Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin Developer Blog #1

Behind-the-Scenes of Sakuna

By Koichi from Edelweiss

This is Koichi from Edelweiss. I handled the graphics (except for animation and effects), world-building, story, and some of the planning and adjustment of the RPG elements in Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin.

I was working at a gaming company like my colleague Nal when I helped out with Edelweiss’ title Fairy Bloom Freesia as an external staff member starting in fall 2008, and I became an official member of Edelweiss while working on Astebreed. I quit my company job in 2012 to start working in earnest at Edelweiss while occasionally doing freelance work on the side.

Sakuna ended up becoming a large-scale project that took a whopping five and a half years to complete. During that time, I met new people and parted ways with others, but fortunately I received help from many individuals until finally, somehow, making it to the game’s launch. I think I could have done many things better, but ultimately I’ve become deeply attached to this title.

Game developers spend a long time working on each of their titles. Although I wish could release a game after less than a year of work, it inevitably takes us several years to make a game that achieves a certain level of quality and length. This time I maintained a healthy level of motivation for about two years, but after that I relied on the passion of my colleagues, the positive reactions of players, and my own admiration for other games to sustain me as I continued walking through the darkness. I finally saw something like the light at the end of the tunnel in the latter half of 2019. At many points during the game’s development we faced a dilemma over prioritizing releasing the game versus assuring its quality, but at every such fork in the road we chose to delay the launch date. I feel very guilty about this, but if we had released a game riddled with regrets, neither we nor the players would feel happy with the result. Doing so would have rendered my decision to quit my corporate job meaningless. I have felt since development began that this title would become the first great culmination of all Edelweiss’ previous experience, so even if it meant exhausting my savings, we simply couldn’t release Sakuna until it met our own standards. I feel relieved that I somehow survived that period of anguish to successfully complete the game.

But enough talking in the abstract. Now I’d like to present a spoiler-free list of my favorite things about Sakuna.

Favorite Character
I want to say the entire main cast, but I think Sakuna and Kokorowa turned out particularly well.

Favorite Background
I took artist Ryota Murayama’s advice and added a sense of depth to the background of “Bellicose Beast Spring,” a level that appears early on in the story. The resulting visuals turned out quite well in comparison to the actual specs.

Favorite Part of the Story
I feel I had greater freedom when writing the characters in the sidequests, perhaps because I did not have to agonize over them as much as I did the main story scenes. I particularly enjoyed creating the events with Kokorowa.

Favorite Music
I’ll never tire of “Guidance,” (the World Map theme) which serves to heighten the player’s excitement for the adventure ahead.

Two wonderful individuals, the artist Ryota Murayama and composer Hiroyuki Oshima, helped make Sakuna infinitely more appealing. And without the tireless efforts of our publishers, voice actors, and external staff, we probably would have only about 30% of the game done by now.

Once again, my heartfelt thanks to everyone involved in this game’s development, and I can’t wait to see how the players react to it.

For more information about Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin: