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.
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