The next world of TYPE-MOON
An extended interview with Takeuchi Takashi from TYPE-MOON Ace 1, which was released on April 21st, 2008. The interview focuses on the three new games announced by TYPE-MOON, Mahoutsukai no Yoru, a remake of Tsukihime, and Girls' Work.
Nasu Kinoko's origin, Mahoutsukai no Yoru, start!
Please tell us about the three newly announced titles, starting with Mahoutsukai no Yoru.
Takeuchi: Fans keeping a close eye on TYPE-MOON probably already know, Mahoutsukai no Yoru is one of Nasu Kinoko's unpublished works, and was completed in 1996, two years before the publication of Kara no Kyoukai. It's a writing-practice intended only for his friends, and is one of his earliest works. If Tsukihime marks the beginning of TYPE-MOON, then Mahoutsukai no Yoru marks the beginning of Nasu Kinoko's fictional worldview. All of TYPE-MOON's works are born in the same vein as Mahoutsukai no Yoru! Surely the fans are already familiar with this.
Although the original order probably should have been Mahoutsukai no Yoru, Tsukihime, Fate, the reversal of order here could help add to the richness of familiarity in Mahoutsukai no Yoru that stem from other works. We've always wanted to work on Mahoutsukai no Yoru even though its worldview likely won't be as fresh as when Tsukihime was released, if only because it marks the root of Nasu's world. Both I and Nasu have a special attachment toward Mahoutsukai no Yoru.
Originally, Nasu thought if we didn't get a chance to create it, then so be it. There are many factors that lead to the decision to create it, the most important of which is "opportunity." Even now, when we have decided to work on the game, it's funny how sometimes we still worry about whether such old work will be accepted by the fans, but I'm certain there is a way to communicate to the readers the initial impact and joy I felt after first seeing the work.
What led to the decision to let Koyama Hirokazu be the artist?
Takeuchi: As the CG Director of previous TYPE-MOON works, Koyama Hirokazu has always been an important factor in assuring the quality of the works. He has also acted as the illustrator for Nasu's DDD. As a member of TYPE-MOON, it's about time to entrust a product to him. When it comes to the concept of the new work, if Nasu's original Mahoutsukai no Yoru concepts can merge with Koyama's art, then perhaps we can see a rebirth based on the original. That's the reason Koyama Hirokazu was chosen to be the illustrator for Mahoutsukai no Yoru.
There are three main characters, Aoko and Alice both appeared in the Character Material book that was released during Comiket Market 70 in 2006.
Takeuchi: Correct, the designs from that book were based on the 1996 settings. The game will portray a different Aoko and Alice without deviating from the original designs.
Mahoutsukai no Yoru's story about Aoko during her impulsive days
Aoko appeared in both Tsukihime and Melty Blood, does this mean those games take place in the same world?
Takeuchi: Of course they share the same worldview, but it's better to view them as different stories. For example, the Kohaku from Tsukihime and the Kohaku from Melty Blood feel like totally different people (laughs). The Aoko-sensei everyone is familiar with will also be a totally different person. Tsukihime's Aoko-sensei is an accomplished magus, in Mahoutsukai no Yoru she is still an inexperienced mage still growing up. Fans who knew her from other works will be surprised: "So this is how the old Aoko-sensei is like!"
Judging from official information, the main protagonist will be both Aoko and Soujuurou.
Takeuchi: Mahoutsukai no Yoru is a story about Aoko's growth. How did someone like her, inexperienced but with unknown potential, live? The theme of "slice-of-life" plays a big part in the story; the alternating point of view from Soujuurou and the witches pushes the story forward.
The stage is set in the late 80s, which seems to have become an important aspect of the story.
Takeuchi: Mobile phones and the Internet still weren't as widely used back then as they are today, it was a period filled with the nostalgic atmosphere of the late Showa era. It has the feeling of a vibrant society at the end of the bubble economy, but also the feeling of the end of an era. It's a nostalgic feeling for people in the same generation as me, of a time when the younger generation has yet to be born.
At this dividing point in history, Aoko, a modern magician, Alice, a mage who seems as if she came straight from the Middle Ages, and Soujuurou, an average person, meet and begin living together. As the society around them quickly enters into a stagnant period, the opposing personalities of the three characters form a nice balance. Hopefully this unbelievable atmosphere can be felt in the game. Also, I think a thorough historic fact check is not necessary as long as the feeling and memories of the era has been faithfully replicated.
