What was concept behind the PC edition of Cross+Channel?
Using a school setting as a frame, while we were planning for the work, we had the intention to make one of those so-called ‘Sekai-kei’ scenarios. That’s what I remember.
Many people have praised the ‘looping’ aspect of the game already, but were you yourself okay with this idea? Was there any other influences as to why you chose the time loop?
I felt that, while making the game, we didn’t really have a conscious sense of the ‘looping’ aspect. It was an essential gimmick in that sense. Although we didn’t particularly adore any specific genre, during the planning stages we came in contact with a large number of other works. Since long ago, we knew about “Urusei Yatsura 2: Beautiful Dreamer” and the fiction work “Replay”. There was also a preceding game called “Pandora no Yume”. In Science Fiction, there are a lot of shorts related to time loops, but I can’t name any specifics at the moment.
For those who have yet to play Cross+Channel, what are the points they should take note of, or those you think they’ll enjoy.
This can’t be helped, but it’s a rather old work and there’s quite a number of conspicuously old-fashioned terms. But, during that period, the genre known as Bishoujo Games was extremely liberal, and if you play it in our current, different, age – you might find something new about it.
The people who’ve cleared the game may know, but for those who haven’t, without any spoilers, could you teach us the meaning of the title?
With regards to the title, this work has two or three meanings folded into it. For example, the cross (+) symbol has many connotations – a knife with an intent to kill, a deceased person, a crossing or intersection etc… many roles arise in the course of the game. And if you tilt it slightly and it turns into an (x) – there are certain nuances that exist in the script with regards to that. What the words and symbols indicate have more than a single meaning, and I wish for the players to play the game with that in mind.
10 years ago, when you chose to port over Cross+Channel, what were your feelings at the time?
Honestly, I don’t remember, but I think it was clear that there was a great need for revision thanks to ethical concerns. That part was what I cared about.
With regard to the CS edition, when there were a lot of those ‘all-ages’ tags appearing at the time, did that cause you any significant hardship?
Related to the previous question, but actually the biggest ethical concerns came from certain things that were discovered with the manufacturers… or so I heard. Although I thought I went through some hardship that time, I had the impression that this kind of ‘retake’ was an everyday kind of thing.
When the various heroines in this looping-type scenario are introduced, they all have superbly assigned character parts. Would you explain the specific role of each heroine and why you chose to give this part to them? Personally, compared to Misato, my impressions of the other heroines are rather light (laughs).
This type of question is best for directly after development isn’t it (laughs)? I really can’t remember a lot of things now… The general idea was that every heroine had something about the world that they couldn’t accept, and they were grappling with it, and on top of that they had each come to a conceited and self-satisfying conclusion with regards to it… that was the common item I think. The protagonist took advantage of that and cajoled them along… that kind of story. And with the looping plot and the world changing, the core of that kind of story was each of the heroine’s own ideology. That was what I felt.
Although there were many parts that I was absorbed in during the writing process, it’s strange, but now I can’t really remember a lot of it. Incidentally it never really struck me that Misato was the one with the best development (laughs), because I kept putting the writing off. I was just consciously trying to make my own meganekko heroine, and I unconsciously kept postponing the continuation of that. This pattern kept going on for some time. I love meganekkos. Someday I want to be a glasses god.
It’s not limited to this work but I have the belief that glasses-wearing heroines are important, but though I really hold to this, there’s a lot of stuff you can’t guarantee during working hours, and these plans often fail to heat up properly. In the end, I decided that I wanted to make a script with a glasses girl earlier than usual, and I began to work on it.
What was the route you had the most fun with?
There isn’t any route in particular, but I wrote it all with a kind of trial-and-error process. It’s a bit different from happiness, but more of a sense of achievement for the work.
Did you have problems sketching out any particular character?
There probably were problems, but when the time passes you forget about the hardship. During the moment of writing itself though, the waves of hardship comes in all the time.
In the limited edition, it seems that the plot has changed greatly as compared to its earlier state due to certain edits. At this time of launch, could you provide us some detail about these changes?
Certainly, there are many adjustments to the story in the process. But whatever reasons I had for changing it at the time, I’ve sort of forgotten now – and all of those fine tunes added up to the story we have today.
Please tell me why you decided to become a scenario writer.
