Kazutaka Kodaka is a writer and director of video games at Spike Chunsoft. He is best known as the creator of the Danganronpa series, which features elements of mystery, survival horror, and anime-styled whimsy. He has also been involved in localizing non-Japanese games for Chunsoft such as Hotline: Miami. We spoke to him at length about his influences and inspirations for the unique series and approach he takes to gaming.
This interview was conducted by Jeremy Booth at Anime Expo 2015.
First of all, how was your trip to LA?
I loved Hooters! I just went straight there.
What inspired you to get into the gaming industry? What was the moment you knew you wanted to go into designing and making games?
I was originally going to write scenarios for films, but I was asked if I wanted to join the game industry instead. So that is how I got in.
So you went from just telling stories to making more interactive stories?
You’ve said you are a fan of movies like Cube, Saw, and other survival horror. Are you interested in any other horror movies or films, and have they influenced your mindset?
I like Twin Peaks. I like sequels…I wanted to create games where once the first chapter ends, you’d want to see the second [installment].
You mentioned Twin Peaks. What other David Lynch films do you like?
Mulholland Drive, Wild at Heart….all of them!
You also said you were influenced by a game called Illbleed. Anything stand out from that game that really stood out to you?
It’s very particular, but I like the fact that the healing items will disappear if you don’t use them.
Any other games you are inspired by now or in the past?
Conker’s Bad Fur Day, which was made by Rare. A squirrel has a gun and just starts shooting…I think the comedy and parodies are awesome. It’s cute but it has a very aggressive and violent tone…one of the characters [a piece of poo] even sings opera! I can never see what’s coming next.
Are you familiar with Five Nights at Freddy’s? It feels like an American take on something similar to Danganronpa.
Yes, it’s true, the concept and a lot of things do seem similar. Even though it’s similar, it still has its own different individual character.
What do you remember most about working for the Konami Group?
The company is really strict. I was debugging games part-time.
I liked how cruelty is turned into entertainment through 8-bit art styles…I also like how the music and soundtrack, and the fact that the game is only written by two people. There are games that are so famous or big that you don’t know who’s creating them. I prefer games where there’s a small group of people making it so I can see what kind of people they are.
What do you look for when you want to bring American games to a Japanese audience?How do you localize a game like Hotline: Miami?
I didn’t want to change that much…I don’t mind if not that many people buy it, only the few people who would love that game who would be entertained by it. Same goes with Danganronpa.
It’s an interactive story, as interactive as possible. The situation is similar in Dangonronpa where you have to kill a character at a time. Instead of showing you a character to kill, you make the player choose who to kill.
What direction can we expect for the Dangonronpa series?
When I release something to the public, I want to surprise the audience. I don’t just want to release the same old thing, rather something where you say “you’re doing that?” Still, the core component is mystery.
Voltage Games is a prominent Japanese publisher of mobile otome games (i.e., dating sims featuring several men to choose from, aimed at young women) such as My Forged Wedding, Kissed by the Baddest Bidder, and more. We had the chance to speak to company founder Yuzi Tsutani as well as VP Kentaro Kitajima at their booth at this year’s Anime Expo about their games, the challenges of adapting to an American market, and more.
The interview was conducted by Michael Huang, with question help by Linda Yau. Their games are available in the US in the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store.
You are primarily a mobile game company. What is your take on being a mobile company vs PC games?
When we started the company in Japan, we started with Japanese cell phones (keitai). We never thought about doing PC or console games.
What’s your opinion about crowdsourcing funding, like with Kickstarter? Do you think you might pursue any games at Voltage that are crowdfunded as opposed to traditionally funded?
I don’t think so. Our budgets are much bigger than what crowdfunding sites get. People use crowdfunding when they are starting their business…but for us, it’s more like an investment. We are listed already [on the stock market].
Tell us about your best selling game, My Forged Wedding.Why do you think it’s so popular?
We feel that marriage and weddings are popular with women, an important part of their lives. We feel like using that as the main topic for the app, and so it’s become very popular.
