We haven’t heard much about Level-5 Comcept and their mobile game Dragon Colonies since last summer, but president Akihiro Hino and CCO Keiji Inafune appeared in Famitsu this week to talk about the game, as well as Inafune’s experience working with Level-5 and Hino.
Here are the highlights:
On working with Level-5 at Level-5 Comcept:
- While Dragon Colonies is mostly done, it still has to go through Level-5’s stringent quality checking and scoring procedure first. Hino hopes that it will come out early next year.
- Dragon Colonies is at its core a game produced by Inafune, with Hino providing support. Level-5 is happy to be able to publish Inafune’s game under their brand, and Hino really feels Inafune’s creative potential from the game.
- Inafune: “Firstly, if someone tells you, “I’ll fund it, good luck”, you have to deal with the pressure of the faith that they have put in you. However, Hino-san will take a clear look at the content and say, “This is what we think”.” Inafune goes on to talk about how thanks to Hino being able to give frank and concise opinions, he is able to focus on the making of the game without needing to feel the pressure of making “a Level-5 game”.
- Inafune comments that Hino is somebody who chases after things that interests him, compared to putting costs first. It’s easy to consider game ideas from a business perspective and end up cutting the scope of the proposal, but Hino is the type to straight-up say “That’s not interesting enough”. Inafune talks about how his views align with Level-5’s in that thinking about costs should come after coming up with an interesting enough idea, although he has been in situations where costs absolutely had to be prioritized.
On Dragon Colonies:
- The game sports a toy-like aesthetic that appeals towards a more casual audience, and Level-5 hopes this will be the big hit on smartphones that the company needs. Hino thinks of smartphones as the successor to the Nintendo DS, especially considering the userbase and recent Wi-Fi improvements (such as more free Wi-Fi hotspots), and as a “game console” in its own right. If the market is ready, then games with the right characteristics should become a hit. That’s where Inafune and Dragon Colonies comes in.
- While PvP similar to Clash Royale is part of the game, Dragon Colonies’ biggest unique feature is the “hakoniwa”-like Box Colonies that act as a customizable crafting element taking place on a dice-like cube. You can specialize each face of the block (with 3×3 squares on each face) for different purposes, like material production, or faces that specialize in attacking or defending. According to Inafune, this was done to solve a problem in crafting-based games where there are so many things to do that it’s easy to get lost in what to do next. The Box Colonies help round out the crafting aspect of Dragon Colonies by making it easier for players to understand how they are using their land.
- While you start with just one Box Colony, it’s possible to get more later on.
- Finally, Inafune talks about how it’s difficult in the smartphone game market to make “a game that you’ve seen before, but haven’t seen before”. If you make a game that is completely new, the game will definitely fail. However, if you make a game people have seen before, it’ll get buried by the sheer amount of games. A balance has to be struck, and gameplay that people recognize is an important element. By changing the way the building and crafting element works, they create this balance.
Dragon Colonies is in development for iOS and Android.