If that time period is to be faithfully brought out, it'll have an impact much like the movie Bubble Fiction: Boom or Bust (laughs)
Takeuchi: Using the bubble era as our main theme would make it a different game. We want to create a fantasy world that "existed not long ago at the time of dusk."
Let's talk more about the other two main characters, Alice and Soujuurou.
Takeuchi: Alice is an interesting character. Unlike the outgoing Aoko, Alice is a quiet girl who doesn't easily reveal her emotions. She gives off a feeling of being above this earthly world, and her behaviors are full of mystery. Because she doesn't usually show emotions, when she does, it will leave a strong impression.
The official document mentions that Soujuurou has an "average personality"...
Takeuchi: The protagonist described by Nasu is an ordinary person: Nice, but ordinary, the kind of young men you see everywhere. If you have to point out something special, then it would have to be his hometown, a place so deep in the mountains not even telephone lines can reach. On the bright side, he is very honest; on the negative side, he is not as civilized. The Soujuurou created by Nasu is someone who has no concept of the modern way of life.
The highlight of the title is the intertwining lives of the three characters
What do you think is this title's biggest charm?
Takeuchi: Three people with totally different perspective and value, each with their own pile of problems, living in the same house. I think "slice-of-life" is the pillar of this title. Of course, the spectacular magic battles is another important aspect, and then there are also explanations for Nasu's worldviews and concepts of magic that are sure to please Nasu fans, but these won't compete with the main attraction of the theme of "everyday life." The atmosphere, combined with the storytelling of the game, already make the title highly exciting.
There was also the theme of "living together" in Fate, what's the difference here?
Takeuchi: In Fate, everyone lives together due to mutual needs. In Mahoutsukai no Yoru, the three characters don't live together out of necessity. As their values clash, they also begin to accept each other's values, and in doing so, their characters evolve. This chaotic but slowly evolving cohabitation is one of the biggest charms of the game.
Similar to renting the same apartment together, but with some subtle differences.
Takeuchi: Living together like that is different from renting the same apartment together. Think suddenly dropping someone in, and they just start living together. You could say this fantasy grew out of this "cohabitation." Also, in Fate, Shirou's house is a traditional Japanese house, but in this game, the house is a Western-styled house, which is another difference in theme. If you want to give it another name, how about "joyful mansion cohabitation AVG." (laughs)
This time the product is not as expensive, is there any deep meanings behind it?
Compared to previous works, Mahoutsukai no Yoru is somewhat cheaper, why is that?
Takeuchi: TYPE-MOON's previous works, Tsukihime and Fate, are unquestionable in terms of quality and quantity! They're both large projects. Mahoutsukai no Yoru, while preserving the same quality and quantity, is also heading toward a new direction. More precisely, Mahoutsukai no Yoru's gameplay time is shorter compared to Fate, but its density and quality is comparably higher. We want to link price to its quality, but don't misunderstand, it's not that the work this time is simpler.
In today's market where light novels are very popular, as a group that produces story-heavy novel games, we need to re-evaluate the meaning of our games. Being easy-to-read and cheap are the advantages of a light novel, a game can't win against a light novel if it can't change its image of simply rehashing and presenting the content of a novel. The biggest advantage of a game is its ability to combine graphics and sound with the writing to create a new entertainment experience. For TYPE-MOON, the goal for creating Mahoutsukai no Yoru is to present this kind of entertainment experience in a different way than Fate.
When we first started on the game, we came in contact with works by Leaf and Key and felt that it was possible to make our dreams possible commercially, and thought that we can once again realize the "possibility of games." Of course this is only my opinions and not that of the other staff, but if we can achieve this with Mahoutsukai no Yoru, I have a feeling it'll flesh out the meaning behind our commercialization.
So the new direction taken up by TYPE-MOON should be visible in Mahoutsukai no Yoru. Not only price, but the fact the game is rated all-age is also something new.
Takeuchi: Even though it seems like something new, in our works, a majority of the content is aimed at the general public. Mahoutsukai no Yoru is an important work for both me and Nasu, so we don't want to make any changes to the main story. In fact, no matter how many small changes we make, it's still a big headache to think whether one could make significant changes to a work he or she truly appreciates. One thing is clear though, I don't want to add too many unnecessary elements to the work to change its core. All in all, we'll do our best to use our skills and tools to fully bring out the feeling of the work, to create a product that will satisfy TYPE-MOON fans. This is something that will never change.
Being an all-age game, you chose PC over consoles, why is that?
