Xenoblade Chronicles 3 is almost out and – according to a whole bunch of media outlets – is a pretty good game. We’re often guilty of not sufficiently appreciating the work that goes into creating such a massive title, so it’s always fun to get insight from game developers on how they approach aspects like game design and art direction.
In Nintendo’s latest ‘Ask the Developer’ post, Monolith Soft developers – including Senior Director Tetsuya Takahashi, Producer/Director Koh Kojima, and Director and Planner Genki Yokota – got together to talk through the visual and sound direction for the upcoming JRPG.
Perhaps most surprisingly, when asked about whether deciding on the final visual design for the main characters was a smooth process, Koh Kojima replied with a resounding “no”, elaborating that it was a “hellish process of trial and error”:
Do you feel that you were able to decide on the visual design of the main characters quite smoothly?
Kojima: No, it was a hellish process of trial and error… (Laughs) We especially struggled to decide on the design concept for Noah. During development, Saito-san [Freelance Character Artist on Xenoblade 2 and 3] came to the MONOLITHSOFT office and worked with us. His seat was in front of Takahashi-san’s workspace. We used Takahashi-san’s words to conjure up an image of the characters and convey the intended feeling to Saito-san, who drew various illustrations based on that. However, Takahashi-san looked at the illustrations at the end of the day and said, “No. This isn’t it.” (Laughs) We had to repeat this process again and again.
Takahashi: We particularly struggled with Noah’s design. Saito-san came up with all kinds of illustrations, but somehow none of them quite looked like Noah… I think I mentioned earlier that I wanted Noah, the main protagonist, to be positioned as a philosopher or poet, but I didn’t want him to be seen as a weak-willed character. However, I also didn’t want him to look too pompous.
Kojima: The drafts he drew seemed to be at the two extremes. Some made him look fierce, while others looked somewhat gentle.
Takahashi: I was also worried that his speech might sound pompous if the character design was too noble. We struggled to come up with a design concept that made us think, “Yes, this is Noah!”
On the flip side, Kojima confirmed that the same process for other characters in the game was comparatively easier, because their core appearance was already defined in their character profiles. You can read the whole interview, including a rather interesting segment on custom-made flutes, right here.
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Will you be picking up Xenoblade Chronicles 3 on Friday? Who’s your favourite character so far? Share your thoughts in the comments below!