Breath of Fire III Developer Interviews

A collection of short interviews from the japanese offical guidebook.

Makoto Ikehara (池原まこと) (Planning, Scenario) "Dragons express a release of power"

―― How did you decide on the character personalities?
Ikehara: Let me see. At first I talked with character designer Yoshikawa-kun, then I based the personalities on his designs. Normally you go with an assignment like a hero, a chibi, the lone woman in the party and so on, so I kept thinking "Hey doesn't look this character like this kind of person?". Although there were also cases where Yoshikawa-kun came with requests like "Rei's a handsome guy" that I took into consideration.

―― Put that way it sounds like there is no hero type of character.
Ikehara: The twisted part of me shows in this the character setup this time, doesn't it. Even Ryu is not the type who says "I'm the hero!", instead he's the kind of greenhorn that holds the key to saving the world and lacks confidence for the task. In movies I prefer Tim Burton's works with flawed protagonists over Spielberg's simpler approach.

―― Does that preference strongly show in your works?
Ikehara: No, I think expressing this all the way would turn off a lot of people from playing. So it's best for game development to put my taste it into a format that fits the medium perfectly.

―― What are your intentions with the concept of "dragon"?
Ikehara: I think part of the fantasy framework is that characters develop mentally and reach a state of consolidation. Within that framework dragons usually play the badguy role of guarding treasures in caves. I was thinking if you turn that into a mental concept you could interpret the dragon as the guardian of one's latent potential (inner treasure = potential), so that by releasing the dragon one can become a better self. Also in oriental dragons there is the positive image of the koi climbing a waterfall to turn into a dragon at the top, so I think what turning into a dragon expresses is the release of one's power.

―― Please have some words for the readers of this book
Ikehara: If I get the chance I will make something even better next time, so please let us meet again.

Tatsuya Yoshikawa (吉川達哉) (Character design) "I got absorbed in reality to express the game to a wide audience"

―― When and how did you get involved with the Breath of Fire Series?
Yoshikawa: Breath of Fire I was in production when I joined, so I was put right into the team working on it.
For the first game I did illustrations, and kept that job for the second but also did sprite art. This time I worked on the character designs as a whole and the sprites.

―― How did you come to work as an artist in the game industry?
Yoshikawa: It's just that I was put to work on illustrations right after joining the team.
I remember that at the time I was completely absorbed into drawing. When working on the sequel I had a bit more leeway, but for part III there was a new challenge (see next answer) that gave me some trouble. However I learned a lot so I still feel good about my work.

―― Aside from working on the character and monster designs was there anything else you had to pay attention to or that gave you trouble?
Yoshikawa: At first to go in line with the series we gave II the same artistic touch as we did with I. But during development AKIMAN-san (who did the character designs for the Street Figher series) told me to make designs more entertaining as a means to widen the audience. To express that I not only focused on the methods of manga and anime, but also on a sense of reality by making the illustrations more object-like with inspiration from real live drawings.

―― Do have you strong feelings towards a character from III? If so for what reason?
Yoshikawa: That's Rei. Reason is that he was the most work to get done. Putting his personality into one artwork was very difficult.

―― Did you do any work other than character designs during development?
Yoshikawa: I also did sprite art and stuff. The majority (of characters) had their images decided by me and planner Ikehara disussing them. So on the contrary the designs are not based on my personal world view alone.

―― Were there any movies or novels that inspired your work on Breath III?
Yoshikawa: For the player character designs I referenced various worldwide acclaimed japanese animation films.

―― Please tell us something funny or interesting from the time you worked on the game
Yoshikawa: During development we had a shabu-shabu party at night.

―― Anything you would do different for the next installment?
Yoshikawa: Assuming I will work on a sequel I would aim to improve the quality even further.

―― Please a message for the readers of this book.
Yoshikawa: I gave my best doing the sprite work, so please take a careful look. Just don't get too absorbed and let the enemy beat you.

Tatsuya Kitabayashi (北林達也) (Main programmer) "There are also parts made just by the programmers"

―― This game features a new kind of battle transition. Was this aspect of the system your idea?
Kitabayashi: No, fundamentally those ideas came from Ikehara. My role was to let him know if there were any issues, and to use my head trying to solve those.

―― Are there any parts that were influenced by opinions from the programming team?
Kitabayashi: That's the tiger transformation. We made it so it looks like the character is morphing. I also feel like we had quite the input on the dragon transformations. We all talked about the dragon transformations and the system changed two or three times.

―― So the atmosphere during development was one where people had a say no matter their occupational role?
Kitabayashi: You could say that. If the planner is of the sort that they can't stand it when a part of the game doesn't work out the way they envision it, I think development is the smoothest if you make sure it all works the way according to the planner's image. However with the flexibel type of planner I think you can bring in your opinions saying "this way could be more fun" and make a better product. This time we were closer to the latter so there are parts smoothly made only by the programmers.

