Developer Staff Interview

Red Entertainment Corporation Artdink M2, Ltd. Nintendo
Planning Director Producer Character & Dinosaur Design Development Director Development Producer Chief Programmer Producer Director Assistant Director
Shunichi Ii Ai Ito Naota Watabe Takaaki Seki Akiko Hattori Jun Okada Hitoshi Yamagami Genki Yokota Shingo Matsushita

Enjoying the Fun of Excavating Fossils with the DS Stylus

Nintendo: Where did Mr. Ii, who made the original proposal, get the idea for a game about digging fossils?

Shunichi Ii
Well, if you visit a hobby shop, sometimes you find fossil-digging sets for children on sale there, right? I happened to buy one of those, and I carefully and earnestly removed the sand from around a "fossil" only to find that what emerged was nothing but a bone made out of plastic. "Give me a break!" I thought. There isn't much meaning in scraping away the fossil encasing so carefully if that's all you end up with. The set comes with real brushes and hammers, but if what's inside is plastic, then the inner "fossil" won't be damaged even if you just split the outer rock casing open with a loud crack.

It was around this time that I got a look at the DS, which , and I thought that the DS system would be able to recreate the sensation of carefully removing rock with a drill while taking into account the condition of the fossil within. If you drill away at mineral deposits, a fine dust accumulates, but since the DS comes equipped with a mic, I thought it would be possible for the gamer to use his breath to blow the dust away. This is one plan that I never would have come up with were it not for the DS.
Jun Okada
We (M2) took part this time in the capacity of being in charge of programming. Ordinarily, in development, we receive the specs from the client and then finish the programming after going through a process of consultation. But this time, we thought that the part about cleaning the fossils would not take shape well if this usual back and forth took place at the level of specifications. I say this because the analog feeling was extremely important in the coordination of the fossil-cleaning part. So, we had Artdink decide upon the general framework, and we had one person on our side be the director exclusively for the cleaning. I did the programming, but I worked together closely with the director, side by side, for one to two weeks, saying things like, "Can we get this to feel more like this?" or "Can we tweak it a bit more?" And the base for the cleaning component was created through that collaboration.
Hitoshi Yamagami
It would be no fun for the player if, when the rock was removed and he got down to the fossil, it broke apart at the instant it was touched, so we had them adjust the fragility of the fossil, etc., so that the player could, while sometimes failing, gradually improve.
Jun Okada
Personally, I like the part about blowing away the dust, too.
Hitoshi Yamagami
Yes, truly, when you blow on it, the dust flies away as if scattered in the wind. That sensation really feels good.

Actually, the system that we initially used for the cleaning was one wherein it was relatively easy to score points. But if that were all there were to it, then people would get fixated on cleaning alone, and they would never make any progress forward. Cleaning isn't the entire objective of the game, so we changed the system so that the level of difficulty for the cleaning was higher, and in exchange, the gamer could succeed in reviving the dinosaur if he managed to scrape away at least 50% of the fossil casing.
Genki Yokota
People who really want to get on with the game quickly can enjoy a thrilling kind of cleaning process wherein they can roughly break the rock open by clanging away at it with a hammer, and as a result, they can revive lot of different kinds of dinosaurs in a short period of time. People who are more concerned with not damaging the fossil can aim for a higher degree of perfection in their work, using the drill to perform the cleaning very, very carefully. The game is designed so that the dinosaurs revived in this manner grow stronger as a result. The idea is that you choose your own play style, thinking ahead to the battle later in the game. You can either prepare to wage battle using a large number of dinosaurs, or you can aim to launch into battle using a small number of very powerful dinosaurs. Either way, we think you'll get a real sense of challenge and accomplishment.