The Pokémon World Championships 2023 are underway in Yokohama, Japan, and the return home for the franchise has already begun to capture the attention of its audience. As part of Worlds coverage, Screen Rant was invited to discuss the Pokémon TCG with Creatures Director Atsushi Nagashima, a veteran of game design and of card game itself.
While Nagashima certainly didn’t unveil the inner secrets of the long-running Pokémon TCG’s success, he shed some light on the team at Creatures’ design philosophies and approaches to keeping the game accessible to its extremely varied demographic. He also doesn’t lack for confidence – during one question, Nagashima plainly stated that he generally knows where a competitive meta is going ahead of a set release.
First, could you explain what a director does? – IGN
Atsushi Nagashima: So as the executive director of the card development team, I oversee mechanics, game development, as well as art, illustrations, pretty much everything that goes into developing and creating a card.
What is the process like of when you put out a really good card, and how you deal with that? And do you specifically design ways to deal with that strong card? – IGN
Atsushi Nagashima: So first, to create a strong card for the environment, one, there’s an intentional creation, we want to create a strong card. And then there’s the second part when there’s a deck that seems to just carry on, and so it just lives long, it’s been played long. So then we think about how to balance it out with a certain deck. So there’s a multiple approach to creating a strong card.
So for the Mew VMAX example, yes, there were some cards that were intentionally created to counter, however, there were other cards that was just in the process of creating. So it’s not necessarily that we focus on one thing.
I’m curious about how your team handles the introduction of new Pokemon. How early in the process are you involved in that? And do you have any influence over maybe the design or any aspects of new Pokemon? – TheGamer
Atsushi Nagashima: So in general, it takes around a year to develop a set. So for new Pokemon I would know about in the middle of the development phase, I would know more details of these new Pokemon.
So the difficult part is that even through that process, details change for these new Pokemon. So that becomes a challenge when creating game and developing the game. So sometimes I wonder if I remember things correctly because for certain Pokemon, the details may change very quickly.
So the priority of introducing see New Pokemon is to ensure that the characteristic of that Pokemon is shown in the card itself, you really want to make sure that it’s true to how the Pokemon are depicted in the game as well as in the card. So when it’s a new one, we try to be really true and follow the rules, per se.
I was wondering if there were ever any designs that the team really loved that just didn’t quite fit into a set, what the process is when that happens? And if you’ve ever had that and then brought a set or brought a design from the previous one that got discarded and put it into a new set once it fit? – Screen Rant
Atsushi Nagashima: So we come up with the varieties of logics, and attacks, and data, at first. And then from there, we piece together, should this come at the first set of the season? Should this come in the later part of the piece? But at the very beginning, we come up with a number, tons and tons, of different ideas.
So actually, the tag team mechanic and the data was actually initially concepted during the BW era.
Every time you release a new expansion, do you know where the meta is going to go or is just a responsibility of the players? – Meristation
Atsushi Nagashima: So basic terms, I know where the meta is going to go. I will predict that and it will follow that. But these days there’s many players and there could be some things that I do not think about. So it could be a variety based on the players too. But in general I do see. I do foresee the meta.
Next: Pokémon TCG Live – Game Modes, Redeem Codes, & Battle Pass