Takeuchi: Simply because PC has higher resolution graphics than PS2 and other consoles, and can present to the players more beautiful graphics. To date we haven't encountered any obstacles developing games for the PC, and developing on consoles has its own annoyances. The fact that PC doesn't limit your freedom to present what you want would probably our biggest reason for us choosing it (laughs). Still, we set the age group a little low, so that later on it may be ported to consoles. Fate is a game that forces the players to focus in front of the screen when playing, Mahoutsukai no Yoru, on the other hand, will be a more relaxed and casual game. We may even port it to PSP so players can play it on the go.
The Tsukihime project that was restarted after 10 years
Let's change the topic to Tsukihime. It's been 10 years since the release of the original doujin game, why choose now to remake?
Takeuchi: As everyone already knows, Tsukihime is the doujin game from when we first started. Since its release, the doujin group TYPE-MOON became a company, and works like Fate were released, so we've always been thinking when to commercialize Tsuhime. However, time constraints became more and more frequent, and we missed many opportunities to do a remake. The doujin group TYPE-MOON was formed in the summer of 1999, next year will be our 10th anniversary. This is a great time for a remake, or rather, if we miss this opportunity again, we won't get another chance. So we thought that we can't let this chance go no matter what.
This remake will need to satisfy the needs of both players who played the original Tsukihime 10 years ago as well as those who just recently came into contact with it; this is a fine balance that is one of the biggest difficulties facing us. Not to say knowing where to begin is already something very scary. In the past we simply say to each other "so when are we going to remake Tsukihime?" Just presenting it in the same form as the original game would be an embarrassment to us. As a result, we're not facing a difficult battle (laughs). Production will officially begin after Mahoutsukai no Yoru is finished, the reason we announced it so early is because announcing them together creates more impact, please understand (sweat).
The CG of the main characters have already been released, are they the same ones from the original work?
Takeuchi: The reason we released the CG for Tsukihime is to let the fans once again experience the feeling of Tsukihime. The actual game CG will be completely redrawn; there may even be characters with modified designs.
In the film version of Kara no Kyoukai, Touko's design was also changed drastically, will it be the same for Tsukihime?
Takeuchi: There shouldn't be any change of that magnitude. The manga version of Melty Blood and Tsukihime are still being serialized, and they are all related. Also, many like the current design, so I can't make any more design decisions by myself like with Touko. If there is going to be change, it will be on the level of clothe and hairstyle. It would be great if we can achieve the level of upgrade as Rebuild of Evangelion (laughs).
Tsukihime has been adapted into many other media such as anime and manga, those who will play it are probably fans of TYPE-MOON. This should be wonderful news for this group of people?
Takeuchi: The original doujin game is something that is very hard to come by nowadays, so we feel bad for not releasing a remake for those who have always wanted to try out this game. If one wants to know the content of the story, one can go read the manga Shingetsutan Tsukihime. The manga version is a pictorial representation of Nasu's work. The excellence of the Tsukihime manga has also become a great challenge that we need to surpass for the Tsukihime remake (laughs). We hope to create a game that can be enjoyed differently than the manga version.
Undecided genre, in other words, there is a high possibility it will be an all-age work?
Takeuchi: Right, it may be influenced by many factors before its release. As a result, it's being marked as "undecided." Choosing which one is the best match for Tsukihime is a good question, and I want to think about it more carefully before making a decision.
Everyone is curious about the estimate release date.
Takeuchi: It will be after Mahoutsukai no Yoru, the precise time is not clear. We don't plan on waiting too long, or we won't be able to catch the 10th anniversary mark (laughs).
Will there be voice over?
Takeuchi: Adding voice over for characters will have a huge impact, but will also limit the player's reading speed, and is not really related to novel-style games. The current plan is to create a voiceless game, maybe some will feel something basic is missing, but I don't want to be limited by it, and will decide what to add and what not to add based on if a feature will add a point or deduct a point from the game.
A new wind from TYPE-MOON different from the team of Nasu x Takeuchi
The most shocking part of this announcement is Girls' Work, this title has nothing to do with the Nasu x Takeuchi team.
Takeuchi: In reality we're still the director. This is something completely new we're trying, it's a project to bring out ideas that TYPE-MOON has never had a chance to. I'm sure one can tell from the game's background images, it's not something that can be created in a day. It needs time, and a lot of attention and work to create. The main theme is "streets," which was also used as a central focus in the introduction during the announcement.
Looking at the background concept arts, one can feel a style new to TYPE-MOON. All past works have used our own society as their setting, this time the differences have already found their way into Girls' Work's concept arts.
Takeuchi: We can't reveal much about the story... but what I can say, the setting was in part inspired by modern Paris streets. You can find such inspiration in the streets in the game.
