Hey guys, Kriffix here with Part 2 of Iwata Asks: Pokémon Black and White 2! If you want Part 3 translated just let me know!
Part 2: 100 Person Play
Iwata: Mr.Unno, before you came to have a hand in the making of Pokémon Games, were you a fan of the franchise?
Unno: Yes. I loved it enough to line up from 5am for the release of Gold and Silver *laughs* Thats a personal little memory of mine, along with having had the chance to visit the World Championships on several occasions. I was extremely shocked at just how many people had gathered from different countries, and though they could not speak each other’s language, they were just trading Pokémon or playing Pokémon cards as normal.
Iwata: Even if they were from many different countries and so didn’t speak the same tongue, they had one language in common now didn’t they, the language of Pokémon. Just how many years was it that the Pokémon World Championships have been running again?
Ishihara: Technically since 2009, though the ‘Pokémon Card World Championships’ which served as the forerunner has been going since 2004, so its about 8 years now.
Actually…lately Japanese players have been unable to win. America, Holland, and that kid a while back from Brazil were all very strong. Even though technically Brazil does not release the card game *laughs*
Iwata: It was at that place that you were given the valuable experience of being able to see just how far Pokémon had spread in the world with your own eyes. Quite long ago, when we were localising Pokémon I remember how Ishihara said it would be nice if we could have a World Championships Event, and now that very idea has come into fruition.
Ishihara: Well yes *laughs*
Countries that have taken part is now close to thirty. There is a wide range of different languages being used, and yet, as Mr.Unno has just said, it is a mysterious how everyone is somehow able to communicate with each other. What’s more, everyone is far from being shy!
Iwata: When they have an understanding for a common interest, a medium from which they can sympathise, even if they don’t understand each other’s languages they are able to harmonise.
Ishihara: I believe so.
Unno: For me too, it was a very impressionable sight to behold, and I remember thinking that “surely Pokémon in the future will have even more amazing global communication tools than now?”. Tools like the ‘Entree’ that we had in Black and White have been developed further this time around.
Ishihara: We added the ‘Entree’ to Black and White, made games that required connecting to the Global Link, made it so that you required you to enter your friends game and play around, it was good that were were able to persue many new interesting features that were unprecedented. Well, in many ways I feel that it was a kind of experimental stage for us though.
Iwata: Indeed, since it was the first time you were doing this kind of thing, there may have been a few areas that were still a little raw.
Ishihara: But it is exactly this “we should have been able to cook up something nice” attitude that are the foundation of attempts towards all-important new things. I think that going the extra mile and messing up here and there is essential for letting new things mature.
Iwata: So basically because you’re taking the plunge and treading into new territory, it connects to the next thing. Right now, it is taken for granted that Pokemon utilises wireless connection, however, I feel it is only because you took a risk in introducing the wireless adapter during the development of Fire Red and Leaf Green, it lead to what we have now. Perhaps taking a risk at some stage during development is one of the most important things in Pokemon games.
Ishihara: You can say that again.
… but Mr. Masuda is always telling us “try not to make a habit out of these risks”.
We’re always being picked on regarding new ideas *laughs*.
Iwata: So, Mr. Unno declared ‘complimenting’ is the theme, so where do you take it from there?
Unno: First of all I had the staff all think about “what can we do with the theme of ‘complimenting’?”. When the idea of being able to play the Entree with 100 players came along, it sparked a lot of interest among us.
Iwata: 100 players? *laughs*
Unno: At first, I also thought “100 players? That’s crazy” *laughs*
‘Fes Mission’ is a gameplay feature in which you undertake various missions with the people around you, in the same area in-game without destroying the narrative of the main game.
More than anything, we were really taken in by the words “100 players”, so we wanted to bring that idea to life.
Iwata: But wasn’t bringing that idea to life quite problematic?
Unno: Well… The main issue was regarding time lag, but despite this we wanted to persevere and nurture the idea of just how fun it is to play with 100 players. “We can worry about the technical side after” was something we kept in mind, and so we went ahead and set our goals and how we were going to achieve them. Having this freedom allowed things to run smoothly.
Iwata: Indeed, I think having 100 people running the game at precisely the same time whilst keeping connected was physically confining in terms of programming, but having a fun experience which ‘compliments’ each other’s games was essential to making the concept work.
Unno: Yes. We gave it a go with all of our staff, and as we were playing, it lead to natural outbursts such as “I got first place!”. I feel it is exactly this that acts as proof in demonstrating what the meaning of sharing the same space, time and play is all about. Though the debugging issues were no easy task…
Iwata: Yes. I suppose that you must of been up to your neck in the kind of stuff that would leave even get the Club Mario members all worked up *laughs* (Note: Club Mario is the Nintendo play-and-debug team). If you don’t gather lots of people it is not possible to begin work on debugging. Mr.Masuda, how did you feel when you heard “We’re gonna connect 100 players”?
Masuda: Something along the lines of “oh you guys and you guys and your jokes…” *laughs* As can be expected what bothered me the most was the debugging but I felt it was worthwhile giving it a shot as far as Multiplayer goes.
Iwata: Not including network games, up until now its been about an 8 or 16 player experience for multiplayer in handheld format. In increasing it to 100 players, what kind of new discoveries have you made?
Unno: With the wireless connection, we’re limited to a small range in which the signal can reach. In comparison the heat that the network play packs gives off quite a different feel. Wireless has more of a close ‘physical intimacy’ feel. I got the strange feeling that rather than just a few people, a whole 100 would raise the degree of intimacy to a whole new level. Although deep down I still don’t think I’ve quite been able to analyse what this will mean just yet…
Iwata: Which means that a lot of people being there all at once will lead to many special events becoming available. With 4 people, instances where something special happens would be few but with 100 people something will be continuously happening to someone and so it offers an immensely unique new caliber of fun which is easy to understand.
Masuda: Ah, hence it kind of has a festival-like atmosphere.
Unno: I would like for many people to try out this mysterious experience. Please gather 100 people and make 100 friends!