[Translation] Interview with The Alliance Alive Producer and Director, Matsuura Masataka

This is what I’ve gone silent for the past two weeks for. I’ve been looking forward to the release of a 3DS title named The Alliance Alive – I loved Legend of Legacy’s somewhat refreshing battle system and it’s uniquely ambient atmosphere. However, it seems that The Alliance Alive is going for a bit of a different feel compared to its spiritual prequel. Here’s a translated interview from Dengeki Online with the Producer and Director of this title, Masataka Matsuura…

(TN: Translator’s note)

Originally written and published online at Dengeki Online by: Mosan, 18/05/2017

(http://dengekionline.com/elem/000/001/519/1519886/)

The Alliance Alive, developed by FuRyu will be going on sale on the 22nd of June for the Nintendo 3DS. We at Dengeki Online asked readers for questions they wanted to ask Producer & Director, Masataka Matsuura, regarding this title.

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The Alliance Alive is an ensemble RPG where you control 9 different main characters of varying races, genders, ages, and social statuses to progress through the story while switching perspectives now and then. The scenario for this game was written by Yoshitaka Murayama (Gensou Suikoden I & II), while the game system designs were created by Kyoji Koizumi (SaGa series).

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A demo for the game is currently available on the Nintendo eShop. You can play through the opening act of Galil and Ursula’s adventure. (TN: JP eShop only) 

Coinciding with the release of the demo, us at Dengeki Online have been busy collecting questions from readers, in order to interview and have Matsuura P&D answer them directly! There are lots of surprising details that haven’t been revealed yet, so please make sure to read until the end.

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–On responding to user requests and improving the game even from the demo–

D: Firstly, we would like to say that along with questions, we received quite a few requests for improvement from demo players as well. Were there any areas where you responded to player requests and changed things between the demo and full version?

M: We really received quite a variety of opinions. I’m quite thankful that we asked for player opinions around 3 months before the release date.

Their thoughts and opinions were thoroughly looked at by all related staff. We were quite relieved that nearly all of the opinions fell within the range of what we were expecting.

For example, there was the opinion that ‘Pressing the D-pad also advanced text, which led to accidentally skipped dialogue’. That was in fact a developer tool, which we left untouched for the demo as the demo itself was quite short. In the retail version, the ‘only advance text with the A button’ and ‘press any non-D-pad or Slide pad button to advance text’ options are available for your choosing.

Also, we were asked to change it so that the sped-up gameplay (TN: you can change game speed to 2x and 4x with the L/R buttons) would return to normal speed during the ‘Awakening’ animations. We are also planning to adjust this after we make sure all the battle animations are implemented correctly.

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In the official release, we made it so you have the option to choose between the game returning to normal speed during ‘Awakenings’. Even if it’s obvious that people don’t want to miss the animations that first play out during their first playthrough, people playing their second playthrough and having all members in a 5-man party Awaken at the same time would definitely want to skip the animations, so we made it an option that you can choose.

Also, we were asked to make it so that battle speed can be changed during the command phase of the player turn. (TN: In the demo, game speed can only be changed for the battle animations portion) We did try experimenting with this function, but we did not add it into the demo. In our experiments, the controls would feel a bit off, so we didn’t add it into the demo in the end, but…. (laughs). Anyways, the official release has a button to change the game speed on the bottom touchscreen.

D: So the elements in the demo that were a little bit off have been mostly fixed then.

M: Yes. We received views that the font was hard to read, as well. It was really only from a minority of people, but fonts are seen so often that it’s easy for criticism of them to form, to the point that even people who didn’t really mind at the start would go, “Now that you mention it…” and come off biased with a bad impression. We decided to change the font in a way you can instantly tell the difference.

The new font was one of the proposed potential fonts at the start of development. Font aficionados will instantly know what font it is – it’s very well known for it’s ease of readability.

While making fonts an option up to player’s choice was a method we could have used, this sort of half-baked response would really only have a negative effect, and so we decided it was better to strongly show that the player’s opinions really mattered. I took as reference the methods used by the operating company of this online game I like, and with this ‘precedent’ set, we will make sure to even more actively ask for opinions in our next project as well.

This is from my personal experience, but when my views are addressed by the game makers, it just feels so good. The feeling that ‘the world moved because of me’ is one I wanted players to experience. In this age where social networking services are taken for granted, we thought that this should even be done on consoles as well, and so we decided to do this from the planning phase of this project.

D: I think it’s incredible for you to try and implement this for a console-based game. In the first place, was taking in player requests one of the purposes of releasing the demo 3 months before the release date?

M: Yes, that’s right. It’s precisely for the purpose of what I mentioned before, that we wanted player requests to be reflected in the final product. It’s quite an exception to release a demo three months before the final release, but it miraculously went quite well. With this timing, we were in the phase of doing the final adjustments, and we wanted to receive player criticisms in order to make the game together.

