This is a translation of the interviews found on pages 97-107 in the “Remember11 -the age of infinity- ビジュアルファンブック” (Visual Fan Book) by Enterbrain. The book contains character profiles, a 100% walkthrough, concept art and musical scores for the OP and ED. It was released in June 2004.
This post contains a translation of the first 3 interviews with the producer, director and scenario writer. There are 3 other interviews with the graphics and music team that have been left untranslated.
Credit to kzchn for helping me translate portions of the interviews.
Note: If you’ve got any corrections, leave a comment or contact me and I’ll update it accordingly.
Table of Contents
- Producer: Ichikawa Kazuhiro
- Director: Nakazawa Takumi
- Scenario: Tsukishio Hagane (Uchikoshi Katorou)
- Character Design: Hidari
- CG Director: Koshimizu Takayuki
- Music: Abo Takeshi
Producer: Ichikawa Kazuhiro
Producer of the “Infinity” and “Memories Off” series, KID’s hit titles. Currently working on “Memories Off ~Sorekara~”.
What was the aim of Remember11?
Q: What were you in charge of this time as the producer, Ichikawa-san?
First of all, my role is to create plans to allow the game to develop smoothly. During this time, I was able to leave most of the details to the director, Nakazawa.
Nakazawa was passionate about the project and it seemed interesting, so I started asking if we could somehow manage to make it part of the “Infinity” series. Even if I don’t say much here, Nakazawa will talk a lot about his passion during his segment. I will just add my small part here.
Q: So did you give instructions about the content of the game?
Regarding the scenario, the goal was to make something that had a continuous sense urgency from the opening of the game. The speed of the game feels like a thriller movie, which I feel is part of what makes “Remember11” attractive. However, even if I don’t explicitly say that, the rest of the staff thought so as well. Of course, we also tried to make in enjoyable for players that played the entire series so far, as well as those playing for the first time.
Q: Is that the reason why you removed the genre’s tradition of “romance”?
We didn’t necessarily have to remove the element of romance. However, we wanted to create a work in a broader framework than ever before. We also wanted to appeal to female users, and I think we succeeded in that. Compared to previous titles in the series, it seems this one had a greater ratio of female players. I don’t think it’s necessary to always create love stories, and I think I will make similar titles in the future.
Q: Will there be more additions to the “Infinity” series?
Yes, we’ll continue after this. However, I can’t say anything certain about when the next work will be released. I guess it’s done when it’s done (laugh). Even as an SDR project, there’s always a conscious effort to make it more appealing to a wider audience. If you’re wondering if it will be a direct sequel to Remember11… that’s a more difficult question to answer. I’m not saying the answer is “no”. I’ll keep considering it while observing the reaction of the players.
Q: Do you have any last words for the players?
Hmm, let’s see. Ah, of course there are differences of opinion when creating something, and conflicts will inevitably arise when trying to create something better. However, there is no reason to think that Nakazawa and Tsukishio (aka. Uchikoshi Kotaro) have a bad relationship, as people are saying. Of course Nakazawa isn’t hated by the staff (laugh). There are some parts that were left undone in this work, so I’d like to make better works in the future. Also, I’m leading the production of “Memories Off ~Sorekara~” which will be released this summer, so be sure to keep an eye out for it!
Producer & Director: Nakazawa Takumi
One of the directors of KID who worked on many popular works such as “Ever17”, “Memories Off 2nd” and “Close to ~Inori no Oka~”. In this work, he also serves as a producer and a director.
I wanted to remove the restriction of “romance”
Q: How did the production of Remember11 begin?
At first it was gradual, but after I got the green light from the company a year in, it came out in full swing. Even though I had the basic idea, I didn’t think it would be part of this series. There wasn’t a lot of deep meaning in the original draft. At that time, it was necessary to expand the company’s strategic “Infinity” series, but there was no time to create a new project from scratch, so I reluctantly made use of an existing project. It was easier said than done, and it took many meetings to get there. After the company made its decision, I spent a considerable amount of time with Tsukishio-san (aka. Uchikoshi) to reconstruct the plan for the series. We might have spent the same effort if we just remade it from scratch. It’s rather ironic (bitter smile).
Q: The genre isn’t “romance adventure”, is it?