Most of your games are aimed at young women. Do you see yourselves as role models? What do you hope to bring to them?
There is that aspect, but our number one goal is to create apps women will enjoy first and foremost.
In many of the games, you have to buy the routes a la carte. What types of routes are most popular?
Usually we have 5 characters in a game. The most popular one is the bossy character, then the cool character. The younger character is not as popular.
Have you had any opportunities to collaborate with other companies or brands, and is that something you would like to do in the future?
In Japan, we are working on releasing an app based on Hana Yori Dango, which is a very popular anime/manga series. If that does well, we’d consider more of them in the future.
You were adapting a very popular title in that case. Has it worked the other way around, adapting some of your games?
Some TV companies are considering making a program based on one of our stories. We can’t say which title. But some have already been made as a manga–our very first title was made into a manga.
Since you’re bringing these very Japanese games to an American audience, are there things you have to change or emphasize differently to appeal to a different culture?
Sometimes in Japanese games, things happen that wouldn’t make any difference there, but directly translated into English may be offensive. We have to be extra careful when we are localizing those aspects.
[Also] in Japan, a very quiet and [introspective] character is a norm, but that’s not the case in America. People prefer a much stronger, more self-aware character, so sometimes we have to adapt them.
What kind of games do you hope to release in this country?
Our next step is Labyrinths of Astoria. This is kind of between Japanese and US characters. It’s the first in our new series of Amemix titles, which aim to blend what’s great about Japan and America. We use anime style art, but with stories based on western concepts like Greek mythologies, with a very diverse cast. So we hope to create a new market with a new series of apps.
On Monday morning, Nintendo shocked the web by announcing the all new Pokémon Omega Ruby and Pokémon Alpha Sapphire game, scheduled to release worldwide for the 2DS & 3DS in November.
The result? Social media explosion. News outlets were on it, Twitter couldn’t get enough of it, the Pokémon Facebook fanpage acquired over 19,000 “shares,” and the teaser received over 1 millions views.
Atelier: Escha & Logy ~Alchemists of the Dusk Sky~ was recently released in English by Tecmo Koei Games for the Playstation 3. Ray played through more than 60 hours of this Japanese RPG, and Mike sat down with him to talk about what he thought of the game. Is it enough to just create items, be kawaii, or is something more exciting and consequential necessary to keep up the player’s interest? Find out what Ray liked and didn’t like so much in this audio review!
Here are some screenshots and artwork from the game, which is available at most major outlets, including Amazon. (Full disclosure: we do get a little bit back if you buy it through this link. Support the site!)
After Microsoft’s spectacular blunder of a press conference last month, people were already saying that the PlayStation 4 was going to blow away the Xbox One. And even after Microsoft tried to claw its way back from the hole they dug themselves into, with a decent showing of new games earlier today, Sony took full advantage of their competition’s previous stumble and blasted even further ahead, leaving Microsoft to eat their dust… Gran Turismo style.
And all with just three simple announcements.
1) PlayStation 4 will play used games with no restrictions.
2) PlayStation 4 does not have to be online. Ever.
3) PlayStation 4 will be $399.99.
It was the first two of these announcements where Microsoft epically opened their mouth and inserted their foot last month. At today’s conference, they tiptoed around these issues and (smartly) focused on games to try not to raise the ire of the blogosphere. Sony, on the other hand, while not giving a perfect conference, unveiled the PS4 and ended it with a three punch TKO sending Xbox One to the mat.
The conference started slow, with CEO Jack Tretton pushing the PSVita and PS3. While I appreciate that the PS3 is not being flatlined right away, I found it odd there was no announced price cut for the Vita. Sony’s handheld is really suffering in sales at the moment, and a price cut would be a push in the right direction. Also, for a system that has no killer app, the new games announced for it just didn’t excite me, or anyone else in the audience from what I could tell. Instead, we are told how great Skype looks on Vita. I don’t want to buy a handheld game system to use Skype. My phone, laptop, PC, and toaster oven all have Skype on it. I want killer games. I loved my PSP. I want to love Vita too. Give me a reason to love it, Sony.