Actually, with demos being a way to look for areas which can be refined, it’s definitely quite a cost performance effective method. As such, I thought that not putting out a demo before releasing the game shouldn’t be a thing in this day and age, and put out the demo with the premise of reflecting player criticisms in the final version. This way if I were the demo player it would feel like there was meaning to me playing the demo, and I’d also happily offer up my thoughts.

It’s not often that that I’m the producer as well as the director, so I decided to try that which other projects might not have tried.

 

–The way Koizumi-san, Murayama-san, and Hamauzu-san creates games–

D: Alright, we’d like you to answer these questions that we’ve collected from the players. “This game is headed by quite the star-studded production team. What was the trigger and process of recruiting these production team members like? (by Hacchi-san)”

M: It’s all because it’s fun to work with people I like, to the point that it’s my reason to live. (laughs) I like games made by Kyoji Koizumi and Yoshitaka Murayama, and this game is the result of me wanting to make a game together with them, and proposing this game idea to them.

Because FuRyu is not a game developer but a publisher, we cannot make a game without gathering the members first. This time it was the same – I came up with The Alliance Alive project, and looked for the people we needed the most, and miraculously got them to cooperate and work together. Without any one of these people, The Alliance Alive could not have been created.

Koizumi-san and Murayama-san and everyone was really motivated. In this day and age, where smartphone games are becoming the norm, it is quite significant that so many people proactively got involved with an project which was all about making an RPG for consoles.

Also, the person said that this was ‘a star-studded production team’, but this production team is really ‘star-studded’ in my mind. Therefore, people who think the same probably have the same feelings as I do, and are a great fit for playing this game.

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D: I also think that this is quite an amazing staff list, and am looking forward to playing the actual game. The next question is, “Going back from the planned release date, how long ago did this project enter production? I’d like to know a rough idea of the creation process.” (by Kontou-san)

Although a game directed by me as well, The Legend of Legacy was released on 22/01/2015, this project has been around since before then, so it would be around two and a half years ago from now. That said, the idea in this project is older than The Legend of Legacy.

This is a story from behind-the scenes, but for The Legend of Legacy, my game proposal was 99.9% rewritten by Koizumi-san, so barely resembles my original proposal. (laughs) Looking at the changed proposal, I thought that a person who would think this seriously about a game would definitely make a good game and worked on it together with him. I myself was so engaged that we worked ourselves to the bone on The Legend of Legacy.

Actually, a portion of the people who played The Legend of Legacy got really mad, saying that it was the ‘worst shitty game ever’, but as I’m sort of masochistic like this and took the comments in stride, and empathized with their criticisms. I thought, ‘They’re looking for the same style of RPG as I am.’ (laughs)

However, it is wrong to say that The Legend of Legacy should be able to answer to these needs. When topics about a sequel came up, it was often requested for there to be a ‘deep story’ and for ‘more distinct character personalities’. This would stray from the game’s concept and be a sequel only in name, so I held my ground and refused to do a sequel like this. The method to express fundamental ‘fun factor’ of The Legend of Legacy in a sequel, sadly do not lie in those particular elements. If I were to make a The Legend of Legacy 2, I would first choose a different type of gaming hardware.

……All these processes led to the planning of The Alliance Alive. With me hungering to make a ‘normal RPG’, and being able to utilize the know-how through the making of The Legend of Legacy, and being able to answer to what players wanted, all these factors just sort of came at a good time. However, this project took quite a bit of budget and time, so I did not think that it would be approved at all. (laughs)

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Personally, although I couldn’t be able to say what the point of making an RPG where all you did was follow the story, instead I thought that there was value in making an RPG that could effectively do an ‘ensemble’-type scenario with multiple character perspectives. With this in mind, I asked Koizumi-san and Murayama-san to help with this project.

D: I see, so that’s how it originated. What was the development process like?

M: At the start, Koizumi-san and I pretty much summarized the game concept we had in mind, then went to ask Murayama-san to help write the scenario.

At the same time, we went ahead and asked the Art Director, Asano Masayo-san to make some concept art. As we needed a deformed-style world map this time around, we thought that rather than a fancy artstyle, what we needed was a hard, solid background artstyle, and decided upon Asano-san as he specialized in pictures with solid lines and a watercolor painting type of palette. I love Asano-san’s really unique style of drawing.

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D: Let’s continue with the questions. “I would like to know more about the period between the planning phase and when the story and characters were finalized. How did you progress in development working in tandem with Murayama-san?” (by Araiboon-san)

M: First of all, it was decided between Koizumi-san and I that we would go with a rough concept of there being ‘a world that was divided apart’, and we brought this concept to Murayama-san. From there, the plot summary, the creation of the worldview, and character settings were all done by Murayama-san.

