I had a chance to chat with Hiroyuki Kobayashi, producer on upcoming Capcom game Dragon's Dogma today. Kobayashi was happy to talk about the game's design and structure, but he closed off when I tried learn a bit more about how the online system works. Maybe next time?
Read on for our interview with Hiroyuki Kobayashi.
Destructoid: Open-world games aren't something you see out of Japan that often.
Kobayashi: Before we came up with the idea of making an open world game, the director, Itano-san [Itano Tomomi], wanted to create a realistic fantasy world where you could go in and go on adventures and these quests and you would feel like you are living the adventure. To make that realistic we decided we needed an open-world setting.
What kind of look were you going for when designing this world?
The reason we went with this graphical style is because we wanted to make it realistic. Again, we wanted to make it feel like when you play this game you have actually entered this world, and that this is a world that could realistically exist.
Was there a decision to make Dragon's Dogma more like a western game?
Yes, there was an effort to make the game feel more like a western game. But when I look at it I also see elements of Capcom design. I think those elements are really strong. Capcom style has been known to also appeal to North Americans and Europeans as well. I get that a lot, that this game has a western feel to it.
How much of that Capcom-ness will show. Would we see eastern influences in Dragon's Dogma?
I wouldn't say that there's any real Asian influences that you'll notice in this game. As far as the previously mentioned Capcom style, there's not one specific thing I could point to. It's more of a general feeling. If you know of the games we've historically put out, you'll feel those types of design elements in the way this game comes across. I don't think there's anything specifically Japanese in the game itself, though.
Now, compared with other "games of hunting," how much free exploration is in Dragon's Dogma? Or is the focus more about a central story?
I think the biggest difference between this and others is that we have a grand story in this game. This story is very important to us. You also have a main protagonist and a robust supporting cast. The characters in this story are the biggest difference to separate it from your hunting type of games.
There's no specific focus on hunting in this game. You get your quests, and the nature of quests vary from one to the next, and they also involve searching for people or looking for certain objects. We've never actually placed hunting as the focus.
Is it safe to say that Dragon's Dogma is less of a sandbox and more of a story game? If it is a story game, are there branching paths?
With this game you can join multiple quests at the same time, so you're not restricted to taking one quest and following it only. You can follow multiple threads concurrently, so you have a high degree of freedom in choosing what you want to do or where you want to go.
For the story itself, there's a main backbone, but it does branch out into different paths. There will be points where it does split and you'll have choices to decide where you want to go. This will also impact the ending of the game. There are different endings available.
Can you set the stage for how Dragon's Dogma is structured? How does the story unfold?
Of course, when you start out you have the prologue to the story. The dragon will come and take your heart out and you try to find him and find out why he took your heart. Once you get past the initial setup you start out in the main city and you meet people and get quests from there. You go out from there, and as you explore more areas of the game you receive ore quests. The main story will unfold as you take on these quests. The more you explore the more you'll learn about the world.
How long would it take to work through the main story?
If you're just following the main story, from start to finish, it would probably take about 30 hours.
As far as enemies and bosses you'll encounter goes, could you give us a picture of how many types there are?
I couldn't give you a specific number right now but to give you a rough idea I'll say that there's quite a bit more than you'd find in a typical action game. That's for sure.
How deep is the character and equipment customization in Dragon's Dogma?
We can't give away too many specifics about this yet, but you'll have the normal options like choosing the sex of your character. To put it in perspective I think the game's customization and character editing functions are much more robust than in what you've seen in other games so far. I think there's a good degree of freedom. We'll be making more announcements about that this fall.
How are skills and abilities acquired?
As you progress through the game you can gain and build upon abilities. There is an experience system in the game.
Are you talking about how the online system works? We've heard that you're trying a few new things with Dragon's Dogma when it comes to online play. Too soon?
I can't get into too many specifics right now with the network elements of the game. You will be able to borrow or rent pawns in the game.
We can say that the online features of the game are closer to a social networking type of experience. We're trying to take some cues from that and incorporate them into this game.
So maybe I shouldn't ask about cooperative play yet? [laughs]
Well, we can't get into that right now. In the near future we'll be talking more about that.
How is the music coming along? A big game needs a big score.
The lead composer on this game is Makino-san, a capcom staff member. He and the director have been going back and forth on the game's musical content, discussing what direction to take. They've finally nailed down the direction they want to go. We've actually gone to Bulgaria to record with an orchestra there to make sure the music has a right feel for a fantasy world.
How long has Dragon's Dogma been in the works and at what stage of development are you at right now?
The initial planning for the game began about three years ago. Putting the team together and actually working on the game started about two years ago. The point of production we've reached in the game is focused on fine tuning. We're in a bug checking stage. The main production is just wrapping up and we're just about to start the fine tuning.
How do you feel about the reception to what has been shown of Dragon's Dogma so far?
I think the reaction has been pretty good so far. People were surprised at first that we were trying to make a game like this. I think the reaction to the action elements of the game has been good. We still have a lot more to announce about this game. We've got more announcements about the story and the pawn system. I think once we make more announcements about that people will be even more excited about the game.