After Vita, we were treated to a few fun announcements for PS3. Puppeteer looks great. Rain’s design has me intrigued. And Gran Turismo 6? It’s for PS3, not PS4? Ok. Looks pretty, I suppose.
On to the meat and potatoes of the conference, where we finally got to meet the new Sony Parallelogram… er PS4. First impressions (other than the parallelogram gag) were it looks kind of like the Xbox One. It’s a black box. Maybe the designers of both systems went to the same screening of 2001: A Space Odyssey before they went to the drawing board? Also did you know the PS4 will play movies, does networking apps, and will do other movie things and blah, blah, blah, blah… SHOW ME GAMES!
Then the clouds parted and a beam of light shined through. Someone was listening to me. First out of the gate was what appeared to be a Steampunk infused Zombie/Monster game called The Order 1886. Just the trailer was shown, not gameplay, but I definitely got a “Left 4 Dead in a Steampunk Victorian Era” vibe from it. Also, airships. Airships are cool. The Order 1886 is part of a reported 20 new Sony IPs to be released within the first year of the PS4’s lifespan. Some others include Killzone, Driveclub, Infamous, and Knack.
Moving on to the independent scene, Sony smartly announced that indie developers will be able to self-publish their games on PSN. They then proceeded to knock it out of the park showcasing a ton of these smaller titles, each with its own individual quirks and eye catching gimmicks. I will definitely be keeping my eyes on these, in particular Transistor and Mercenary Kings.
Now for third parties, where better to start off than with the current kings of disappointment, Square-Enix. Director Tetsuya Nomura appears on screen to talk about Final Fantasy Versus 13, yet again. How many years has it been since they announced this? I mean seriously, Square. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times… wow, that game looks amazing. Is that actual game play footage? Holy shit, is that Leviathan!? No, no, no, there is no way it’s going to be this good. It’s too good to be true. Wait, what?! It’s not Final Fantasy Versus 13 anymore? It’s Final Fantasy 15?!
Ahem. Sorry about that. Slight geek-out. I promise it won’t happen again– Holy shit, Kingdom Hearts 3?!
And that’s when I blacked out for a few minutes. I have been a die-hard Final Fantasy fan since I began gaming as a wee little Daniel, but it’s no secret Square’s recent endeavors have left me cold. These trailers awakened my sleeping inner Square fan and made me feel all tingly and strange, as I’m sure it did to many of my fellow disenchanted FF franchise lovers.
After this, things were kind of a euphoric blur. There was something about Assassin’s Creed, Watch Dog, and Mad Max I think. All very exciting, especially Watch Dog. Then Jack Tretton returned to the stage with his “Eat it, Microsoft” speech. PS4 will have no DRM and fully supports used and rent/lent games. The PS4 does not have to be online at all in order to work properly. There was one minor hiccup, where it was implied that you would have to subscribe to PlayStation Plus to play multi-player games online, but I think we can forgive that. Besides, Microsoft has done that from day one on the Xbox360, but still, it’s a small step backwards for Sony.
The speech was followed by a long-ish demo detour through Bungie’s new game, Destiny, and then they announced the PS4 price. $399.99. And internet exploded. It was the final KO punch of E3, with Sony knocking Microsoft (who had earlier announced an Xbox One price of $499.99) down for the count.
And that was it. The execs dropped the mic and left the stage. Sony was declared the winner of E3 by… pretty much everyone.
But wait… hey guys come back. You didn’t say when the system was coming out? Later this year, but when exactly? Guys? Hey guys?
Oh well, I’m sure we will find that out soon enough.
So, fellow otaku and gamers, what do you think? Decisive win for Sony? Or is it still up in the air? Let us know. Anime Diet wants to hear your impressions so far.
Daniel is also very excited about the announced sequel to Mirror’s Edge, but since it wasn’t part of the Sony Press conference there was nowhere to mention it.
