We store cookies, you can get more info from our privacy policy.

Iwata Asks: In Commemoration, Part 9 - And-Kensaku

And-Kensaku, Part 6 - Creating Questions With Interesting Combinations of Phrases

by the NWR Staff - September 2, 2016, 1:05 am EDT

Part 6 of And-Kensaku.

6. Creating Questions With Interesting Combinations of Phrases

Iwata - While unfortunately development for this game was put on hold temporarily, at that point there wasn’t actually anyone with any negative views on the game thinking things like, “This game has no teeth.”

Nishimura - Right. There was no one saying anything like that to us, and we ourselves were convinced it was an interesting product. However, one of the several problems we had was that, while people familiar with using Google’s search engine on a daily basis could understand the game and found it quite entertaining, for those unfamiliar with it, we figured it might not be an easy product to grasp.

Iwata - At what point did that get cleared up, and how so?

Yui - First we thought, let’s try using phrase search (※7).

※7 Phrase Search=Searching for pages that include separate terms, such as “Andou” and “Kensaku”. But enclosing both terms in double quotation marks such as “Andou Kensaku,” you can search for those phrases together.

Soya - The idea to use phrase search was first brought up by Nishimura-san. Enclosing multiple terms in double quotes enables you to make a search treating them as a single phrase.

Iwata - As I discussed with Kan-san from Google earlier, when searching “Tokyo” versus “Osaka,” the number of results for “Tokyo” is overwhelmingly greater, simply from a population standpoint, but if you add a term and phrase search for something like “Famous Tokyo Goods” versus “Famous Osaka Goods,” you unexpectedly find out that the converse can be true.

Soya - Right. That’s pretty interesting, so we always had the idea that it would be great to use that, but at that point the software was already pretty far along in development, so the idea to add a new feature at that stage…

Iwata - You figured it best to forget about that idea?

Soya - Yes. We chose to forego that idea.

Iwata - And so that idea came back later on.

Soya - Yes (laughs). We decided that it would be more easily understandable using phrase search, so we started development back up.

Nishimura - But, for instance, for questions like “Which is higher?”, it’s just a two choice multiple choice problem, so the system is incredibly simple and the rules are clear, but choosing to use phrase search meant that we had to reimagine what questions to ask.

Iwata - In other words, now you had to gain the ability to figure out what phrases would go well together.

Soya - Exactly. Up until that point in development we just relied on Google’s data, and although we used manpower to categorise terms to an extent, our basic stance was to solve everything on the system side and use automatically generating algorithms. But from that point on it all came down to manpower.

Iwata - You needed the ‘manpower’ to think of interesting phrase combinations.

Nishimura - Right. But just coming up with two words to use together doesn’t make an interesting question. So our real problem was figuring out how to come up with that hook for each question that would grab people’s interest.

Yui - And that’s when we decided to hire team members with that kind of ability, such as broadcast writers.

Nishimura - We decided to only select questions that would be interesting, like puns, questions with double meanings, or regional questions like the comparison between Tokyo and Osaka.

Soya - So we had lots of tries and retries with coming up with questions and shooting them down, over and over.

Iwata - Who would be the one to shoot them down?

Soya - Nishimura-san.

Iwata - How mean. But I also shut down a lot of title proposals from Nishimura-san, so I guess I’m one to talk. (laughs)

Nishimura - I only gave you just a couple of the total number of title proposals I came up with - there were actually mountains of them.

Iwata - So you only showed me the best of the best of the titles you had thought up from that mountain of proposals, and I shot them down every time.

Nishimura - …Yes.

Iwata - From my point of view, because this was an unprecedented piece of software like nothing that had ever come before, I thought it was incredibly important that the title be something that wouldn’t get lost in the sea of other games, and at the same time something that would feel familiar to customers.

Nishimura - Indeed. So when I was thinking about what kind of name would feel familiar, the robot that appears in the game sprang to mind.

Soya - From the early stages of development we had a robot named “Andou Kensaku,” a play on the Japanese for “And search”.

Nishimura - That robot’s name is easy to familiarize yourself with, and I thought that it would easily be loved by many people. So I decided to suggest that title at the very end.

Iwata - And that’s when I finally gave the OK.

Nishimura - When the name was finalized I called Shift right away…

Iwata - As soon as you got the OK you called them right then and there.

Nishimura - Yes. That’s how happy I was. At that moment I heard loud cheers from the other side of the line. (laughs)

Soya - That’s right. (laughs)

Yui - Everyone’s excitement came out in an explosion right then and there. Obviously we were happy that the title had been officially decided, but it was also wonderful that we’d definitely be able to release the game.



famicomplicatedJames Charlton, Associate Editor (Japan)September 02, 2016

This game is crazy! (Overview video)

Awesome work with the translation as ever Matt!  :cool;

Thanks bro! Glad people are enjoying them. ^^

Got a news tip? Send it in!