That’s right. Since Ever17 has aspects of that, I wanted to take a risk and try something else. There are a lot of promises and tropes you should adhere to when making a “romance adventure”, so I wanted to remove that and work more comfortably. Fortunately I was able to convince the higher-ups in the company. Was that… self-confidence? (laugh) I had a feeling it would be interesting in the planning stage. But when I was in the middle of making it, I was extremely anxious. It’s hard to maintain the story tension. I was reminded of that over and over again.
Q: Was there any pressure on you?
That’s right. It was originally made as a standalone and I was enjoying it, but making a sequel comes with a lot of pressure (sweat). If there are two previous works, there are restraints that make you start thinking “should I do this?”. However, I was careful to make it playable even if you didn’t play the previous entries.
Producer and director, two opposing jobs
Q: What did you struggle with when making this title?
First of all, because the scenario is complicated, the writing itself was serious. No matter how carefully you plan, there are parts that don’t really click together. Communication of intent was also serious because there were many writers involved.
After adding the images and voices, there may be some contradictions you spot for the first time during the debugging stage. If the game is up to a certain point, I can fix it by adjusting the lines of the protagonist, but the characters now have voices… It’s not possible to record or rewrite (bitter smile).
I was also struggling from a position standpoint. I was simultaneously working as a producer and director, and these two roles are opposing. The director is trying to make the work better, but the producer has to finish by the deadlines and sell it. The conflict that arose… I want to do better, but I don’t have the time. Things like that. I was very stressed. At that time the other producer, Ichikawa-san, was sick and I was expected to listen to opinions I was not convinced of. It was tough since the roles were indivisible.
Q: You also had to do the staffing.
I decided to outsource the CG creation to Hidari-san. Although casting was handled by Cytron-san, I work in squeezing them out.
Hidari-san creates amazing images that leave a great first impression. There was a range in style, I was simply impressed. This work has a dull view of the world on a snowy mountain in the winter, but Hidari-san had previously created similar pieces in the past. So I thought he would be a good addition to the team.
Q: Please tell us about some highlights.
A sense of urgency, tension, a looming fear, and the madness of humans in extreme conditions. I was enthusiastic trying to express these things. These were the things that could not be expressed structurally in the previous work. This was what I wanted the players to see. Also, the players said that the pacing of the first half is bad in Ever17, so this time I wanted the players to experience events in quick succession, to see what comes next.
After deciding to go in this direction and after discussing with Tsukishio-san (aka. Uchikoshi), we went with a slightly stiffer literary style. To put it simply, I usually do the monologues the same as the first person narrative. But in this work, even if the character says “X-san” when speaking out loud, they are referred to as “X” without honorifics in the protagonist’s mind. This is a more talkative style. I’d be happy if you feel a different atmosphere than before.
The true meaning of 11 is that it is in binary, not decimal.
Q: What is the meaning of “11” which is also in the title?
It’s the year 2011, on the 11th day, the tagline is 11 characters long (ワタシを殺す・記憶の迷路 ― The labyrinth of memories that is killing me), and so on. I have used the number “11” in many forms, but this is only the surface. The real meaning isn’t “eleven”, but the binary number 11, or “three” in decimal. The arc number is 3 in this story. It is the third entry in the series, there are 3 settings, the transfer occurs in 3 locations, and it’s a bit farfetched but there are 3 characters other than the protagonist at both the snowy mountain and SPHIA. The time period for transfers is 33 minutes… And it is said that the Trinity gathers three components together to represent a single phenomenon. The logo represents the person this refers to. The three interconnected rings. Think about it a little (laugh).
Q: What is the significance of the message that appears in the endings?
Symbolically, it expresses a common theme in the series that “the viewpoint that sees the world (ie. the observer) is trapped in an infinite loop”. Also, one of the themes behind the story was “what is the relationship between the characters in the game and the player?” What if the player’s existence is recognized as “the hand of God”?
Although I wanted to convey those ideas, they didn’t fit. Many people said it was difficult to understand or that the explanation was lacking, so I’ll pay attention to that next time.
Q: Finally, could you give a message to the fans?
You may have enjoyed the game, but there were many people who did not. I’m carefully watching your opinions. Next time I’d like to create works that everyone can enjoy, so thank you.
