Keita Takahashi interview — How the imaginative mind behind Katamari created Wattam

Nobody however Keita Takahashi may make a recreation like Wattam. He’s identified for Katamari Damacy and Noby Noby Boy, and his latest mission sports activities his signature cheery colours, goofy humorousness, and playful mechanics. Regardless that it would seem as pleasant chaos, it’s not all random — Takahashi created it with a cause in thoughts. He partnered with writer Annapurna Interactive, and will probably be due out later this 12 months for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.

Katamari Damacy got here out in 2004, and its playful mechanics and zany, addictive soundtrack made it an immediate traditional. It received accolades, just like the Excellence in Recreation Design award on the 2005 Recreation Builders Alternative Awards, and it was later featured within the Museum of Modern Art for instance of the creative deserves of video video games. Wattam doesn’t have the identical mechanics, however like Katamari, it has an imaginative free spirit and radiates unrestrained pleasure.

Once I gave the demo a spin at E3, I discovered Wattam to be brimming with allure instantly. The world is each lovely and harmonious, however some form of catastrophe destroyed every little thing and left a personality referred to as the Mayor alone. From there, the participant should assist him uncover and make new mates – all of whom are on a regular basis objects like rocks and silverware and strawberries. The Mayor is a inexperienced dice who sports activities a bowler hat, which he can elevate to activate a confetti bomb that delights all of his new companions. You possibly can change from one character to the one other, and the extra you carry them collectively, the happier everybody will get and the extra characters you’ll be able to unlock.

I lately caught up with Takahashi, who, so far as I do know, is just not associated to me. Right here’s an edited preview of our interview.

Above: Keita Takahashi (proper) of Funomena reveals off Wattam with Ryan Mohler, lead animator and artist.

Picture Credit score: Dean Takahashi

GamesBeat: What progress have you ever made since E3?

Keita Takahashi: It’s getting there. We’re virtually completed, however we nonetheless have a couple of bugs we have to repair. We’re fairly completely happy about that.

GamesBeat: Does it really feel similar to what we noticed a couple of years in the past, or is it very completely different now? It looks like the fundamentals are the identical. I didn’t really feel like I used to be led to do issues earlier than, whereas right here you’ve achieved issues in a sure order. The fundamentals of doing an enormous explosion is what I bear in mind.

Takahashi: The fundamentals aren’t altering, no. However the earlier model was only a prototype that we used to determine what we may do, or ought to do. Within the new model, we may give attention to what we needed to do.

GamesBeat: You need to assume a bit extra about what is going to result in extra issues. Should you eat somebody, you’ll be able to create one thing else. It’s nonetheless very imaginative.

Takahashi: That’s what I do. [Laughs] That’s solely what I can do.

GamesBeat: What’s your objective? Simply to make this loopy enjoyable expertise?

Takahashi: This recreation’s objective is to carry again your previous mates and previous household collectively. It’s a really story-driven recreation.

GamesBeat: Is that this simply the beginning of the story, then?

Takahashi: Proper, it’s simply the beginning. That is the spring world, and later you’ll be able to unlock summer time, autumn, and winter.

GamesBeat: Does all of it happen on a platform like this?

Takahashi: Sure, simply the platform.

Above: Wattam

Picture Credit score: Keita Takahashi

GamesBeat: What would you say the objective is? Simply to complete the story?

Takahashi: That might be a spoiler. [Laughs] However generally you’re making an attempt to carry again your loved ones and your pals.

GamesBeat: You wish to discover as many creatures as you’ll be able to, then.

Takahashi: Properly, they’re folks, not creatures. They’re folks, not issues.

GamesBeat: Do you are feeling it’s very completely different or just like Katamari ultimately?

Takahashi: It’s completely completely different. Katamari had some story, however it is a rather more story-based recreation than Katamari.

GamesBeat: And also you talk the story with out phrases?

Takahashi: It’s subtitled, in order you noticed to start with, you’ve got issues just like the Mayor saying he’s unhappy. We talk by way of textual content bubbles or subtitles.

GamesBeat: However there isn’t a lot dialogue.

Takahashi: There’s some. A little bit bit.

