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As promised, this is this month's edition of the regular column Hashino writes for Dengeki Games. It appears in the magazine immediately following the interview.
Miracle at Persona / File 11 "Why Catherine is an Action Game?"
A Social Link column from Persona's director Katsura Hashino
A monthly column from the Atlas producer of the Persona series. This month, following our special feature on Catherine, he comments on the origins of the game's action part.
This month, I was interviewed for this magazine's special feature on Catherine, and spoke about many aspects of the game's production. Please check it out! In this column, I'm going to go with that flow and write in a little more detail than was possible in the interview about Catherine's action scenes.
Catherine's action-puzzle gameplay was created long before we decided to make the game. It wasn't made by the entire team, but something just me and another programmer wrote. Even though we are mostly involved with RPG projects, from time to time ideas that can't be used in an RPG come flashing inside our heads. This time as well, I took one of those ideas and made one of our new programmers make it under the pretense of development training. Of course, at the point it was decided to use it in our new game, it was still very rough around the edges. That said, the basic mold was complete, and by using it as a base to tell our story through we could spend our time on the structure of the drama scenes and on dealing with HD consoles for the first time.
If we include design documents, we have a considerable number of this kind of personal, non team-driven test projects at our disposal. When we can use any of them in our games we do so, but of course there are many that are rejected outright. Among the things I made in the past, there was a puzzle game where you had to choose ingredients to put in a pot, and the outcome was decided based on meal you made. In the end it somehow become a game where if you had noodles in your recipe you always won, so we had to let the idea go... But even though such games are rejected, I think we make good use of the ideas and experience that come out of them. There are probably many cases that we game creators don't just make plans on paper, but try our hands at many things and finally create a single game from the scrapes of previous ideas. My hardship-filled team made the Persona series that managed to gain more and more popularity with time. It's a series that many fans support, so I think it's important to concentrate on its continuing development. But it's also true that after making nothing but games in the same series, the team's atmosphere grows heavier. Because of that, we try to clear the air by making a new game that isn't a part of the series, and the result is Catherine. We are not just making it for our self relief, of course. Catherine is our first project on HD consoles, and our first with a game system that isn't an RPG. By making it we could inspire ourselves with a variety of challenges we never encountered before. I am confident that it will be very helpful when we make our next games that everyone are looking forward to.
I am sure there are people wondering why "climbing" is a major theme in such a challenge-filled production. We have a reason, of course. Catherine is a story of familiar male-female relations, which unfolds around that theme. It may be a stoic, difficult to understand gameplay mechanic that divides player's opinions, but making stair climbing during a nightmare an indispensable part of such a story gives the game its own unique taste. This strange combination is one way to deliver a fresh experience to players. Thinking that, we inserted the essence of a dividing puzzle-action gameplay that some people find addicting into our everyday adult love story. The difficulty of the nightmare scenes will vary from player to player, of course, but since setting the difficulty to easy enables everyone to advance the story and reach an ending without sacrificing the thrill of experiencing the nightmare, and since it the difficulty level doesn't limit the branching of the story, we think if you find any part of the game interesting you're going to enjoy it. By the way, by the time this issue sees print the game's demo version should be available. It's a peculiar game, but please go ahead and see how it feels with your own hands.