Good evening. This is Clockwork Toyoda. Thank you for visiting.
This blog aims to show off the charms of Siren: Blood Curse. For the next three days the developers will be talking to us. Today, we will bring you the second part of the interview with director Keiichiro Toyama and head of scenario Naoko Sato.
Clockwork Toyoda (below, Toyoda): Hanuda is full of interesting posters and signs; which parts of each area should we look out for?
Keiichiro Toyama (below, Toyama): First of all, you could say that the hospital is a fusion of Siren's hospital and the the school.
Naoko Sato (below, Sato): That's the role it plays. I wanted to put in a school as well, to be honest, but...
Toyoda: Did you go out and do research for a school?
Toyama: A little. We were at the limits of our resources, and had to choose, so we went with the hospital. We did very detailed research for the hospital, so there are lots of things to look out for.
Toyoda: Was it an idea you got on research that made you want to put in an anatomical doll?
Toyama: There was one at the hospital we went to look around.
Sato: Its head had came off and rolled away (laughs).
Toyama: That did happen at one point, yeah.
Toyoda: There's a photo of the operating theatre in "good evening from the development team"...
Toyama: We put a lot of focus on the operating theatre. I think it came out quite nicely.
Toyoda: Did you also base the construction of the stairs on the hospital you went to?
Toyama: Yeah. Another thing we put in because it was actually there was the incinerator. You wouldn't normally think of something like that being in the basement, would you?
Toyoda: You mean it was really in the basement?
Sato: Yeah; there was really one in the indoor basement.
Toyama: Ahh, it was really spooky. Even during research, that was the creepiest area. We usually don't use basements much even for taking photos of, and leave them alone. It was so scary that I actually wanted to hold an event there. I wanted to do a haunted house, just that once (laughs). I hope I can someday.
Toyoda: (laughs). So next, let's talk about Gojaku Peak...
Toyama: The centrepiece is the setup with the mine carts.
Sato: The script planner absolutely insisted we do something with the carts. It was quite a lot of work, but I think it worked out really well in the end.
Toyama: In Siren, even if one hits a Shibito it just goes straight through. We had regrets about that. In this game you can run them over normally, so look out for that.
Sato: We did research at a bunch of different places and combined them to make the location, so the scenery is quite interesting. The bridge is based on the bridge in Okutama, so I think you get a real sense of abandonment from it.
Toyoda: I see. Next up, Harayadori...
Toyama: For this place we didn't just reproduce exactly what we saw on research, but rather gathered together bits and pieces of it. I just really wanted to do a submerged village. We barely, barely managed to do it, and it took a lot of effort to finish.
Toyoda: When you play it you'll feel this, but the sensation of being submerged is really amazing.
Sato: It was really tricky. The water's surface actually takes so much power that we couldn't show it at night. We didn't have the processing power to have light reflect off the water, shadows show on its surface or anything like that... That's why there are no nighttime scenes in Harayadori.
Toyoda: There are all kinds of things floating around in it, too, and the water itself has proper undulations...
Toyama: I thought it would be simple to have objects float in it using the physics engine, but it was actually really hard. I was really insistent that if there's nothing floating in it, we can't use it this time, either!, so apparently they built their own programme and somehow managed it.
Sato: We also put a lot of effort into making the water muddy, so take a good look at it.
Toyoda: Next, what to look out for in Karuwari.
Toyama: In a sense, the first thing I wanted to do in the Siren series was the terraced rice fields, so I'd made up my mind that they just had to be in this game as well. I think the ones in the game are close to my perfect ideal of what they should be.
Sato: There are no nighttime sections here either, though.
Toyama: Usually, water in games has an even surface. But rice fields have different levels, and of course there are variations in the places where the surface of the water is reflective because of the fluctuations in height. It's really heavy processing work to deal with all of those reflections.
Toyoda: The rice fields really are beautiful, though. Just taking a glance at the plants you would think they're just bits of green, but when you take a closer look you realise there are all different varieties... It creates an overall scenery that is really pretty to look at.
Toyama: When we were setting the shaking of the plants, we considered things like where is easiest for wind to pass through, and which direction it's coming from.
