Author interviews Vol.16 Momotereu

InterviewsAuthor round-table

Talking to Momotereu

Momotereu is a 26-year-old bachelor. He was working as a regular contributor for many years, and he joined us last year, a promising young employee. This interviewer is NyanBaz, who joined us last year too.

NyanBazWere you already a regular contributor when you were in high school, ten years ago?

MomotereuYes. I did nothing but puzzles in my high school years. I think all I did in class was to make puzzles. Because of that, my test scores were always in the bottom 100.

NyanBazWhat is the bottom 100?

MomotereuIt is a private word in the senior high school I went to. There were about 400 students per grade. The test rankings for everybody were posted, and we called the student below the 100th place from the bottom "the bottom 100." But I had second thoughts, and I stopped with puzzles from the summer of the 3rd year of high school, when university entrance examinations were just half a year away. Then I still failed the entrance examination. As a result I concluded that the results of the entrance examination wouldn't change whether I did puzzles or not.

NyanBazIt's a wonderful thing to realize. (laughs) Then did you make puzzles ever since that entrance examination was over?

MomotereuNo. When I was a university sophomore my life was free from puzzles. I got to known a new world with circle activities and the part-time job. But the big main reason was that my puzzle making had become stuck in a rut. I had my own ways at the time, maybe putting it too strongly, my puzzles were all on the same pattern. Therefore I got bored at the puzzles I created.

NyanBazAre you basically fickle in your ways?

MomotereuYes, you could sure say that. It is hard for me to continue doing the same thing. When I was a contributor to Nikoli, I even changed the color of the pens I used to write the copy with, and I did it often.

NyanBazWhy did you come back to puzzles?

MomotereuIt was triggered when Nikoli launched the puzzle website. There was an interesting Slitherlink by SAKAMOTO, Nobuyuki. A lot of people solved it and left comments about it. So I thought I wanted to make interesting problems and get such a lot of comments. I also changed how I make my puzzles. So far I had made puzzles where the solvers would enjoy the process of solving them. But now I thought I had to make puzzles with unconventional ideas. That was sure to have an impact on the solvers. And I don't get tired of that myself.

NyanBazYou can say that, your puzzles have many new ideas. I worry, will you run out of ideas?

MomotereuThere is no need to worry about that. Sometimes I come up with entirely new ideas. But I also refer to other people's ideas. At that time, I change the shape or how to incorporate the idea. At the same time, I want other writers to utilize my ideas. I think it is a loss when a good idea is only used once or twice. That means, I think the ideas should be shared among authors, and all authors can use the ideas of each other.

NyanBazI get it. Then you were hired by Nikoli. How did that happen?

MomotereuI wasn't able to graduate from the university in four years. I wrote my graduation thesis, but I didn't have enough credits, carelessness. Just that, carelessness. Then when I went around looking for a job in my second senior year, it all went wrong. Summer started and I had no job offers, I was getting worried. Then I was called by Nob (Nikoli staff). I had an interview a week later, and I began working as an intern from the following week. I had no money when I was an intern, it was a hard time. And I am still not rich. (laughs)

NyanBazNikoli hired you, now solving and making puzzles became your work. It has been a year now, did your sense of values about puzzles change any?

MomotereuHmm... It may have changed. But only some. Anyway, I make nikoli.com puzzles just like I did before. At least, I try to do so. It is idea-sensitivity that matters now like I already said. Thinking difficult is not really necessary, puzzles have to have an impact on both beginners and people who are good at solving them. That's my aim. I'm not interested in the puzzles that just puzzle enthusiasts like. I want as many people as possible to react to my puzzles. Whether it is a beginner nor an expert solving them doesn't really matter.

NyanBazThe reactions of the people who solve your puzzles motivates you to make better puzzles too.

MomotereuThe comments from solvers are very helpful for me. I'm happy when I get a good evaluation. When I hear something negative that's as it should be, it all helps. I'll make up for it and see to get a good evaluation the next time.

NyanBazSomething else. What are your favorite puzzles?

MomotereuSlitherlink and Fillomino. In Slitherlink, there was a time when it seemed that there could be no new ideas. But then, new ideas appeared like the "0's knight jump placement" or "Tighten the clues in rectangular patterns." I enjoy Slitherlink like that, profound and deep. I still grope for new ideas for Slitherlink. I'm like a wanderer traveling in Slitherlink world. I am proud that I am at the cutting edge with Fillomino. Interesting placement of clues in the problems from other authors have increased here recently. I like to say, cheekily maybe, the world finally caught up with me here.

NyanBazI thought you would mention Nurikabe here, how do you do with Nurikabe now?

MomotereuSure Nurikabe is great. With Nurikabe it is MINE and his crowd plays the active part. I don't think that I have to do that. Yes I'm sassy. (laughs)

NyanBazNo problem, why not. (laughs) But what puzzles are you weak at?

MomotereuIt was difficult for me to make hard Sudoku until a short while ago. I don't think I am weak at it. My plan was to made hard problems that can be solved with a simple strategy. I've made efforts to realize that, and now I can make Sudoku of a degree of difficulty just like I want.

NyanBazI know you are still very young, but let me ask anyway. What kind of life do you want to live in 40 years time?

MomotereuI can't imagine that far into the future. I may become the president of Nikoli or I may be living it up drinking every night. I do not know what will happen. I'll continue to maintain my stance, I won't be bowled over. I like the game of go. Go has a long history, thousands of years, there are so many things in go that have not yet been cleared up. I like it. Even if I is old, I want to have that pure feeling of pursuit of the truth of the world. I think that age does not matter when we pursue the truth. I always want to pursue something.

NyanBazThis suddenly became deep and serious. Now for the last question. Do you have anything you want to tell the people solving puzzles?

MomotereuPlease challenge it with a light feeling. If you feel something when you are at it, be impressed by that something.


Interviewed Jul 2008 Published on May 26, 2010