The Yuji Horii Rule

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AuthorTopic: The Yuji Horii Rule
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I just read a interesting design idea on insert credit.
This is what we in the business of rock-star game-critique call "The Yuji Horii Rule." The Yuji Horii Rule states that NPC (non-player-character) A means nothing to PC (player-character) B until NPC C mention NPC A in dialogue. The best example off the top of my head is in the town of Hamelia in Yuji Horii’s Dragon Quest VII; at a bar in a basement, a woman in a red dress is drinking alone. You talk to her, and she tells you to leave her alone. You talk to a man sitting at the other end of the bar, and he mentions the woman in the red dress, saying, it’s really sad to see a woman drinking alone like that, isn’t it? And she’s so pretty, too.

What does this detail amount to in the greater context of our four heroes’ quest to free the world of the evil of the Demon Lord? At the end of the day, nothing. The woman in the red dress is just a person in a basement bar in a town in the middle of nowhere. Yuji Horii, as a game designer, inherently understands that if you populate even the most-colorful, interesting-architecture-filled town with only NPCs that tell you where to find the keys to the mayor’s house so you can move on to the next dungeon (biggest offender in this is Grandia II), you’re going to bore your audience. You have to do something to keep them there, to keep them emerged. If you take the time to, once or twice in every little town riddled about your game’s expansive landscape, make a sprite in a basement seem like an actual person, it does something to make the game felt in the heart of the player. The player then moves on from the town of Hamelia toward broadening horizons with a tiny piece of something in his soul, something that pushes him to, even years later, remember the name of that dumpy little town.

Posts: 27 | Registered: Thursday, March 18 2004 08:00