By Spencer . January 9, 2012 . 1:03pm
Siliconera asked readers to submit questions for a fan-powered Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2 interview. The first part about localization and game editing was answered by script writer Nick Doerr from NIS America. Questions about game development were kindly answered by Mizuno Naoko, director of the Neptunia series at Idea Factory.
The first game’s story revolved around piracy. Why did you pick this theme for the original Neptunia and what is the theme of Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2?
Mizuno Naoko, Director: I was surprised when I read articles about children playing pirated copies of games, and how even parents encourage their children to play them, when both know it is illegal. This truly is a crisis facing the game industry. As a game company, Idea Factory chose the eradication of piracy as the theme for a fantasy game. It is our antithesis to piracy. The theme for mk2 is, “We must all fight against piracy together!”
Did you get a chance to play Segagaga, another game that parodies the video game series with cameos like Alex Kidd, and did it influence the Neptunia series at all?
I have never had the opportunity to play Segagaga. Even though I learned about Segagaga during the first Neptunia’s development while performing research on various topics, quotes, and jokes about the game industry, Segagaga itself did not influence the creation of the Neptunia series.
What inspired the overhaul of the battle system and world map in Neptunia mk2? Did you respond to feedback from fans in Japan or North America regarding the battle system or game pacing?
The voices of fans who played the first Hyperdimension Neptunia were certainly important factors for the overhaul. Idea Factory’s Business Development Manager, Damien Urvois, also had passionate requests about the game. First and foremost were the improvements to the battle system and its speed. Demands for more upbeat and vast dungeons that players would want to keep exploring for a long time were also taken seriously, and these decisions are reflected in mk2.
Neptunia mk2 introduces a new group of CPU (Console Patron Unit) characters. Why did you want to create new lead characters and how often will we see the former CPUs?
The moe (萌え) subculture is really big in Japan right now. There have been various archetypes based on the concept of “younger sisters,” you know? I created the new heroines based on my ruminations about “the types of younger sisters everyone might wish they could have.”
The younger sister characters, like Nepgear, are still inexperienced, immature, and not fully grown compared to their older sisters. One of the reasons behind creating such heroines was that I wanted to depict the younger sisters’ adorable efforts to grow strong and mature enough to save their older sisters and Gamindustri.
Around the midpoint of the game, their older sisters (the heroines from the previous title) will appear and may even join the party. Neptune is set as one of the playable allies and joins the team at a certain point. Just like the previous title, Vert, Noire, and Blanc are hidden characters you have to unlock. In order to get them on your team, please try to raise the shares of each CPU’s nation after Neptune joins the party.
Where did ideas like the lily system come from?
In Japan, much like the moe subculture, female idol groups are very popular now. I’m sure anyone would like to see cheerful and cute girls chatting and having fun together. Hyperdimension Neptunia’s interactions among the girls and the subtleties of their friendships enjoyed great popularity.
During mk2’s development, I decided to take another step in that direction while I was trying to think up more fun game mechanics. That was the first time I imagined this system. I thought that the introduction of this new system would provide more exciting subjects for users to discuss with one another, and in turn expand the depth of the game and increase its popularity.
On forums, fans have been posting about their fantasies involving their favorite characters’ intimate interactions and extended dialogues of their activities. You probably already know why there are no male main characters in this series. I say this because I know; I’m a woman myself. It’s so much fun to have private girl talks and have some girl time without boys around.
Can you tell us about developing the land mass share element and how you integrated it into Neptunia mk2?
There are two types of shares: “Nationwide” and “Worldwide.” Nationwide Shares are shares within a specific nation. Worldwide Shares are the grand totals throughout Gamindustri. You can transfer some shares from one nation to another by completing quests. For instance, a quest may decrease Lowee’s shares by 10 and increase Planeptune’s shares by 10. The story in mk2 is not completely linear—it has multiple ending routes and diverging points. Each nation’s shares greatly affect how the story branches. One of the conditions to get Vert, Noire, and Blanc on your team, for example, is to raise their Nationwide Shares above a certain point. Also, the power of each CPU is determined by their shares. More shares mean a bigger stat boost!
[CPUs and the Nationwide Shares affecting their stats]
– Neptune and Nepgear: Planeptune
– Noire and Uni: Lastation
– Vert: Leanbox
– Blanc, Rom, and Ram: Lowee
While you introduced two new company characters, Cave and Falcom, why isn’t Red-chan in Neptunia mk2?
The primary reason was that I wanted to present more new characters to fans, although Red was well-received as a cute character. I believe the new characters, Falcom and Cave, provided this title with a great boost in popularity compared to the previous one. I was very confident that the new characters would prove to be popular from the beginning. I also believe I was able to successfully depict the characteristics of each company in them.
What portions of the game did Comcept work on, and can you tell us more about Mr. Inafune’s cameo?
When we offered this project to Mr. Inafune, explaining that he would be part of a summon move as well as a sword, I was worried whether or not he would accept. But he gave a pleasant “yes” to Idea Factory’s difficult request. What’s more, he made our original ideas ten times as interesting. Because he is a very famous icon in the “real” Gamindustri, the experience of working with him acted as an incredible stimulant that made me think, “We must not make a dodgy product.”
This is sort of off-topic, but the staff member sitting behind me was in charge of crafting the “Inafune Brand” sword. I felt like Mr. Inafune was constantly staring at me…
Damien hinted that the "year of Neptunia" is coming. What future plans does Idea Factory have for the Neptunia series? Spinoffs with older consoles? Adding more companies?
I’m always thinking up interesting ideas for games. Not just any old type of “interesting,” either. I always endeavor to make use of this formula: “Interesting + Idea Factory = something new and stimulating.”
Using this equation, we would like to keep producing things that only Idea Factory is capable of. The entire staff welcomes users’ desires and requests with open arms, and is willing to give them life in our products with passion and affection. That’s how we strive to constantly improve our product quality. We always appreciate your steadfast support!