This is an interview with Producer Saito Yosuke and Director Yoko Taro conducted by Dengeki in Paris, France at the “Paris Games Week”.
**Is there more than one playable character?**
—How is the development of the game going thus far?
Saito: We’ve still got a long way to go, but as far as action games go, that’s just about been taken care of. We’re currently fitting in the various RPG elements.
Yoko: I’m satisfied with where the action is at this point, but I’ll let Platinum Games decide what they want to do with it.
—Can you tell us any further details about the title “NieR: Automata”?
Saito: Since many androids will appear in this story, we originally thought about calling it “Androids”; however, this was difficult due to conflicting trademarks, so we wanted to get as many ideas about it as possible. That’s when Yoko stumbled upon the name “Automata,” feeling that it would best express the feeling of the story. This also had an issue with trademarks, but if we called it “NieR: Automata”, then there was no problem.
—What other ideas did you have?
Saito: Yoko-san suggested that we added something in front of the name “Automata,” like “SOMETHING”.
Yoko: If we weren’t going to use the name “Automata”, I suggested things like “X” or “EX”.
Saito: I also suggested using “Requiem”.
Yoko: I thought about creating a unique title for it, but given the aesthetic sound it had in various foreign languages, it didn’t sound that great. So if we took the word “android” and simply stuck with the “oids”, it appeared to have a different meaning (underwear), so it didn’t seem like it would be a wise choice for international consumption. Other words we came up with were “doll”, but this was also associated with little girls’ playthings, so this wouldn’t fit well.
Saito: Someone also suggested “marionette”, too.
Yoko: I also thought of Kyosuke Himuro, but I decided to keep ahold of this idea.
Saito: The name “Iron Maiden” also came up. We got so many ideas before narrowing it down to a single title. In the end, we decided on “Automata” since Yoko-san suggested it.
—Yoko-san, why did you settle on the title “Automata”?
Yoko: According to the setting of the story, many robots and such appear throughout. That’s why I thought this title had a “sense of distance” in the words alone that felt right. It wouldn’t work if the name was so unique no one could read it; likewise, it wouldn’t be interesting enough if it was easily deconstructed. I thought something with a nice balance in between would work the best.
—What’s the main theme this time?
Saito: A happy ending!
Yoko: I usually don’t have a clear idea of a theme, but there will be happy ending. I want there to be one. No, there will be!
Saito: Yoko had the idea of creating the three-word teaser for E3: NINGYOU, HITO, KIKAI (doll/android, human, robot). Please enjoy speculating what this could mean in the context of the game!
—Do these keywords have a broader connection to the story?
Yoko: Yes, these keywords express the feeling of the story as a whole.
—What was the first thing that you thought about for this title.
Yoko: The budget (haha). I mean, you can’t do anything without thinking about this first.
Saito: In order to get a sense of the budget, we had Yoko-san work on a plan as the foundation. At the time we hadn’t decided on the title “Automata”, but there were other important keywords floating around like “android” and “Living Machines (kikai seimei-tai)”.
—By now, I’m sure many people have seen the 2D art by Akihiko Yoshida-san. Is this character going to be the main character?
Saito: Yes, that’s right. She is one of a certain number of playable characters.
—Then, there will be more than one main character?
Saito: If I were to count how many are “true” main characters, I’d have to say…two.
Yoko: I kinda think there’s three.
—The outlining silhouette of the android character appears female. Would this be accurate to say?
Saito: Yes…… She’s a female-type model android.
Yoko: It’s a secret.
Saito: (haha). Speaking of which, some have been suggesting that she might be a hermaphrodite.
Yoko: It’s a secret (haha).
—Is there any reason that you decided upon a female-type android?
Yoko: It’s because I like girls. I like them much more than the typical powerful and macho types.
—I have a feeling this character will be quite popular among players.
Yoko: It’s merely personal preference, so I’m sure there are some who would rather have a male main character. We just wanted to go from a female feeling or perspective this time around.
Saito: I talked with Akihiko Yoshida about the design, asking him to “create something that people would enjoy cosplaying.” In retrospect, I think he really enjoys creating characters that show off a bit of thigh.
—So, 2B belongs to the “YoRHa” squadron of androids. Might we expect to see other androids as well?
Saito: I’d like to know that, too!
Yoko: There are other squadrons besides “YoRHa” but they will not appear in the game. Many other androids not related to the “YoRHa” squadron, however, will appear.
Saito: There are other androids out there who aren’t a part of the “YoRHa” squadron.
—Do those androids have a specific sexual identity?
Yoko: Their sex is a bit of a secret at the moment, but as far as shape goes, there will be both male and female androids.
—Do the androids have their own unique movements and actions?
Yoko: They are different where they need to be, in functionality.
—What does “YoRHa” mean?
Yoko: It doesn’t really have any special meaning, even though I have kanji for it……寄葉(close-leaf)
Yoko: Of course, I do, but there really isn’t any deeper meaning to it.
—Did you instinctively come upon this?
Yoko: I thought and came to a bunch of different conclusions about it, but as it stands now, I don’t feel like it has much of a meaning.
—What did you have in mind?
Yoko: Well, I don’t particularly like the idea of conflicting trademarks when you use simple words or phrases in your title. This is why I tend to “coin” or create my own unique titles. That’s usually where I get a bit of inspiration.
