Idea Factory Delves Into Otomate Forte And I Will Protect You

By Jenni . February 10, 2009 . 2:25pm

Idea Factory recently announced a brand new line of games in Japan, Otomate Forte, and also announced the first game in that line, I Will Protect You for the Nintendo DS. I Will Protect You is a break from Idea Factory’s usual genres: visual novels and strategy RPGs. Steve Hutchins, Associate Producer at Idea Factory, took the time to talk with the developers, and then myself, in order to answer a few questions about their upcoming project and bold step forward.

 

What inspired the creation of the Otomate Forte line as a compliment to the Otomate line?

 

The inspiration for Otomate Forte came from a desire to expand our range of “games for girls” beyond the romantic interactive novel adventure genre which our Otomate line is known for. Our original titles such as “Hi iro no kakera” and “Will O’ Wisp” as well as games based on popular shojo manga licenses like “Ouran High school Host” club have proved quite to be successful in Japan and are some of our biggest selling titles. However, for the Otomate Forte line we’re aiming to bring new kinds of interactive elements and experiences to fans, more like you would expect in an action or fantasy RPG. We hope Ore ga Omae o Mamoru (I Will Protect You) is only the start of many more games to come.

 

A while back, on the Neo-Forum, an English language message board discussing otome games, an Idea Factory survey was presented to the members to determine what they liked to see in otome games. Did this have any bearing on the Otomate Forte line?

 

That particular survey was part of a larger effort we made recently to get into contact with otome game fans outside of Japan and listen to their opinions. Certainly, all the people who contributed were very honest and vocal about what type of elements they like to have in games and we would be stupid not to listen to them because they are the fan girls, and nobody knows the games better than them.

 


So far we’ve seen three characters in the I Will Protect You screenshots. The hero Ren, a blond girl named Eruza and a brown haired man named Velles. Can you tell us anything about the characters or story of I Will Protect You?

 

The game is still in development and I don’t want to reveal much about the story at this stage but I think fans expecting another typical otomate adventure game are going to be in for a nice surprise.

 

Two of the main focuses in I Will Protect You is the character art and voice acting. Is this going to be a consistent theme throughout all the Otomate Forte games?

 

Well, these are definitely important ingredients to any otome game fan and they’re certainly a main focus for I Will protect you. The game features a talented cast of voice actors including Miyano Mamoru who’s perhaps best known internationally for his work on Death Note and Vampire Knight and certainly needs no introduction to fans of Japanese anime and otome games. Also, the main character “Ren” was designed by Kazuki Yone who’s just an incredibly talented artist with a huge following in Japan, so that’s kind of a dream team right there.

 

The official Otomate Forte announcement states that the difficulty of I Will Protect You is going to be adjusted to make it easier for female gamers who don’t play action games that often. Could you see this deterring some female gamers who may think that I Will Protect You will be pandering to inexperience gamers, or perhaps even be too easy a game?

 

That’s a good point and something that certainly the team are aware of and trying to balance in playtesting.

 

It’s worth mentioning though that the female staff here at Idea Factory who are involved with the development of this game are certainly not looking to pander the game to attract a more casual audience. The main focus is just to make the type of game that they would want to play themselves.

 

The first thing I thought when I saw the I Will Protect You screens was that it looked reminiscent of the Castlevania DS games. Is that fairly accurate? Or will it be equal parts action and simulation/visual novel?

 

I think it’s important to state that this isn’t a typical novel type simulation game at all. I think the best way I can describe it is to imagine an action RPG created and designed by girls. That’s not to say guys too won’t be able to enjoy the game but there is certainly a more romantic aspect to the story than you find in your average RPG and I think that’s a real breath of fresh air for the genre.

 

I mean, it’s no secret that girl gamers are terribly overlooked by the games industry. There’s this fixed idea most western game companies and publishers have that girls will only maybe play a bit of Animal Crossing, Tetris or some rhythm based game. It’s much more progressive in Japan where there’s been a thriving culture of girl gamers for a long time now supported by magazines like “B’s log” and “Dengeki Girl’s Style” which are very successful.

 

I get the feeling though, that thanks to internet communities like the Neo Forum which you mentioned earlier, girl gamers are going to be taken more seriously and the market for games for girls is going to grow internationally, I mean it just has to. They are so passionate about these games and play them to death and then discuss them on the forums and create some fan art or even design their own games and scenario’s – it’s all very inspiring to everyone involved.

 


It seems like I Will Protect You would be the sort of title that would appeal to gamers outside of Japan. Does Idea Factory see the Otomate Forte line as being a means of introducing otome games, and perhaps even the Otomate line, to other regions?

 

Well that’s great if this will be the kind of title that will appeal more to gamers outside of Japan, but it’s not really being consciously tailored to suit a more western audience. The design team are primarily focused on just trying to make the best game they can and really that’s all they need to be focused on.

 

I mean, I don’t really believe in the idea of this huge divide in taste between Japanese gamers and the rest of the world. If the game’s good people are gonna like it, wherever they’re from.

 

So far the first Otomate Forte title, I Will Protect You, is an action game, and the next game is an as of yet unrevealed dungeon crawler/RPG. Are the Otomate Forte games primarily going to be Action and RPG games, or will other genres also be represented?

 

As far as game genre’s go I think the playing field is totally open. I Will Protect you is more action based and is a result of the collaborative nature of this game and working with “Vingt et un Systems” who are mostly developing the game from the programming side.

