Tomonobu Itagaki, director of Wii U exclusive Devil’s Third, spoke with Famitsu in a recent interview about the game. We learn more about the development, how the Gamepad will factor in the game, gameplay and story details and plenty more interesting info.
You can read the full interview, which has been posted below:
Q1. Can you tell me the how and why Nintendo has become a publisher for your game?
Tomonobu Itagaki: Because we love games more than anyone else. We love to play and have fun. That’s exactly why we went independent in the first place. We wanted to develop in an environment where the question, “what is a game?” could be our central focus when making a decision. And it was absolute luck that allowed us to create this game with Nintendo. I think it’s our mission to take advantage of this encounter and meet the expectations of both gamers and everyone working in the industry.
Q2. As far as I see the trailers revealed during E3, I had an impression that the game contents have drastically changed from what it was announced before. So, it will be much appreciated if you can tell me the concept of your game.
TI: Sorry but there’s just too much to say. (laugh)
To put it briefly, it would be like, “who would actually make this kind of game? Really?!”
I think we’ve been really blessed.
Q3. There’s a remark in the latest trailer, saying “COMES A NEW BREED OF ACTION.” Can you tell me what makes it “NEW BREED”?
TI: I’m extremely vocal and picky when it comes to the touch-and-feel of the controls – once you get your hands on it and try for yourself I think you’ll understand. I took a long, hard look at both the action and shooter genres and figured out what they were lacking, and brought them both to a new level.
Q4. Skinhead guy was featured in the trailer. Is he going to be a protagonist?
TI: Yeah, his name’s Ivan, and he’s the protagonist of the game. I’ve been making this game together with Mr. Yamagami of Nintendo for a while now, and one day he came to me with this really burning intensity. He asked me, “Why aren’t you showing off the Valhalla spirit?! Why don’t you really show what Japanese developers can do?!” So I asked him, “Can we get away with that? Can we push it that far?!” He replied, “Of course! Otherwise what’s the point of us working together?!” His words really lit a fire under us, leading to the creation of Ivan, the protagonist, and the in-game music.
His words were really inspiring to me. And I have my own take on ninja – I told myself, “Alright, let’s do this!!”
But remember that what was shown in the trailer is only just one small part – we’ve poured our identity into every part of this game. Since E3, we’ve made major improvements in every area, from graphics to animations to playability. I know there will be some reactions like “what the hell is this?” But for now, we’ll just keep charging straight ahead!
Q5. In the previous coverage, I was told you depicted the world after collisional cascading called “the Kessler syndrome” had occurred. Can you give me a little bit more in-depth information about the story settings?
TI: The enemy that appears in this game is the School of Democracy (SOD), a group of soldiers from the former Soviet Union who didn’t want to return to the current Russia or anywhere else. Instead, they’ve set their sights on “Simultaneous World Revolution,” even disguising themselves as terrorists to achieve their goal. Go look up “Marxism.” This story is fiction and takes place in a parallel universe, but it’s not a completely unbelievable proposition.
These SOD soldiers destroy most of the satellites in orbit with anti-satellite weapons, as well as creating an EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse) by exploding nuclear bombs at high altitude, which renders nearly all modern weapons that are heavily reliant on computers unusable. What this does is cause the world to lose its ability to use unmanned and long-range weapons, and conflicts return to the age of hand-to-hand infantry combat with small arms and melee weapons. This setting is to provide a little realism as a shooter, and well, I’m a big military fan as well, so I didn’t want to create a world and story that was totally unbelievable.
Recently the Kessler Syndrome has been featured in other forms of entertainment. Ours is a worst-case scenario, but it’s still a very real possibility. I know it’s a scenario that I am creating myself, but it’s one that I hope will only happen in a video game.
Q6. Seems characters in the latest trailer have been totally renewed from the ones we saw in the previous trailer. Any change in the story?
TI: The story hasn’t changed a bit. We actually spent more than two years to create these world settings and character settings, so in that sense, you can say my style of creation has changed.
Q7. Since online play is the main feature of this game, you earlier said the game was being played by 16 players. Now, how many players can play at a time?