Happy Holidays… and Yay! This is a game for a classical music fan, and for people who love Taiko no Tatsujin, Dance Dance Revolution, Project Diva, or any other rhythm type game, should definitely try out this Square Enix product on the iOS market.
Before you purchase the full game of Spymphonica though, people can try the Prologue and 1st two chapters for free.
You play as upcoming conductor, Takt who leads the struggling Fayhormonica orchestra to overtake the musical town of Einsatz. You get to practice or move to advance your score. So as with other touch games, pretty much getting a good score is how accurate you are with completing the motions.
The story is pretty short with only three side stores, and 13 chapters, which I played in a short amount of time. As you score higher, meaning being more beloved by audience, the levels get quicker and harder.
As a player you get to see an SD form of the orchestra, or images of the game in these type of photos that would happen as you play through an episode. Chroma.cc is attributed to being the artist company that illustrates Symphonica. There has been a recent update and the ability to add more music to the game play, but sadly no story with those updates. But for the chance to listen to famous classical pieces, and have fun.. is there any other option?
I’m pleased to announce the official opening of Anime Diet Games, a dedicated branch of the site dedicated to video games of all kinds! While we’ll always have a special focus on Japanese pop culture, we’ll be expanding into the rest of the gaming universe too with this new section. Of course, if you go to the section now, you’ll see that we’ve always talked about games every once in a while. But now we’ve decided to pick up our controllers and mash some buttons, so we can cover gaming with the same professionalism and brio that we’ve done with conventions, anime, and manga.
As for me—I wrote years ago that it was JRPGs that actually brought me into anime fandom, not the other way around. Perhaps some of you have had the same experience. We’ve already written about games like Final Fantasy XIII, Eternal Sonata, Alteil, and Skullgirls, and even have footage of Final Fantasy composer Nobuo Uematsu. The gaming culture is tightly linked to the rest of things we’ve always covered, and it’ll give us a chance to talk in depth about things that matter to fans and otaku outside of just the shows and the cons we watch and attend. (And those cons: the gaming cons, from E3 to PAX, are now on our radars!)
So visit our gaming section at the following links:
Yesterday was Valentine’s Day and the nice people over at Autumn Games and Reverge Labs have sent over a special treat for all you Anime Dieters eagerly anticipating the release of their fighting opus, Skullgirls …
Here comes a new challenger!
Valentine is the newest character revealed for Skullgirls. She’s a deadly ninja nurse, and the lone survivor of a group of Anti-Skullgirl lab operatives. However, don’t let her benevolent nurse appearance fool you. Valentine has switched sides and now serves the Skullgirl willingly, carrying out her master’s duties and striking at her foes from the shadows. Not much is known about this secretive fighter, only that she is as deadly as she is beautiful.
A long rumored character that has now officially been added to the roster for this highly anticipated game, Valentine is sure to become a fan favorite in this epic 2D fighter. How many more characters will we see before the official release later this year?
Skullgirls releases early 2012 for PS3 and XBOX360.
You can find more news, sneak peeks, and exciting announcements at the official Skullgirls and Reverge Labs websites.
Publisher: Autumn Games Studio: Reverge Labs Genre: 2D Fighting
Ever wanted to see Nobuo Uematsu, the legendary soundtrack composer for the Final Fantasy games? Our friends and partners at Dragonfish Films caught him at a Q&A session at Otakon 2011. He was only at the convention for a single day, and this is one of his rare public appearances in America. And now you can watch it. Check it out!
A few years ago, when I was employed with a video game magazine, one of my more enjoyable duties was meeting and making contacts with new upcoming artists. I would wander the artist alley at different conventions, in search of hot new talent and talk to them about artwork and possibly doing some commissions for the publications I worked for. Yeah, it was a fun gig, and I made a lot of great friends with some of awesome artists.
