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Joystiq interview: Hifumi Kouno on Infinite Space

Majed Athab

Ever wanted to create your own spacecraft and sail the ocean of stars? Well, you can do that with Nude Maker and Platinum Games' Infinite Space for DS -- sorta. We caught up with Hifumi Kouno, both president of Nude Maker and director of Infinite Space, to find out more about the spaceship-building title that's due out next year.

Gallery: Infinite Space | 17 Photos

Joystiq: Can you explain how the the basic concept of shipbuilding works? Can players customize the look of their spacecrafts in addition to being able to edit functionality?

Hifumi Kouno: Shipbuilding is based on a modular system for equipment and weaponry. For example, laser weapons are long-range weaponry, but in this universe, there are also anti-beam defenses that will reduce that type of damage. So, to get around that, you might want to swap out your lasers for actual ballistic projectile weapons instead.

You can't actually change your ship's appearance, but there are around 150 different ship types available, all of which have different stats and which look different as well, giving the user the fun of choice.

What sections and ship parts can be modified, and what are some of the potential effects?

Different modular enhancements can raise weapon accuracy and improve ship mobility, but there are also things that will affect things that aren't directly combat-related, like the living conditions on your ship. For a long space voyage, for instance, you're going to want to make sure that you keep crew conditions up in order to maintain crew morale and efficiency.

"I tried to propose a Steel Battalion-like controller at an actual meeting, but Platinum Games' Inaba-san shot that down pretty quickly and forcibly."

We know players can create multiple ships at once; however, can they create a fleet of ships and make them sail the universe altogether or do they keep only one active ship up and running while the others remain in a space garage somewhere?

Players can create a fleet of up to five ships. They can have more ships than that in total, but any ships beyond that five in use are kept in reserve at a spacedock.

We've heard that there will be over 150 recruitable crew members in the game. Are these unique NPC characters? If so, do they have special abilities that can affect the ship location they're assigned to?

There are some characters that you meet that become your allies as part of the game's story, but there are plenty of other characters that the player has a chance to actively recruit. These crew characters have their own personalities and backgrounds, and they can play an important role in the game's storyline. One of the interesting things for players to discover, then, is the degree of impact having certain members in the crew (or not in the crew) will have.

We played a bit of the title at TGS and noticed that the combat revolves around a bar that charges up from green to yellow to red on the left-hand side of the screen. Since our Japanese isn't as sharp as it should be, would you kindly explain to us how the battle system plays out?

Your basic combat commands are for full volley attacks, normal attacks, and evasive maneuvers. Each command you issue has an associated command cost. That cost comes out of the command gauge, which is the gauge you've mentioned. The speed at which the command gauge accumulates depends on the ship's captain, the crew quality, and what modules and equipment are installed on the ship. For example, if all you put out are heavy battleships, you'll have a high degree of firepower, but your command gauge will build more slowly. Conversely, if you have ships designed for more tactical fire, you can back off while your command gauge is low and issue other commands to gain an advantage in battle. Also, during the course of the story, new commands can get added to the list, such as commands to issue boarding parties, special attacks, and direct combat.

"In the actual story though, the scale of the battles goes up to 300,000 ships on 300,000 ships"

How big can battles get? We've gone toe-to-toe with five ships at one time with our play-through. So, how many ships can fit into a single battle?

The battle system supports 5-on-5 battles. In the actual story though, the scale of the battles goes up to 300,000 on 300,000, and so the player is just playing one part in that more massive, epic conflict that's taking place.

We've heard there will be local Wi-Fi multiplayer. Will players be able to trade entire spacecrafts, ship parts, or crew members via multiplayer as well?

Unfortunately, this will not be part of the game.

Is there going to be an amazingly innovative and insanely expensive "controller" for Infinite Space much like Nude Maker's Steel Battalion? A full command bridge "controller" would be a lot of fun.

That does sound like it would be a lot of fun. I've actually had similar ideas myself! I tried to propose that at an actual meeting, but Platinum Games' Inaba-san shot that down pretty quickly and forcibly. Our base concept for this game is to apply to a much wider audience than that of Steel Battalion, and so we unfortunately couldn't do anything that would limit that user base we're aiming for.

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