―― For example?
Kitabayashi: The magic was starting with the directional aspect entirely created by programmers.

―― So was there the reverse case where you coulnd't make something you really wanted to?
Kitabayashi: The most trouble was making sure we had memory for all the audio. We wanted to put more into the game, but the volume just wasn't enough... And because of the strict memory limitaion I'm currently having a hard time with the overseas version. No matter what you do in english there's just more letters that need to fit into the game.

―― Is memory volume also the reason there are no movies?
Kitabayashi: Well, that's more because the staff didn't have a strong desire to have them in the game. Although personnaly I thought there would at least be opening and ending sequences.

―― What do you want to add to the sequel?
Kitabayashi: For this work I wanted to have a system that makes smoke come from the system when Ryu dies. I couldn't put that into realization (laughs). In addition to that I want the next game to add a rumble feature to the fishing minigame. Wouldn't it be nice if we could do that too (laughs).

Yoshinori Takenaka (竹中善則) (Producer) "I was conscious of targeting a wide audience"

―― How long did the production of Breath III take?
Takenaka: About 2 and a half years right from taking off after finishing Breath II. While transitioning from I to II was very smooth, this time we had new hardware with the PS so it took longer. Although I had been part of another division at the start of the project.

―― But you were still involved with development, were you not?
Takenaka: It's been 10 years since I've joined, and all this time I've been in development. Well, there were times when I did other jobs, but I always grew tired of them and returned to development.

―― Did you have a strong desire to create games before joining Capcom?
Takenaka: More like I've been creating them to begin with. As a student I couldn't study at all - all I knew was making games. So I worked a part time job where I wrote articles for a game magazin, that's when I learned of Capcom and joined the company.

―― Was there something like a corporate directional impetus in relation to Breath III?
Takenaka: Not really. It's our (Capcom's) idea to publish the best games, no matter the kind. But if I had to say something, I could say because the game was made for the PS hardware there was a consciousness of not limiting the target audience. For example our company's most prominent character designer said the designs in previous games had limited appeal, so I had that changed that during development.

―― What part had you changed because you felt you wanted it to be a certain way?
Takenaka: It's always been my stance not to tell the staff what to do all the time, and instead test play the game and tell them to fix problems if there are any. In this case that was increasing the number of learnable enemy skills and balancing enemy stats. Actually I don't much remember the smaller things I had them rework.

―― Please leave some words for the readers of this book.
Takenaka: Please notice the Kansai-dolphin. That's my favorite part of Breath III. I found the translation there quite funny. Also please make good use of the master and learning system.

Hironobu Takeshita (竹下博信) (Producer) "The video in the ad is quite different"

―― What made you get involved with Breath III?
Takeshita: I originally worked in business, marketing and sales promotion. But I felt my work could go much smoother if I had a closer relationship with development, so I started working as the advertisement and marketing producer of Breath III this spring.

―― Weren't you bewildered suddenly working onsite with the staff?
Takeshita: Yeah, that's the reason right after joining I stayed over night for a while to take in the atmosphere of game development.

―― What did you experience there?
Takeshita: Up until then I thought games had their final form worked out at the start and that the development process would work towards that step by step, but I learned that it's quite different. Now I think it's more a process of trial and error. I also learned there is no clear work assignment and that it requires more teamwork than other jobs, and that said teamwork plays a big role in how the game turns out in the end.

―― What parts did you pay attention to for advertisement?
Takeshita: I really cared about the intentions of the developers. I feel the most important aspect of an RPG is the world view and how it's turned into an image with the tint of an orthodox anime and the feeling of a great work of art. Well I didn't want to do a shoddy work so I consulted a lot with Ikehara, Yoshikawa and other staff.

―― Then Various ads from televion and magazines materialized that, right?
Takeshita: In case of the TV commercial Ryu is portrayed as a cool and strong guy who openly expresses his will, but in the game he's actually not like that. I thought it's okay for advertisements to take the most striking aspects and exaggerate them in acceptable bounds.

―― Did you have a say on the game itself in any way?
Takeshita: I'm really bad at games, so I played it despite not knowing how to, then at some point I couldn't win any battles anymore. I had the developers fix that part so it's also playable for beginners. Then the fairy village was originally comprised of a community of aboriginal-like people. I told Ikehara to turn the place into an oasis of the heart, a place one would want to go home to. Then he turned those people into women (fairies) (laughs).

―― Please leave something for the readers of this book
Takeshita: I'd be really happy if everyone could talk to a hundred people like a voice program "Breath III is fun", "Breath III is fun", "Breath III is fun".