Quantum may feel familiar to the West, but the PlayStation 3 game marks a new direction for Tecmo. Quantum is their first third person cover centric shooting game. You control Syd a stocky fighter who explores living towers with changing cover points. These gothic deco spires are filled with monsters, which Syd and a female ally/rival shoot through.
I spoke with Makoto Shibata, Director, about Quantum to see what Team Tachyon and Tecmo can add to the genre.
Why did you decide to make Quantum a PS3 exclusive?
Makoto Shibata, Director: Japanese development tends to focus and specialize on particular hardware. When we were thinking about doing this we saw the PS3 as the hardware with the highest specs.
Tecmo started off doing a lot of Xbox 360 games. Now Tecmo is making more PlayStation 3 games like Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2. Is Tecmo shifting towards PS3 development?
It’s not that Tecmo is shifting away from the Xbox 360. It’s about timing. From the beginning this was seen as a PS3 title and it happens to be coming out at the same time as Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2.
Are you afraid Quantum is going to be compared too closely to Gears of War?
The comparisons are OK. Resident Evil 4 is what started the TPS (third person shooter) genre. It’s a good example of shooting and moving. Gears took that further and is another evolution.
Was Resident Evil 4 the inspiration?
I’ve been playing first person shooters for awhile and Resident Evil 4 was the first game that worked with with a controller.
Is Quantum designed for the West first?
Is Tecmo focusing on making more games primarily for the West?
It’s not like we’re focused on the West, but we do know the market is bigger. Games that sell over here, you have to invest in development and work hard to make a good game. We all understand that within Tecmo.
There are games in Tecmo geared for the Japanese audience so it’s not that we’re completely focusing on the West.
How long have you been working on Quantum?
About two years.
What aspects can Tecmo add to the TPS genre?
We think we can add action to the TPS genre. The tower shifts and changes shape. Syd can climb up slopes and fight while hanging. Since Tecmo knows action games we can bring that to the genre.
The game doesn’t seem as violent or gory as the average shooter designed in North America. Are you concerned about a CERO Z* rating? (*Editor’s note: it’s an 18+ rating similar to the ESRB’s AO rating in Japan.)
That was one of the considerations. Also, what’s the point of all the blood? The blood doesn’t make it more fun.
Yeah, I agree with that, but Ninja Gaiden was ultraviolent. Quantum seems like it’s on the low on the gore scale.
We were thinking from the beginning this was a beautiful game, a pretty game with an organic feel to it. That influenced the design.
Do you think it would be better received if the game had more blood?
Me personally? I don’t need or want fountains of blood so this is fine for me, but for the general American gamer I have to say, yeah.
We didn’t have it in here, but we were thinking about having things like blowing off parts and armor.
I think that would work. Since the enemies are organic it wouldn’t be as visceral. You could still have the glow effect when an enemy dies instead of blood.
The first question you asked, is it tough being compared to much to Gears of War was interesting. That’s the first time we’ve actually been asked that.
No way! Are you serious?
Peter Garza, Localization Producer: Everybody says it, always Gears, but nobody ever asks anything about being compared to Gears.
I think people compare Quantum to Gears because of the character design. Syd is stocky like a football player and Marcus.
In the beginning he was thinner, but when thinking about what an American audience would like we referenced comic book heroes and 80’s action movie stars that kind of figure. Not so much a football player. Gears is like a football player.
Sort of like Schwarzenegger?
Yeah. 80s action stars, Dolph Lundgren. That’s the kind of style we were going for.
Are you planning any downloadable content for Quantum?
We’re looking at the online mode. New maps, new rules, and new online play modes.
How many online maps will it come with when it ships?
It’s still up in the air. We’re looking at around ten or twelve.
Is there offline multiplayer too?
No, it’s online only. Do you think that’s a must have?
Maybe not a must have, but gamers like together and have FPS parties. I guess I’m a little surprised that there isn’t any offline multiplayer. That’s rare for a FPS game.
The main focus was offline was the single player mode where you control two characters at the same time.* We didn’t really consider offline multiplayer that much. We always thought of the offline mode as a single player mode.
*Editors note: In Quantum you control Syd, the gun toting hero, and a nimble female warrior that Syd can throw.
Since you have two characters how come you didn’t make a co-op mode?
The girl is not with you from the beginning. You only meet her part way through and she has her own motivations for climbing the tower. Sometimes you’re together, sometimes you’re separate. It wouldn’t work for offline co-op all of the time.
What characters will players be able to use online?
You will be able to use enemy characters and other characters that appear in the story, as well. You can also use the female character online.
[I watched Shibata play a boss fight with a giant monster. He stuns it then fires at a weak point.]
Is focusing on weak points the style boss fights?
Bosses will have weak points, but all bosses won’t have that pattern. Within the story there are two kinds of enemies the Nosferatu and Geldskids. There this Diablosys phenomenon that mutates the tower and everything around it. If the Nosferatu come in contact with the Diablosys phenomenon they become Geldskids. Geldskids coats the Nosferatu body and you can find a part might not have been covered completely, that can be the weak point for that particular Geldskid.
Not all the bosses are humanoid. In the trailer there is a glimpse of flying boss. We have a spider-like boss, as well. We’re trying to get a good variety.
Did you build this engine just for Quantum?
Yes, this is something we made for Quantum, but we took a basic engine we had for all hardware and adapted it for PS3 and Quantum specifically.
Now that you have an engine ready is Tecmo planning on making more TPS games?
I have a couple of ideas I’d like to explore, but nothing concrete.