September 09, 2004

No. 15

category: Diary

Well, Kyushu (the southernmost of Japan's four major islands)
is a great place.

My father and mother both are from Kurate county
in Fukuoka (a prefecture in Kyushu),
so I have many relatives living in Kyushu.

When I was a kid, my family went back to Kyushu during
summer vacation.
We would dive into the sea and catch fish
with spears, collect shellfish and crabs,
go fishing with rods, or with a net,
go to the river to catch crabs and shrimps,
catch sleeping fish in the river with hands at night,
and go hunting for beetles.

Now I realize all that we did was to catching something.
I had a great memory of all this.

Kyushu has a lot of mountains and also
the sea and the rivers are very clean.
So you can find lots of wildlife there.
And most importantly people are very friendly.
There is no place like Kyushu.

The Hoenn region in Pokemon Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald is
modeled after Kyushu because I wanted to recatch
my memories of summer in Kyushu.

The concept of the Hoenn region is a place where
Pokemon and humans get along well, and also where
people can meet friends and develop relationships
with other people.
We designed the region with the importance of human
relationships and the warm heart of the Kyushu people
in mind.
(Ho in "Hoenn"「豊緑」means 'rich' and Enn means
'green' in Japanese kanji.)

The reason why the island is rotated 90 degrees counterclockwise
is because we thought it brings a better playability that way.

OK, Kyushu.  I'll visit there again.
Of course, on the way I will play Pokemon Emerald.


No. 14

category: Pokemon

Maps in Pokemon games look somewhat peculiar, don't they?

The thing was, in order to include many graphics
of Pokemon and to save the ROM capacity,
our programmers had to sacrifice something.
To cope with the problem, we came up with the idea of
using roads.

Oftentimes limitations like this can make a game
more entertaining.

For example, the maximum number of letters
you can use for Pokemon names and moves are fixed.
Also, the player can carry only 6 Pokemon
and 4 moves at hand.
This kinds of limitations I think contribute greatly
to the playability of the game.

When we were developing Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire,
we went back to where we started
and discussed changing the number of Pokemon
you can carry, or the number of moves Pokemon can learn,
but in the end we came to the conclusion that
the original numbers were the best, and that
not one more or less would make the game more fun.

Limitations force us to think harder and
they can bring many difficulties, of course,
but I try to think that they are what "forces us to
think of ways to polish up our products so that
they are of the highest quality."
So, limitations are important to us.


September 02, 2004

No. 13

category: Diary

Today I'll write about some geeky stories of old days.

When we started developing for Pokemon Red and Blue,
we at Game Freak took a plunge and bought a UNIX machine
called SUN SPARCstation 1.

Even now I think it was such a bold step because
it was very very expensive.

We also installed LAN boards from Allied Telesis
in our PC9801Xa and Epson computers in order to set up a LAN environment.
Four or five of us logged into the network from different
computers so that we could work together, but it was so slow.

When I was in technical school I studied CG and C language
using a medium-sized computer by DEC, and before I knew it
I was really into UNIX.

For someone like me, therefore, SUN was such an easy-to-use

But it sometimes crashed.  "What on earth is going on?"
Then there were times it never rebooted... "Oh my goodness!"

Whenever this happened I used to yell at the computer
"Start up!!! Please!"  It was almost like a prayer.

These days we used streamer tapes that were as large
as VHS cassettes for backups.
But they took so long that we didn't back up as
often as we should have.
So when computers crashed there was a possibility that
more than a month's worth of all of our contributions
might go down the drain.
We tried every possible means to rescue the computers.

We read manuals in English and impossibly thick books on computers.
We also asked for help on Nifty Serve's bulletin board.

When a machine didn't start up for a continuos period
(like reboots during startup),
I was so completely preoccupied with the problem
that I even had a dream of my machine starting up!

Looking back it was a very good learning experience.

From Masuda, a vi mania.

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