Scenario: Tsukishio Hagane
He was involved in the production of the scenario for many titles such as “Ever17”, “Memories Off” series, etc. He is usually known as “Uchikoshi Kotarou”, but he used an alias for Remember11.
Challenges in deploying complex scenarios with “three key points”
Q: Please tell us the background of the development of Remember11 first.
I think the project itself started in December two years ago (ie. December 2002). Nakazawa-san created the project plan, and that’s when I began participating.
Q: Each title in the series had its own features, starting from Never7 and Ever17. Is the body-swap phenomenon the main gimmick in Remember11?
Yes. For that reason, the structure of the scenario is more complex than ever. Various forms of entertainment use the theme of swapping a boy and girl including the movie 転校生 (Transfer Student). Since there are a number of novels and games that use two perspectives to tell a story, I don’t think it’s that outrageous.
However in the case of Remember11, it is an important phenomenon that is structured like a Ghost Leg Lottery/Amidakuji where each personality is exchanged in the Kokoro and Satoru Routes. When Kokoro’s personality enters Satoru’s body, Satoru’s personality will shift to the viewpoint on Kokoro’s side. In writing this scenario, we had to keep that in mind.
Q: There were other factors that made the structure somewhat complicated.
Thats right. We had to make the viewpoints at the cabin and SPHIA consistent while taking into account the flow of time, making sure it didn’t rewind or advance further than it should. The structure of Remember11 was supported by three axes: the axis of personality exchanges that function like a Ghost Leg lottery, the axis of the parallel scenes, and the axis of the 3 timelines which follow each other sequentially. It was difficult incorporating these axes into the scenario structure of Remember11.
A story whose depths have been crafted in just over 6 months.
Q: I think the fans had high expectations after the last entry in the series. Did you face a lot of pressure in that regard?
That’s right. After all, this series has been rated well so far, and the story was carefully planned in the early stages to meet player expectations.
Q: Was the flow of the story already decided when you first started?
The first thing we decided on was the personality exchange phenomenon. As Nakazawa-san and I talked with each other, the elements of time and location were added to that and the idea began to take shape. To be honest, we could see that the foundation of the story would be a problem later in the production stage, but Nakazawa-san and I had a tendency of throwing caution to the wind… I’ve been reflecting on it a bit and I think the work schedule was related to that (laugh).
Q: How long did it take to produce the scenario?
It was around the summer of last year (ie. 2003) that I began writing the text displayed in the actual game, and then the scenario was completed in autumn. I actually joined the project team at the start of 2003… Since we were working on the plot since then, it actually took longer to develop the whole story. I also had to rewrite the plot every time I felt “this is not polished enough”.
Challenges incorporating the “3 axes” while developing the complex scenario.
Q: Were you and Nakazawa-san equal contributors to the plot?
In my mind, I feel that I wrote large parts of it (laugh). But the original plan came from Nakazawa-san, and I can’t say I wrote much about the plot itself.
Q: There are psychological elements scattered throughout the story, and lots of information about survival in the plot itself.
Yes. That element was originally conceived of by Nakazawa-san. Around March he gave me a list of movies and books, and I quickly went through it to find which were usable and which were not. There was so much to read! How many books did I go through in the end?
Q: When I interviewed Nakazawa, he said 17 book.
No, I don’t think there were that few on the list that was first sent to me. Maybe he’s just counting the ones that helped him write the plot (laugh).
Q: I think there were some parts that used the same world view as the rest of the series. How were those incorporated into the scenario?
Since the times and locations are different than the previous titles, we tried to avoid forcefully creating a shared universe. That said, somebody that played the previous titles will spot references to them in small scenes. We intentionally created those links, so we hope you enjoyed them.
Q: Do you feel you were able to execute ideas you couldn’t include in the previous title, Ever17?
To be honest, the scenario was far more complicated in Remember11. I was thinking about how I could incorporate the feeling of Ever17 when I wrote the sequel. Because I was in charge of the Ever17 original draft, I was able to steer it to my desired destination, but since I wasn’t the leader this time around the destination felt much farther away. It was really difficult (laugh).
The two protagonists must overcome great hardship throughout the story.