TI: Sixteen players as previously scheduled. We are now in the final stage of adjustments to hit that target.
Q8. You earlier said you wanted to bring in unprecedented features for online as well. What sort of elements did you implement in the game? I understand you can’t reveal them in detail, but I’ll be glad if you can indicate even a rough direction.
TI: This game is not merely a shooter, but one set in a world where the Kessler Syndrome and an EMP has destroyed nearly all infrastructures that relied on electronics. This time, players will participate in the “North America Campaign,” a battle for survival that takes place in different areas around the North American continent. Everyone begins their journey as just a regular guy or girl, starting off with just an iron pipe you happened to find on the ground or a simple gun. Battles and insurrections pop up all over the place, and you can choose to make your way in the world by either becoming a solitary mercenary or organizing with other players to create a band of vigilantes or an armed organization. It might be easier to think of them as clans or guilds. Simply put, this is a massive shooter game to be played on a scale of tens of thousands of people for domination of the North American continent.
In addition, there’s a sport shooter mode which allows you to play this game more casually.
As we showed in the trailer, there are some fun, comical play modes such as collecting chickens or a ball-toss game involving giant blenders. Anything goes!
Q9. This is Wii U exclusive title. Did you include any features unique to Wii U (such as utilization of WII U GamePad) ?
TI: Taking advantage of a hardware’s features is my policy. So, the GamePad will be featured, yes.
It isn’t designed to be obtrusive, but it should make you think, “Oooh, now that makes sense.”
Q10. Can you tell me the attractive features of Wii U hardware?
TI: It might sound surprising to you, but the Wii U is actually a very flexible hardware and library. We’ve been able to add necessary functions to it and it has definitely been satisfying. We are using the Unreal Engine, and we’ve added a ton of our own modifications to that as well. This might be too much of a tangent, but after my family and my team’s families heard we are developing on Nintendo hardware, their interest in the game has gone way up. (laugh)
Q11. I think some of fans may worry about how violence representation will be because this is a game for Nintendo hardware. Can you tell me how you treated it?
TI: Nintendo has never forced us to follow their routines. “What is a game? What is it to ‘play’?” – Those are the fundamental topics we’ve been discussing the past few years and we’ve always tried to nail down what that “it” is that gamers are looking for.
That “it” is what Wii U users are looking for, what our fans are looking for, and also what people are expecting from Japanese developers. It has brought us constant challenges and will continue to bring more in the future. The same thing goes for violence. It’s not something that should be displayed or decided according to a fixed formula. The only thing we’re focused on now is how to make you guys say “whoa, didn’t see that coming!” when you look back at the game.
Q12. Nintendo has been noted for its game development. Can you tell me things about them that have amazed or stimulated you while working together, if any?
TI: Nintendo is fully supporting us in game design, testing and tuning. Especially Mr. Yamagami – every week he and I have great discussions about really fundamental but important ideas about what makes a video game – even the significance of simply “pressing a button,” or what kind of emotions we want to evoke or what type of surprises we need. We’ve been able to form a deep understanding with each other and together we were able to create an easily accessible system that anyone can quickly pick up and play.
Q13. It has become a long-term project taken more than four years since it was officially announced. Can you tell me about your determination?
TI: As a developer, I’m actually happy that I could spend four years on the development of a single game.
Nonetheless, it is also a fact that I’m really sorry for making our fans wait so long. That’s why we want to create something they can enjoy to the fullest.
All of us involved in the development of this game feel the same way and we are hard at work putting on the final touches.
Q14. This is going to be the first consumer title for Valhalla. Looking back at years until now, can you tell me your impressions?
TI: This is a game to be kept up and operating for a long time. Therefore, its release is not the goal of this game, but rather its starting point. We have partnered with Softgear (a Tokyo company specializing in online gaming) to run the online portion and they are real professionals in this field. Valhalla, Nintendo and Softgear will continue to combine our strengths to operate this game going forward into the future.
We are planning to put out content updates and we want to continue to have fun developing, working with our players toward a new frontier. I’ll be joining the game too, so if you see me online, please go easy on me. (laugh)