In the first part of our interview with Makoto Asada, Game Development Manager at Cave, we talked about their current plans jumping from adventure game Instant Brain to Xbox 360 support. Part two touches on their future with topics like PS3 ports, PlayStation Vita development, and spin-offs.
Even though Cave doesn’t release games on PlayStation 3, you’re a mascot in a PS3 game. How did you work out a deal with Idea Factory to create Cave-chan for Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2?
Makoto Asada, Game Development Manager: I had a friend over at Idea Factory who pitched the idea to me. He had a proposal just to put the character in the game. I thought it was a good idea so we made it happen.
Every time a Cave game is announced, in the comments there are always users asking about a PS3 version. Do you think you’ll ever bring your arcade games to PS3?
Xbox 360 is the system we started on and our users in Japan have supported us on that console. At this point, I think we built a solid base for ourselves for Xbox 360 development, but that doesn’t mean we are not thinking of multiplatform expansion. That is something we’re keeping in mind as we go forward and we’ll continue to think about this.
There’s a company in North America called Rockin’ Android that have been bringing doujin shooters to PSN in North America. They are starting to build a fanbase for shooters on PS3.
That’s a good approach for people making doujin shooters, but that direction is a bit different from what you have to do to create shooters as a large company like Cave. The doujin shooters are either a small team or an individual creator. Whereas with Cave, we have to think about personnel and development costs as a company. In that sense, I don’t think we can do the same thing, largely speaking.
It’s early in development, but what can you tell us about the shooting game you’re making for PlayStation Vita?
When we announced our PlayStation Vita games we mentioned one of them is a shooter. We’re just getting started on it so there isn’t much I can say about it at the moment. Any platform we release a game on whether it be Xbox 360 or Vita we make our games specifically for that platform. The shooting game we make for Vita will be a title that matches the characteristics of that hardware.
So, it’s an original game and not an arcade port?
Yes, we are planning for it to be an original game. We will still make ports of our arcade games in parallel to this project, but we want to make original games as well.
Cave’s games have interesting settings like the gothic lolita style in Deathsmiles and the Japanese themed Akai Katana. What kind of theme are you thinking of for your next shooting game?
We’re thinking about that right now, actually. It has to be something that keeps Cave’s tradition of making unique worlds for games. I can’t say anything specific now, but if you look at our past games like Deathsmiles and the unique aspects we created for those worlds – that unexpected approach is something I want to continue and having a setting that contributes to the game itself.
We’ve seen a big surge in fighting games sparked by Street Fighter IV. When I go to the arcades now there are less shooters to play. How do you think the genre can rise in popularity both at the arcades and on consoles?
The thing about fighting games is you are ultimately competing against another player. When you lose it’s bad and when you win it’s awesome. No matter what, the next time you play you want to win. That’s not unique to fighting games, it’s part of FPS and other genres too. That’s something I want to personally put into shooting games.
Score attack, the idea of getting a high score and competing with other users, should fulfill that function. It should be there to involve the community, but the people that compete for high scores are a limited amount of players. I’m imagine something players can play online and compete with other players in that space. I think if we can realize something like that, a shooter that isn’t a one player experience, then shooting games can get more popular.
Have you thought about bringing your shooters to PC maybe through Steam?
It’s something we thought about before. We have development lines at Cave and I have to put emphasis on development for console so we put this on pause. The PC market is strong and there is a lot of support so this is something I want to keep in consideration. Perhaps, before we develop for PC we will move to the PS3 or another console other than the Xbox 360.
Bug Panic is an interesting game since you took Reiko from Mushihime-sama and put her in a totally different kind of game. Are you thinking about doing this with any of your other characters?
What we did with Bug Panic was an interesting approach. In the future, I’d like to try that with some of the other Cave characters. But, you can’t mix everything together and expect it will come out good. You have to put a lot of thought into if you’re going to do it.
Which Cave character would you choose?
It really depends on what kind of game it is. If you had a haunted house style game then maybe characters from Deathsmiles or Guwange would work well with that. For a game like Bug Panic, maybe putting Casper from Deathsmiles could fit since it’s an adventure game setting. Ultimately, it comes down to how a game is designed and the world setting.
In just a few years, Cave, as a brand, has grown in the West. Of course you always had hardcore shooting fans following you, but Cave has branched out quite a bit. I think a lot of Japanese publishers are trying to build an international brand around them too, so what do you think the secret ingredient is?
I think one big thing is the iPhone apps are priced well. It was easy for people to pick up the games and give them a try. It’s important to have a game that’s easy to understand and fun to play, but I also think price is very important to getting the games more well known around the world. I think that was a big ingredient in the success of the iPhone apps.