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Interview: tri-Ace and Sega on Resonance of Fate


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Immediately after I got my first chance to play Resonance of Fate, with my ears still ringing from virtual gunfire, I met with director Takayuki Suguro (tri-Ace) and producer Mitsuhiro Shimano (Sega) to discuss the futuristic title. In our brief chat, the developers talked about the unique setting, the guns, and the difficulties of making both a multiplatform game and a game designed for a worldwide audience.

And if you ever wondered what tri-Ace does to unwind after a hard day at the RPG mines, that happens to come up too.

Gallery: Resonance of Fate | 18 Photos

Joystiq: The whole gun theme is very different from traditional RPGs. Was the idea to be nontraditional?

Takayuki Suguro, tri-Ace: Yes, we wanted to kind of get out of the traditional mold. Obviously, the traditional RPG has concentrated on swords and magic, which, in our opinion, has come to a point where it's way too traditional. Nothing new is happening. We wanted to make something quite new. We wanted to get out of this RPG mold by introducing gunplay into the RPG genre.

Also, through the gameplay, we wanted to make the battle scenes cinematic, as you have probably seen in the demo. But, if we tried to do these cinematic battles with swords and magic, what's going to happen is that it's always going to be close combat, which kind of limits the cinematic feel, just because of the fact that you have to be close to the enemy. But having these projectile weapons, like guns, machine guns, etc., that actually gives a whole variety of the actions they can do. Flying around, being able to attack from a distance gives the cinematic feel that we wanted to achieve with this game.

It's very cinematic and very fast-moving. Do you feel like it's more of an action game than most RPGs?

Suguro: Actually, we wanted to keep the action element really, really minimal. What we wanted to achieve was that. If you focused on the action element, compared to the traditional command base, what's going to happen is people who are better at the action part are going to get a better experience -- getting better cutscenes or more cinematic action, which we didn't want to do, because we wanted all the users to experience all the cool cutscenes and battle scenes. What we tried to do was, while having this action element, we wanted to keep the complexity of the action commands minimal, so everybody can trigger all the battle moves, whether you're good at the action genre or not.

tri-Ace usually works with another publisher. How did tri-Ace and Sega get involved together with this game?

Mitsuhiro Shimano, producer, Sega: Sega was actually looking for a strategic title in their lineup, and we also kind of had RPGs in our mind. Coincidentally, tri-Ace came with this new RPG that turned out to be Resonance of Fate. They did a presentation for Sega. Sega wanted an RPG, and this RPG wanted a new publisher. That's how the stone started rolling.

Suguro: Obviously, this game is very different compared to some of our previous works. It looks different, and the game is different, we wanted a different publisher, not the publisher for our traditional RPG, to make this new game really fresh from the start. And their office is relatively close.

Something else different about this title is that it's multiplatform from the beginning, whereas a port of Star Ocean 4 was just announced for PS3. How is it different to develop a multiplatform game right away?

Suguro: The biggest difficulty is that, if you try to develop a multiplatform title without any difference, as in this case -- the title doesn't have any difference between the two platforms ... if this title had been a PS3 exclusive or a 360 exclusive, we could have taken it a step further. But because the platforms are similar in one way and very different in the other way, they have their strengths and weaknesses that are completely different, we have to keep it within the similar part of the two platforms. We were anxious to use the strengths of specific platforms, but we opted to make it identical between the two platforms.

It seems harder to sell an Xbox game in Japan. Is Microsoft helping out with marketing? Will there be an End of Eternity [Ed: End of Eternity is the Japanese title for Resonance of Fate] bundle?

Shimano: At this point, there is no bundle, but that may change in the course of the campaign. At this point, we have no plans to do it. We do get decent support from Microsoft. At the TGS show floor, there are End of Eternity pods.

We still haven't determined a locked-on release date for Japan. Until we have a firm release date, we can't talk to the first parties to get more support from them.

We did get a release window for North America, but not for Japan yet. With that and the gun theme, it seems like it might have more Western appeal. Is it more Western-focused?

Suguro: Actually, a fun game is a fun game wherever you are. What makes a game fun is at least similar throughout the world. There are certain elements about the game, such as the characters' appearance, so that it will make sense -- it's not going to be too Japanese, it's going to look good and make sense in the worldwide market. Actually, Sega had a slight influence, because Sega pitched to tri-Ace that we wanted to sell the title worldwide, so we want the title to look good anywhere in the world. Character appearance, specifically, was something that Sega had their say. In terms of gunplay, actually, that didn't really play a huge part in envisioning for the North American market. We wanted to do something new. It's not like guns equal the North American market.

What made it possible to date the game for the US but not yet for Japan?

Shimano: In terms of North America and Europe, which is spring 2010, it was more dependent on the development schedule, whereas the Japanese release is more a commercial -- if you look at Sega's lineup for the next six months or so, we have a strong lineup, with quite a lot of good games coming out. It's more looking at the market, looking at what's going to be the best month to sell it for the Japanese market. In terms of development, it's going so well, we can choose when we want to sell it, when it's going to be the best time to fully reach the potential. That's the reason Japan's not been decided yet.

Does it concern you that it's coming out in spring 2010 in North America along with 5000 games that were delayed from fall 2009?

Shimano: Obviously, we've given a spring window, so we've got a few months to play with. The same as Japan, the American and European subsidiary of Sega will look into the best date to sell it, so it reaches its full potential.

I heard that the guns were a personal interest for the team.

Suguro: We wanted to make the gameplay interesting, we wanted to make the game really, really new, try new stuff, and challenge new gameplay of the RPG genre, but there are also some staff on the development team who like guns. In Japan we don't really have real guns, but we have these model ones -- it's like a toy gun that fires plastic bullets.

Like Airsoft?

Suguro: Yeah. There are quite a lot of people in tri-Ace who like that.

Did you go play paintball to do research?

Suguro: Actually, not just for this title, quite a lot of people in tri-Ace like the paintball thing. We don't use paintball, but we kind of do this survival thing, where you carry your guns out into the wild, or into a controlled area. It's not a tradition, but a hobby that we just happen to have within the company.

Is it something that was being done frequently before the game?

Suguro: Yeah.

Would that inspire, down the line, some kind of action game or Project Natal game where you shoot at the screen?

Suguro: (laughs) At this point in time, we don't even know what's going to happen.

Thanks for your time!

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