Toyoda: Next, let's talk about the Shibito Nest.
Toyama: This location is totally different from the one in Siren. I guess you could say that this game's version is my ideal one; the realising of something I wanted to do.
Toyoda: To me, it seems kind of like orderly chaos...
Sato: It doesn't affect the chaos, but I wonder, just how many aerials do you need to get reception? (laughs)
Toyama: That kind of bus was something I wanted put in. They weren't around anymore, even when I was young, but sometimes you would see remnants of them preserved in rural areas. They're one of the symbols of old Japan, so I asked that they be put in.
Sato: It's not just there, either; it shakes (laughs). The art director tried really hard with the construction. The Shibito Nest has such a complex layout, which made taking directions harder than giving them. Since it's in 3D, it's also difficult to demonstrate in a drawing. We got the team members together over and over, having meetings over what to do with this or that connection, making it as we went.
Toyoda: And there are characters and Shibito moving all over the place.
Toyama: It's total chaos. Complete chaos inside (laughs). We were talking about how to make that jumble work, and, well... this happens every time, but we argued about it. In a way, if you think of it just as creating a game it's quite simple, and once you start thinking like that you can just make the layout simpler and simpler. It's fine to isolate the display parts and the game parts, but our staff wouldn ever do something like that (laughs).
Sato: The characters and the superhuman Shibito proceed along different routes, so the staff would all be really happy if you'd look at things like that.
Toyoda: And finally, the Ito house...
Toyama: This was the most highly thought-of level in Siren, so I thought we should do it again with the fewest modifications possible.
Toyoda: I was surprised that there's a fourth one now (laughs).
Sato: Toyama said to us that this level was going to be the showpiece, but I said that it would be boring if we just kept it the exact same as before. We discussed what it would take to make it more fun than before, and somehow ended up adding a fourth grandpa Shibito (laughs). When I saw it, I knew it was definitely going to make it better.
Toyama: I wanted to resolve things like issues with time attack and dissatisfactions from Siren, so a lot of care was taken with it. For example, there's an unusually high number of gimmicks for sneaking into places.
Toyoda: I was shocked by the one using firewood (laughs).
Toyama: The Ito house was based on my wife's childhood home. It's in Matsudo - formerly two storeys, now one. It's kind of old and unsafe now, so it's scheduled to be demolished soon. I thought I'd better preserve a last look at it in the game or something (laughs).
Toyoda: So you could go there one last time for research before it was demolished (laughs).
Toyama: They said to me, "If it's for research then go ahead," (laughs).
Toyoda: Oh, I forgot to ask about Lower Arato you visit in Episode 1...
Toyama: We had a lot of complications with that area, and at first it was just a mini map used for testing purposes only. I guess there are something special about the atmosphere, and it was interesting, so we ended up putting it in the game. Because of this, at first there was no police box. The house at the top of the slope was abandoned at first, too.
Toyoda: Oh, really?
Sato: I think people who pay attention will notice. It's too run-down for people to be living in (laughs).
Toyama: For the time being we had completed the introductory level, and put in corpses to strengthen it. Then we thought, well, we can't have it be abandoned...
Toyoda: I see.
Sato: We hurriedly put in electricity, turned on the TV, and generally changed it to look like people were living there (laughs).
Toyama: We did change it, but since it was meant to be abandoned there are still things like holes in the walls (laughs). It doesn't feel like anyone would live there (laughs).
Sato: There are bodies in the living room and bathroom, and it's the kind of place where you make new discoveries if you start over.
Toyama: You can proceed if you hide in the bathroom instead of the closet, and there's a way to force your way out when the police office opens the door - you can do a surprising number of things there, so it might be fun for you to try doing it again.
Did you notice the name of Masami Mizuno, who played Yoriko Anno in Siren, in the special thanks section of the credits? She is currently involved with her parents' real estate, and happily allowed us to use their holiday home in Karuizawa when we couldn't find a place to shoot the opening and were stuck. What a goddess. Though suddenly she said to us, "Feel free to use the 80,000 square yards however you like," which was bewildering (laughs). She actually also joined in with the shoot, playing one of the villagers at the ritual. (Toyama)