 

Actually, when they first started development on the game it was just a straight up action dungeon style RPG and not targeted towards girls at all. As things evolved though the idea of collaborating with our Otomate brand to create a new type of game became more appealing and I Will Protect you was born.

 

I should add that “I Will Protect you” is still a working title and is just a literal translation from the Japanese title and loses alot of the subtle nuances which are almost untranslatable.

 

This one is just based on my own, wishful thinking. Is there any chance one of the established Otomate games (like Hiiro no Kakera, Will O’ Wisp or maybe even one of the Fushigi Yuugi titles) might spawn an Otomate Forte spin-off?

 

It’s an interesting idea and certainly something that we have considered and will continue to think about in the future.

 

 

Images courtesy of Idea Factory.



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  • Mazen

    Great interview, yes if the game is good everyone will like it no need to westernize games after all all the titles that started the japanese games and anime sales boom in the west was not westernise just translated I hope more companies notice that westernized japanese games alwayes underperform.
    That neo-forum is interesting really full of fan girls it seems, nice didn’t know such popular forum exist.
    Iam playing My World My Way now and I know that the game mostly targeted for females yet Iam enjoying it.

    • http://www.siliconera.com Jenni

      I Will Protect You is definitely looking like an interesting game.

      Yup, the Neo-Forum is a very lively place, and the people who frequent it really know what they’re talking about when it comes to otome games.

      I’ve been playing My World My Way as well, and I absolutely adore it.

    • mossburger

      My World My Way is not targeted towards females actually but to males, according to the character designer (who is a woman). Can’t blame you for thinking it is though, even in Japan, many people were confused upon seeing the character art for this game, on which audience the game was targeted to, but the game apparently is just a RPG targeted mostly to male gamers, with a parody and goofy aspect.

      However, the type of games they are talking about here (the otome game genre) are different, they are games targeted solely (and I mean solely, the audience they have in mind is 100% male) to females.

      Mostly games with romantic themes where you play a female main character and a big part of the game revolves on which handsome guy you are going to hook up with. So, good game or not, it’s a very male unfriendly type of games, I mean, how many dudes want to romance another dude in a game?

      These games are what many English speakers call “dating-sims”, except in this case you date dudes instead of chicks.

  • http://denpanosekai.blogspot.com denpanosekai

    Hah! I knew Steve Hutchins would give an interview here sooner or later… good job Jenni.

    • http://www.siliconera.com Jenni

      Thanks!

      Steve’s really a great guy, and he offered so much great information on Idea Factory, Otomate Forte and I Will Protect You.

  • http://www.siliconera.com/ Ishaan

    Great interview, Jenni!

    I’d missed this game earlier, but it’s definitely on my radar now. It would be awesome to see Hiiro no Kakera make it over, too.

    • http://www.siliconera.com Jenni

      Thanks!

      Hiiro no Kakera is really a great game. Yes, it’s an Otomate and otome title, but the premise and atmosphere of the game make it one that anyone could really enjoy. Especially if you like dramatic visual novels.

      Idea Factory has another VERY promising port coming out soon – Will O’ Wisp for the DS and PSP. It has gorgeous gothic style character designs and centers around living dolls.

  • http://www.siliconera.com/ Ishaan

    Oh, I had to mention…awesome choice for your thumbnail pic on the front page.

    • http://www.siliconera.com Jenni

      Isn’t that just the coolest screen? I saw that image and thought, “Yup, that’s front page material.”

  • http://sidequestblog.blogspot.com/ Musashi

    Thanks for the interview, the game have great art, and if it uses the castlevania ‘formula’ I think that will be a good game.

    • http://www.siliconera.com Jenni

      The art really is spectacular, and judging by the size of the map in some of those screenshots, it looks like a fairly lengthy adventure’s ahead of I Will Protect You players!

      I’m liking the size of those monsters that Ren’s facing too.

  • http://www.nisamerica.com NickyD

    This was a good, honest sounding interview. It makes me pour a little of my respect canteen onto the desert of Idea Factory. If I recall, Nippon Ichi always bashed IF, saying something along the lines of “we’ll localize their games when they make one worth localizing”… which is funny, since NISA recently released an atrocious localization of Ar Tonelico 2.

    Hopefully, Idea Factory can get more press outside of Japan and maybe show NIS who’s worth our time.

    • http://www.siliconera.com Jenni

      Ever since Idea Factory’s been releasing more and more DS and PSP games (read: region-free, so I can play them), I’ve found myself becoming a huge fan of their games.

      Like the company has this DS mini-game collection coming out soon called Hidamari Sketch: Doko Demo Sugoroku x 365, based on the Hidamari Sketch manga/anime that looks pretty cute.

      Plus the Spectral and Generation of Chaos games are always fun.

      I’m really excited about the games IF’s releasing over the next few months.

      • http://www.nisamerica.com NickyD

        If it’s based off Hidamari Sketch, then yes, it will be cute. =)

        And I’m not big on importing since I’m just as much into reading text as I am into playing the game — not knowing a lick of Japanese works against me in that territory.

        I’m also looking forward to their releases. While it’s mainly Compile Heart, I think X-Edge will be their big chance to get recognized on consoles, even if just to a very niche market. If it can draw the same fanbase as something like Disgaea, then, awesome. Here’s hoping to successes outside of Atlus and NIS (although I love them both, new IPs are always more exciting)!

  • Keriaku

    This must be localized!

    • KiLLERXXX

      you kno this game is targeted to girls lol? srsly read the article lol
      u wanna play a ‘game’ 4 chicks lol?

      and the staff is all female, its going 2 be a dumbed down games for girls
      l@me@ss

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