The setting of having 9 different main characters was proposed by Murayama-san, but even compared to our playerbase the character ages leaned more towards the younger side, so to balance this out Koizumi-san and I requested that there be an ‘old man’ and ‘older sister’, as well as ‘non-human’ type characters in order to strike a balance.

This may be Murayama-san’s personal interest, but scenarios written by Murayama-san commonly have upbeat, cheery female characters. The Alliance Alive is no exception, and there are many scenarios where the female leads forcefully drag along the male leads who are somewhat troubled by this  – you could say it’s a characteristic of this game. The character interactions are quite funny. (laughs)

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Also, we discussed with Murayama-san that the main characters ‘should fundamentally not take up actions which players would be against’. There are certain people who deeply value the dramatic factor of story scenarios, so you could say that it’s disputed, but plot twists like there being a traitor in the cast, or a character dying midway would completely ruin the feelings of players who spent a lot of time training up a particular character.

Furthermore, when it becomes known that there is a certain character who will leave the party midway, there are people who decide not to bother with training that person. In short, if we do that sort of scenario, although the story would become quite heated, the character would in effect ‘die’, gameplay-wise. Therefore, we discussed with Murayama-san to avoid having a character leave the party story-wise.

D: “I would like to know if the idea to have multiple protagonists was there from the start or occurred partway through the planning process.” (by Yoshizaki-san) I’m also interested in the fact that you don’t choose one particular main character out of several, like in The Legend of Legacy.

M: There not being a character selection system came as a result of discussing with Murayama-san. It would be easier to become invested in a character by narrowing down on the flow of information at the start.

It is entirely possible to have instead done it so that you could choose a character to play as at the start, but it became a style which Murayama-san found more conductive writing scenarios for.  Murayama-san said that the order in which story information is dealt out is the most important aspect, so we decided from the very start to go with this style.

Also, if there was only one main character in particular, aren’t there times when you don’t like the character? For a player to drop a completely new game because they don’t like the main character would be a loss of opportunity, so we wanted as many main characters as possible in order to lower this threshold.

D: Next we have music-related questions. “While playing the demo the first thing that invested me in the game was the music. As the producer and director, were there any particular areas about the music that you made sure to get just right?” (by Tsukimi-san)

M: We received criticisms from demo players that they wanted the battle BGMs when fighting on the world map to be more energetic. (TN: The battle theme only plays when fighting in dungeons) It’s quite obvious that RPG players would want to hear a courageous battle theme and a triumphant fanfare when they win, as that is a preconception. You could even say that it’s common sense in an RPG. However, if I were really to respond to these requests, I would first of all change the composer.

The current composer, Masashi Hamauzu, is someone who, rather than creating music which vividly expresses the feelings of happiness, anger, sadness, or joy, instead creates music which mixes these feelings into something which can be interpreted in multiple ways. His music ‘surges and swells’, and this is used in this game to enhance and symbolise the feeling of abstractness. This sort of ‘mismatch’ helps interpret the world of The Alliance Alive in a completely different way.

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Game music pieces that have a solid melody and are easy to understand, are what remain on your mind after hearing it so many times in-game. But if we were to add that sort of stereotypical fare to our game, I think it would instead drive people away. If I had to put it into words, I guess it would feel like it’s ‘trying too hard’… I personally wouldn’t have liked that either. That’s why Hamauzu-san’s refreshing unique style of music, which is enough to blow away all my preconceptions of game music, is perfect for me. (laughs)

By the way, this line of thinking applies to voicework and DLC (Downloadable Content) as well. If this work really needed it, we would add it in, but I think that there’s no need to add in these elements for the sake of it, just because these are common elements nowadays.

D: I see. Here’s a question about voicework. “In this day and age, it’s quite uncommon to have no voicework accompanying cinematic cutscenes. Just out of curiosity, what is the biggest reason for not including voicework?” (by Daikenzuki-san)

M: There are various reasons. As a prerequisite, this is a time where voice actors hold quite a tremendous influence, and if you want to increase the recognition of your product through manga and anime adaptations, then it’s definitely true that it’s better to have voice acting. You see often that games advertise their ‘star-studded voice acting cast’, so to make a game ‘without voicework’ seems to be going against the times. Right now, the most common request from players is that “They want voice acting.”

But this has to do with the balancing of game concepts – I think that having clear expressions such as character voices would be like directly giving players the answers and lead to an overload of information. This is probably an outdated view, but in terms of RPGs player engagement is really important, so we did not want to force a specific image onto the players from the developer’s side.

On one hand, it’s true that even just having voices for the movie cutscenes would have been better, but taking away the player’s capacity of imagination regarding the characters just for better spectacle was something I didn’t want to do. In talks with Murayama-san, we also asked him to write the story scenario with ‘not having voice acting’ in mind.