One year, Anime Expo 2008, I came across an artist who, in addition to some amazing artwork, had a laptop on his table. Running on the laptop looked to be a 2D hand drawn fighting game and a cute girl with some sort of monstrous parasite on her head instead of hair. The game was Skull Girls and the creator/artist was Alex Ahad. Intrigued, I began asking questions about the game, the characters, the art style, all of which Alex was more than willing to answer. I liked the game and art so much I bought his sketchbooks to show to my publisher. This led to Skull Girls being featured in Girls of Gaming Volume 6, two years before it would be officially picked up to be published and scheduled for release on PSN and Xbox Live.
In Skull Girls, the action takes place in the fictional Canopy Kingdom where players, as one of the stunningly gorgeous yet lethal female characters, vie (I.E. kick each other’s butts. It is a fighting game after all) for a mysterious artifact known as the Skull Heart. The Skull Heart has the power to grant wishes, but at a terrible cost. If the person who obtains the artifact isn’t a pure soul, along with their wish they will be transformed into a frightening monster.
At this years Anime Expo, I caught up with Alex, no longer in artist alley but on the actual Anime Expo convention floor proper, along with an official Skull Girls booth. We discussed the soon to be completion of his masterwork opus, the journey it took to get to this point, and what may lie ahead.
Daniel C.: Ok, to start off, what was the inspiration behind Skull Girls.
Alex Ahad: Well, if you are talking about the character direction itself, I think I’ve always been a fan of these types of characters. The cast of Skull Girls was initially just a bunch of character designs I had piled up over time as it’s just something I enjoy doing during my free time anyway. Particularly, creating monster girl type characters. They’re kind of badass and cute, but also have a dark vicious side to them. So I had enough characters with this kind of motif to them, that I compiled them into a hypothetical cast. I met Mike (Zaimont) later on and he had a game engine but no characters, so we were able to meet up and make this thing happen.
DC: That’s really great. For years now, I’ve spoke with you at conventions, usually in artist alley where you would be set up with a single laptop running an earlier version of the game, and now you are in the Anime Expo exhibit hall proper with a great set-up, PS3s, and multiple screens. When you found out after all these years that Skull Girls was actually gonna happen and be done, what was your feeling?
AA: Even to this day, it still feels kind of surreal when I think about it. In the office I hear people saying character names like Parasoul or Cerabella, talking about them in the context of trying to figure something out as a crazy team effort, and it’s mind-blowing. It was a long process of pitching the game to different people, so I’ve been getting use to the notion of dedicating an increasing amount of time to the game, but it’s still surreal knowing that we have an office and that I’m doing this full time. It’s pretty exciting, but also sometimes it’s also beyond my comprehension.
DC: So this is full time now? No more day job?
AA: This is my day job! And it’s still like my night job too! (laughs) It’s pretty much my everything right now. It consumes my time all day.
DC: Fantastic! So you said you have piles of character designs. How many characters will be in the final release of the game?
AA: There is gonna be an initial release of a roster. I think I’m officially allowed to say about 8 characters, but the general plan is to have DLC to add on later because there are plenty of characters designed. Ideally we will get to them.
DC: Or secret characters that will unlock after you do certain things?
AA: I don’t know if I can go into that, but there are things like that in mind.
DC: I’ve seen you talk a bit about some of the inside jokes in the game such as Kuribo’s Shoe from Super Mario Brother 3. Any hints for other Easter eggs we may see in the game?
AA: Well, a lot of the color palettes for the characters are references also. Like for Filia’s alternate color, it was intentionally a play on Hatsune Miku’s colors. Other characters like Peacock and Cerebella have a few of these as well. As you go to other characters you will see random references in the color palettes or in the lines that they say. I guess the most references you will see will probably be with Peacock, because she is kind of a joke character and has a sense of humor. It kind of fits with her personality. So probably the most with her, but you’ll see references with other characters too.
DC: I was actually going to ask if Filia’s teal color palette was supposed to look like Hatsune Miku…
AA: Oh yeah, it totally is. That’s on purpose.
DC: So this is getting pretty big. And you’ve been nominated for some awards already.
