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'LocoRoco' (PSP) Developer Interview

by Rainier on May 12, 2006 @ 8:25 a.m. PDT

Bright, refreshing and compulsive, LocoRoco plunges you into a colourful world where jelly-like creatures sing, roll and bounce their way through levels to reach their goals. Game director Tsutomu Kouno tells us more about the game, and how it all began on a train journey…

What is your name, age and country of origin?

Tsutomu Kouno, 33 years old, Japan.

How long have you been interested in gaming?

When I was an elementary school kid, I had my parents buy me a computer. I created some games using BASIC programming language and had my friends play them. At that time, I was really into text adventure games.

What was your first job?

After graduation from college, I joined SCE and worked on RPG title for PS1 called “Legend of Dragoon.” For that title, I did map planning. After that I worked on PS2 title called “ICO” and also handled map planning.

What made you want to design a computer game?

When I was a kid, I felt unlimited possibilities as I created various kinds of games, and that made me want to design. I felt that depending on ideas, anything could be possible.

Who is your favourite LocoRoco character?

They are Chuppa; Nyokki; Mojya

What is your favourite game?

Monster Hunter (PS2 & PSP), Tactics Orga (Super Famicom), Black &White (PC), Age of Empire (PC)

What do you think are the key ingredients for a successful game?

This is something that I personally feel, but image with great impact is essential to be a successful game. Without it, even if we air a commercial on TV, no one pays attention to it and no one remembers. Therefore, I feel that image that is evocative enough is necessary to attract as many people as possible. I think there could be many different ways (to create such image), but I am always thinking to see if I could use various new techniques that are not related to games and the latest function of CG software, etc.

Another important thing is, this is really obvious, but to make games fun and interesting. I feel that it is necessary to analyze games that I immersed myself in long time ago and combine the fun and interesting parts with technologies that are currently available.

Evocative image to attract many people and interesting game. If these are realized, I believe that a game will succeed.

What do you think are the specific challenges of designing a game for PSP?

Since PSP can be carried anywhere in the world, I tried to make the game simple as much as possible so that anyone can enjoy even if you don’t speak certain languages.

Where did you get the inspiration for LocoRoco?

I often draw pictures on my PDA when riding on a train, and those pictures are the beginning. Most of the sub characters including Chuppa, Nyokki, and Mojya are from those drawings that I made on PDA. The AI of LocoRoco is based on the program that I created when I was a student.

What was your first ‘LocoRoco’ thought, i.e did you think of the characters, the scenery or the rolling mechanic first?
Drawings that I made are the bases. I think I used to draw many LocoRoco piling up struggling in a cave, or laughing, or wondering around alone. Later I started to draw pictures where land is tilted and LocoRoco was being rolled.

What is your favourite part of the game?

My favourite part is actions by multiple LocoRoco. Although the part has nothing much to do with the game play, this is what I most wanted to do. Watching LocoRoco gather to sing and pile up is really fun. Also their actions are not determined by certain motion data so you can never be bored watching them.

I also love the background music of the game. To keep the same music across the world, I created LocoRoco language myself and wrote the lyrics. LocoRoco sings as they roll, and the chorus is added / decreased depending on the number of LocoRoco so the song constantly changes. I believe focusing on such part that looks pointless is actually important.

Tell us a bit about the background of the team you worked with…

Since I drew up a project, members had gathered from different teams separately.

What do you think are the specific challenges of designing a game for PSP?

By utilizing PSP’s speed processing and curved surface drawing function, I am trying to realize LocoRoco by physical calculation.

What next for LocoRoco?

I have several ideas but nothing has been decided…

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