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AI: The Somnium Files Could Have Been a VR Game and Other Interesting Insights from the Assistant Director

I think AI: THE SOMNIUM FILES is one of the best games I’ve played all year (review), so I was happy to see an interview with the game’s assistant director, Akira Okada, on the PlayStation Blog. The team at Spike Chunsoft is celebrating the game’s release by pulling back the curtain on the development process. If you have been interested in the game, or just love to see how the gaming sausage is made, keep reading.

Akira Okada had a pivotal role – the development of all the Somnium sections. As you begin to tackle these on your own playthrough, you’ll realize why this was a massive undertaking. Creating these sections came with a lot of freedom, but a new IP meant there was no blueprint for how it should be done. From the beginning, the game’s producer told Okada, “Do what you want to do”.

It looks like that worked out fine, but you still have to figure out what you want to do. Since the Somnium is someone’s dream, the team was asked to deliver some of their own dreams as inspiration. They wound up being too weird, so they couldn’t use them. For the in-game dreams, Okada’s favorite Somniums are Iris’ and Ota’s. Both have some surprises you won’t expect.

It wasn’t completely unstructured. Okada worked with Uchikoshi in crafting the dream worlds. Uchikoshi was designing the detective sequences, but they each had some input to make sure both parts of the game meshed together well. These sequences were shown to the team, and received great feedback. Some of the team cried during the more emotional parts of the game.

AI: The SOMNIUM FILES was a huge effort that didn’t necessarily start as the game you see now. They discussed the idea of making it a VR game, “a sound novel”, and “a pop-up picture book” among other ideas. Having completed the game, I’m glad it turned out this way, and I think you are going to love what they delivered.

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