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Yuji Horii's Dragon Quest 35th Anniversary Interview (iOS App Store) Translated

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Thanks for @Sackchief and KKristof100 for the translation.



Released on May 27, 1986 by Enix (now Square Enix) as software for home video game consoles, "Dragon Quest" has invited humankind to a new adventure. The player himself becomes the main character in the game, travels through a vast field and saves the world from the forces of evil. It has expanded to many entries and is still loved as a series that attracts many fans.

Yuji Horii continues to be involved as the main creator of the production from the first to the latest in the Dragon Quest series. Here, we asked Mr. Horii, who is also referred to as the creator of Dragon Quest, how he created the Dragon Quest series and his thoughts on the many games that can be played on the App Store.
"Human touch for computer games".

What was the most important thing for you when he conceived "Dragon Quest"?
Horii: "When I decided to make" Dragon Quest", the first thing I thought was that computer games at that time had a cold image, so I wanted to give it warmth. Warmth, such as the conversations of the characters who appeared, was the most important thing. Then, how to get people excited or make it easy to understand".

There are many humorous interactions in the lines of the characters in the game. It is said that you put in those conversations intentionally.

Horii: "I wanted to bring out the human-like features as much as possible. Even in the short lines of each person, such as the people in the town, I tried to think out how to make the characters' personalities sound more human-like, to understand their emotions. I wrote the lines so that the player would know what kind of person the character is".
Akira Toriyama and Koichi Sugiyama
An adventure companion of creation

Dragon Quest heroes and monsters are created by manga artist Akira Toriyama based on your image sketches.
Horii: "At first, I thought that slime was muddy and drew a sketch. Then Mr. Toriyama came up with a picture of a character shaped like a drop of water. I found it fine too. At first, I thought that slime would "stick to a person's face and suffocate him to death", but after seeing Mr. Toriyama's drawing, I changed the setting to a monster that takes a rambling attack method".

Horii: "Even about the King Slime, I renamed it when I saw the picture drawn by Mr. Toriyama. When I imagined a mole monster and asked for it, I somehow explained that it was a mole monster. After seeing the picture that actually came up, I named it "Mischievous Mole". When I gave Mr. Toriyama the ideas, I told him they had sketches and names but only rough ones but he didn't need to care about those too much. I draw my sketches with carefree feeling because Mr. Toriyama will surely change it, so I explain it as "a strange guy of a mouse" so it's quite vague (laugh). I'm giving my sketches to Mr. Toriyama with an easy feeling, like it may give him a hint". 
It is said that there is silent communication with Mr. Toriyama through a moderate request letter from you.
Horii: "I've been told by Mr. Toriyama that a sketch like this is just right. If it's written too neatly, it will be pulled by it, so it seems that this vagueness is just good for him. (Lol)"

Horii: "About the main character, we often meet Mr. Toriyama in person, give supplementary explanations, exchange the ideas many times, and solidify the design. I have asked him to redraw it or make it to another character's design. I always wonder how the character becomes when Mr. Toriyama completes it, but the most surprising finish was the first slime."
It is said you were surprised too, when Koichi Sugiyama first sent the song.
Horii: "The great thing about Mr. Sugiyama is that he wrote a classical song for game music during" Dragon Quest. "Although the number of sounds that could be used was limited, it became a classical song. When I actually played the song in the game I was working on, I felt like it had to be the song we use. The symbolic field drawn with dot pictures became a magnificent world map. I could see it. At that time, I thought that music was important."

With the addition of Akira Toriyama's character design and Koichi Sugiyama's music, the shape of "Dragon Quest" was born.
Horii: "It's been 35 years since then, and We've been working together. However, it was 2017 when all three of us met for the first time. I ask Mr. Toriyama to draw at the beginning of the production, but ask for the music in the second half, so I meet them individually, so I was surprised myself about that Mr. Toriyama and Mr. Sugiyama did not meet in person for more than 30 years and created remotely".
Making the rules of the world

It now takes several years to develop a new Dragon Quest game, and many people are involved in its production. When the first "Dragon Quest" was born 35 years ago, the core of the game was created in just three months.
Horii: "First, I decided to display the screen in a window, design the command part, and decide the rules of the game world. Then I drew a map, placed townspeople and monsters, and thought about the parameters of monsters and spells. At that time, I had to put data in a capacity of 64 kilobytes, so I made it by calculating back from that. At the beginning, I thought out everything, like the number and price of items to appear. I felt like I was drawing a blueprint of the world".


A sketch of the battle screen displayed in the window (top) and the actual in-game screen (bottom).

When making a story, you say you started by drawing a map of the town.
Horii: "Once I have decided on the general events that will occur in each place, make a map of the town first, place people, give them lines and build a story. It was the process of creating the story. The story is based on the map, so the lines change depending on where the person is. For example, when I talk to a person who is facing the wall, he will tell me not to talk to him so suddenly."

A sketch of the town of Radatome(=Tantegel*) drawn by Mr. Horii (above). People are stationed in various parts of the town.

Horii: "Because of this way of making, the story progresses in terms of aspects by collecting the points of each person's lines rather than being composed of lines in a predetermined order. I wanted the players to feel like they were adventuring freely in the world."

Designs of 32 types of trout such as grasslands and mountains that form a vast field, sketched by Mr. Horii (above). 

He said that it was interesting because he seemed to make a plastic model that he liked when he was a child.

Upgrading spells

Spells will appear in the world of Dragon Quest. And spells evolve into more powerful spells, depending on the type. It is said that the rule of spell names was also one of the first thoughts.
Horii: "The name of the spell is given by feeling. I often speak using onomatopoeia anyway, so the name of the spell is often associated with the onomatopoeia that I imagine from its effect. Like Hoimi(=Heal*) sounds like a self-protecting spell. Rariho(=Snooze*) seems to sleep somehow.

A list of the names of the spells that were first conceived when creating "Dragon Quest" (above). Later, "Romir" changed its name to "Remyra"(=Radiant*) and implemented it because Mr. Horii found "Somehow it doesn't fit".

Horii: "After that, the number of spells increased, and it became impossible to mass-produce only onomatopoeia. At that time, I came up with the three-stage conjugation of adjectives in English grammar, and decided to use the three-stage spells as well. I made a rule, decided that putting "be" at the beginning meant the middle (e.g. "Behoimi=Midheal"*), the "ma" meant "a bigger version"(e.g. "Begirama=Sizzle"*), etc., and put it into operation."
Sources of inspiration

In the world of Dragon Quest, various places such as towns and castles, villages and towers, and temples will appear. How did you come up with this diverse world?
Horii: "I like traveling. I often get inspiration from the names of places I travel to and the cultures I touched on there. For example, the name of "Samartria"(=Kannock*) in"Dragon Quest II Evil Spirit Gods"(Eng: "Dragon Quest II, Luminaries of the Legendary Line"*)is coming from Samarkand. I've also been to Egypt and climbed the pyramid".

"While traveling, I concentrate on traveling and somehow remember it after returning. Those memories lead to the game ideas. I also like to come into contact with different cultures. I usually live. Things that are commonplace in the culture of the place you are in are not commonplace in the places you go. I enjoy seeing those differences."

"I like traveling. I often get inspiration from the names of places I travel to and the cultures I touch on there"
-Yuji Horii

During your trip, you will visit new places and meet new people there. Once you visit the world of Dragon Quest, the story of which your other self is the hero begins there, just like in a real journey. Embark on an adventurous journey in search of a world you don't know yet. 


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