D: There is another question about the music. “I would like to hear about your interactions with Masashi Hamauzu-san while working on the music.” (by Shogo-san)

M: As Hamauzu-san is a busy person, we explained to him about our project concisely, and he quickly accepted.

I touched on this earlier, but even putting out an RPG like this on a console in this day and age is an adventure in itself. When we first met with Hamauzu-san, he said, “This is a man’s job. This game may not become a big hit, but this is not an idea to throw around frivolously, so there must be meaning in making this game.” His words left quite an impression.

In terms of interactions in creating the music, for music that we needed, we would shoot the movie scenes and present it together with my image of what sort of track we needed, so we requested for quite specific things. Sometimes a track which was completely different than my image would pop up, but it would still somehow fit in with the scenes and create a compelling atmosphere. I thought, “That’s Hamauzu-san for you.” (laughs)

As a request, we asked for upbeat music. This game’s world is quite dark, and as a contrast we wanted to add in bright-sounding music. The story isn’t a pessimistic one about a world conquered by demons, but a story about bright and positive people, and so we wanted music that sounded like it was cheering them onwards.

Also there are steampunk and classical Japanese-style worlds in this game, and taste of music changes accordingly, so please pay attention to Hamauzu-san’s wide scope of music composition.

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D: “I am interested in the recording of the BGMs. Could you tell us what recording was like, and your exchanges with the musicians and recording staff?” (by Masaki-san)

M: Hamauzu’s specialty style of music is overlaying live recordings with sequenced music. The violins and some other parts are live recordings, which are then mixed with sequenced music.

For the recording, we did not go with an orchestra but a small group of specific instruments, like a guitar and violin. The recordings were overlayed after. That’s how it was done.

When I asked Hamauzu-san why he made music through this method, he said that “it produces depth”.  The depth in sequenced music isn’t quite apparent, so as a contrast live recorded music, with the personalized touch of the musician, is used to bring out that “depth”.

–A game which is nothing but ‘missable elements’?!–

D: “What’s the volume of story content in the game? Are there multiple endings?” (by Harami-san) It seems there are quite a few people interested in the overall playtime.

We are currently evaluating the average playtime, but for people on the development team like me, it takes us above 30 hours to reach the ending. Honestly, debugging has been quite painful. (laughs) It takes us this long despite us being familiar with the workings of the game, so for first-time players it will probably take even more time than that.

The story volume has become larger than what was originally intented, and after you get the ‘Ark’, (TN: The main seafaring method of transportation), your freedom in exploring the world becomes multiplied.  If you were to explore every nook and cranny, it would perhaps take 40-50 hours to go through the game. Story volume is quite subjective, so I would say to look forward to playing ‘as much as you want’.

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Ending-wise, there is only one official ending. When multiple endings are involved, in the end it becomes a search for the ‘true ending’ and the other endings become ‘incorrect endings’, which I don’t like. There’s also the fact that nowadays a lot of gamers have become members of society, and I can’t see many people having the time or patience to play all the way to multiple endings.

D: It’s true that there isn’t much time to play video games nowadays, so that line of thinking is appreciated.

This is also something I discussed with Murayama-san, but nowadays requiring people to fulfill certain specific requirements, or needing to go through New Game+, to see the true ending in a begrudging manner, is an outdated way of looking at things.

For the first playthrough, I want people to feel satisfied with seeing and finishing the entire story, as a piece of entertainment should. The second and third playthroughs are for people who really like the worldview to play it more in-depth, I feel.

Of course, we have provided endgame content like answers for questions that aren’t answered during the main story, and strong enemies, but you don’t need to beat it all to complete the game, so just take it easy without thinking too hard about it.

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D: “Do villager conversations change depending on your progress in the story? I’m the type of player who talks to them often, so I was curious.” (by Hanpen-san)

M: Maybe not quite as often, but they will change dialogue depending on the situation. For example, if a village is attacked, the villagers will show different reactions if you have a demon race character as the lead character. It would become a chore to look for all the different reactions, so if they have a different reaction, just count yourself as lucky and move on. (laughs)

Playing as the character you like and seeing how reactions by villagers or in events change is one of the thrills of this game. If you like playing as Galil, then by all means put him at the party head and talk to others with him. If you choose a character you like and put them as the head of the party, you can get a closer look at that character’s personality.

D: “Are there any events that become inaccessible after a certain event, or rare items which are lost forever, or other missable elements like that?” (Tough tactics-san)

M: Taken to its extreme, The Alliance Alive is a constant stream of ‘missable elements’. (laughs) For example, through a certain choice, there is an NPC which will die, but instead you will receive the remaining belongings of the dead NPC. There’s no right choice, so please decide for yourself how you will play.

This game experiments with trying to rehabilitate ‘people who care too much about missable elements’. The more used to RPGs you are, the more used to caring about missable elements you become, but I believe that that becomes a bad habit. I’m a classic example of that type of person, but I end up caring too much about efficiency and gains or losses that instead of enjoying the game I just get stressed instead.

