rewards to give out, and we made a sort of mysterious key item with an unknown function, which would come in handy in a secret place in "Conclusion."

(Kato)In our team, everyone can play the test build regardless of their role, whether they're from the art team or anywhere else. Anyone who is able to plays it, and says whatever they want (laughs). So a lot of people take the liberty to send their feedback. Some people are very picky and complain about the smallest things! (laughs) And we incorporate a lot of this feedback into the finished product, so in that way, the final game can be different from what we envisioned.

(Backy)I saw a past comment where you joked that your colleagues point out character discrepancies even for characters that you created yourself (laughs).

(Kato)Exactly! It happens every time. Characters that I came up with myself, others seem to be experts on. Sometimes these people's words become gospel (laughs). Everyone has strong feelings about the game and is serious about their work.
As for me, once I'm done making something, I'm done. It's not my nature to look back on what I've done. So you're interviewing me on "Conclusion" now, but I can barely remember it (laughs).
These memories are in the depths of oblivion and I'm basically pulling them out of my dreams as I speak.
When I'm done with one thing, I think about what I'm doing now and what I'll do next. I live in the now. So for past characters, I come up with them and leave the rest to my team for them to develop further. So these characters end up having a life of their own.

(Backy)I felt that Aldo has changed at some point when I was playing. One of the strengths of Another Eden is that the characters continue to evolve with help from the developers and fans.

(Kato)Aldo is a prime example of that. In my head he was more of a serious, stiff main character-type youth. Then he began taking on all of these errands, and he ended up being a sort of naive country bumpkin (laughs). But I think that also worked out well.

(Takeshima)Aldo shows up in content outside of the main story like Episodes and subquests, and usually speaks politely. There was one point in the main story where he spoke quite plainly to the king and I saw that some users thought that was strange.

(Kato)I actually thought a lot about how Aldo should act towards royalty. When he goes to meet King Miglance, he's coming straight from the countryside. It's not like him to act all proper and modest, but it's also weird for him to speak to a king like they're equals. So I always have a hard time when I write his interactions with the kings. He was a little brusque at times, but he has been a little more polite as time goes on.
At first, he was a bruff young man, but he meets and spends time with the Thunder King and other kings, and gains respect for them. Alongside his personal growth, his speech also becomes more gracious.

Favorite parts of 'Conclusion'

(Backy)Could you share your personal favorite characters, scenes, or places in "Conclusion"?

(Takeshima)For me, it's Garambarrel. Although he's not a story character, we wanted him to intertwine with the plot so we could show who he is, and I discussed this a lot with Mr. Kato. As a result, we wrote about his friendship with Geldbariss and progressed the main story around that. I think it turned out to be a sort of standalone story that players will encounter in their adventures.
For Necoco, who also appears in the main story, I wanted her to appear somehow but her timing is a little later than Garambarrel and the story was close to the climax, so we had struggled with how to execute it until the very end. Some other colleagues also made some suggestions, and Mr. Kato made it happen. She ended up with a crucial role, and I think she became a memorable character, not just someone who popped up.

(Kato)This is a spoiler, but for me I like the three kings. I love the Thunder King, and I love the part where it feels like he is alive and back again.
On the contrary, the scene I struggled with is when the Synth Hydra sort of barges into the scene. When I wrote the story, I made it seem easy without even thinking of what it would entail.
The scenario team doesn't really know about the areas when writing the story. So I wrote about the room with the boss, and the Synth Hydra barging in. I didn't want to make it the same as in the past when he goes into the KMS building. At that time, that was the backbone of the plot and I had asked the background images and everything to take that into consideration.
This time was a little different. At the end of main story 1, there is a scene where the Synth Hydra comes floating up from beyond a cliff. I had imagined something similar, where the boss room is a open space with a sort of arena ring, and the Synth Hydra comes up from the opposite side. But then it turned out that the boss room is a closed space. When you actually play it, the Synth Hydra comes from the front, and Aldo and everyone is on the far end, under his belly.
It looks nice and doesn't look at all like there was any difficulty in making it. But we actually struggled a lot in how to place him and where he would come up. Maybe half a day's worth. We all discussed different ways he could enter, and tried out different ways. In the end, we said having him in the front would be the most simple.
If you really think about it, it's a room in a tower and there should be a wall there, so the Synth Hydra couldn't just help himself in. But it's a cool way to place it so no one was complaining. That was something we struggled with.

(Takeshima)We always have a hard time when the Synth Hydra comes too close.

(Kato)All's well if it ends well right? That was one of my biggest struggles in "Conclusion."
I also thought of one more. Usually, I write the story myself and then create the in-game script, so I end up being very busy in the later points of development. For "Conclusion," I had a few of my colleagues help me with the script. During the last 3 or 4 days of development, we all got on Zoom and chatted about what to do about this or that. It ended up being until 3 or 4am in the morning and we were all a little giddy from what I call the "creator's high." We were giggling amongst ourselves, asking each other what we'd like to do with the script. I hadn't worked with other people so late into the night for a very long time, and it was an experience I had missed. It was a lot of fun.