Q: The scenario wasn’t written by you alone, correct?
Yes. Cytron wrote the Kokoro chapter while I wrote the Satoru chapter with the help of Nakazawa-san.
Q: I feel there was a point where I struggled with the two interconnected narratives.
The bulk of the story was confined to the two protagonists. We were concerned that the portrayal of the side characters would suffer. Generally in a two-route structure, the stories of the two protagonists should be the focal point while the side characters just stay on the side. However, we wanted the all the characters to be as appealing as they had been in Ever17. After looking at the finished product, some might say that we were a little too greedy.
Q: In this scenario the romance factor was reduced compared to previous titles. Was that something you were also aiming for?
Nakazawa-san and I wanted to add a bit more of the romance factor in the planning stage, but because the story structure was complicated the execution would have been very forced, and we found it difficult to find room to introduce it. I can’t deny that the feeling of romance felt very thin as a result. There were plans to create a certain mood around Kokoro and Satoru, but it was difficult to establish when they would meet in the game and draft a scene where they create memories. It was quite unreasonable to change the scenario due to love… Personally, I really wanted to add some kind of romantic element.
Q: Being in charge of the scenario, did you become emotionally attached to characters?
It’s rather common to say this, but it’s difficult to express the emotional bond I had all of them. I was writing while imagining what the character was thinking at that time, and I have memories of each challenge faced. However only Yomogi acted genuinely in most circumstances, and the impression I got when writing the other characters was a bit different. He is the only character in this game whose actions match his words (laugh).
Q: When you released the game, was there anything special left unfinished that people said they cared about?
Despite a lot of hard work, we had restrictions we had to say “let’s leave it at that” to a few things. If a sequel is planned, we’ll give it our all again. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank all the players who gave feedback.
Q: Finally, tell us about your future ambitions.
I’d like to write a novel, but there many other things I’d like to do. I’d like to make a romantic comedy and various other ideas. Of course we also have to think about something for the next entry in the Infinity series, so keep your eyes open for that.
Music/Sound Effects: Abo Takeshi
He’s the sound creator responsible for the sounds of many games, including the “Memories Off” and “My Merry May” series. The sound of “Infinity” is all by him.
I’m making music with a serious atmosphere and it’s a lot of fun.
Q: Were you given something like a mental image when making a song?
Nakazawa-san presented some keywords and situations when the song would be played, as well as reference songs. However, composed the songs without sticking to the reference songs as much as possible.
Q: Was there an overarching mood for Remember11?
The basic mood is a closed atmosphere. The snowy mountain had higher frequencies in contrast to SPHIA which had heavy bass. The most contrast can be seen between Anima (Kokoro’s theme) and Animus (Satoru’s theme).
Q: What was the process for composing a song?
It’s basically the same as usual, but this time I read more of the scenario and setting, taking note of events that happened in the middle or typing in the sequence software and storing things like phrases. There were many songs that were made based on these sounds.
Q: I feel that there were more songs with a serious atmosphere this time.
Serious music with a suspenseful atmosphere is a genre that I have a lot of fun making. Of course, I like bright songs, but I enjoy making serious songs because I can put in a variety of sounds. So I feel like I was able to make a lot of songs that I wanted this time around. I rarely got stuck while working, and it felt like I made all of it at once. I’d love to make more serious music with an atmosphere of suspense.
Songs were created at the rate of one song every 2 days.
Q: When does the song first pop into your mind?
When I’m taking a bath or eating rice… There are many times when I’m doing something that has nothing to do with my job. It takes around 5 or 6 hours to write up a song if it’s short, and 5 days if it’s long. On average, I’d write one song every 2 days. This time, I didn’t think much about the melody and focused more on the atmosphere. It’s a composition that emphasizes the accompaniment, not the melody. For bright songs, I put the emphasis on the melody as usual.
Q: What’s your favorite song this time?
There are a lot of them (laughs). If I were to name one, it might be Great Mother (Kali’s theme). It’s a song I made quite early, but I like it. Dark songs such as Anxiety, Self and Delusive Consciousness are also my favorites. The song I had a hard time with was Trickstar (Yuni’s theme). How do you make a trick? (Laughs). Nakazawa-san told me to create something eccentric, and I wondered what was wrong with him. I was going to make a strange beat, but I ignored the usual rules of composition and made it by putting a voice in it. I played the game myself and thought the theme song “Will” was used in a good way. It plays once in the game, I don’t want you to miss it.
