Interview With Zero Escape Series Creator Kotaro Uchikoshi

Monday, March 21st, 2016

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Very few times have a met a creator so thankful for their fans. Kotaro Uchikoshi is one of those people and it was an absolute honor to be able to sit across from him and talk about his upcoming projects. Kotaro Uchikoshi is the series creator of the Zero Escape series and is working on the last of his three part series, Zero Time Dilemma, a game that might have not come out without the love of the series from the players. We had the opportunity to interview him at GDC 2016 and with out further ado, the interview:

How long did the it take for you to write Zero Escape: Zero Time Dilemma?

About a year, that covers the main plot and everything in between.

In 999, there is a music puzzle and a card puzzle, and in Virtue’s Last Reward there are math puzzles, a jukebox puzzle, and a billiards puzzle.  What kind of puzzles can the player expect in Zero Time Dilemma?

Of course there are all types of puzzles for Zero Time Dilemma as well. For this project we brought on two professional puzzle creators; one of them is a gentlemen named Yotsui who is known for his unique and out out of the box type puzzles. He tries to make the player approach puzzles at an unorthodox angle. They other is a women named Sasuke, she is more of an orthodox style puzzle creator who does a lot of escape game puzzles for cell phones. She is a more well known creator and is more straight forward.

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Do you have the final say in what puzzles get implemented into the game?

Yes definitely, I give them a rough framework where I tell them that I want these types of tricks in the puzzle and I want the puzzle to resolve in a certain way. After they show me what they’ve come up with, we work together to make everything happen.

There’s a sense of randomness in Zero Time Dilemma, but you can also replay scenes. Does this allow the player to change any choice they make? Did you ever consider making the players choices permanent?

It’s definitely something worth considering. I think that locking your character into one decision definitely has it’s own merit, but in the case of Zero Time Dilemma, one of our major themes is multiple-probable histories. So when the game splits off and the player goes off into one history, but then you can change that choice to explore a different history. Being able to move between all these different equally likely probable histories is one of the themes of the game.

So will there be players that can play through and stick with their first choices?

Unfortunately, by design, you have to try all these different histories to find the proper path through the game. There’s plenty of timelines that you don’t have to explore, but there’s definitely one proper path that can get you through the game.

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Games like Until Dawn use the players choices to determine the lives of the cast, but some of the characters are written to be hated to the point where the player doesn’t mind if they die. Is that something that happens in Zero Time Dilemma?

[Laughs] For the most part the characters are all good people, especially the three team leaders, Q, Diana, and Carlos. So you would want to see them survive till the end, but because of the nature of the game, Zero has set up positions where they are forced to do things against their nature, such as kill the ones they love. So we see what happens when we see these characters be forced to be something else.

So awhile ago you went to Twitter to tell the fans that Zero Escape 3 might not happen. Do you thank the fans that have stayed loyal and used their love for your series to motivate you to not give up?

To reiterate what happened, we decided internally that we weren’t going to produce Zero Escape 3 and I didn’t want to keep fans in suspense. So I brought up on Twitter to say “Sorry guys, shows over, there wont be a Zero Escape 3” because of that the fans rallied around the series and the support showed the top people in the company that the fans wanted it. After that we got the okay from the people in the company to begin work on the sequel. So yes, it is completely thanks to the fans that we were able to get this far and I’d like to thank each and every one of you for all of your support.

You created anime, Punch line, that released last year. A visual novel for the anime came out on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita. Is there any chance that game can make it West?

Unfortunately I’m not allowed to comment on that at the moment, but there should be news coming soon. So stay tuned.

If you want to know more about Zero Time Dilemma please check out our behind closed doors preview.