Famitsu has released the full-length interview with Sega’s team behind Project Sakura Wars, which was originally featured in the magazine back in April. Details include a rough estimate on how many staff are on the project, other interesting facts, as well as some extra info on the characters.
Without further ado, here are the highlights:
So it seems that the winds were turning in favor of this project. How many people are working on this project overall?
Tetsuya Ootsubo, development director: “It’s hard to give the exact number thanks to people joining and leaving mid-way, as well as us employing an external company to help as well, but at the very least staff numbering triple digits and above are working on the project.”
Takaharu Terada, series director: “I believe it’s more than the people who worked on 3. It’s probably the largest in the series’ history.”
Why is there no subtitle, as has been the case since 2?
Ootsubo: “That’s because this is the first game in a new Sakura Wars series. So we decided to go back to a simple name.”
Were there any other candidates for the title other than New (Shin)?
Terada: “Well of course there were many, many candidates. I don’t remember them all, and logo drafts I’ve lost track of the number I’ve sseen.”
Ootsubo: “Just the logo had over 300 drafts. We let all development staff suggest ideas while moving ahead with development.”
Terada: “We did make one similar to the old ones, but it didn’t feel ‘new’ at all, so we created one that was totally different.”
Ootsubo: “The words do a lot to convey that the game is Sakura Wars, so we decided to not be shackled to the past and go through trial and error process in creating a new one.”
You mentioned that the story scenario itself is complete, so what sort of story is it?
Terada: “Overall, it’s very Sakura Wars-like, in that it’s very ‘classic’. However, just like with Akahori-sensei, there are some surprising parts which you might attribute to the “style of the author”. Even for Ishii [Jirou]-san’s story compositions, this is the case.”
When you say that Ishii-san is in charge of story composition, does that mean someone else is working on the script itself?
Ootsubo: “The script is being done by Takaaki Suzuki of Girls und Panzer fame, among other series. He has also been providing historical advice, and the script has gotten quite hefty.”
Will character conversations take place on the 3D map?
Ootsubo: “Movement, events, and conversations in the adventure part all take place on the 3D map. When you speak to them on the map, it will shift seamlessly into the conversation. Of course, we’re working on development so that load times for changing maps will be as stress-free as possible.”
Terada: “Also, regarding the seamless shifts, we’ve prepared more dynamic camera angles and standing positions for the characters to make it more dramatic.”
Ootsubo: “Until now, it’s usually been done via special graphics, letting players imagine the scenario out in their head, but those parts are properly shown as well now. The event team kept wailing, “Just how many event scenes are there?!” (laughs)
We’ve seen the keyword ‘Smartron’ from screenshots, but is it an advanced version of the Kinematron from the rest of the series?
Ootsubo: “That’s right. You can imagine what it’s like from the name, but it can show the map and various other functions.”
We see a guide-like icon on the top right…
Ootsubo: “That’s where the currently ongoing mission name and objectives are shown. With the increase in scope of where you can travel and a shift in camera perspective closer to the protagonist, we thought it would be needed.”
Changing the topic, where there any difficulties during the character modeling process?
Tetsu Katano, producer: “It’s a bit hard to tell from just still screenshots, but a lot of effort has been placed into eye expressions, and the texture of skin and clothing. On the technical side, we’re using the ‘Hedgehog Engine’ from the Sonic series, and using the know-how from the Yakuza series in creating the event scenes, gathering together all our forces from around the company.”
Terada: “On the other side, other company employees not on the development team, regular Sakura Wars fans, would give harsh comments on how “It’s not Sakura Wars-like!” and put a lot of pressure on us, so it’s not like we could slack off on any aspects of the game.” (laughs)
Ootsubo: “When you see it in motion, you’ll really feel the technology used for the game, so we really want to show it off as soon as possible.”
Project Sakura Wars is coming to Japan on PlayStation 4 in Winter 2019, and in NA and EU in Spring 2020.