AA: Yeah, we got nominated for a lot of “Best Fighting Game” awards after E3 and I think we got “Best in Show” from Shonen Jump which is pretty amazing. So I guess we are award-winning now. It’s kinda cool. (laughs)
DC: The game itself, will it be a disc release or fully downloadable?
AA: It is a downloadable game. The initial game is downloadable and then the DLC is obviously also downloadable. So it’s all online. No disc at this point.
DC: Before the interview started I saw that there was a cosplayer here actually dressed like Filia. How does it feel to see your creation that you have been drawing for years walking around on the Anime Expo floor?
AA: Oh man, it’s just mind-blowing to see people cosplaying as my characters! I always wondered if… I mean I wasn’t sure if this character could be physically possible, but then the cosplayers find a way to make it actually happen. Like with the teeth or the hair… it really is just mind-blowing. I don’t know if I’ll ever get use to seeing that. In a good way obviously. It’s just like wow. It’s so cool.
DC: How freaked out would you be if you saw someone walking around as Peacock or Cerebella, with all the intricacies of those costumes.
AA: Oh yeah, that’s another one that I wouldn’t think would be possible. I would like to see someone take on that challenge. I like to see things that I wouldn’t think would be possible as cosplay being done, so secretly I’m hoping to see these. Almost just from an engineering standpoint to see how they would do Peacock’s arms or even just her face and getting that across.
DC: The art for Skull Girls is all your designs. How long does it take to go from the first sketches of a character to the final animation we see on screen?
AA: Well the idea itself is relatively fast because it’s just like a key frame, however when it comes to executing the full process, that takes a huge team effort to fully animate something. I would try to animate as many of them as I can, but to be realistic I have to be sure to spread my time evenly managing the general art direction of the game. Especially these days. But particularly with Filia I ended up doing a bunch of them because that was when I was doing this during my free time before the game was picked up. So a lot of Filia’s stuff I was involved with, but even then I was contacting people to help me. So it’s a real team effort when it comes to the animation. But your question was how long does it take. It’s weird to estimate, because we work on different characters simultaneously, but I would say it takes two to three months generously to make a single character. While other characters would be finishing up, I would be working on the preparation of the next character, those key frames I was talking about. So ideally it’s staggered in a way that keeps it flowing. But from start to finish, two to three months per character.
AA: Yeah, so it’s kind of a tight schedule that we are on and we have to get that worked out in an efficient manner.
DC: Is there a firm release date for the game?
AA: It’s more of a tentative date. It’s slated for later this year, but it’s still kind of loose. We can’t pin a definitive date on it yet, because there are still a lot of things we are figuring out and a lot of stuff to build on.
DC: When the game comes out and sells like gangbusters, obviously there will probably be a sequel, but my question is do you have any ambitions to try something other than a fighting game, like say a RPG or a platformer?
AA: I would definitely love to explore other genres of games. Like for example Metroidvania (an adventure platforming game in the vein of Metroid or Castlevania) is one of my favorite genres, so I’d like to try a game like that or maybe give shot to a Beat’em Up. There are tons of ideas we toss around in the office all the time of the different game genres we would like to explore, because we are all pretty experienced and passionate gamers. We definitely have a preference when it comes to what type of genres we would like to try. I’ve heard stuff like Tactically RPG or Metroidvania, which is one I vouch for, or Beat’em Ups and many more. Reverge collectively has a couple other projects that they have under development, but for me personally I would love to try a few different genres in the future too.
DC: Ok, well that’s it! Thank you so much for speaking with us today.
AA: Cool! Thank you!
Alex was also nice enough to contribute a couple original sketches of Filia for our article. Thanks Alex!!
