Director and Character Designer of AI: The Somnium Files Discuss Designs and Early Concepts
During Anime Expo 2019, Spike Chunsoft hosted an event to discuss the character designs for their upcoming adventure detective game, AI: The Somnium Files, coming to PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC-via Steam on September 17.
The panel was hosted by director Kotaro Uchikoshi and character designer Yusuke Kozaki who reflected on how they approached the game’s characters.
Beginning with Date, Uchikoshi-san stated how the character went through a few revisions and even used to wear an eye patch. However, he didn’t think he looked cool with an eye patch and decided to go with a false eye instead.
Kozaki-san added that he was pretty sad because the older character designs were a little more colorful and he had to tone down the yellows, but he understood that he now fits the role of a detective much better. Kozaki-san also said that Date is created based on what makes a man a man, but even though Date is a great looking man, Kozaki-san has a wife and child.
The two developers then discussed, everyone’s favorite net-idol Tesa aka A-set. Uchikoshi-san mentioned that she was the first character that was created for the game. She originally had four designs, but they decided to go with one, even though it was a difficult choice to make. Kozaki-san mentioned that he was given clear instructions to make a girl character that young male adults would really like, to which Uchikoshi-san replied, “I think we were able to achieve that.”
In the early stages of development, Tesa’s mom was supposed to be the main character. In this early draft of the story, Date would have a romantic relationship with Tesa’s mom, but after seeing Tesa, Uchikoshi-san really liked her and decided to change the story to make her the main character.
Next up is Ota Matsushita, which Uchikoshi-san mentioned that Ota was designed by Kozaki-san many years ago in different variations, but no one seemed to want him. When he started creating the game, Uchikoshi-san let Kozaki-san know that he could use his Ota design in AI. Kozaki-san’s original idea for Ota was to have a character with disproportionate designs compared to everyone else in the game, but it seemed strange in scenes so they went with a more realistic design. However, he watched Spider-Man: Enter the Spider-Verse and saw Peter Porker and decided that if they do a sequel he will create a character close to the one he originally had in mind for Ota.
Uchikoshi-san added that there was a lot of backlash from the team for Ota’s design and place in the game, but when he has a choice of going with something normal or fun, he usually chooses fun.
Lastly the team discussed Ai-Ball’s design, Uchikoshi-san mentioned that his original request for Ai-Ball’s design was nothing close to what Kozaki-san created, but when he saw her he was blown away with what Kozaki-san was able to come up with and said that it’s “rare” to find a designer who can pull something like this off. Kozaki-san added that he created her human form based on the muscles and nerves of an eyeball. He created the hamster version as a cute mascot character because every game needs one.
Jokingly, Uchikoshi-san said that if you look at her arms they appear to be transparent, and 3D modelers had a really hard time modeling her. Kozaki-san agreed and said that there’s a reason you don’t see too much transparent skin in games, but that’s not really his problem as a character designer.
The two seem to have had spent many days creating this cast of characters. Kozaki-san shared a story where there was one time that Uchikoshi-san once stood over his shoulder for 6 hours waiting for the designs so he distracted him with some of his favorite DVDs, but didn’t share what those were.
Also during the panel, Kozaki-san was given 50-minutes to create an original illustration. However, a fire alarm went off mid-panel, so the panel had to stop as people were evacuated and then let back in. Still, below you can see his creation:
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