Inti Creates Interview -- CEO Discusses Gunvolt Chronicles, Blaster Master Zero 2, Dragon Marked for Death, Stadia, and PC Ports
DualShockers had a lengthy discussion with Inti Creates CEO Takuya Aizu about their 2019 lineup, PC ports, Google Stadia, and more.
When I met up with Inti Creates at E3 2019, they were in the middle of one of their busiest years yet. In January, they kicked things off with their multiplayer Nintendo Switch platformer Dragon Marked for Death. In March, the followed up with Blaster Master Zero 2, which was a surprise launch during the Spring 2019 Nindies Presentation. In June, the first of a string of Inti Creates PC ports can in the form of Blaster Master Zero’s release on Steam, and the developer will be capping this off in September with the release of Gunvolt Chronicles: Luminous Avenger iX for PC, PS4, and Nintendo Switch on September 26, 2019.
During our discussion, DualShockers talked with CEO Takuya Aizu about the performance of the two new games Inti Creates released this year, how Gunvolt Chronicles: Luminous Avenger iX’s development has progressed, Inti Creates’ thoughts on Google Stadia, and more.
Tomas Franzese: Inti Creates released Dragon Marked for Death on Nintendo Switch back in January. Has that title met Inti Creates’ expectations?
Takuya Aizu : The release has gone pretty well and people around the world have been able to enjoy the game. As far as a measure or bar of success, it has hit that. As far as we’re concerned it has been successful for us. We still have updates planned for the game. We want people to be able to enjoy it longer and enjoy new stuff, so we are continuing to work on Dragon Marked for Death today.
“The release of Dragon Marked for Death has gone pretty well and people around the world have been able to enjoy the game.”
TF: Would Inti Creates ever consider releasing a game in multiple packs like Dragon Marked for Death again?
TA: The one thing that makes Dragon Marked for Death different is that it has four playable characters and allowed us to do something like that. A lot of Inti Creates games are usually one playable character, sometimes two playable characters, so that wouldn’t really work. If we have another game that has that many playable characters, I guess it could be a possibility, but if it has one or two we wouldn’t release it in that way.
TF: How long was Blaster Master Zero 2 in development for, and why did you decide to surprise launch the game during the Nindies presentation?
TA: As far as development goes for Blaster Master Zero 2, I would say that altogether, especially because we had the same staff that worked on Blaster Master Zero 1 do 2, they were able to learn quite a bit from their experience with Blaster Master Zero. It was about a year for the development time of Blaster Master Zero 2.
As for why we released it the way we did with the shadow drop and stuff like that, we wanted the game to come out in March of 2019. It was a two year anniversary for the release of both Blaster Master Zero and the Switch. [Blaster Master Zero] was pretty much a launch title, more or less, and we wanted to do a two year anniversary sort of thing. As we got closer to time, we noticed that there was going to be a Nintendo Direct around that time and we were fortunate enough to get into that Nintendo Direct. If we had a release date in March and if you can announce during a Direct, you do it.
“If you can announce during a Direct, you do it.”
TF: Has Blaster Master Zero 2 met your expectations, even with that surprise launch?
TA: In terms of the sales pace, if you’re looking at 2 everyone is obviously going to want to compare it to 1. The pace of sales has been about the same [between Blaster Master Zero and Blaster Master Zero 2]. One of the biggest differences was that Blaster Master Zero was basically a launch title for Switch, so there wasn’t that many unit out there. As the install base grew, sales would steadily rise with the install base. It has been out for two years and it grew with the install base so the circumstances by which it sold are a bit different.
Blaster Master Zero 2 released with a larger install base and with a lot of games on there so going forward we are trying to figure out how we can breathe more life in the game, add new content, release a demo version, what have you. We are figuring that out now.
TF: How has Gunvolt Chronicles: Luminous Avenger iX evolved since Inti Creates revealed it last year?
TA: When we made the “Now in Development” announcement last year, the only thing we really had set in stone was the kind of game we wanted to make and how the game was going to be. [Gunvolt Chronicles: Luminous Avenger iX] was only about 5% done at that time last. When we made the second appearance at Bitsummit with the release date and everything, it was about 95% done. So how has the game changed and advanced? It basically went from 5% completion to 95% completion so pretty much the entire game was built, essentially, between those announcements.
TF: What part of Gunvolt Chronicles: Luminous Avenger iX are you looking forward to players seeing or trying out the most?
TA: Fans who played Azure Striker Gunvolt 1 and 2 will really appreciate how much the game being developed from the beginning for a current generation hardware like Nintendo Switch and PS4 has really made a difference in the presentation of the game. When we ported the other Gunvolt games to the Switch we were able to make it hi-res and bump it to 60 fps, but now that we are developing it from the get go on the current generation hardware like the Switch we were able to do so much more with the presentation of the game. The UI is so much more detailed, and of course the visuals are better.
We were able to do so much more with the visuals because the CPU was so much higher than it was with the 3DS. We can do a lot more flashy and high quality animations, visuals, effects, and all that kind of stuff that we can do on the Switch but are not able to do on the 3DS. I think especially people who played Gunvolt 1 and 2 will really appreciate those changes we were able to do by developing it from the get go on current generation hardware.
TF: Inti Creates is starting to release a lot more on PC, starting with Blaster Master Zero. What influenced your decision to start supporting Steam?
TA: I think one of the biggest catalysts that really put these PC ports in motion was Steam’s introduction of the publisher pages they have. If you go to the Inti Creates page on Steam you can see everything that we have, our entire catalog, on one page. We really love that idea and that concept and we think it is really great for us as the developer. On platforms like Nintendo Switch, the eShop is wonderful, but it can be really hard to find the stuff you are looking for.
There isn’t anything there to follow a certain developer or publisher. It can be really hard to keep track of everything that a certain developer is doing, so we really love the fact that Steam has this page now so all things Inti Creates are in one place and it’s easy to follow and easy to keep track of. That’s really the spark that lit the decision to fill out our Steam page more and get some of our previous releases on Steam. We are starting that off with Blaster Master Zero this week, and will continue to release more of our titles on Steam going forward.
“One of the biggest catalysts that really put these PC ports in motion was Steam’s introduction of the publisher pages”
TF: Do you know specifically when you will announce what else is coming to Steam?
TA: While it’s not like we have tons of titles that we don’t have on Steam yet that we have elsewhere, we do want to get [those not on PC] out. We don’t want to keep people waiting for a super long time. So we have Blaster Master Zero out this week, so maybe a month, maybe two months, I’m not entirely sure. We definitely want to get these titles out over the next half a year or 9 months. I don’t think it will be too long, but we’ll see what we can do.
TF: To end things off, Google Stadia releases this fall. As a company and as a developer, what potential do you see in that platform and game streaming as a whole?
TA: I don’t think it will have too much of an impact like mobile hardware and Nintendo Switch did. The biggest thing for us as a company that creates fast-paced 2D action games is the response time playing on something that is streaming. We have not had much experience with that yet as it is still not an open platform just yet. Once we are able to experience what that’s like and test it out and if we find that games with very fast response time like the kind of games we have run flawlessly on something like Stadia, that will definitely give us something to think about going forward for sure.
DualShockers would like to thank Aizu-san for his time as well Matt Papa for translating Takuya Aizu’s answers. If you want to see DualShockers’ thoughts on an early build of Gunvolt Chronicles: Luminous Avenger iX, check out our E3 preview.