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Yoko Taro

"Famitsu's interview with our favorite game designe..."

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Yoko Taro (横尾 太郎 Yokoo Tarō, born June 6, 1970) is a Japanese video game director and scenario writer. Starting his career at the now-defunct game company Cavia, he became known for his work on the action role-playing video game series Drakengard and its two spin-offs Nier and its sequel, Nier: Automata. Yoko was born in Nagoya, Aichi, and studied at the Kobe Design University in the 1990s. While initially not intending to pursue a career in video games, after working at Namco and Sony, he joined Cavia and became the director and scenario writer for the first Drakengard game. He has since worked on every game in the series, as well as on mobile titles after becoming a freelancer after Cavia's absorption into AQ Interactive.

Yoko has become known for his style of game design, incorporating unconventional design choices and stories. One of the main aspects of his work is exploring the darker aspects of people, such as why they are driven to kill each other, although he typically does not share common opinion on his story's dark natures. His writing technique, described as "backwards scriptwriting", involves outlining the ending of the story first and building the narrative backwards from that point. Due to his dislike of being photographed, he generally wears a mask when giving interviews or presenting games.

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After four months have passed from the extremely successful release of Square Enix's NieR: Automata, Famitsu put up a special coverage for the game on this week's issue of Weekly Famitsu magazine, which includes an interview with producer Yosuke Saito, director Yoko Taro, game designer Takahisa Taura, composer Keiichi Okabe, and character designer Asahiko Yoshida.

The last part of the interview is particularly interesting as they discussed how they would like to continue the NieR series, so we decided to make a translation of the segment, which you can read after the jump.

Famitsu: We still have upcoming releases of goods like 2B & 9S’ figures and dolls, but are there any other announcements or expansions in the future? For example, figures of the mechanical lifeforms.

Saito: That’s a secret! However, considering the concert Blu-ray will be released at the time of Tokyo Game Show, there have been talks of making some kind of goods for that time. And also before that, there’s one thing I’m wondering about… I don’t know if it’s okay for me to say it right now. Regarding the future of NieR series, it’s up to Yoko-san.

Famitsu: Yoko-san, how about it?

Yoko: I’m not thinking anything at all! I’d like to leave it all to Taura-san.

Famitsu: How’s the possibility of a remake of the prequel?

Yoko: That would be up to Square Enix.

Saito: We don’t really know the actual degree of anticipation for it. So even if we were to do it, we would have to consider various things first. And when we’re actually doing it, we’d like Yoko-san to join the team, and add some extra features.

Famitsu: In 3 more years, the NieR series will be having its 10th anniversary.

Saito: I’d also like to do something for the 10th anniversary.

Yoko: Let’s release a rather crappy social game. Speaking of social games, there are so many people who have registered on SINoALICE. And when the server went down, I’m indirectly feeling how NieR: Automata has actually sold that much. And the after-effects would come here as well.

Famitsu: The collaboration between SINoALICE and NieR: Automata is going to be held in Summer, right?

Yoko: Actually, I still haven’t written the scenario yet (Editor’s note: This interview was conducted in mid-June, so it should have been done by now…). However, right now we are in a ‘festival’ of server maintenance (Editor’s note: It has been fixed now). So thanks to the workplace getting hectic, people don’t actually realize that I’m getting there late, so I’m saved from that.

Famitsu: Finally, would each of you please leave a message, after looking back at NieR: Automata?

Okabe: Just like in the prequel, I think NieR is a title that changes the environment around me. I’m glad I got involved in a game seen by many people, including the musical aspect.

Taura: As [a representative from] Platinum Games, we’re satisfied that we could finish it as a game with an uncommon atmosphere in a very good shape. I hope we can create a sequel as well as more new things.

Famitsu: So you have the desire for it.

Taura: I have a lot of desire for it. But not on the shooter part though.

Yoko: Then it’s no good (laughs). Because [the game] has sold very much, I asked Taura-san, “Since you’re famous now, you won’t even have free time to hug women, will you?” The moment he replied, “Yoko-san, it’s not about hugging; it’s about getting hugged instead,” I thought I’m no match for this guy. That is how I looked back on NieR: Automata.

Famitsu: Eh!? So in the end, is there any reason for putting NieR on the title other than being a sequel?

Yoko: No, nothing. Because it’s a sequel, it [the name NieR] stays there like a curse. However, from the moment it got decided that we'd do it together with Platinum Games, we began the talks from not doing a sequel but rather wanting to do something new. So I’m wondering whether it’s even necessary to intentionally put NieR onto this game’s title.

Yoshida: The reception for the prequel, including the designs, were very good. And although at first I felt really anxious, the reverberations were big so the burdens on my shoulder got lowered. If there is going to be a sequel, would I get called again? (laughs)

Yoko: If we do make it, then please do [join us again]!

Saito: Yoko and I are going to make the request while being nervous again (laughs). It’s related to the current topic about Yoshida-san, but for my own work, it has been 99% done at this point where the members here have gathered. And we’re able to leave a mark behind so we’re glad about it, and we’re also very thankful to the fans that have supported it. If these members could gather once again, there may be a sequel getting made. To the point that I would think if even one of us were missing, we’d rather not do it.

Famitsu: Please do kindly gather once again!

Saito: I fear that there’s a possibility where someone [among us] will die (laughs), like we wouldn’t be able to physically gather.

Yoko: Because either Saito-san (who likes drinking) or my own liver is in a dangerous zone. If I’m [still] alive, I’ll think about it.

on July 22, 2017
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Yoko Taro

Famitsu's interview with our favorite game designer
Book rating: 100 out of 100 with 1 ratings