D: I see. I think you’re correct in thinking that. I have lost motivation in playing a game because I missed a timed event before…

M: That’s exactly it. Of course, there are definitely people who hate missing out on anything, but we didn’t do this out of spite for the players, but more aimed to let the players play the game without worrying about such things.

For example, this game’s encyclopedia doesn’t have a numbering system. There are no blank columns or choices hidden with a “???” mark either. I think different people will create different-looking encyclopedias. We added a screenshot function to complement this different way of playing as well.

No matter what way you play, you can clear the game, and in the end there is no big change to the ending of the story. In exchange, the story process in the middle will change based on the player’s choices.

D: This is related to missable elements, but there is a question regarding multiple story splits. “Do events change based on our choices? For example, if we choose to steal from the art museum or not, would that choice change the following events in a huge way?” (by Mimi Otoko-san)

M: There are no changes to the main story, but the events you go through in the game will change. You could say that the way you beat the game changes.

In the locked-down art museum, most RPG lovers would probably beat the enemy and get the items inside, I think. Actually, you could not only choose to not defeat them then and there, but we have also provided a different challenge for those who try challenge this at a different time when you return.

D: Huh! Really. In the play event from a while ago, I also defeated all those enemies. (laughs)

M: There’s merit to receiving strong weapons early on, so it’s a correct choice. However, there’s also merit to not defeating them. Either one is fine.

We wanted everyone to experience the same story so that part won’t change, but character dialogue and small splits in how events play out are quite abundant.

D: I see. I was quite surprised at how JRPG-like it was, as in how linear it was for an RPG, in a good way. Are there any other interesting story splits that you can tell us a bit more about?

M: Let’s see. In an RPG, it’s a basic rule that if you want to progress, you need to beat boss battles. However, in this game, there are opportunities to solve the situation without fighting.

In a certain scene where you need to obtain a certain item from a certain boss, you can choose to beat the boss and take the item, or you could negotiate and borrow the item instead. After negotiating, you can also choose whether you return the item or not, and what happens afterwards changes quite a bit depending on your choice.

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At the start of the game, you must play through part of each character’s stories, but after you obtain the Ark, each player will probably have a different sort of adventure. With the ship in hand, you can take detours, or go recruit other allies freely.

There’s around 150 different guild NPCs that you can recruit, but you can also beat the game without even touching this part of the gameplay at all. Every person might have a different order of beating dungeons, and we made it so in those cases dialogue and events play out a little bit differently.

We wanted to have each player have their own changing story through these choices. In the end the ending is the same, but what happens in between changes significantly. With the mentioned boss, even if he gets mad after the player forgets to return the item to him, that would be the player’s personal experience.

D: So every player would have a slightly different playthrough. That’s really interesting.

There’s also a scene where you can choose whether to strike the final blow on a boss. There is a scene you can only view if you strike it. What is right, and what is justified is something we won’t say, but leave to the player’s choice.

Because it’s this type of game, you can only see one of the routes in each playthrough, so it might be interesting sharing your experience with other people on social platforms. There’s no need to find the ‘correct answer’. Anyways, it’s full of missable elements, but those are all choices you make, so be proud.

Just to make sure there are no misunderstandings, these choices and splits are not to make players feel like they missed out and won out on something. For example, if there is a choice to receive the strongest weapon, you might miss out on the strongest skill instead. Again, one player might struggle and work their way up to getting the strongest weapon and skill, but another player might increase their own skill, and beat the game even if the characters are weaker.

With all these methods in this style, please think of this RPG as one where you can enjoy beating in your own way.

–2 types of of carrying over to a second playthrough!–

D: Next is a question about the game systems. “Can you freely change the party in the menu screen, or do you need to do that from a Base or Headquarters?” (Nekokan-san)

M: You can freely change out the party in the Party screen in the menu whenever you want.

There are changes in dialogue even when a sub-character like Mathilda is in the lead, so please look forward to it. Robbins (TN: A penguin optional party member) also says a lot of funny dialogue.

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D: “Are Talent Points also spread across to characters who aren’t fighting?” (by Oorurin-san)

M: It definitely will. It also saves up across characters who haven’t joined up yet, and you will obtain all the saved points when they do officially join the party, so you don’t need to fret about characters not being trained up well.

D: “Are there characters who learn sword skills easier, or are there other hidden parameters like that?” (by Shy-san)

M: There are no hidden parameters and the stats are all shown clearly in-game. There are differences in stats, but those are character attributes.

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However, it would be a shame to decide the character’s party role just based on the different stat parameters. If you want a character in an attacking position, make them hold a strong weapon and put them in the Attacker position, and have them learn the relevant Talents – we made it so that you can control these elements.