[Note: “Will” plays when Satoru and Kokoro first meet on the beach… or at least it does in the PS2 version. Do you remember at the end of Kokoro’s route when the text autoscrolls and you can’t pause the game or advance text? “Will” is supposed to be playing there, but the PC version doesn’t have the exact version of the song so instead the text autoscrolls in silence.]
Q: Please give a final message to the fans.
It’s a cliche, but I’ll do my best in the future, so please don’t abandon me (laughs).
From a simple idea, a musical gem is created
The material given to Abo-san by Director Nakazawa-san is very simple with only a few words in a row. These words, reference sounds and phrases from the scenario take form in Abo and are converted to music. A sample of these notes is shown below:
07: Affection/Utsumi’s Theme/Great Mother
- Wrapped in kindness. Also a slight fear of being swallowed up completely if you were to stay like this.
- Embrace and restraint. Indian mythology: Saraswati and Kali. Motherly.
- Reference: Aurora (Bjork)
10: Eccentric/Yuni’s Theme/Trickstar
- No rhyme or reason. Eccentric. Bizarre qualities.
- Trickery. Falsehood. Distortion. Cunning.
- Reference: Embracing The Sunshine (BT)
11: Fetal movements/Self’s Theme/Self
- Something squirming within oneself. Something whispering. The embodiment of an unknown personality.
- Gradually, a feeling of discomfort emerges.
- Mixed with dissonance. An unpleasant feeling. Like a trance.
- Reference: Montagne D’Or (orb)
Remember11 SOUND INTRODUCTION
Abo-san talks about the charm of all his songs!
All 33 songs used in Remember11 will be introduced below with Abo-san’s own commentary. The world will deepen even further if you understand the meaning of each song, the points he struggled with and the points to listen out for.
The BGM for the later half of the snowy mountain side. Imagine the “white” of a cold world. In audio, white noise refers to noise that contains all frequencies equally. The high frequencies are boosted in this song.
02. Chaining -Beta-
For the snowy mountain and SPHIA theme songs, I made two versions of each that are subtely different to give the feeling that “something changed!”. This is a slightly brighter arrangement used in the first half of the snowy mountains.
Theme for the first half of the SPHIA side. In SPHIA, the high frequency of the white was suppressed which created a more “muddy” white. Even though the same color and imagery were used, it expresses a contrasting and different world.
04. Scheme -Beta-
For the second half of SPHIA’s side. I was particular about the details such as how each tone is handled and how to produce spacial sound. If you pay close attention and listen to them individually, you’ll hear it the way I intended while creating it.
This is an unusually bright song. This is Kokoro’s theme, and is a unique fun song in Kokoro’s side. The voice in the song says “God?” and was taken from a clip that said “Oh my god”.
Satoru’s theme. The usual theme of SHPIA. The built-in sound engine can’t play enough notes simultaneously, so some sounds were stopped to keep the parts balanced. It was made to capture the core mentality of the game.
Mayuzumi’s theme. It gives the impression of a fragile mental state that’s protected by a dry, cool outer appearance. Were the cymbals too strong overall?
08. Old Wise Man
Yomogi’s theme. He is a wise man and the leader of the group. I’m pleased with the composition and the balance of tones. I’m also biased towards the chord progression, it’s a series of my favorite chords.
09. Great Mother
Utsumi’s theme. I like this quite a bit. A bass with a slow, rough beat and a low bell that is both gentle and eerie. I would be happy if you listened and analyzed each part.
Hotori’s negetive theme. Contains many negative elements such as an unpredictable sequence and a low, dull bass. Most parts, such as the snare drum, were played in an imbalanced way.
11. Puer aeternus
Hotori’s positive theme. I tried using a mysterious tone with a floating feeling for the intro. The arpeggio sequence was borrowed from “Shadow”. This song and “Shadow” are a pair. This was a song I struggled with quite a bit.
Yuni’s theme. Did you understand that the voice was saying “Distortion, Eccentric, Mystery”? The middle has a beat/tempo of 7, which is an unstable beat, but that’s exactly what Yuni’s theme is all about.
