Little Dragon’s Cafe Interview With Creator Yasuhiro Wada – Trashy Yet Relatable Characters and Avoiding Pigeonholing

I had the wonderful opportunity to interview Yasuhiro Wada, the creator of the Harvest Moon series (now known as Story of Seasons), for his latest charming and unique title, Little Dragon’s Cafe.

You can find our interview below:

I’m here with Mr. Wada for Little Dragons Cafe. How long have you been working on the title?

When Birthdays the Beginnings was in the finishing stages I was assigned to work on Little Dragon’s Cafe. It was around two to three months ago that this game [Little Dragon’s Cafe] was completely finished. I’ve been working on the project for two years.

The first year when I was working on Birthdays that’s all I worked on but as I worked on it – the structures, the backbone of Little Dragons Cafe were assigned to me so then I started working on Little Dragons.

It seems like you guys have a lot of creative freedom with the games you make. Is there any concern should a game not do too well, where you play it more safe next time, or do you just create whatever you want?

I think there’s no meaning to that. Of course, I’m doing it as a job however – my main objective with creating video games, is to widen possibilities of video games. For example say that if I like Monster Hunter: World. However, if I make a game that’s similar to Monster Hunter: World then there’s no point in it. Because then you can just play Monster Hunter.

Like Final Fantasy, the game’s always there, there’s no point in making Final Fantasy because it’s already there. I want to make something completely different from everything else and I want other people to join in, do something different. By doing so, I believe that the possibilities of video games will be wider. If I didn’t make Harvest Moon, I don’t think they would have made Animal Crossing.

Do you feel like you’ve always been focusing on trying to be more unique to not get framed into a genre? It seems like you have sim elements in your games since Harvest Moon but you haven’t fully gone back to farming like say, Stardew Valley.

I’ve left the Harvest Moon thing because I try to make something different from the harvesting elements. I did meet with the Stardew Valley creator.

Eric’s a cool dude.

I was thinking “He could just make Stardew Valley.” I talked with him and conversed for like half a day. Seeing that he’s making farming games, it feels like I don’t need to make farming games.

Would you ever return back to an “orthodox farming game” in the future? Like, say if a publisher offered it?

If I can think of a completely different yet interesting and fun farming game, then I will make it.

Was there a tough time balancing the systems for both managing a cafe and the adventuring bits? It seems like they compliment each other very nicely.

The system was created based on the characters in the world of Little Dragon’s Cafe, as well as for some of the emotions and interactions. All the systematic things were built around that. I would think ‘How can I make the characters lively, how can I make characters feel?’

That’s how I think the balance is created. By basing on those characters by adjusting each one, I was able to balance out as a whole all the elements of the game.

Do you feel like maybe were you a bit inspired from more character development focused games? Or maybe deciding between more linear or sandbox-y style worlds?

I’m more inspired by movies. There are two ways I make a game. One of them is to start with the systems. For Little Dragon’s Cafe, it’s characters and story first and there’s those two. It’s probably more about wide open spaces, what kind of characters I want for this game.

All the characters that appear in this game have some issues, they have problems. They’re far from perfect. They all have some sort of problems. I guess the word is like scum? I guess they will just give up and say “Oh.” Just no good. Not a good bunch.

No matter who it is, no matter who the player is, the in-game characters are worse. They are no good. But those no good characters are like..

They’re like delinquents, they do bad things?

Not exactly, they don’t do bad things per se but they’re just no good people. But they will grow and develop in the game. The player will see this no good bunch do amazing things in the game and then hopefully it makes the player think, “Oh, maybe I could do that too!”

Like in a regular game, you know all the main storylines where there’s the warrior and the great warrior defeats the enemy, the boss. That’s cool and all but this game is not like, they’re not great warriors, they’re not anything profound they are just.. the emphasis is that they are just complete trash. They are just like complete utterly useless folks. [laughs]

Trash?! [laughs] Was that a focus with these characters, to make them more human, more flawed and to have all these issues?

I wanted to make them more relatable, more human. Not like a completely fictional character but I want to make the characters more real, realistic. I really want to make a story work.

I have so many questions. [laughs]

[laughs] All these bunch of no good, useless, trashy, just a bunch of no good folks. I want to bring value to them. I want to show that they can do great things, they can accomplish great things. That’s what I want to show in this game.

It seems like you don’t really do expansion packs or DLC or anything like that. Has that been something you’ve avoided?

Expansion DLCs, if it’s going to make the game interesting then I might consider it. It’s a business after all. I won’t let other people — it’s more like others won’t let me do it. Because my games are very niche.

We have a huge fanbase that play on PC only. Is there any chance Little Dragon’s Cafe is coming to PC later?

Like Steam? We are trying to put it on Steam. We’re looking to release it at the same time, or almost the same time. [Editor’s Note: Aksys Games has confirmed to Niche Gamer the game will hit PC “about a month or so after the North American Switch and PS4 releases to coincide with the European launch.”]

Thank you so much for your time. We’re very excited to play and properly critique Little Dragon’s Cafe!

Little Dragon’s Cafe is currently planned for a summer 2018 release across PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch in North America and Europe, and now Windows PC/Steam. In case you missed it, you can find my thorough hands-on video preview for the game here.

Niche Gamer regularly interviews developers on a variety of subjects—if you’re a developer and want to chat with us, please contact us!

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Owner and Publisher at Niche Gamer and Nicchiban. Outlaw fighting for a better game industry. Pronouns: Patriarch, Guido, Olive, Catholic