Choice Provisions recently announced a new publishing arm for indie games and, with this, revealed the first games it would be publishing. Two of them are Muteki’s old-school RPGs Dragon Fantasy: The Volumes of Westeria and Dragon Fantasy: The Black Tome of Ice.
Originally released on PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, iOS, and Android, the Dragon Fantasy games are now on their way to Nintendo 3DS, Wii U, and Steam with this new publishing deal.
Siliconera caught up with Muteki’s founder Bryan Sawler to find out more about the two RPGs – what inspired them and the personal stories attached – why they’ve been created with an old-school look and feel, and what Muteki has added to the games with these new versions.
Could you tell us about the origins of Dragon Fantasy’s development? Is it right that it started out as a project when Adam was 14?
Bryan Sawler, founder: Back when we were 13 or 14 (Adam and myself) we met on IRC. We had a joint love of RPGs and had this crazy idea that we should make one of our own. At the time we knew very little of what it meant to make a game, other than what we knew of playing them and basic programming skills. Over the following years we had I believe 13 failed attempts to make our RPG.
What role does Adam’s father play in Dragon Fantasy?
Adam wrote the basis for what became the story of Dragon Fantasy back when we were teenagers. Most of the characters were based on family or friends of his. One of these characters, Ogden, was based on his father. When his father passed he decided to pick up this game about his dad and make it in a way of working through what it means to lose a father. Being a long-time friend, I knew I had to support him and so Dragon Fantasy was made.
Dragon Fantasy has the look of and plays like old-school JRPGs. How come? And were you inspired by any JRPGs in particular?
We both love the older RPGs. Dragon Warrior was the first “JRPG” I had ever played and it blew me away. I still remember beating the Dragonlord the first time as a kid. Growing up our ambitions for what became Dragon Fantasy were a lot grander (at one point we were pitching it as a GameCube RPG in full 3D…I still have a build somewhere) but we decided the most important thing was to actually ship the game. So we stripped down the feature set and went as simple as possible. Future updates continued adding features to the game.
How have you designed the combat in Dragon Fantasy? Is there anything that you don’t like in RPG combat that you deliberately avoided?
We decided to be faithful to the Dragon Quest / Dragon Warrior series of games as they had the simplest battle mechanics, and were some of Adam and my favorites growing up. We weren’t a big fan of random battles, but again, our mantra was that we had to actually make the game this time and get it out.
How does the story change or evolve over each chapter in Dragon Fantasy?
As I mentioned the goal was to keep it simple. The original game had a single character (Ogden) fighting a single enemy at a time. When we released Anders’ story we allowed for multiple people in your party. When we added Jerald’s story, we added support for multiple enemies. Eventually we went back and retrofitted some of these additions to the previous chapters.
We had a simple idea for the main story. We took the ideas written by Adam over half his life ago, and focused on the storyline involving Ogden. Then, as we added content, we added back in the other characters’ stories in a way where they were somewhat interwoven. In Anders’ story you pick up shortly after the start of Ogden’s story, and they run into each other again later on.
Why did you decide to work with Choice Provisions as publisher for the 3DS, Wii U, and Steam versions of the games?
Adam works there? Seriously, though, they actually approached us about the idea. Adam had started working with the Choice Provisions guys on some games and they mentioned they’d love to help us get the games on Steam. At the point we were talking about a 3DS port already and they told us about this idea of Choice Publishing and we decided that our interests were aligned. Half-way through the deal they decided they were interested in adding Wii U to the mix and far be it from me to get in the way of more people playing this game!
Are you adding to or changing anything about the games for these new platforms besides the title? Also: why change the title?
Every time we release on a new platform (or set of platforms) we try to add something new. When we released on PS3/Vita for example we went in and re-created all of the art and audio assets to release as a sort of “Special Edition” similar to what some NES games saw when re-released on the SNES. So naturally we decided we had to add in a few more features for this new release.
First, we added the ability to turn on “Monsters on Maps” I believe we call the option. With this on, in dungeons you don’t get random battles but instead see the monsters. We use a system similar to Lufia where, for each step you take, they take a step. If you run into each other a battle starts. Or you can sneak around them avoid battles this way, but it’s a double-edged sword because it also means less experience! We also added in one of our more-requested features, a Beastiary. And then there were a number of quality-of-life improvements.
As for the title change, there were a couple factors. Calling the game “Book I” and each of the stories in the game chapters, people were confused. They didn’t realize that “Chapter 2: Anders’ Story” was actually an entirely different story than Chapter 1. People would play through the first chapter of the game and not realize they missed over half of the content! And then there’s the sequel issue. Book II is a lot different from Book I both in presentation and a bit in gameplay. We tried to make sure people could jump into the game and play it without ever having played the first game without missing much other than maybe a few in-jokes. Unfortunately, tying it to the first game as a direct sequel confused people. If they didn’t play Book I (because they don’t like the 8-bit art, or random battles, or just didn’t) meant they wouldn’t play Book II, because you can’t just jump into the second book in a series, right?
Why aren’t you bringing Dragon Fantasy to any Xbox platforms (yet)?
There hasn’t really been much demand. A LOT of people were asking about 3DS, and we get a lot of questions about where to get the game for PC/Mac/Linux, but Xbox just doesn’t come up much. Like I said above, we’re open to putting our games where ever it makes the most sense.