—In this story, humanity has fled the Earth and taken refuge on the Moon. Does this mean that the invading aliens and their “Living Machines” have essentially occupied the planet?
Yoko: That’s right.
—And the humans use the androids in an attempt to win back the Earth?
Yoko: That’s right. They’re trying to regain the planet they’ve lost.
—Do the humans support the androids with this task?
—In these new screenshots, we see 2B using both a katana and a great sword. Can you tell us any more about what sort of battle mechanics we can expect?
Yoko: Platinum Games is handling everything regarding the action, so I slept through all of that……
Saito: Oh, c’mon, you’re just kidding (haha).
Yoko: It’d be best for you to send an email to Taura-san at Platinum Games. Also, please be sure to print his email in the magazine and the website.
Yoko & Saito: haha
Saito: No, we can’t do that!! (haha) He’ll get so much spam! Anyway, there are many, many other weapons that are still in development, so please look forward to those. Of course, this is Platinum Games we’re talking about. They do such a great job; it’s amazing just to watch.
—So, you’re planning on having other kinds of weapons?
Saito: Yes, there are many more!
—About how many?
Yoko: There are quite a lot.
—In the screenshot, we can see a robot (“Pod”) next to 2B. Will this character speak?
Yoko: Yes. It’s a pretty basic machine, so its speech patter will be rather simple.
—Will it have any sort of emotion?
Yoko: Fundamentally speaking, no.
Saito: It will speak in typical “system message” lingo.
Yoko: Basically, it will sound like a car navigation system.
—We’ve seen a couple different designs for the “Living Machines” thus far. About how many will there be?
Saito: The way they’re made, I don’t think we can reasonably put a figure on how many there are. For example, even if the base is the same, their parts, color, and textures might be different; they might be riding on different vehicles, etc. There are many different variations.
—We saw one rather large Living Machine thus far. Is this what we can expect from boss enemies?
Saito: Not even. There will be much larger bosses that will make this guy look microscopic.
Yoko: There are much larger machines, but they’re not necessarily bosses.
Saito: There will be some massive machines, so please look forward to seeing them!
**Will we be able to ride the boar? How will this game connect to the previous?**
—There’s a screenshot with a boar… Will we be able to ride it like in the first game?
Saito: Ah, yeah, you’re right. I didn’t realize that. Oh, it’s a small one.
Yoko: Someone at Platinum Games said it would be nice if we could ride on a boar again. …Man, that really sounds like someone on the outside might say (haha).
Saito: They said we might be able to ride on boars again, but I don’t know if it has anything to do with the photo that has been released.
Yoko: But if they get swamped with work, who knows (haha).
Yoko & Saito: haha
—Will there be other animals we can ride besides the boar?
Saito: Yes. There will be something like a deer.
Yoko: I don’t know if that can be ridden since everyone’s freaking out about whether or not the boar will be back.
Saito: With such talent at Platinum Games, I’m sure they can pull it off, don’t you think?
Yoko: Is this in any way related to that? (haha)
—Is this still a world in which animals coexist with humans?
Yoko: Animals are still around; simply, humans are not.
Saito: First and foremost, humans look out for their own self-preservation.
—Does this game connect with the last?
Yoko: There isn’t much of a connection in terms of story, but the world and setting is the same. We didn’t want to make something that forced you to play the previous game to understand what’s going on, so we tried to the best of our ability not to connect things so intensely. If you haven’t played the previous game, you’ll still be perfectly fine.
Saito: Those who have, though, might be pleasantly surprised to see some returning characters and/or interesting situations.
—Is this the same world as the original? Just the time period is different?
Yoko: Yes, that’s right. Same world, different time.
—Lastly, could you say something for the fans who are anxiously looking forward to this game?
Saito: It seems like we surprised a lot of people with the announcement at E3 where Yoko-san, Okabe-san, Yoshida-san were introduced under such a name like Platinum Games. As it is now, I meet up with Platinum Games about once a month, and every time I go, it seems like the game gets better and better.
Yoko-san is stationed over there [in Osaka] most of the time, and I can’t speak for him, but I know Platinum Games is working really hard to create something great to look forward to!
Yoko: With many young, excellently skilled people at Platinum Games and the “I want to forgive him for his good looks” Taura-san at the helm, I try to do my job even though they annoy me a bit. (haha) That is what I wanted to tell you most of all.
Saito: I’m rather jealous of the atmosphere by which they’re putting this together; I couldn’t be more pleased with their work. They are so extremely skilled, I think we’ll get a good glimpse of the “World of Yoko” through the atmosphere in this game.
Yoko: Platinum Games makes some of the best games. Please try not to expect too much from my settings and stories. “Boys who expect to much will soon wither”, no? So…..don’t do it.
Saito: But the first time I read Yoko-san’s plot, I thought it had such a wonderful, happy ending! On the other hand, I was a little uneasy if it would be alright to have such a happy ending…but it really is a great story. I hope you’re all excited about it as we are.
Misc. Information from Game Jouhou:
- There was an idea to make “Pod” customisable with various items, but it is unknown whether or not this will be explored any further.
- 2B will have various other outfits available through DLCs.
- 2B’s skirt will tear along with damage received. She wears a white leotard underneath.
- The next announcement will probably sometime in the spring and will take place in Japan.