That’s a good question, but, I’m afraid can’t give you a particularly dramatic answer. Without any particularly deep consideration, I decided that I wanted to make a living as a writer more than a salaryman, and that was the path that I took. Also I really hate the commuter rush, and there’s probably no other reason than that.
What type of subjects did you deal with while starting out?
For the entrance test to the game company, they demanded me to write a single scenario. At that time, the prevalent genre was a school rom-com. So that was what I started with.
Lately, it’s been revealed that you’ve been writing under the pseudonym Yamada Hajime at D.O., and with Cross+Channel, you changed that name. With regards to the reason, and why you made it public only now – could you please let us know the details?
The penname Yamada Hajime was originally ordered due to business reasons. When I joined, they said something like “from now on we’ll be marketing you as a writer with charisma”. At that time, I hated being forced to do that, and so when I left I had no opposition to changing it. I’m a really childish person.
For the present announcement, it was during work that I was asked “can we make use of the publicity by revealing that Yamada Hajime is actually Romeo Tanaka?”, and those kinds of request kept adding up. If I wanted to say no I had to uniformly check it off one by one for all of that, and that was just tiring and bothersome.
While writing the scenario, were there any portions that you were fixated on, or you paid close attention to?
It changes depending. For each work, and for each period, there are small variations. There are many specifications in the client briefs, and so you have to go around and ‘read the mood’ first to see what you can or can’t do.
In the afterword for Kou Arakawa’s World’s End Girlfriend, you talked about ‘easy mode’ and ‘hard mode’, and since your scenario deals with a ‘school caste’ – I get the impression that this would be considered above ‘normal mode’. Did you have any design with regard to this?
In ‘easy mode’ the writing and the protagonists are gifted to you, so there isn’t really a sense of achievement. Well, skilled people are skilled, but I’m the type who is rather weak in my methods. With writers, there’s the type that dotes on their characters after creating them, and there’s the type that creates a distance, and I think I fall perfectly into the latter camp. With regards to my characters I strictly believe that they should receive a sure punishment or reward for their actions.
Putting all that together, I have plans for a setting called ‘Reichou Sasurai Occultuma (Temporary Name)’ (Wandering Spirit Leader Occultma) which, in terms of setting up the protagonists, would go beyond ‘hard’ to ‘inferno mode’ – and I’ve been fervently trying to show off my concept to others but the lack of response is a bit depressing.
* Translator’s Note: 『霊長流離オクルトゥム（仮）』 isn’t out at all, but some people on 4chan apparently speculated that it turned into AURA. Also 霊長 can apparently mean Primate as well, although Wandering Primate Occultma probably isn’t what it means.
What is your secret to creating characters?
What has made me successful on this front, is rather hard to say. But my general rule is rather than create unexciting characters that are close to the ordinary, although I’m express it in a somewhat simple way, isn’t it better to consciously develop exaggerated and grandiose personalities? My own individual technique focuses more on character roles than their personalities.
Do you have any particular activity you use to help you concentrate on ideas?
I love coffee, so I use a drip machine. It helps to change the mood greatly. Maybe, in a single day, I drink about 3 to 5 cups. I even bought an expensive De’Longhi Espresso Machine for it, and it tastes so good that I just can’t help but feel better.
What are some works or authors that have had an influence on you?
If I were to say it on the spot, quite a number, both large and small, have had influence on me. And maybe within them, Nojima Shinji, Yasutaka Tsuitsui, and Mariko Ohara have had some considerable influence? I’ve had experience with Nojima’s work since young, and although I hated it, I didn’t ignore them and went through them with particular irritation (laughs). But, well, although I have those which I like, the matter of who actually influenced me, I don’t have any way to judge – but it’s quite a number. If I gave a different answer compared to a previous time I was asked, then I apologize. It’s quite a vague answer.
From now on, is there any particular genre that you want to challenge?
Well, not exactly genre per se, but I want to deal with games themselves. For example, I have interest in the construction of the systems. And I also really want to complete, one by one, all of the various projects I have planned in all sorts of places.
Please end with a final message to the reader.
With this new port of Cross+Channel reaching everyone anew all over again, well, I don’t exactly know if there’s anybody who’s picking it up because they played it before and liked it, but should you be a person who hasn’t played it yet, it would really make this single developer extremely happy if you should decide to do so. Thank you.