(Takeshima)"Conclusion" was the first time we made the script into a team effort in the main story. Aside from minor adjustments, the main story was solely done by Mr. Kato.

(Kato)That's right.
I was making all the events myself, and I was alone with my work at the end each time. Of course other teams were busy with their own work, but for my own work, it was just me writing the story and making the event. It was the first time for me in Another Eden that I rounded up a team last-minute and collaborated on something with other people.

(Takeshima)In that regard, I think the development of "Conclusion" strengthened the teamwork in all of us. In bigger content updates like the main story or episodes, we usually do a play session within the development team. It's something we work on as a team, so we take the opportunity to make sure we're all happy with what we put out. Each member writes out the feedback they have during that time, and we got more feedback than ever before for Conclusion.
Apart from feedback or suggestions, people also pointed out what they liked. When we do play sessions, we're able to take in all sorts of perspectives. There's one member who is a big fan of King Palsifal, and she had some questions about the character, for example. Everyone has different perspectives and focuses, since they're all so passionate.

(Kato)She had some odd remarks. Like, why is he alive when he was supposed to have died? And I had to explain that it's from a different point in time when he had been alive, not that he was brought back from the dead.

(Takeshima)It wasn't explained outright, so it may have been confusing. But it's nice that people don't have to hold those thoughts in, and can express them without being shy. It's better to have them in the open instead of people thinking that they shouldn't say something, or express dissatisfaction after everything is released.

(Reiyan)For example with Garambarrel, a few of the staff members from the field team suggested to Mr. Kato that they'd like more scenes where Garambarrel stands out, and asked him to write more content. It was great to see that they didn't shy away from it.

(Backy)It's wonderful that team members feel comfortable expressing their opinions.

Hidden gems: story edition

(Kato)I can't think of any hidden secrets in the story.

(Takeshima)"Conclusion" itself is a sort of culmination of all the foreshadowing that came before it.

(Kato)Oh, here's one. We were discussing that the scene where Feinne's 5-star awakening should be an epic one. It's one where Kamlanage sort of posseses her, and Feinne absorbs his power and awakens her talents. In the initial idea I had, Kamla is flying in the sky behind Feinne, and I was quite happy with that. A lot of other people didn't like it though.

(Takeshima)It looked a little rough (laughs). I think we had doubts about Kamlanage's outfit. Initially, his face and clothing were the same from when he is onstage as the Paradoxical Dreamers.
It looked out of place to see that in a serious scene (laughs). I think it would be OK if he were in his original clothing.

(Kato)Oh, that's why everyone didn't like it?

(Takeshima)It definitely looked out of place.

(Reiyan)We had flashbacks of the concert.

(Kato)That's it though, I imagined him floating like in the concert.

(Takeshima)I think that you intended to make the scene as a replicant of the concert, but some of us thought that it was odd to have him in the same outfit.

(Kato)So that's why it was changed to his original pose.

(Backy)I see. So a lot of people went and voiced their opinions to Mr. Kato.

(Kato)We have these sorts of small battles all the time, and that's how things come to be.
It was supposed to be different according to my plan.

(Backy)I guess this brings us back to my earlier question, about plans changing during development.

Everyone's favorite villain

(Backy)Do you have any characters you relate to, whether they're heroes or villains? If not in "Conclusion," in Another Eden as a whole.

(Takeshima)I don't necessarily relate or sympathize with him, but I think Genshin is interesting in Main Story 2. He appears from the first part, and he's a villain but also a bit obtuse, and yet he still has that integrity that's essential as a villain. It'd be boring if all the characters were cute, cool, consistent, and straight-laced. He has the right balance as a character. Again, I don't relate to him though (laughs).
The art team took the trouble to draw a variety of fun expressions for him. He appears in Conclusion, so I hope everyone stays with him until the end.

(Reiyan)For example with Garambarrel, a few of the staff members from the field team suggested to Mr. Kato that they'd like more scenes where Garambarrel stands out, and asked him to write more content. It was great to see that they didn't shy away from it.

(Backy)But your favorite character...

(Reiyan)It's Ciel (laughs).

(Takeshima)My favorite characters overall would be Riica or Azami.

(Kato)I don't have many characters I relate to, but I do like Ogre Baron. I like how he is aloof he is. I also like Genshin. He turned out pretty well.

(Backy)Did Genshin's character ever get out of control, beyond what you expected?

(Kato)Oh, Genshin was always the same guy. For example, the Genshin Analects. As soon as that was implemented, his fate was decided.

(Reiyan)I love his line, "Genshin doesn't lie."

(Takeshima)Mr. Kato wrote Genshin's Genshin Analects in the team chat, and someone from the field team suggested to put that in the game. That's how it was added as a gimmick feature in the castle.

(Backy)I had so much trouble finding the last one (laughs).

(Kato)There was one, 一寸の下衆にも 五分のタマ**! ("It's not the size of the scum in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the scum!")*, that I wrote without the censor. Someone said it's not appropriate. But isn't it something we say in real life? In the end we couldn't put it in since it might make people uncomfortable.
(*editor's note: the Japanese saying was censored in-game.)

(Takeshima)Remember, we have to comply with the age ratings (laughs).