GamesBeat: It seems like there are a whole lot of completely different sorts of creatures.

Takahashi: Folks. [Laughs] “Creatures” is a phrase we use to “different” issues. Attempting to determine them as folks is a metaphor, in a means.

GamesBeat: You need folks to really feel extra connection to them.

Takahashi: Proper. They’re the identical as us.

GamesBeat: Why do you name the one man the Mayor?

Takahashi: As a result of he’s the Mayor.

GamesBeat: Is there a city?

Above: Wattam is a loopy title from Keita Takahashi and Funomena.

Picture Credit score: Annapurna Interactive

Takahashi: Yeah. It’s a really lonely city. [laughs]

GamesBeat: Does every particular person have a reputation and a narrative to them?

Takahashi: Yeah, you’ll be able to see the folks’s info and outline by way of the gathering view. We now have the gathering view so you’ll be able to undergo them.

GamesBeat: Are all of the folks linked to one another ultimately?

Takahashi: Sure, ultimately. It’s mysterious.

GamesBeat: Why do you’ve got blood sort listed for everybody?

Takahashi: Why not? It’s a part of the gathering knowledge.

GamesBeat: Is it extra of an accomplishment should you get that massive big fireworks explosion? Is that one of many functions of the sport?

Takahashi: That was undoubtedly a query within the unique demo. It’s not as a lot of a spotlight anymore, to get an even bigger explosion. It’s concerning the pleasure of particular person explosions and other people wanting to affix within the enjoyable.

Above: Wattam has distinctive character design.

Picture Credit score: Funomena

GamesBeat: So it’s not like Katamari, the place you simply need one thing to get greater and larger.

Takahashi: That’s one thing you are able to do, however it’s not a driving drive.

GamesBeat: What had been you pondering if you got here up with this and labored on creating this?

Takahashi: There was an concept—once I moved to Vancouver from Tokyo, there have been many various races of individuals. Indian, Chinese language, Russian, some European folks, South African folks. However all of them converse English too, to work collectively. That was spectacular to me, as a result of I’m Japanese, and virtually all of the folks residing in Japan are Japanese, and solely converse Japanese, after all. That was very refreshing. Everybody can work collectively and attempt to make one thing. However we even have tons of points that come from our variations, whether or not it’s pores and skin colour or faith or another perspective. I used to be pondering that it was attention-grabbing, that it’s a critical difficulty that we have to someway clear up.

Someday I used to be taking part in with my son, taking part in with constructing blocks, stacking them up. He was two years previous and he simply broke down my stack and laughed. He did that again and again. It made me assume that constructing one thing up after which breaking it may very well be attention-grabbing and enjoyable for youths, and in addition for me, possibly. From there I obtained the concept of, what if every particular person block had a life? They might transfer round, they usually may get caught collectively by themselves.

The thought of those blocks and what I used to be interested by round variety obtained linked in my mind. That gave me the concept of Wattam. Every single block may very well be a special particular person with a special perspective and completely different language. They will work collectively to make a stack, however they will’t talk, as a result of they’ve completely different languages. However they may be capable to discover a form of pleasure by way of breaking the stack, by way of that massive explosion.

Above: Funomena’s Wattam

Picture Credit score: Funomena

GamesBeat: Does it really feel such as you’re making an attempt to carry order to the chaos of all these folks? Taking issues which might be unfold out and bringing it again collectively?

Takahashi: It has that form of move. You blow everybody up, unfold them away from you, after which re-collect them, add them to your group.

GamesBeat: Like the massive bang after which a black gap or one thing.

Takahashi: Sure, this recreation is concerning the massive bang. [Laughs]

GamesBeat: Would you say there’s one thing round to the story? You blow up and are available again, blow up and are available again.

Takahashi: I see what you imply. I wouldn’t go that far.

GamesBeat: Simply bringing them collectively is actually the purpose?

Takahashi: Proper.

GamesBeat: How do you know that you just had been completed, that you just had been virtually achieved? You labored on this recreation for a very long time, however did you’ve got a sure finish in thoughts?

Takahashi: I by no means actually really feel achieved, even when one thing is launched. It’s a typical artist’s form of feeling.

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