[Note: Please forgive my lack of musical knowledge. I have no idea what a “beat of 7” means]
Ambient techno as you approach the core of the story. I like these songs a lot. You may not understand this song, but it used a lot of memory in the built-in sound generator. It subtly does elaborate things.
My favorite part is second half of the synth rises and it goes back to the original chord. The bass, percussion, chords, everything leads to that moment. The tone of the bass is always changing.
A song that mainly plays during scenes of thought and consideration. It was going to be rejected, but I managed to use it. I really like the combination of the distorted lead in the second half and the soft sound that rings behind it.
Ambient techno with a trance component. You can hear the sound of a scream at the start. An array of suspicious tones. Close your eyes, get your nerves up and listen. It might be nice to listen to in the middle of the night.
A song with a sad atmosphere. It seems to give two different impressions whether you listen to it in the game or by itself. The song didn’t even last 2 minutes, but I extended it and made it longer after completing all the songs.
A song based on breakbeat and sine wave bass. The ticking sound in the interlude comes from the hands of a clock. The ticking time, someone whispering and other sounds make it feel like you’re caught in a delusion.
19. Fear and Insanity
I made it with emphasis on the left and right phases. If you listen with headphones, it’ll be easy to understand. I’m pleased that the chorus feels scary. I’ve assigned fear to the minor chord and insanity to the major chord.
Attack, the instinct to face death and self-destruction. The drum part goes crazy to bring out the sense of urgency created by the drum and bass. The computer isn’t sure if he was able to create a sense of impatience and anxiety (strained laugh).
21. Delusive Consciousness
This is another ambient piece, but one of my favorites. I wanted the cello to sound more vivid but it turned out like this no matter how many times I sampled it. I was scared of whatever made it turn out like this.
22. Delusive Consciousness (amb.)
An ambient version of Delusive Consciousness. Sounds like the rough percussion were removed and it’s even more suspicious. Each part is made independent and easy to hear.
It starts with a mysterious phrase, the meaning of which carries a mysterious power. It used a lot of (computer) memory for the first half. I don’t think you hear it often in the main game.
24. Multiple Maze
I made it with the aim of expressing chaos and disturbance with the distorted beat, reversed sounds and so on. The promotional movie creates a strong impression, and listening to this song reminds me of the newpaper article scene.
25. Dreamy Lens
I aimed to create a relieving atmosphere by using the sound of the cute bells. It was one of the few songs I created from a melody, and I wanted to make a piano version so I tried to make it after all the other data was completed.
26. Dreamy Lens -Paino-
Piano version of Dreamy Lens. Even with the same song, the impression changes greatly just by changing the tone and the accompaniment. I really like the piano because it is warm and soft and has a calm sound that produces alpha waves.
27. Dark Gestalt
I really like this song, mainly the stringed instruments in the interlude. The stringed instruments at the end are also nice. Actually, I really wanted it to sound a bit clearer…
In the story, this acts as the theme song for a certain person. I made it using a different software sound generator, and it is the only song I made this way. It was faster to create the other songs with the built-in sound generator.
29. Will -Theme-
This is the first song I made. I read the early materials and made this so that I can include it in the “KID MUSIC MUSEUM” album. I remember trying to create a song that combines energy and silence.
[Note: KID Music Museum is a collection of songs from KID’s games. Vol 2 was released in August 2003, a year before Remember11, and includes a copy of “Will” with the track called “Song Name Undecided”]
The most cheerful song. The rhythm shuffles and races on without resting until it reaches the second half. It’s an honest song that doesn’t change much in terms of tone. Catharsis means the release of emotion and the purification of the spirit.
31. All or None
The song that plays on the title screen is the piano version of this song. It was originally one song, but I think that changing the arrangement and using it properly creates a more effective sound. The song emphasizes sadness.
32. All or None -Piano-
This is the piano version of All or None which plays on the title screen. I wanted to end on a gentle note when you look back on the story later on. The song wasn’t originally intended but I made it anyway without permission.
33. Delta Wave
Longer version of the “Will” motif. There is a synth that replaces the vocals in the interlude, but I originally wanted to have this part sung by using voice samples.