Before embarking on Dragon’s Dogma, producer Hiroyuki Kobayashi worked on the Sengoku Basara series and Devil May Cry 4. Both titles are quite different from the open world game currently in development. In this interview, I asked Kobayashi-san about the transitioning to a fantasy game and the partner characters Dragon’s Dogma calls pawns.
Your past works include historical fiction games like Sengoku Basara and action games like Devil May Cry. How does it feel to work on a fantasy epic?
Hiroyuki Kobayashi, Producer: I never thought I would be on a fantasy game like this. The Devil May Cry series is kind of like a fantasy series, in it’s own way, but it’s not a traditional swords and sorcery game. Working on a fantasy game is fun because there are familiar themes, which makes it easy to get involved with.
What experiences and lessons from your previous titles did you bring or perhaps implement into Dragon’s Dogma?
I think my involvement with Devil May Cry 4 might have the most direct impact on this game since Dragon’s Dogma is designed for PlayStation 3 and 360. Knowing what those systems can do was really important when designing this game. Also, the technology used in creating Devil May Cry 4 played a key role in designing Dragon’s Dogma.
I have a history of making action based games, too. All of the knowhow the Capcom staff have for making action games, they’ve really taken all of that from all the different games we’ve made and tried to pour that into this game. For us, the biggest challenge was how do you meld the world of action based fighting with an open world setting. Especially, an open world game that has RPG elements too, while trying to keep the focus on the action. For us, that has been the biggest challenge.
The core design team came from Devil May Cry 4, including the director, Hideaki Itsuno. The influences from that game are pretty strong in here. We didn’t want to just take the Devil May Cry system and throw it in this game. We wanted to take the influence of that game.
For example, some of the controls will feel very familiar because they have been inspired by Devil May Cry. We looked at what we did in Devil May Cry, for example the way Dante and Nero interact with the enemies. We took what’s good about fighting enemies up close and personal and tried to put that in Dragon’s Dogma. We also tried to take that to the next level and tried to make it feel more realistic.
And that’s why you have a grab mechanic?
Yeah, I suppose you can say that, but I think it’s more the game’s setting itself gave birth to that idea. The fact that you have an open world and the main character can go and do whatever he wants in this world, it gave birth to the idea that he’s fighting enemies and he should be able to fight them in anyway that he wants and so we came up with the idea of the grab mechanic. He can climb on these enemies and fight them how ever he chooses.
I think the freedom which you can fight creatures is one of the main selling points of Dragon’s Dogma. We wanted it to feel like you’re the hero in a movie and you can do whatever you want while fighting.
Since it’s such a prominent part of Dragon’s Dogma, what is your favorite use of the grab mechanic?
One thing I’m really impressed with is the fact that you don’t just grab on to enemies by themselves, you work with people in your party as well. Say you’re a mage and you use fire, but you need to get in close. One of the people in your party can launch you towards the creature and you can get in close to attack. You can have a creature that’s flying around like the griffon and someone can throw you on to the griffon. In mid-air you can grab on and start fighting. It’s going to be pretty impressive when you play that part of the game and that’s what I’m really interested in
Since you mentioned it let’s talk about the pawns and online play. There are pawns you can get from other players, but will there be direct online play?
Yes, you can borrow pawns from other players. As far as online elements, we’re not talking about those yet.
How can you borrow pawns from other people? Can this be done online and offline, like through a memory card or flash drive?
The game has these sections called rim stones and when you find one of those either online or offline you can find pawns from other players and you can borrow them whenever you want.
So, this is a way players can leave a mark in the Dragon’s Dogma world?
There will be a way for players to leave a mark in Dragon’s Dogma. You will be able to borrow these pawns from other places. Then, they will join your party and gain experience. You may let them go for other reasons, but they will take that experience with them and it will have an impact when other players want to use these characters.
Before you can make impact, you need to create a character. What kind of character customization options for pawns will Dragon’s Dogma have?
Without revealing too much about the specifics, because we want to keep it a surprise, it’s a pretty robust customization system. You will be able to choose, gender, class, equipment, and even the appearance of how that character looks.
Is it on par with Monster Hunter or more in-depth?
I don’t want to give everything away right now, but I can say it is better than the system in Monster Hunter. Even if you compare it to other games with the ability to customize your character, I think we went above and beyond to give players freedom to create a character.
Can you talk about the different classes and how hybrid classes fit into the game?
There are three basic classes: strider, mage, and fighter. You can combine them in different ways. There is a total of nine classes in the game, six additional classes are more advanced versions of the three basic ones. As you progress in the game, your class evolves and you can mix and match from there too.
What class do you like to play as?
If it’s a me playing, I would pick Mystic Knight because I like to have the strength of a fighter and the abilities of a mage.
In part two we’ll talk more about the game’s RPG features like towns and how Kobayashi utilized the budget for one of Capcom’s most expensive games.