Skull Girls releases later this year for PS3 and XBOX360. For more details visit the official website at http://www.skullgirls.com/
Publisher: Autumn Games Studio: Reverge Labs Genre: 2D Fighting
When people think about Anime Expo, they think of fans cavorting in cosplay, anime music videos and searching the dealer room for that super rare figurine they need to complete their collection. But Anime Expo is also a place for anime and game companies to show off hot titles and exciting new releases to their core demographic. This year Perfect World Entertainment was showing off Rusty Hearts, their new anime inspired online dungeon crawler that is releasing later this year. Anime Diet had a wonderful opportunity to sit down with the game’s producer, Mark Hill and discuss what exactly about Rusty Hearts will appeal to anime and online game fans alike.
Daniel C. – Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us today. Tell us a little bit about Rusty Hearts and your history with the game.
Mark Hill – Sure, Rusty Hearts is being developed by a Korean studio called Stairway Games. It started back in spring of 2008, so it’s been in development for a long time and you really see that when you play the game. It has a very high level of polish, with a lot of gameplay and a lot of options which are very cool. I started as the producer when Perfect World decided to bring it to North America audiences because we feel it is a game that they will really appreciate.
DC – So the game has quite a bit of supernatural element to it, with vampires and witches. Tell us a bit about the plot.
MH – The game has its own lore and a whole entire story built for it. It’s based around this ongoing battle between vampires, humans, and half-vampires. Years ago humans and vampires were able to live separately but harmoniously. And there were some people that kinda got together and spawned this hybrid half human/half vampire that was shunned by both sides. The hybrids never really found a place. Along came this guy named Lord Vlad. He’s the leader of the vampires, and he decides to eradicate the world of both the humans and half-vampires alike. In the first war, he was defeated and locked away in this castle. Now it’s 50 years latter, he has had a chance to rebuild his army and he decides to try to and rid the world of these lesser races once and for all. The main character of the game is Frantz, he’s the leader of this group and he’s actually a half-vampire/half human. After he became a vampire he bit one person, and he felt so terrible about it that he kept that persons blood sealed inside of him to curb his thirst for blood. Because he is a half human/half vampire he has made it his mission to take on Lord Vlad and stop him.
DC – The games look has some heavy anime influence and I read that some of the inspiration for the style of the game came from such titles as Full Metal Alchemist. Besides the design, what else about this game do you feel will appeal to the anime fandom?
MH – I would say the story lines of all three characters. They all have their own unique stories and their own way of how they came into this world and how they became apart of this battle. Frantz has his own story. The girl, Angela, is an apprentice witch who joins up with Frantz. The third character, Tude, has his own very mysterious back story and we really haven’t got a lot of information on him. He’s a very mysterious guy. And in anime it’s all about the story and the quality of the story. So outside of just the gameplay, there is this fully realized 3D world that players will be able to explore, talk to NPCs (Non-Playable Characters), and they are able to progress and develop a huge story which I think the anime crowd is really going to enjoy.
DC – Rusty Hearts has cut scenes between the action. Are these cut scene CG or 2D Animated?
MH – The cut scenes in the game are fully animated, fully voiced cut scenes. This is where the main story will progress, and those show up at the main turning points of the story. There are shorter cut-scenes within dungeons that introduce bosses, or show a path or an item and things like that, but the main story cut scenes are fully animated and they look really good.
DC – The games has up to four players working together at one time. What were the challenges of making an online dungeon crawler that multiple people can play together?
MH – Most of the challenges had to do with connection to the game and having high enough PC specifications to run it. Luckily, the cell shaded style does not require very high PC requirements. So, people who don’t have the ultimate PC gaming rig will be able to play it just fine. We play it on our work laptops. I play it on my computer at home which is definitely not like a big PC gaming rig, and it runs just fine. It’s not a huge client download, so if this is your first time downloading a PC game, you’ll find the whole process really easy and it will run very smoothly.
DC – When the game is released, will it be USA only and will USA players be playing and exploring alongside players in other countries?
MH – We have the rights to North America. We are working on expanding that because we want to bring the game to as many people as possible, but at the moment our rights are for North America only. But there is a very good chance it will go beyond that, into Europe and possibly even beyond that. However to answer your question further, players on say Korean servers are not going to be connecting with people on North American servers. It’s two different games.
