By Spencer . March 22, 2010 . 1:51pm
PlatinumGames just launched their first RPG, Infinite Space, in North America. Yuri, a young space captain, is the game’s protagonist and you guide him in the commander’s chair during real time spaceship battles. We caught up with Atsushi Inaba, Producer at PlatinumGames, and Hifumi Kouno, Director at Nude Maker, to discuss its development.
Infinite Space is quite different from PlatinumGames’ other two titles. Why did you want to make a Sci-Fi RPG?
Atsushi Inaba, Producer: The initial project focused on the ship customization aspect when I and Kouno-san first started to talk about it. We thought about making a game for adults who have childhood memories of playing with these types of toys and thought it would be fun if somehow we could make that happen. After that initial discussion, we not only prepared the idea of ship modifications but also included vast stages and a complex story on which it allowed users to play with these toys to the fullest capacity. Thus forming the game into the current Sci-Fi RPG we have today. Although PlatinumGames is strong in creating action games, I was fully supportive of this project and thought that it offered a rather interesting challenge for us to create quite a different genre while collaborating with another company.
Why were Nude Maker chosen to develop Infinite Space?
I had worked with Kouno-san before when we collaborated in developing Steel Battalion. Through his direction, the game ended up very deep and original. When PlatinumGames was established, I wanted to collaborate with him again and asked him “why don’t we work together again?”
Infinite Space is PlatinumGames’ third title in North America. How do you feel about your company now and where would you like to see PlatinumGames go in the future?
We announced and released three titles, Madworld, Bayonetta, and Infinite Space and have just recently announced a fourth title, Vanquish. We want to continue to create new titles that keep our fans on their feet. We want them to ask “What new thing will PlatinumGames come up with next?” and then exceed their every expectation.
We heard that the game was based off the novel "Childhood’s End" by Arthur C. Clarke. Can you elaborate on the connections between Clarke’s work and Infinite Space?
Hifumi Kouno, Director: They are not directly related to each other. I absorbed and reconstructed the main themes Clarke wanted to express such as the evolution of humankind and comparison between the vast universe and humankind as living organisms. I was influenced by him in the respect of describing humankind in relative terms from an overhead point of view.
I drew inspiration from Egan’s novels, “Battlestar Galactica”, “Star Trek”, “Space Battleship Yamato”, etc. Also, I was inspired by the news of astronomers making discoveries and formulating new theories one after another.
How established is the world in terms of the little details? Do different planets, races, solar-systems have their own cultures and differences that are elaborated upon?
Because the story is spread over two galaxies and has a lot of planets, not all planets are detailed.I did however thoroughly explain specific planets, nations and races.
We’ve heard the game is divided into two storylines, one of which is more personal versus the other, which is on a grander scale. How have you chosen to differentiate between the two from a narrative standpoint?
Because I wanted players to feel the excitement of going out into outer space for the first time and their having their own spacecraft which becomes bigger and more powerful gradually, I naturally thought the main character would be a boy who has no experience in outer space. On the other hand, I also thought I should offer the excitement of fighting hard battles as you command a big fleet. It would be a little unrealistic if we had the boy commanding a big fleet so we divided the story in two in order to resolve the contradiction. In addition to all of this, I made the first half of the game very personal while the second half of the story is much larger and focuses less on individuals as it does themes.
Could you tell us how you came up with the idea for the crew system and what different members do?
I believe the attraction of a ship is very different from the attraction of a tank, warplane and other weapons. It needs a lot of crew for operation and it also functions as the crew’s home. Because of that, the crew system seemed more of a necessity as opposed to an idea that we had just come up with.
In the system, operators’ abilities affect the execution speed of commands, the fire crew control the accuracy rate of weapons, the navigation crew helps the dodging rate of attacks and the engine crew helps the speed of the ship. There are also security crews who become the main force in melee battles, personnel in the sick bay who maintain the crew’s physical condition and crews who serve in the mess hall.
It was tough to set up each ship and module because of a major goal we had established in the beginning. However we had a system concept which allows players to customize and make their own original ship, it was unavoidable work.
I slightly regret that I could not complete a huge amount of parameter settings to my full satisfaction. There are still some parameters which I wanted to set up with strengthening their features.
Battles in Infinite Space are said to be tough as nails. While many games are trying to simply themselves to attract more players, Infinite Space went on the opposite direction. How come?
I personally think battles are not very difficult as long as the player understands the rules. It’s true that players have to find their way out of challenging battles during the course of the game. There isn’t a better example of this than the first half of the game…Imagine your enemies are veteran pirates and sailors, while you are just a newcomer to outer space.
Space would not be tolerant or safe for such a youngster. If there was a world where a lot of young people tried to go to outer space, the most dangerous and deadly moment would be when the beginners reach outer space for the first time. Conversely, only navigators who succeeded at surviving that period by good luck can grow into veterans.
A lot of RPGs give the player constant incentive to push forward by providing them bits of story. Did you consider this during development?
This was a point where I focused on the most when writing the scenario. I could arrange the mysterious gadgets and people and foreshadowing effectively because I carefully formed the whole plot at the beginning of the development.
Do you view Infinite Space as a series? Can be explored in another game or perhaps another medium?
I have an ambition to expand the world into another medium if given a chance. But we’ll see. I’m not a decision-maker…