NieR: Automata Interview — Yoko Taro and Keeiichi Okabe Talk 2B, Possible New IP, and Much More
DualShockers talked with Director Yoko Taro and Composer Keiichi Okabe about all things NieR: Automata, including plans for the future and more.
It’s been over a year since NieR: Automata released worldwide. Sice then, the game has sold millions of copies and has garnered a huge dedicated fanbase.
DualShockers has a chat with Director Yoko Taro and Composer Keiichi Okabe, at PAX East. We spoke about the game since its launch, the charm of protagonist 2B, creative decisions, as well as what’s in store in the future for Yoko Taro.
Jordan: It’s been a year since the release of NieR: Automata on PS4 and PC. Should we consider this a closed chapter or could we still see the game ported over to the Nintendo Switch or Xbox One?
Yoko Taro: Since I’m an underling, I don’t have enough authority to decide what platform to release on. All of that would be decided by our Producer Mr. Saito. Please write in your article that everything in the world is being manipulated by someone in the background… like a dark background. You can’t see it, but those things happen in the background. [Editor’s note: you can imagine this said with a very ominous Yoko Taro voice]
J: NieR: Automata has been very successful on PC, but users are still experiencing some performance issues on the PC platform, and there has not been a patch since launch. Can PC players expect a patch that’ll fix some of the issues they’re having?
YT: I actually receive this question a lot on my Twitter account as well. Please let everyone know to ask Square Enix instead of me.
J: Do you have any plans to continue the NieR franchise? Could we get a direct sequel to Automata or something completely different set in the Nier universe?
YT: Since Nier is Square Enix’s IP, whatever they want to do I will follow, so if they want to do a sequel I would probably do that. If they tell me to do something, I’ll do it.
J: Speaking of the chorus at the end after the player makes a certain choice, is that something you planned to do earlier on in development?
YT: I think it was midway through development…
Keiichi Okabe: I don’t think so… As soon as we started talking about the music the idea was already on the table.
YT: Oh, really?
YT: I really don’t remember.
J: NieR: Automata was basically created by a dream team. You had a great Director, an awesome Composer, one of Square Enix’s top Producers, and PlatinumGames developing. Since it paid off, do you guys think you’ll work on future projects together?
YT: Out of these, Composer, Director, Producer, and development team, the development team is the biggest group. Obviously, they have more people in there. They’re the most important part of it all. If they want to work with us again it would be an honor.
J: 2B has become an extremely popular character since the game came out. What is the reason according to you? Why do you think gamers have grown so attached to the character?
KO: Isn’t it because of her butt? (Laughs) I’m just joking…
YT: I’m not entirely sure but it might be because she’s a protagonist, and she has her eyes covered. I think it kinda hit the people who like covered eyes. It could also be because she’s just so unique. There’s no other character like her.
J: Have you been contacted by Nintendo about getting 2B into Smash Bros. alongside other famous characters like Bayonetta and Cloud?
YT: Nintendo? I’m not sure, but I haven’t received anything. I think that only characters on Nintendo platforms can actually be in that game.
[Someone in the room mentions Cloud]
YT: Cloud is just too legendary.
J: If it was possible, would you be interested in seeing it happen?
YT: Definitely. Any collaboration, actually. If any of my characters could be in another game, then I’d definitely like to see that.
J: Now that it’s been over a year since the game came out, is there anything either of you would go back and change about Nier: Automata if you could?
KO: For the music, I created such a perfect soundtrack that I don’t want to change anything (laughs). I’m actually joking
YT: Video games are something that we could infinitely change. There are so many things I would probably go back and change. Yet, I feel that game development ends when you go gold and you print the master. So I think that it’s good that we have that deadline, or else I’d probably go back and change it over and over. Even if I look at it right now, I feel like I want to change it and if I could change it, I’d probably want to change more after that as well. So there’s really no point in me trying to go back to change anything.
J: In a recent GDC speech, you mentioned he didn’t have a massive budget for Nier: Automata. Considering the game’s success, can we expect a higher budget for your next game assuming we’ll get one?
YT: That’s definitely something for Mr. Saito, the producer, to decide.
YT: We’re like little chicks with our mouths open, waiting for him to feed us.
J: Theoretically, if you did get a bigger budget, how would you use it to make your next game even better?
YT: I think that in game development, the part that eats up a lot of the cost is the number of stages you can create. If I was able to have a higher budget I would include more stages and make them more elaborate.
J: Another game you both worked on after Nier: Automata is SINoALICE — is there any chance that it could come to the west?
YT: That’s up to Square to decide (laughs). We’re waiting as well to see if it happens or not. Looking at it objectively, i feel that if there are a lot of requests from the West, maybe there will be a release over here someday.
J: Since your name is now mostly tied to the Nier and Drakengard series, besides SINoALICE, do you have any ideas for a new IP you’d want to explore?
YT: Since I live day by day, I don’t really think about what I want to do next, or what big thing I want to create in the future. I don’t really have a strong motivation to think of new IPs. But coincidentally, I have been wanting to think of a new IP lately. I started looking into it, but the possibility that it won’t work at all is high. What kind of IP it is, is a secret at this time.
J: Are there any IP already owned by Square Enix that you’d like to direct a game for If Saito-san would let you? Maybe a Final Fantasy title, or something else?
YT: Since Final Fantasy is a very difficult one it’s very dangerous to even comment on it, so I’m not going to say anything on that. If anything, I do want to work on King’s Knight if possible, because I love shooting games, and that’s a scrolling shooter.
J: You’re very well known for giving players that choice to delete their save file at the end of your NieR games. What made you want to give players that choice?
YT: In the first NieR title, I implemented that feature because I was asking myself what video games can do. I felt that was one of the possibilities of showing what video games can express. In Automata it’s essentially the same thing. Yet in the first game, you’re helping a character in the story, while in NieR: Automata you’re actually helping someone else in the real world. I hoped players would find a new meaning in this decision of helping an actual player instead of a character inside the game.
If you want to learn more about the game Producer Yosuke Saito talked about the possibility of continuing the series. You can also read a little bit more about Yoko Taro’s appearance at GDC and his opinions on open-world fatigue.
If you’re unfamiliar with Nier: Automata you can check out our review of the game. The title is currently available on PS4 and PC. If you’d like to get your own copy, you can have it delivered to you from Amazon.
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