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Dragon's Dogma Developer Interview
Post by Dan @ 02:10pm 08/07/11 | Comments
At E3 2011, AusGamers had the opportunity to sit down with Director Hideaki Itsuno and Producer Hiroyuki Kobayashi, two of the Japanese Capcom veterans of Resident Evil and Devil May Cry fame, for a chat about their latest upcoming project Dragon's Dogma, a fantasy-themed, open-world action game.

AusGamers: Starting right from the start, how long has the game been in development for?

Capcom: With overall planning and everything, it’s been about three years. The actual nuts and bolts development -- about two years.

AusGamers: Was it always planned to be built on the new engine, MT Framework?

Capcom: Yeah, it was always planned from that.

AusGamers: Have you guys run into any problems with MT Framework? Have you had to change it in any way to adapt to the large size of the game-world?

Capcom: Yeah, there were a few challenges using Framework to do this, because -- as you said -- we’ve never tried to do an open-world game with the Framework engine and I don’t think it was really intended for that from that beginning. So we had to improve on the engine itself to be able to do that, then we also wanted to add all of these other things like the character customisation. We wanted a really high-degree of that in the game, so we had to expand what Framework could do to deal with that.

Also, this time around, we’re using an original physics engine that we’ve designed to try and meet the needs of this game.

Dragon's Dogma E3 2011 Trailer

AusGamers: So how large is the game-world itself and how open? How free are you to interact with basically... anything?

Capcom: For the game-world itself, we’re looking at a medium-sized, average-sized shaped peninsula and in real-time, it would take about an hour or two hours to walk straight across it so it’s a pretty big world. If you decide to go straight through the story, it would probably take about 30-hours to play through -- just straight through.

But for the world itself and the degree of interactivity you have, we’ve designed it so you can pretty much interact with anything in the game. Anywhere you want to go you can go there and if there is something to do there, you can do it. You can interact with the people or the objects and the creatures in almost any part of this game world.

AusGamers: Were there any specific influences that shaped the narrative and the characters and the art-direction? Because it’s very high fantasy and Western to a degree obviously with an Eastern spin, but there are a few games like that coming out of Japan at the moment and I’m curious as to where that’s coming from.

Capcom: I think when you talk about the origins of fantasy, you have to go back to Lord of the Rings and this game definitely takes its visual and story cues from The Lord of the Rings series. Our goal was to try and create something that’s as close to that as possible while trying to make it feel very realistic -- a very lived-in fantasy world if you will.

As far as Japan goes with fantasy, I don’t think it’s enjoying a renaissance per se, I think it’s just a coincidence. When we started production on this game for example, we didn’t know about Dark Souls; we didn’t know that game was coming out. So I think it’s just a happy coincidence that it seems that several Japanese developers are making fantasy-based games.

AusGamers: Now it’s also a very unique game in the Capcom stable from a gameplay-perspective as well. Was there any outside influences in particular that inspired the gameplay?

Capcom: I wouldn’t say there are any direct influences in that regard. All the staff involved in this game from Capcom have been involved in a lot of our games. We’ve taken experienced staff from different titles we’ve produced over the years and put them together on this game. And we threw down the gauntlet to them and said “we want to create a new type of action style for this game, let’s see what you guys can come up with”. I’m sure all those creators do have their individual influences, but we weren’t looking at any specific games when we were trying to come up with this design.

AusGamers: In saying that though, when the game was initially revealed, a lot of people immediately drew reference to Breath of Fire and I’m curious as to whether that ever crept up in the design process? Like, maybe we should just skew this as a Breath of Fire sequel -- or was it always going to be an original game?

Capcom: From the beginning this was planned out as an original IP, so we never thought that we were going to make a followup to Breath of Fire.

AusGamers: Is there any difference between the game running on Xbox 360 and PS3? And are there any plans for a PC release at all? Because it seems like it would be quite good for the PC audience.

Capcom: The Xbox and PlayStation versions are pretty much the same thing aside from the controllers, the game content itself is all the same. As far as a PC version goes, we don’t have any plans right now as we’re just concentrating on getting this version -- the home console version -- complete.

The team that’s working on this is very familiar with home consoles so we want to concentrate on this first. Then after the game comes out and we see how well it does, then we can start thinking about maybe doing a PC version.

What about the game do you think makes it suitable to a PC audience?

AusGamers: Just that high-fantasy action setting and role-playing element seems suitable.

Capcom: This is a pretty hardcore action game. Do you think PC gamers would like something like that?

AusGamers: Well if you look at a game like The Witcher 2 for example, it’s very much down that line.

AusGamers: Is there any adjusting to the difficulty? Is it intended to be a very difficult game to get through or will there be more accessible options for people that have a bit of trouble?

Capcom: We’re not trying to make it difficult in the same terms that most people associate with an action game. It’s not going to be in any similar vein to, say, Devil May Cry where things just get progressively harder as you go on. I think the biggest difference is because of the characters in the game, you have you and your party -- the three pawn followers with you -- and you can level up and perfect certain skills. The pawns give you information that they learn in the battles. So they can pass information on to you that will help you defeat bosses and such.

So the fact that you can level up skills, you can get experience and you can choose the weapons you want to use and the skills you want to use, plus the pawns giving you information, I think you’ll have the tools necessary to overcome the challenges in the game.

AusGamers: If you were finding a particular fight a bit too hard -- because it’s an open-world -- can you go and build up your characters in another section and then come back to that fight and you’ll be stronger?

Capcom: Yes, you can do that in the game -- go away; get stronger; come back -- also with the way the party system works in the game, you can swap out certain members and take different members with you that you think will be more suited. You probably can’t see it here in the demo version -- sorry about that -- but you will be able to get stronger.

AusGamers: Okay thank for your time. Arigato gozaimasu.

Capcom: Thank you very much.

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