Hiroyuki Kobayashi, producer of Dragon’s Dogma, talked about the transition from Devil May Cry 4 to the Capcom’s open world fantasy game and the pawn system. Kobayashi-san is back for part two where we discuss the RPG mechanics in Dragon’s Dogma, how Makoto Ikehara (game designer on Breath of Fire) helped move the project forward, and what the team is doing with the game’s monster sized budget.
You mentioned RPG elements earlier. Are there towns and how does the quest system work?
Hiroyuki Kobayashi, Producer: There will be different towns in the game. You can go in them and talk to people who give you information to go on quests. Even different places in the game itself will start quests. You don’t have to get a quest and carry it out right away. You can take on a number of quests simultaneously and carry them out in the order you choose.
From looking at Dragon’s Dogma it feels like the world space is large. How are players going to be able to move from one town to another that may be quite far away without having players feel like the travel time is too long?
The basic way you travel around the different parts of the world is walking or running. There are going to be some other elements that we haven’t been able to talk about yet and we will reveal those in the future.
Can you ride the monsters?
Yeah, you can grab on to them and have them take you for a ride for certain distances, but you won’t be able to use them as say a vehicle.
How are you going to balance the ratio of weak monsters say goblins, for example, and large monsters? At first, players will need goblins to grow, but eventually strong characters will just punch their way through with one hit kills like a Musou game.
That’s a good question. It’s something, even as we speak, we’re trying to fine tune. Because you don’t want your character to be too powerful and the enemies aren’t a challenge anymore. What we’re trying to do is as you become more powerful there will be new monsters and new creatures to face. This way there will always be new challenges for players. For us, making the game has been a challenge to find the sweet spot or proper balance for an open world game where the enemies and a player’s strength is on par.
Instead of making new monsters have you thought about making old monsters more intelligent or aggressive?
I’m sorry, I can’t say. This is a bit of a secret right now.
How big would you say the bestiary is?
We don’t have a final count right now, but there is more variety than your usual action game.
Can you tell us what [Breath of Fire designer Makoto] Ikehara-san is doing for Dragon’s Dogma?
How do you know about Ikehara-san?
I saw he was tweeting about it and my readers are curious too.
[Laughs.] You know he was involved with Breath of Fire, right?
Yes, that’s why I’m curious too.
He was involved in the early stages of the game, in terms of creating the whole overview for the world and the script elements. He’s not really part of the team now, but he was there in the beginning trying to help us set up this game.
What elements do you think Ikehara-san brought to Dragon’s Dogma since he has made many fantasy games for Capcom?
Because of his involvement with the Breath of Fire series, he brought that fantasy knowhow to the team. He showed them how to incorporate RPG elements into a game like this and how you create a fantasy framework. Also, for the character designs themselves, what kind of characters you would need to populate the world. He really brought all of that knowledge into this game and taught our team a lot.
Capcom hasn’t said much about the story. What kind of characters will we see and how do they tie into the plot?
There will be all different types of people in Dragon’s Dogma. You will have village leaders, dukes, kings, royalty living in a castle, and all the people inhabiting towns with all kinds of occupations. There will be characters in the game that affect the story. As the story progresses, the game will introduce new characters that are integral to the tale and certain roles they play.
The story itself opens with a dragon appearing, one that hasn’t been seen in awhile. Who this dragon is and what he wants is kind of a mystery, but he takes the protagonist’s heart. He rips it out and takes it away. You’re on a quest to regain your heart and find out who this dragon is and what does he want. Along the way you encounter different pawns. They each have their own story and add to the plot of the game.
You mean the other player created characters?
Pawns are different, like a class apart from the regular people in the game. They have unique abilities and such you can use. The pawns don’t just do whatever people in the game tell them to do. They only listen to you because you’re the one who lost their heart to the dragon. They will adhere to what you say and do, but they are not typical townspeople.
You’ve come to a good part, unfortunately I can’t go into anymore details. [Laughs.]
Dragon’s Dogma is said to be one of Capcom’s most expensive games. Where are you investing your resources?
I think the main focus for us in spending money has been on the graphics. Just because this is an open world game, there are so many elements you have to create. So many towns, places, and settings that need to be drawn and fully realized to feel they are places you want to explore. Then you have to populate them with different people, creatures, and monsters. The graphics have been a main source of eating up the budget. This is going beyond anything we had in Devil May Cry 4, which is a pretty linear game with a limited amount of elements that populate it.
Will we have cameo weapons? [Laughs]
[Laughs] No, there won’t be any Devil May Cry 4 weapons, but we made a lot of different weapons and equipment just for Dragon’s Dogma.
Last year, we were talking about how Sengoku Basara is quite popular with females thanks to the charming characters. Dragon’s Dogma seems more male oriented, but since you were able to make another action game a favorite for girls and guys, how or can you apply that knowhow to Dragon’s Dogma?
I don’t know with this title I’m going out of my way to appeal to females. [Laughs.] What I can say, is compared to your typical action game, it isn’t as technical. It’s more of a strategy type of action game. Maybe there are people out there that feel action games are too technical or difficult and it’s hard to beat enemies.
Here you’re not alone. You have pawns and they are intelligent. You can formulate different strategies to take down creatures. There isn’t a set way to takedown all of the monsters in the game. Depending on how you form you party, with the pawns you have you can come up with all of these different ways to take down creatures. I think this is something that will appeal to men and women because you’re using your brain to takedown enemies in this game.