A fascinating story regarding the development of Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield was published by Game Freak. Shigeru Omori, the director, and Kazumasa Iwao, the planning director, gave some insight into how the Nintendo Switch games came to be.
We spoke with the director and planning director of Pokemon Sword and Shield about the game’s development cycle, team members, and the franchise’s future.
Director of Pokemon Sword and Shield, Shigeru Omori. Omori has been a part of the Pokemon franchise since Ruby/Sapphire and has worked on a number of other titles.
Kazumasa Iwao is the Sword and Shield planning director. Field and UI planning are two areas where he shines. Throughout the development of the project, I worked closely with Omori.
Changing the Pokemon series’ planning methodology
After the production of Pokemon Sun and Moon was completed in the autumn of 2016, Omori and a few other key staff members began to consider the idea for the future Pokemon game. With the understanding that the Nintendo Switch can connect to a television, the original plan was to expand the scope of a Pokemon game in order to surprise gamers. Things began in September 2017 when Omori met with Iwao, the director of Ultra Sun / Ultra Moon. The games were given the name Omori as the developers came up with the idea of providing Pokemon swords and shields to combat the massive Pokemon.
The visuals for the new game were very important to the development team, particularly because it would be able to be linked to a large screen. The developers intended the game to be entertaining both docked and on the go. Omori reminisced on the project, noting that he focused a lot on how the game would fit into users’ lives and how the team might use the new console’s characteristics. He also noted how they carefully studied the game’s planning and design. The first Pokemon games were created by a tiny crew, and their method for enhancing the quality of various components was to create something, break it, and then recreate it. As development teams grew in size, technological advancements made it difficult to utilize the same strategy this time. Omori was well aware that approaching the new game in the manner of previous generations would result in widespread misunderstanding. Omori established a small core team at the outset of the development to conceptualize the title’s design in order to avoid any misconceptions. This enabled the squad to play the game just how they had intended.
Giving youthful employees additional chances, opportunities, and responsibilities is known as “the changing of the guard.”
One of the most essential topics in the creation of Sword and Shield, according to Iwao, was the generational transition among the personnel. He promoted younger employees who had the capacity and drive to take on more responsibilities, allowing them to develop and learn. The personnel should not only be able to do the duties in front of them, but also interact and create rapport with the rest of the team – a project like Pokemon cannot be completed by a single person.
When questioned how the younger personnel performed, Iwao believed the project suffered from a lack of expertise and experience. Young employees got themselves into a lot of trouble and needed a lot of help from the more experienced employees. They struggled at first, but with the support of more experienced employees, they ultimately made it through.
Giving youngsters opportunity has long been a tradition at Game Freak. Even Omori was picked as the planning leader for Pokemon Diamond and Pearl when he was 25, despite the fact that the rest of the crew had greater experience. Another feature that distinguishes Game Freak is that the organization varies with each game title.
For each person to offer their very best.
Omori devoted close attention to a number of elements as the project’s director. One of them was for Omori to distribute responsibilities to those who excelled at them. Omori, for example, handed clothing design to individuals who enjoyed fashion, athletic clothes to those who liked sports, café enthusiasts would design such locations to assure a café-like vibe, and so on, by engaging with employees. Omori desired for everyone to be able to play to their abilities. This allowed team members to express themselves freely, which is likely one of the reasons why so many people loved this game. One of the director’s responsibilities is to create an atmosphere that brings out the best in everyone on the team.
Omori goes on to say that he hopes to continue working on new projects in the future. He says he wants to start new projects by building prototypes of the game rather than designing them. He wants to see games created by designers and programmers as well as planners. This enables anybody to contribute ideas and build games that may be enjoyed by a larger audience.
Pokemon’s evolution is never dull — it’s addicting
The Pokemon series is still going strong after 20 years. Even though Omori believes the game is great, he claims that fresh ideas emerge after the project is completed. With new technologies, new development teams, and new methods of playing games, he noted, Pokemon will continue to evolve. Omori aims to make Pokemon games that players want to play and that provide the impression that Pokemon is real and lives among us.
It may come as a surprise to learn that each Pokemon game is created in a unique manner. Members of the team attempt not to depend on previous experience and relish taking on the new task that has been assigned to them. Iwao highlighted that no matter what task you perform, it would ultimately get tiresome if you do it long enough. However, at Game Freak, there are always fresh chances and jobs available, and the ability to participate in numerous projects ensures that it never becomes monotonous or uninteresting. Pokemon will continue to develop, thanks to a large quantity of expertise spanning over 20 years, a unique structure that enables adolescents to experience failure and success, and a firm that continues to influence generations.