Japanese publication Famitsu recently interviewed the development staff behind the upcoming farming simulation action JRPG, Harvestella. The interview is rather extensive, so we have translated the most significant portions containing new information, quoted below.
Thanks to our team’s Ryuji for translating the following passages.
Interviewer: First, let’s begin with Harvestella’s genre. It’s a simulation RPG, something quite unusual for Square Enix’s catalog. What made you want to create such a concept?
Daisuke Taka: I was originally a game producer at another company, but I joined Square Enix about four and a half years ago. Sometime later, when I thought about pitching a new project, I realized that an ordinary RPG would not work as a new title for Square Enix.
That’s when I started wondering if I could create something that could incorporate RPG elements into a simulation-style game, which is one of my favorite genres.
Right around that time, I had the opportunity to meet Makoto Takada, the president of the development studio Live Wire, and I was blessed with good timing and connections. As many of you may know, many of the staff at Live Wire have experience with the simulation game genre.
Interviewer: Specifically, the Rune Factory series, correct?*
*Famitsu then sheds some light on what they mean. Until Rune Factory 4, development was by Neverland, who ceased operations in 2013. However, the company Live Wire was established by former Neverland staff Makoto Takada after the operations stopped.
DT: Yes. We then decided to get to work making a game that was both a “typical Square RPG” and also carried some simulation elements. And it’s thanks to working together with Live Wire, who has experience with this type of genre, that we managed to pitch the idea to Square Enix.
Interviewer: I see. And after the project was greenlit, Live Wire got to work developing the game, correct?
Naoyuki Ukeda: That is correct. In our first meeting when we were pitching, actually, we were asked, “What’s the ratio between simulation and RPG? Approximately 50/50? Or what?” and then Taka-san suddenly said, “it’s going to be 100/100” and we all laughed. (laughs)
Interviewer: (laughs) So, in other words, both sides came to an agreement?
NU: In a sense, yes. Taka-san said he didn’t want to be confined and restrained “because it was an RPG.” Instead, he wanted to create something new and innovative.
Interviewer: So he wanted to innovate with “something that the previous games of the genre hadn’t attempted yet?”
NU: For the mechanics of the title, we wanted to utilize Live Wire’s experience to create a good simulation game, but because it had to be a new experience, we sort of forgot about the preconceived notions and struggled in various ways.
Interviewer: So what elements of Harvestella do you consider “unique”?
DT: Overall, many games in the general lifestyle simulation genre have this cute pop “feel” to them (he then compares how the artwork and story are presented in such games). I think that is the standard for this genre, but I thought it would be nice to have a game with a more “serious” scenario yet still retain a beautiful worldview.
So we attempted to differentiate ourselves by creating the scenario, visuals, and music while maintaining the high quality that Square Enix is known for and then intertwining them with lifestyle simulation while trying to avoid conflict.
NU: When it came to balancing the “simulation vs. adventure” we previously mentioned, we asked Furuya-san to devise a method to make the story progress as the player advanced the days by returning to their home every day.
Interviewer: How many days are in a given in-game year?
DT: A full in-game year cycle will take approximately 124 days. Each season has 30 days in total, but then you have the Quietus. [In short, the game cycle is as follows: Spring > Quietus > Summer > Quietus > Autumn > Quietus > Winter > Quietus > Spring…each season has 30 days, and a Quietus lasts a full day, so 120 days + 4 Quietus = 124 days in a full year.]
Interviewer: Do you have any tips for the first few days of the game?
Furuya: I think you should just play it at your own pace. Even if you get worn out in the dungeons, you will fully recover if you go home and sleep. Then, once you finish a day, you will gain experience, and your level will increase.
Interviewer: Can the player do anything during Quietus?
DT: Yes…and no. You can cook and perform actions inside your home just fine, but going outside is extremely unviable. We made the Quietus as a way to make the player understand that it’s a difficult time where they cannot do much.
Interviewer: How many hours of gameplay can we expect from the main story?
Furuya: About 50 to 60 hours for the main story + its sidequests. If you just go through the main storyline very quickly, then your playtime will be shorter, but considering all the side content, I would estimate 50 to 60 hours of playtime.
Of course, it goes without saying that even after finishing the main story, you can still keep going into the game for hundreds of more hours.
Interviewer: It has been a while since the Harvestella demo has been out. Have you been keeping an eye out for potential fan feedback?
DT: Yes. The most received piece of feedback we’ve received is regarding the long load times and how there are too many loading screens. We are working to address those issues ASAP to patch the game on release.
That being said, I did receive some positive messages, such as how the game felt like a breath of fresh air and how it’s a great game for people who are not accustomed to the simulation genre.
Throughout Harvestella, players live life through the seasons as they farm, make new friends, and face off against enemies in thrilling combat. However, the season of death known as Quietus interrupts the cycle of the seasons, putting everyone’s lives in jeopardy. Part of the player’s journey will comprise contending with this mysterious threat and unraveling its mysteries.
Harvestella is releasing for Nintendo Switch and PC via Steam on November 4, 2022.
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