Interview with STATIONFlow's Tak Fujii and Szabó Marcell

15 Jun 2020

Tak Fujii is a very, very different sort of creator in the game industry; as someone who has worked in games for a long time, he has consistently gone on different paths and tried different things for almost every single game he’s made, up to and including his most recent title as producer, STATIONFlow. The metro station management game has its own character and nature, which is both different from Fujii’s other titles and also entirely in keeping with his nature as, well… a creative presence who moves to wildly different places with each subsequent game.

We had an opportunity to ask Tak Fujii and game director Szabó Marcell a few questions about the game’s design and influences on the title, and there is quite a bit to unpack there. So let’s get into the answers, shall we?

Gamer Escape: Obviously, STATIONflow is a very different game from previous Tak Fujii games, but that’s true of several games in the past. Was this a conscious effort to do something different, or just how things turned out?

Tak Fujii: I always like something different from what I have done. I really liked the ideas for STATIONflow when Marcell told me about the first concepts of the game. I love the game, so I am really proud of producing this title.

Gamer Escape: What was the initial inspiration for managing a metro station as the main element of a game?

Szabó Marcell: Experiencing Japanese metro stations was a big influence. I admired the way stations’ layouts guided the flow of passengers. I also admired how signage was set up. I found that I could become frustrated when it wasn’t done well, and kept thinking about what the cause of the problem could be. That seemed like an interesting thing to turn into a game and that is why you are now able to experience STATIONflow.

Gamer Escape: Were the minimalist graphics an intentional nod to metro signage, or a stylistic choice borne of different intent?

Szabó Marcell: A bit of both. We definitely wanted the game to look and feel a lot like actual metro signage, which felt appropriate stylistically. We also wanted the game to have a fairly simple, simulation/board game kind of feel, to make information more clear and reduce clutter on the screen. That’s why, for example, all the passenger characters are just simple models with recognizable colors, instead of something more realistic.

Gamer Escape: Do you consider STATIONflow more of a puzzle game or a simulation game in its conception?

Szabó Marcell: Definitely more of a simulation game. Puzzle games, to me, have one or more pre-determined solutions; that was never part of the design concept for STATIONflow. We don’t know what the ‘best’ way is to build the station on a certain map ourselves… there probably isn’t one.

Gamer Escape: How do you feel reception has been to the game so far?

Szabó Marcell: We’ve gotten a lot of very positive feedback from users and press alike (thanks, by the way!) We’ve also gotten specific praise on some target goals, like the UI or how nice it is to just watch the flow of passengers, so that feels pretty good, as a developer.

Gamer Escape; Do you have plans for any DLC for the future?

Szabó Marcell: Currently no. We came out of Early Access intending the game to be in a complete and playable state, so players don’t wait with baited breath for new content.

Gamer Escape: Now that the game is out in the wild, is there anything you wish you had gotten done or added before launch?

Szabó Marcell: Isn’t there always? I have a long list of things I could consider adding, but who knows if they would make the game that much better, if not worse. I do think the game is in a very good state as it is, especially if you consider the map editor and sharing, plus the difficulty settings and achievements; there are a lot of things for players to do!

Gamer Escape: Last but not least… from my own experience playing the game, why are the elderly passengers so cranky all the time?

Tak Fujii: You will find it out when you reach my age.

Images courtesy of DMM Games.