DC – Now, a lot of anime fans are interested in collecting. Collectible card games and things like that. I heard there is a collectible aspect to this game, or a card aspect?
MH – Yes, in the dungeons, it is all about loot. If anyone has played like old Diablo style games, you know that you go through dungeons and you defeat the enemies and they drop loot and gear. There are tons and tons of things to collect and hold in your inventory, and you have a lot of inventory space. You have a personal warehouse in your room, which is your personal area in the game. So you are always collecting things, and you can take these collectibles to NPC’s in the game and they can craft you a new item or new gear. There are also what are called loot cards, which is what I think you may be referring too. As you go through the dungeon there are bronze, silver and gold loot cards, and there is a little mini-game at the end of each dungeon which will allow you to get some really good gear. If you collect enough loot cards, you’ll have a higher chance you get that good piece of gear during the mini-game. But yeah, the game is all about collectibles and customization. There are hundreds of different costume combinations. and full body suits. The game is really tongue and cheek and kind of humorous, so there are some really funky costumes and fully customizable characters.
DC – Yeah, I saw someone behind me playing in an Octopus costume!
MH – Yeah, the octopus is great! So there is this sea creatures costume set and all three of the character have their own sea creature. Angela is an octopus, Frantz is a shark, and Tude is a carp. It’s pretty funny!
DC – That is pretty cool. So this is a PC game, but I see some of the people behind me playing with game pads…
MH – Right, I’m glad you saw that. Because it is a PC game, the default controls are keyboard. They are really unique keyboard controls hat are built for fast gameplay. However, the game has been optimized for any PC gamepad. So if you have an Xbox360, you can plug your controller into it. Same goes for your PS3 or Logitech controller. You will be able to plug those in and play the game. The thing about this style of game is it is very console style with fast combat where you kick ass and bash some enemies. So we wanted to bring the console crowd into it, so we made it optimized for controllers also.
DC – Is there any plan to bring the game to consoles?
MH – There will possibly be plans, but at this moment we are not really talking about that right now. We are concentrating on getting the PC version out, but we are always looking for ways to expand to new audiences. We will see what the future holds.
DC – Now the game will be free to play. What in your opinion is the importance of free to play?
MH – Free to play games really give players the chance the experience the entire game. Not just a demo, not just a few minutes or one level. The entire game without have to pay a single cent. Other free to play games have been criticized for what some people call “pay to win” where people who do pay money have greater advantages. However in Rusty Hearts it’s very co-op. So if you do buy something, it’s not only going to help you but it will also help your team. That being said, most of the purchasable items are costumes. So if you want to pay to outfit your character exactly how you want them to look or give them a little boost, you are more than welcome to do that, however you don’t have to pay anything. Most of the cash out items are available just through in game play. So really you would just be paying for the convenience of having it now, as opposed to spending a little more time in the game and getting it later. For example, in the cash-op you can buy some hit-point and magic-point potions that will keep you alive a little longer. You can also just play the game in pvp mode, get pvp points and trade those in game to get those same potions. So whether you want to pay or not, you have the whole world open to you.
DC – So you have the three character announced right now, with more to come. Will those new characters be available when the game is released or will they be DLC content?
MH – All three character we have seen will be available right away. There will be future DLC that will introduce new content, quests, possibly characters, possibly different modes and things like that. So we have a whole stream of DLC coming out. No one is ever going to be bored with the game, there will be so much to do. Even when the game does release, there is a ton of content. If you do get to the theoretical level cap or you beat all the dungeons, there is still the pvp and the social aspects of the game that you can do. There is a never-ending amount of things to do in the game.
DC – Ok, well that is all my questions. Thank you very much for speaking with us.
MH – No problem, thank you for your time!
Rusty Hearts releases in September of this year, but the closed beta begins on July 27th. For more details on the closed beta visit the official website at http://rustyhearts.perfectworld.com.
Publisher: Perfect World Entertainment Studio: Stairway Games Genre: Online Multiplayer/Anime Style Hack’n Slash Dungeon Crawler