Here’s the first part of 4Gamer’s interview with Yoko Taro
(I will edit this post to include all parts of the interview once I finish the translation):
The action RPG game “Drag-on Dragoon 3” was released on December 19, 2013 by Square Enix. This new title comes with great appreciation from the series’ core fans, which were first introduced to the world of DOD in 2003. This new title comes 8 years after the release of DOD2 in 2005. The sudden return to the DOD world has and still garners much interest.
This time, 4Gamer had the chance to sit down for an interview with series creator and creative director Yoko Taro. We not only talked about specific aspects of DOD3 but about Yoko’s thoughts on games in general and what it’s like being a creator. Definitely check this out!
It’s been about two months now since the release of DOD3, so if you haven’t completed the game yet, please be aware of possible spoilers that follow in this interview!
Yoko Taro’s Take on ‘Memento Mori’
4Gamer (from here on 4G): Hi there, and thanks for coming in, I guess (?). I didn’t want to talk only about DOD3, so I hope it’s alright to talk about other things, too……
Yoko Taro (from here on Y): Yeah, at this point I’ve talked to so many people about DOD3, right? It’d be nice to talk about something new. I am, after all, turning 43, so it’s about time that I start thinking about various things. I’ve also managed to direct three games. As for a game developer, I’m starting to question what an elderly person like me can do in the game industry. I’m getting up there in age.
4G: What age do you consider to be “elderly”?
Y: Over 40, I guess. It’s very difficult to recover from injuries or sickness after that point. It’s the point where you begin to feel your own mortality……
4G: Eeeeehhhhhhhhh…… (slinks away…)
Y: But it’s not necessarily a bad thing to feel death coming. I often picture my own death. Like, what will happen after I die, or if I would feel upset if I knew I’m going to die. I’ve really thought hard about the details in various situations.
4G: Ah, something like “Memento Mori”? Maybe it’s a bit of a downer to start this interview like this……but what do you imagine specifically?
Y: Oh, suppose you were sentenced to death and would be executed the following day. You’re just lying there in bed. At that moment, how would you feel? ……What would it feel like to die?
4G: I’m sure none of us have actually experienced dying before, so it’s hard to know…… What do you think it’d be like in your scenario?
Y: I think it would be different from simple fear. Like feeling, “Tomorrow, I will not exist.” If I can give an example, imagine you’re standing on the edge of a steep cliff or high building. For us guys, we might say we’d feel our balls retracting inside(no?)—but it’s not necessarily out of fear. Something like that.
4G: Ahh, maybe like the exhilaration of feeling zero G’s on a roller coaster?
Y: Sure. More than fear, though, is the sense of space with thinking, “this is the end” and a sense of loss with thinking, “I will disappear”—all of that mixed together to form one feeling. ……That’s when I hear the question “What is so scary about dying?” It makes for a good topic to help waste time if you think about it deeply.
4G: Wasting time pondering Socratic thought…… I think it’s pretty clear how this sort of thought finds its way into your games.
Y: Is it that prevalent? I don’t intend it to be but……
4G: I think “death” plays a huge role in the DOD series in general, don’t you? haha
Y: I wonder. I made the majority of DOD3 half-laughing.
4G: Half-laughing? haha
Y: Well, you can’t be serious all the time. How shall I put it……
4G: Ah, now that you say that, DOD3 does seem to have more “gag” scenes than in the previous two.
Y: To sort of change the topic a little, I remember back in the day when I used to hang out with some friends at an arcade in a local shopping street. There was this really long roof that some of us liked to climb up and walk up and down the thing for awhile. One time, though, one of my friends slipped and died from the fall.
He was completely motionless except for his “goods”…… It was an undeniably horrible event but it was still kinda funny to have noticed something like that. I remember laughing with the others about it.
I think it’s really hard to know how to react in a serious event like that. I didn’t want to display a one-sided emotional view of “fear” and “death” with DOD3.
4G: So that’s why you were so bold to make those violent scenes a bit funny?
Y: Actually, I don’t believe people are so straightforward as to simply “scream at scary things”. It’s much more complicated than that, like the story I just told you.
4G: I suppose many people say fear and laughter go hand in hand.
Y: That’s right. In that case, to create “disturbance” means to scramble different emotions together. The difference simply lies in which result you want the audience to feel, whether it be to scream or to laugh. To contrast with enemies in DOD3 when they shout, “Noo! I don’t want to die!!”, we also included some vulgar conversation between Zero’s companions to complete an absolutely abnormal scene.