D: “Will the area of effect of Guild supports increase in range later? Or will they only take effect when near guild towers? The Library Guild’s support effect was quite useful, so it would be great if their AOE were able to be increased.” (by Akira-san)

M: As you build more guild towers, the support effect range increases. As towers connect and link together the percentage chance of a support attack occurring increases. There are usually places to build Guild towers near places you have to assail, and you can choose what Guild tower to build there.

The Intelligence Guild, Library Guild, Strategy Guild and others are available to build, and as people gather the guild becomes powered up. It’s up to the player how to spread their human resources.

There is no particular reward for recruiting every Guild member, so please just recruit as many as you feel like. It’s impossible to max out the member count of every guild, so where to place the members is quite important.

D: “Are there any extra elements to warrant a second playthrough. Since there are so many different reactions to see, I think I will try playing through the game with as many different characters leading the party.” (by Mimi Otoko-san) There are quite a few questions regarding the second playthrough/

M: Sort of, there are a few things you can see for the first time in a second playthrough, but it really is tiny bits of extra stuff. Things which would be funny if you found it, or something to that extent…. (laughs)

The ending we came up with is not one which can be interpreted in multiple ways, but one that has the feeling of achievement. However, for people who want to know more about ‘what the demons are’, and their background, and know more about the world, it might be better if you took a lot of detours.

D: I see that you’ve made it so you find out more about the world as you explore it further. Why did you decide to make it like that?

M: Murayama-san and I talked quite about this, and the fact is that touching on the worldview and setting within the main story makes the game exposition heavy. People playing to enjoy the characters and drama would lose their empathy and get lost in the heavy usage of lingo. That’s why these parts are part of the sidequests and exploration.

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Also, as I assume there are quite a few people curious about this, in the second playthrough, you are able to completely reset all the points used to gain Talents in order to freely customize your characters. Apart from some Seal Arts and magic which are only usable by a certain tribe (those talents are fixed), your total amassed points by the time of clearing the game, as well as 10,000 extra Talent points will carry over and can be used from the beginning of the game.

There are you types of carrying over, one where you carry over nearly all of your data, the ‘New Game+’, and the aforementioned ‘EX New Game’. People who like to easily wipe out enemies might like New Game+, while for other people I would recommend EX New Game. By the way, EX New Game is the game balance that Koizumi-san recommends personally.

–Vivian’s secret is on her back rather than on her breasts…?–

D: Next, we have questions regarding the characters. “I know that there are 9 main characters, but how did you and the rest of the people in the development team end up choosing the current character designs and personalities? Also, which character (not limited to the main characters) is the most popular? It would be nice if you could explain why they were the most popular as well.” (by Tokinoji-san)

M: I ordered them to create 9 character designs which all looked like they could be the main character. I wanted people to ask, “Who’s exactly is the main character?” if they were shown standing side by side. The character designer, Ryo Hirao-san, kept that in mind when designing the characters.

As for requests by Murayama-san, as the demon race have individuals who have lived over 1,000 years, we had the same idea where demon race characters would have common motifs in their designs, then the designs branched out from there.

As for the most popular character among the development team… Within Cattle Call (TN: The actual development company, as FuRyu is just a publisher), Vivian is probably the most popular. Actually, there was this part where something bad happens to her, but it was discussed that what happened had gone a bit too far, and the presentation of the events were changed.

Also, Barbarosa is the coolest male character out of the cast, so he would probably be the most popular character among women. The guild towers are actually built by Barbarosa, and the sight of him doing so is quite surreal-looking, so please look forward to seeing that in the game.

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TN: Barbarosa (left)

D: You’re right about Barbarosa’s popularity, as there were a lot of questions about him. “What does Barbarosa do usually? I’d also like to know what’s inside his satchel.” (by Daimu-san)

M: He works as a spy for the guild. His bag has tons of items used while adventuring. Doesn’t he give you a health potion in the demo? I bet he gave it to Galil after taking it out of his bag.

As he’s a fighter, he basically doesn’t carry anything that wouldn’t be used in his journeys. However, he’s the type of character who would keep a clay doll or two in his bag in order to give them to the children in the town. (laughs) That’s why he’s popular with the kids.

D: “Could you please tell us what the difference between ‘demonic beings’ (TN: originally ‘Youma’) and ‘demons’ (TN: originally ‘Mazoku’), and their hierarchy?” (Saodake-san)

M: You don’t need to think too hard – it’s mainly about appearances. The ones that look more human-like are ‘demons’. The ones that are animal-like up to their head are ‘demonic beings’. There’s a reason for the difference related to the worldview, and you will find out about this in-game.

