Game Arts known for Lunar, Grandia, and to a lesser extent Silpheed is about to release their first original game in a decade. It’s called The Magic Obelisk and stars Lukas, a tree spirit that can’t step into the light. Before you download The Magic Obelisk from WiiWare on Monday, read what Takahiro Nishi, Producer at Game Arts, had to say about developing the game.
This Game Arts’ first downloadable game. Why did you pick WiiWare as the platform for The Magic Obelisk?
Takahiro Nishi, Producer: We started this project with one idea, guiding a character who can only move around in shadows. By creating and connecting shadows with the help of magical and mysterious obelisks Lukas can move. And, we believe that games with unique and new concepts like ours have been accepted by WiiWare fans. This is one of the reasons why we chose WiiWare as the platform for this game.
We would really like those who are always looking for something new and different to play our game, and we hope they’ll enjoy it.
Also, we think Wii and WiiWare have an easy to work with development environment in place for a new game, and that is another reason why we chose WiiWare.
What are some of the challenges you faced when working with WiiWare?
Well, I think the biggest challenge was dealing with the limited space. We worked hard on condensing all the necessary data. However, it seems like our staff rather enjoyed trying to make full use of the limited space. Our team’s goal was always to create and release a game that would be able to make players feel it’s more than a simple downloadable game.
How did development start? What inspired The Magic Obelisk?
We began this project with the desire to create a game nobody has ever experienced. And, one of our team members came up with the very basic and core idea of The Magic Obelisk, that is, leading character who can only move in shadows.
Why can’t Lukus walk directly in the light?
All the tree spirits of the world where he lives are gifted with the ability to transform into trees, but every spirit dreams of using their power to help someone else. However, they take roots as soon as they step out into the sunlight, so they need to move in shadows and decide when and where to become trees.
Lukus is a tree spirit, so he needs to stay in the shade until he figures out for whom and when to use his special ability, just like other tree spirits of the world in this game.
The player actually controls Popo, the "fairy of light" accompanying Lukus and you use him to create shadows across the terrain. What is the relationship between the two characters?
Popo is a travelling companion to Lukus. To Popo, Lukus is more than a friend. He cares for Lukus like a little brother because Popo has been with Lukus ever since he was born. Popo cannot speak at all, but he can usually figure out roughly what Lukus is thinking just by looking at him.
Please look at Lukus very carefully while playing the game; you might be able to understand what Lukus is thinking as well.
What role do the animals and other characters like ghosts in the game play?
They play very important roles in this game such as disrupting progress and advancing the story. We hope you’ll enjoy having glimpses of their lives in their peaceful world; even ones like Ghosts, who appear in the shade and often try to jump out at Lukus when he’s nearby. The Robots seem relatively harmless, but will react in many ways when they enter shadows.
I think their favorite one is the Robot group. I was told by the motion designer that the unique and funny movements of the Robot were created by observing the daily behaviors of the graphic designer who designed the Robots. I think this is why they like Robots more than other characters.
And, since the development staff also helped as voice actors, I believe each staff member has fondness for the character he/she played.
Why did Game Arts decide to distribute the English version in North America on their own?
Since downloadable titles can be distributed for other markets even by the developers in Japan like our company, and because The Magic Obelisk is the first original title from us in a decade, we wanted to distribute it ourselves, in the way we think is the best.
We enjoyed preparing marketing-related assets, planning the content for the official website, making trailer videos, and doing other things that we cannot normally do as a developer. We believe it would be beneficial for us to become a publisher of this game and get first hand feedback from consumers because we can make full use of them for our future game development.
How are you handling the localization? Is it being done in house?
We knew it would be very important and difficult to convey the atmosphere and little details of the game properly through translation. Our localization staff played the game thoroughly, and she had a lot of discussions about the game with our development staff in order to understand even the minute details. Then, we asked a localization company to translate all the necessary text, and we made adjustments in house.
We believe The Magic Obelisk has a message that we want to get across to the players, and we sincerely hope that people in North America will enjoy it.