miércoles, 25 de julio de 2018

Interview to Yamada Riichiro, Dx2 Shin Megami Tensei Liberation producer

Esta es la versión en inglés de la entrevista. La versión en español está disponible aquí.

Dx2 Shin Megami Tensei Liberation, the first title developed exclusively for smartphones in the Shin Megami Tensei series that gets to the west, is finally out, but we wanted to dig into the creative process behind the game, and so, we had the chance to interview the lead Producer of the title, Yamada Riichiro (known for his work in Hundred Swords, Panzer Dragoon Orta, Virtua Pro Football, or Yakuza: Dead Souls) so that he could elaborate on the design principles behind the game.

Before we start, we'd like to thank Rebeca from Cosmocover for making possible this interview, who made the arrangements and let us try the game prior the release so we could give you or impressions. Having a chance like this where we're able to interview such a busy developer with a title that was about to be released in the west has been a really rich experience for us:.  
Destino RPG: Welcome, Mr Yamada, and thank you for taking the time to answer our questions.
We're big fans of the Shin Megami Tensei series and we're very excited to see Shin Megami
Tensei Liberation Dx2 in our region.

What was your experience with the Shin Megami Tensei branch before working on this
title?

Yamada Riichiro: I have played every game in the series from the very start. My favorite one is “SHIN MEGAMI TENSEI 3: Nocturne”. When this game was released I was working at SEGA already, but this title had an impact on me as a game developer.

What do you think about the newfound success of the Shin Megami Tensei titles in the
west?

I think the unique worldview and the stylish demons design are what attracted players. The high
difficulty level was also very well received in the West.

Taking into account Shin Megami Tensei had always been tied to traditional gaming
platforms, what motivated the jump to smartphones? What are the advantages of the
platform?

The mobile platform continues to expand and change day after day. I’ve proposed this project to
ATLUS when they joined the SEGA group. I suggested it not only as a business aspect but also
as an idea to expand the numbers of fans of the series while using the F2P model that is highly
successful in the mobile arena.

Is the game aimed at players already familiar with Shin Megami Tensei, or newer ones?
What on DX2 might draw in one group or the other?

Players that never played “SMT” series before can enjoy this title. We’re really hoping to open
the door of the “SMT” universe to new players!

On the iOS/Android market, the F2P model is by far the most widespread. Do you think
about games with a price tag and their viability?

We have indeed used the F2P model. While the Premium market allows to create other kind of
games we thought the game would definitely benefit of the F2P monetisation system. For this
game, IAP allow “time shortening” and while we also have gacha style element, it is not a
“Gacha game”. Players can get higher ranked demons by doing “Demon Fusion” if they take
time. Also, the demon creation involves a lot of depth, thus Gacha is simply one of to accelerate
the process.

Atlus had already developed several F2P games for smartphones, but they never made it
to the west. What changed in DX2? Was it made with the idea that it would be ported to
the west from the very beginning?

I knew that the SMT series had many fans overseas, so when the project started, we definitely
had Western players in mind. That said, even though it’s a F2P title, we have created different
game cycle in comparison to to classic Japanese F2P games. We’ve focused a lot on the
training and strategy sides of SMT.

What were the hardest game mechanics to implement?

We faced complexity with many game mechanics, but I think that the Demon Fusion part was
our biggest challenge.

Are there a lot of differences between planning and producing a smartphone game or a
console game? How was the team organised?

Our goal was to offer the gameplay experience of a console game on a smartphone. It has been
a very important objective and I think we achieved it. I personally think that console games must
be a “Piece of art”, and in the case of a F2P game, it is important to consider it as a “Service”.
Our biggest challenge was to balance it right. To build the dev team I’ve gathered people that
played and likes the SMT series on consoles and who had an experience developing mobile
games.

Can we expect collaborations or crossovers with other Atlus, or even SEGA IPs? Any in
particular you would like to see?

We’re thinking about some possible crossovers of course, but first thing first, we would really
like to have players enjoy this title as it is!

The argument about ratios and rarity of the most powerful units is a recurring one in
games like this. What mechanisms does DX2 have in place to prevent less fortunate players
from falling behind?

While we use the gacha element, it is not per say a “Gacha game” type. If they take enough
time players can get higher ranked demons by using the “Demon Fusion”. There is a lot of depth
in the demon creation, so Gacha is simply one of the way to accelerate the process.

What kind of multiplayer elements are in the roadmap? Can we expect Player versus
Player or Co-op play?

PvP and 3D dungeon, called Aura Gates are in the game. We are considering to expand
cooperation elements. I would also like to implement the guild elements as soon as we can.

The Shin Megami Tensei series has a fame for unforgiving, sharp difficulty. Can we find
that kind of challenge on DX2?

The difficulty level is quite easy at the beginning. However, while the story progress, the
difficulty level raises quickly!

Similarly, Shin Megami Tensei is rife with spiritual and moral questions. What can we
expect on that front in DX2?

One of the important part in the Shin Megami Universe is the “choice of LAW and CHAOS”.
Story is not completed at the time of release, but we are considering to add this element in the
future, so please give us some time.


And with that, we wrap it up. Thanks again to Mr. Yamada for his patience and time, and to Cosmocover for being our middle-men. Reminder that Dx2 Shin Megami Tensei: Liberation is already available in the west for mobile devices.

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