‘Demonic beings’ are mostly emotionally unstable, and their are quite a few weird fellows. Barbarosa is on the more emotionally stable side, and there are differences between individuals. As you follow along with them, some might start wondering what ‘demonic beings’ really are, and those players can find that information in the game if you really look for it.

alliance_17_cs1w1_400x

By the way, Robbins is not a ‘demonic being’ but a monster. As a monster, he is not tied to the ‘demons’. Meanwhile, the underlings of the ‘demons’ are called ‘demonic beings’. You really just need to know about this much.

D: Here’s a funny question about Vivian. “I really like Vivian’s looks and character setting. Was it Hirao-san who asked to give her huge boobs out of his personal interests or was that an order of yours?” (by corc-san)

M: I didn’t say anything about making them big or anything, so that’s probably what Hirao-san is into. (laughs) Putting that joke aside, he probably designed her that way in order to balance out the looks of the cast.

Actually, the focus point of Vivian shouldn’t be her chest but rather her back. It’s opened quite wide as she’s wearing clothes which show off her back. Well, more like it’s quite open because she has a tail. You can’t see it quite well because her hair is quite long, but you can probably tell when she’s fighting or during movement.

alliance_18_cs1w1_400x

Again, Hirao-san considered what the characters would look like as 3D models, including how the camera is usually behind the characters, so he probably gave some thought to this.

D: “Are there any other party members outside of the main nine?” (by Zachtorte-san)

M: There are the announced subcharacters, Mathilda, Robbins, and Shiki. All of them feel like they would only be temporary party members, and leave after certain events, but I’m not the sort of person to do these luxurious things. (laughs)

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TN: Shiki

However, you can beat the main story without them ever joining your party, so people who want them as party members should really look out for them. Although, as this game is a bit darker than it looks, depending on your choices nasty things may occur to them…

D: “What are the origins of the characters’ names?” (Hanyo-san)

M: The number of characters in their names range from 3 to 4 to 5, but their origins are simple. For example, Ignas’ name comes from the meaning of ‘fire’ based on his red hair, so it’s based on character traits like that.

I believe Galil’s name came from a type of gun, because Murayama-san is quite the military nut. The name Ursula is based on the ‘saintly’ meaning of the word.

Shiki’s name was… because we didn’t have a character with a 2-character name. As there’s also the fact that players can change their names, we just sort of decided them on a whim.

D: “As there are a lot of non-human characters, I would like to hear about your own ‘love for non-human characters’!” (by Ken-T-san)

M: From the perspective of the worldview of the game, when you have a whole bunch of human race characters, what you’ll get is nothing but human-like ways of thinking and conversations, so non-human characters are great in that they can provide their own take and give some ‘accent’ to the conversations. The conversations become less predictable.

Hirao-san’s non-human character designs are quite tasteful, and I like that sort of RPG with non-human characters. Also, sudden random dialogue outbursts are more easily forgiven with non-human characters, so Robbins became a character who’s just really ‘out there’.

–Situations where you have multiple parties! Battle-related Q&A–

D: There are a lot of specific questions about combat, so I’ll ask them all in one go. “Are you able to set the difficulty of battles?” (Mikoto-san)

M: There is no difficulty setting. There are many difficult enemies, but there are also many different methods players can take to beat it, so please decide the game balance for yourself. There are no battles in the game you can’t beat through some method, and there’s always one weakness to the enemies.

D: “How does weapon weight factor into the combat?” (Parry-san)

M: It has to do with action order. With heavy weapons and armor, your action speed goes down. Light armor is faster, so it might be better to give health potions to lighter-armored characters. However, there might be times where you want to heal at the end of the turn, so in that case it might be better equipped on a heavy armored character.

D: “Is there only one opportunity to fight strong enemies? Also, are there rare drops?” (by Sute-san) In the demo, I also ran away from a strong enemy then couldn’t fight it again.

M: In the demo, you only have one chance to fight a strong enemy, but in the full release they will come back after you sleep at an inn, so don’t worry. There are rare drops, but you don’t need to care too much about them.

D: “Can you create your own formations? Or do you use the ones that are provided to you? Also, can you change the amount of characters in the battle, such as only fighting with one character?” (by Aaaaaaa-san)

M: Formations can be created at the ‘Strategy guild’. The amount of party members in a battle can also be changed starting midway through the game.

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D: “Are there any scenarios where you can only use certain characters, where story-wise you are forced to use all nine characters, even ones that you haven’t trained up?” (by Kokoperi-san)

M: About the differences in growth and training, I think playing through each main characters’ story segment is enough to evenly train them all. There are times where you’re fighting with multiple parties, but rather than characters being liabilities due to low stats, instead I think you might find characters outside of your main party that shine in battle during those times. This all might feel quite fresh to the player.

D: “In the demo Awakenings happened quite often, but is this the case in the full game?” (by Hiragirio-san)

M: No, that is just for the demo. For the demo we wanted the players to see the different techniques that could be used so we made it easier for Awakenings to occur. For the full release, the balance has been adjusted on the whole.

