Microsoft is presenting their panel about what RPGs they have coming on the 360. Peter Molyneux, Sakaguchi-san and Dr. Ray Muzyka from Bioware are sitting down.
"Whats the difference of making an RPG today compared tot he first RPGs you made?"
Sakaguchi-san: The biggest evolution comes from the improvement in graphics. High definition and 3D graphics allow him to explore into a characters emotions with better graphics.
Molyneux: I lost my first girlfriend to Wizardry. Yeah the graphics have changed, this was wireframe walking down dungeon when you meet a monster, and yeah it’s significant. But the actual structure of RPGs hasn’t changed much. There are some oppertunities for changes. I don’t know who is going to do it, but there is an opppertunity.
Muzyka: The genre has evolved, the biggest thing for me is to see other genres include RPG elements. What is an RPG? You have a story, character development, but many games are doing this.
Muzuka: we’re reaching new consumers and other genres are blending in RPG elements too.
Molyneux: For me it comes to one simple phrase, "role playing game" you’re playing a role. What does it feel like to be a hero? To start off with nothing and become a hero. That’s the differencial for me. I want to make you feel like a hero, make you feel like significant. That’s one element I want to nail in Fable 2.
Sakaguchi-san: Telling a great story line that players can relate to. That’s what he tried to do in the Final Fantasy series, even when you shut off your console you feel a sense of energy, that’s what you get out of an RPG.
"Is turn based RPGs going to be an important part of RPGs or is everything moving to real time combat?"
Sakaguchi-san: With respect to Blue Dragon, it’s turn based, but it has a lot of elements. Lost Odyessy has real time elements to make the battle elements interesting. Cry On, the action RPG title for the Xbox 360 and there are two more RPG projects in the process with different ideas. There needs to be varied ways of playing and being immersed in the games.
Molyneux: I really thought hard whether it should be turn based or not, but we came down on action at the end because of the sense you are immersed. Turn based games give a different flavor than what action can give you.
Muzuka: At Bioware were trying to combine both. You can use squad team to tell your team to attack and give specific orders in pause mode. It’s difficult to do this and you’re appealing to different audiences with different expectations. But it’s worth it.
"The next question is linear or open ended. More and more RPGs let you customize your character have branching paths. Do you see that you’re going to have more customization of your world or is it going to be a linear story?"
Sakaguchi-san: There will be a lot more games that allow character customizations because its fun. But the focus is to tell a great story and reflect a world, like a movie where you create a story with the characters in place and you want to manipulate them to be fully immersed.
Molyneux: There is customization and evolution. First question I’m going to put to you all, I’m getting bored customizing one character where you don’t know what the story is or the world seems kind of old school. The second thing is what you customize. I’m bored of the set up screens where you change the face, go through menus, I want to continue evolving the character, just like Fable, for me that becomes interesting. Customization as an evolution has some interesting things, but we need to take it a step further.
Muzuka: Non linear narrative is one of the hardest forms of narrative to create. You have to cover every permutation of what you’re player is going to feel. That’s part of the evolution where players get to make different choices and earn different endings. That is something we are including in Mass Effect.
Molyneux: The most important thing is to make sure people don’t feel like they make the wrong choices. This is where branching can work against itself.
Muzuka: I’m going to counter. I think it’s interesting if each person has a different story where they can play as a hero or anti hero. We want to make every choice to feel deeply emotional to the player.
Molyneux: It’s not that I don’t want to do multple branching, that’s the whole thing about Fable. But for me I’m always insecure because I’m going to take the wrong path. It’s just another thing to worry about.
"Lets talk about multiplayer and online. How do you see multiplayer fitting in the future of RPGs. Is it going to be co-op play? Or another type of multiplayer?"
Sakaguchi-san: I’m found of online connectivity and I see a growth in the area. With Final Fantasy XI I saw a need created a game. I’m hoping to talk with Shane on making an online game.
Molyneux: People are leaving their consoles plugged in all the time. That’s a real opportunity. The idea that you as an individual can show off, work with and co op with new friends. I would love to talk about this in great detail, but I’ve been gagged by many people. Phantasy Star Online was an interesting thing on the Dreamcast that has been around for some time.
Muzuka: I haven’t been gagged so I’ll answer some comments. We’ve been doing some stuff at our Austin studio. We’re excited where massive multiplayer games have been going. What if you fuse the story that players make themselves with another story. There are things you can’t do in MMOs in single player games and there are things you can do in single player games that you can’t do in MMOs. I think the social interactions between players allow you to tell stories of a different kind.
"How come something like Secret of Mana hasn’t been attempted in an online enviornment?"
Muzuka (smiling): We haven’t revealed any details yet, but it’s a good concept.
"What about a real world, mundane RPG?"
Sakaguchi-san: I’ve been exploring the idea for ten years. I was talking with the director of Square-Enix. We thought of a game revolving around a story of boy making up with his ex-girlfriend and going to school. It’s something we explored, but it’s tough. Well do it some day. The right time hasn’t arrived yet.
"Is that what happened with Shenmue and did not succeed with?"
Sakaguchi-san: I don’t think it was a failure.