As TYPE-MOON's new blood, what's the meaning behind employing a new staff?
Takeuchi: Past works from TYPE-MOON has all been built on top of Nasu's work, using "Nasu's World" as their stage, and received many fan's support. To further discover new talents from within TYPE-MOON, we need people other than us to become the main pillar in development. As a result, we now have Hoshizora Meteo, who worked on Kusarihime and Seven-Bridge while at Liar-soft, together with his partner Kimura Kou. We came into contact with them while collecting scripts from other authors while making Fate/hollow ataraxia. They're both well-known and accomplished script writer from the industry. We will face new challenges with our best lineup.
What kind of expectation does Mr. Nasu have for this title?
Takeuchi: With ideas never before explored by TYPE-MOON, but also need to be created as a TYPE-MOON work. It would be meaningless if we don't try to take up this challenge. It is very difficult to have people who are used to working with other companies to work following TYPE-MOON's pace and style. At the same time, many worldview and design ideas that are missing from TYPE-MOON have been brought in. The unique and rich style of Imperial Boy's work truly is a breath of fresh air.
In this title the Mage's Association and the Church, both unique elements from Nasu's world, won't be making any appearance?
Takeuchi: Correct. This title is a brand new title from Hoshizora Meteo. We're not asking him to make it using his old methods. Our goal is to combine the styles of Hoshizora Meteo and TYPE-MOON.
What expectation does Mr. Nasu have for TYPE-MOON's works?
Takeuchi: Nasu has many ideas, and to me they're all "entertainment and service." Great background settings and strong stories, there is no meaning if it can't entertain its audience. Creating work not to satisfy himself, but to satisfy others. However, an author diminishing his or her own personality to please the players is also meaningless. There are also many works where without getting the details, people find the overall work interesting. Seeing the ending of the film version of Neon Genesis Evangelion, most probably didn't really understand it. "What is this and what just happened!?" but it was fun to watch. The atmosphere created by the overall work has already conquered all. I feel this title has similar temperament. Entertainment and service is my own opinion, I really hope it will become a work with elements I never thought of.
Where TYPE-MOON is heading toward.
The plan is to first release Mahoutsukai no Yoru?
Takeuchi: Correct. Then it will be Tsukihime and Girls' Work, we are not sure yet which one will come out first. It took five years to get from Fate to Mahoutsukai no Yoru, it's been such a long journey. Of course, we also gained many experiences during the tough times trying to surpass Fate. Because it's published after Fate, we want to tell a different story this time around, but for the ending, the staff is determined to present something as grand as Fate. It will be difficult, but Mahoutsukai no Yoru is TYPE-MOON's ace, we can't be careless.
It's been 10 years since the release of Tsukihime, tell us a bit about the past 10 years.
Takeuchi: I have no idea where to begin (laughs). TYPE-MOON's creation and the PS2 release happened around the same period, looking at it this way, you really get the feeling it's been a long time. Even though it's been 10 years, we never rested and kept working on Fate/stay night and Fate/hollow ataraxia, as a result I can't remember much (laughs). However, taking another look at the past, the times spent were meaningful, and were all spent on production.
TYPE-MOON's goal for the future is?
Takeuchi: The same as when we worked on Fate/hollow ataraxia, first we have an idea in our heads, and then we work hard toward realizing that idea. For now we will work hard to push Mahoutsukai no Yoru as close to its ideal form as possible.
Please say a few last words to our readers.
Takeuchi: The information on three new titles were suddenly released, they are works that TYPE-MOON has always wanted to do and works that we have always tried to find time to work on. Now that we have the chance, we decided to announce them, think of it as our apology for making fans wait so long after the release of Fate on the PS2.
Similar to the PC version of Fate, there will be a period of silence after the announcement. Please wait a bit longer, we will do our best to complete Mahoutsukai no Yoru by the beginning of next year. The other two works are still in the planning stage, and will start production after Mahoutsukai no Yoru.
Ever since Fate/hollow ataraxia, TYPE-MOON's motto has been "challenge," the individual excellence as a create and the team spirit when working in a team, even though it can be hard to balance between the two, not giving up and continually challenging both has been the source of TYPE-MOON's energy. There used to be many doubts, many times when we felt our immaturity. We once again understand the pride of creators, and now we have these three new works slowly taking shape. They're still just chicks, but we hope everyone who has helped us will watch and support their growth. You've all waited a long time, from now on we won't hesitate, and we will deliver new titles to everyone, so please wait for it!