D: “Is the strength of the enemies based on the area and dungeons, or based on the party’s strength?” (by Ryo-san)

M: They change based on the area.

D: “Are you able to reset talents? (by Frantically buying this game-san)

M: You cannot reset your Talents. I understand how you feel, but I think that that function is easily abusable which can spoil the game.

D: “Is it possible to do challenge runs such as not purchasing any Talents?” (by Duke Felmia-san)

M: I haven’t tried it out, but characters will grow even without purchasing any Talents, so frankly it’s quite possible.

–An RPG as many different stories as people who’ve played–

D: There are some miscellaneous questions left. “How many save data slots are there in the full release?” (by KEI-san)

M: One on the game card and 9 extra on the SD card.

D: “Are there any Streetpass elements in this game?” (by Saiwai Haruka-san)

M: This game does not use Streetpass. We wanted to make a standalone game that you play using your own strengths. Also, we have no plans for additional DLC at the moment.

D: “Are there equipment or Talents that let you dash on the world map?” (by Ooruri-san)

M: Please play through the game and obtain the various vehicles. Any function which increases character movement speed on the map would destroy the balance of symbol encounters. Also you’ll feel even happier when you do get the vehicles.

D: “What is your favorite normal monster in the game? The monsters are all quite cute so I’d like some character goods of the monsters.” (by Maap-san)

M: “Out of the revealed ones, I like the ‘Nozarashi’. It appears in various places outside of those in the demo. As for additional goods, it’s honestly quite hard to do this for a completely new title. Instead of focusing on how widespread the game is, we focused fully on making a fun game.

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TN: Nozarashi

D: “I understand the attractiveness of having a paper instruction manual included in the game box, but why did you decide to go this route?” (by KEI-san)

M: It’s because a lot of people don’t know there is an electronic instruction manual for 3DS games. Also, when reading the electronic instruction manual, you are unable to play the game at the same time.

Also, you feel more satisfied when the physical package comes with a thick instruction manual instead of a flimsy sheet of paper. I personally love the smell that comes from the paper manual after opening a new game box after unwrapping the shrink plastic. With most games nowadays dropping the instruction manual, that smell is lacking these days. I thought, “I should at least make it a reality for my own game”, and chose the best-smelling type of paper for the manual.

D: “It’s a bit early to say but if reviews are good is there a possibility of making a sequel?” (by Dareka-san)

M: This is a harsh time for making new console-based RPG titles, so I probably won’t. Saying that, ‘not being able to make something even if you want to’ has become the norm nowadays, so I decided to make the game as if it were my last, without regrets. If I think of any good projects, I might suggest something else, but it will probably be something completely different from this game.

This is all cynical talk, but I would feel sorry if I raised hopes then ended up not being able to make it, so I thought I’d just say the truth outright.

On the other hand, as we made it as if it was the last one, because we made this game holding a defiant attitude, we can say that this game is truly something special. It is because we worked on this with something like a grudge that we managed to make such a big game. It’s an RPG full of thoughts like these, so for those interested, it might be a reason to try our game out.

D: And here’s the last question. “What is the meaning behind the game title? Could it be that there’s a deeper meaning hidden behind it?” (by Faruru-san)

M: I think the meaning of “Alliance Alive” will become apparent if you play until the end. About the shape of the logo, it has a sun motif with round and sharp parts to the design.

What it means is that this isn’t just a ’round’ game. People who played the demo might ask whether this game was more conventional compared to The Legend of Legacy. But the truth is different.

Although this game is ’round’, it is surrounded by lots of ‘edges’. Although it has the format of a ‘normal RPG’, there are different elements that set it apart throughout the game, and that shows itself as the ‘sharp’ parts in the title logo.

It’s said that games with many ‘edges’ “choose who play them”, but I think that depends on how it’s made. The scenario and exploration and battles follow along the line of a normal RPG, so it’s easy to pick up and play, but it’s unique elements create what is an RPG full of mystery.

D: Finally, please provide a message for the fans who are looking forward to playing The Alliance Alive!

M: For this game, just try to play it “loosely”. People who want to enjoy the story can go ahead and push the story forward, while people who love exploring and battling can have fun exploring every nook and cranny while progressing. There are basically no instructions that tell you to “go there” or “do this”, so please play this game at your own pace without keeping in mind the ‘correct method’ to play this game.

Also, there were a lot of voices saying that this was a ‘normal’ RPG, in a good way, but as I detailed, while this is a ‘normal’ RPG it is by no means a ‘safe’ RPG. People who felt that  “This is an RPG for me!” after playing the demo and reading the released information probably will be as into the game as I was myself. It’s this type of game which I made for the ‘comrades’ who feel the same as I do, so please patiently support the game in its month until release!

D: Thank you very much.

 

 

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