Birthdays the Beginning Interview: Creator Talks Development, God Simulation, and Endless Collaborations
Birthdays the Beginning is a unique and dream-like god simulator where players get to create their own environment and shape the world as they see fit. At the helm of development of the game is Harvest Moon creator Yasuhiro Wada and his company Toybox inc.
DualShockers had the opportunity to sit down with Wada-san and discus more about the game coming to PlayStation 4 and PC on January 19 in Japan and early 2017 in the west.
NIS America assisted with translation.
Azario Lopez: Where did the idea of Birthdays the Beginning come from?
Yasuhiro Wada: When i was a child, I liked Ultra Man 7 and I was very fascinated with Kaiju and space creatures. From there I found that I enjoyed learning about space and so I began to research how organism on planets are born. I also enjoyed the anime and manga series Doraemon, where there was an item called “Earth Set” which allowed you to create your own Earth in your room and become god.
However, more recently, the President of Arc System Works approached me and asked to create a simulation game for them. I assumed they wanted a farm sim, like Harvest Moon, but I’m tired of that and I wanted to do something new. So I thought, why not combine what they want and my childhood dreams?
AL: So for about how long have you been thinking about this game?
YW: I’ve been thinking about this game for 40 years now.
AL: When you see the game now, is it what you have imagined it’d be, after all these years?
YW: What you see in the game now is only a mere fraction of what I thought of as a kid, but that is why this is called Birthdays the Beginning. It’s the beginning of my dream coming to life.
AL: What was the inspiration for the colorful art style and setting?
YW: When using the PS4 hardware, we could do something super realistic, but we wanted to keep things simple so that everything ran smooth and seamless. Furthermore, I wanted people from all over the world to enjoy this game. So for the animals, I wanted to make them cute and easily recognized in any region.
Before I was trying to get away from the blocky textures because I wasn’t sure about them. However, I saw a game like Minecraft with similar textures blow up, and that gave me the courage to create something using this kind of textures. One good thing about using something that is blocky is that it’s very simple to understand.
AL: During development, with so many creatures in Birthdays interacting and evolving with the land around them. Do you feel that you created an AI that reflects your vision of how the creatures should react to different situations?
YW: To answer your question about AI, no. Now, I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing, I was able to create a very solid environment simulator.
For example, there’s a food chain in the game that requires a certain plant that is needed to get a herbivore and maybe a carnivore can be created because it can eat that herbivore.
The interaction between the two is limited, but the system is really good. Also, as I said, this is the beginning and I think it’s a very solid base for the first in the series.
AL: Players get to play the role of a God in the game, but is it possible be the worst God and make the world’s creatures miserable?
YW: It is definitely in the realm of possibilities, like players will be able to create a random ice age that end up killing all the animals.
AL: Can a player continue to work on their world even after the game is completed?
YW: Once you clear the story mode, you can continue the game with the map you created. After the game, you’ll only have unlocked the fourth largest stage. The largest area is 255×255.
AL: You’ve talked about adding DLC to the game in form of objects, can you explain these objects a little more?
YW: The DLC objects are not meant to interact with the map, they are just there to be shown. The reason for that is we want this be a social networking deal, like if you created a map and wanted to share it with your friends they could see all the stuff you’ve added. As for the objects moving forward, I have no limits to what can be added to the game.
I first recommended Shin Godzilla, but it got rejected. I was thinking seasonal items would also be good. So since the objects don’t interact with the game, and since Arc System Works is producing the game, we could add their characters to the game, like ones from Guilty Gear.
Also, can’t forget about Prinny from NIS America’s Disgaea series. Maybe we can even talk to Atlus about a Persona collaboration.
AL: In your time in the video game industry, do you notice anything different about gamers from different regions, such as their play styles or mechanics they enjoy?
YW: The main differences between gamers in different regions is that when it comes to character based stories, these characters need to be culturalized to fit that region.
AL: Did you address this in Birthdays?
YW: I wanted to create this game to be accepted in all parts of the world. Yes, it still has the Japanese look to it, but it’s easy to understand.
AL: So was the Vita ever considered during development?
YW: If you tried to run this game on Vita, it wouldn’t work. It just so happens that Birthdays uses more machine power than Uncharted. Obviously, the animation in Uncharted is amazing, so all the development went into animated that game.
However, in Birthdays there is so much simulation going on with a large number of things happening on the map at every moment, this ends up pushing the machine power to its limits.
AL: Being the creator of Harvest Moon, do you get a lot of fan suggestions and do you listen to them or just create what you want?
YW: I would say it’s 50-50. When I first worked on the Harvest Moon games, I would listen to fan suggestions and if it would fit in the game nicely, I would use it. However, I have to draw the line and in the end create what I want to create.
AL: How long has Birthdays been in development?
YW: It’s not finished yet, but from the start of development, two years.
AL: And When did you learn that it would be localized?
YW: Actually, from the very beginning. Arc System Works told me that they wanted to do it nine different languages.