Digimon World Project Ark is a free, fan-made project that aims to revive and expand on the original Digimon World game released back in 1999 for the PlayStation. It’s been in the making for a number of years now and has changed in look and engine quite a bit over the course of its development. With that said, more recently it seems to have solidified as a whole, and the team is hoping to have the first playable demo out soon.
Ahead of this, Siliconera spoke to a few members of the team to find out about Project Ark’s development history, what they love about the original Digimon World game enough to make this project, and what they plan on adding to the game.
What is it about the original Digimon World that you enjoyed enough to want to expand upon it?
MrChronos: I can’t count the number of hours I put into it as a child trying to raise all my favorite characters from the show. Digimon World 1 isn’t a game that most people could just pick up and play straight away, it takes a bit to learn. but once you understand the gameplay elements it’s very rewarding. Our project goal is to recreate those feelings we had as children by expanding and moving forward creating an epic remake with a much larger world and a wider variety of Digimon characters to evolve into.
Haru: Most of our team were huge fans of Digimon World 1 when growing up. It was such a good game, your Digimon would get really strong and then reset, forcing you to time things well if you wanted to accomplish things.
Do you consider it to be the best Digimon game out there? Do any others come close for you, and why?
MrChronos: The Digimon video game franchise has always tried to make their games unique. Each game has its pros and cons but Digimon World 1 and Digimon World 3 really stood out to me the most. Our game is a remake of the first Digimon World but also includes elements from the third. I love all Digimon games but these two just did everything perfect.
How long has Project Ark been going? How many people work on it? And how do you ensure everything runs smoothly?
MrChronos: Project Ark has been around a very long time. It started off as a group of students who met online that shared a love for Digimon who came together to create a PC game using our own created 3D models and code. I’d say it’s almost been seven years now or so, which seems like a long time, but it’s gone relatively fast considering. The game was sprite-based when it first began then we moved to 3D, we’ve developed our skills a lot over time.
VrayX: Our founding members DGMM and Karxdurik met back in 2008, when they first began working on this project. The game was very basic back then, sometime after that MrChronos and myself joined the team and Project Ark was founded. We’ve swapped engines a couple of times due to limitations which brings us up to now. Recently we had a competition on DeviantArt which attracted a lot of new members. Our current development team has about 12 people in it right now. It’s difficult to keep things running smoothly, especially with lots of new members at once, but we organise and try to keep focused on what needs to get done.
How does Project Ark “revive” the world of the original game—are you recreating it entirely?
MrChronos: Yes, we’re recreating it entirely. We’ve created our own original story for Project Ark revolving around the seven demon lords of the Digimon universe. Our game is spread out over 4-5 new islands alongside the human world too. Whereas Digimon World 1 was just one small island filled with different biomes – so we’re expanding on it quite a bit.
VrayX: And we are making everything from scratch. The important thing for me is that we keep the raising and battling mechanics generally the same and improve where we can.
How, then, do you also expand upon Digimon World with Project Ark?
MrChronos: Each island in our Digimon World has a variety of different landscapes and habitats. A few of you might remember Toy Town, Freezeland, Ancient Dino Region which were zones from the first Digimon game. Most of the first Digimon World zones will have our versions of them along with a wide variety of new creative zones offering nostalgia and some interesting ideas, and be able to interact with the environment in new ways.
Do you fear that it’s possible to lose the heart of the original game by adding to much? Do you have any limitations of the kind of additions you will make?
MrChronos: In the far future we’re hoping to develop more and slowly add additional content onto our game which would be more islands, bosses, raisable Digimon etc, but for now we are focusing on getting everything done that we plan on having in the first version. The world we are creating isn’t just a linear story, it’s meant to be a fun interactive place where there is always something happening. I think the direction we’re heading in represents the best aspects of Digimon World 1 and everyone who plays our game will get the same positive feelings they got when they played the first game.
Have you had any worries with using the Digimon name due to copyright issues?
VrayX: We are currently seeking copyright permission. If we don’t receive permission, we will be creating a spiritual successor to Digimon World 1 instead, a similar game but distant enough so as not to upset with copyright law. We’ll also be releasing a dev kit so people can create their own Project Ark with the resources we’ve created over the years.
It seems that you run contests? How do these work and what do you and the community get out of them?
MrChronos: Contests are something we’ve just started doing but hopefully will have a few more in the future. It brings a lot of creative artists together that can showcase their work and get some insight into our game. After our last contest we had about six or so new members join to help with concept art which is going to dramatically speed up the development process.
Haru: Yeah, we had our first contest in March for character designs where fans could enter and the winners could have their entry become playable 3D characters in-game. We wanted to emphasise that it was a community project and work together with our fans. It went really well which was pretty encouraging.
What will be included in the upcoming demo that you plan to distribute?
Haru: The first playable version released to the public will have the first island “Bios Island”, home to Bios Bay, an old port town, and our version of File City. The first island will have a variety of interesting zones, from underground tunnels and crystal caves, to a sprawling open forest and a valley of tree-high mushrooms.
VrayX: Raising and care mechanics, basic battles, and digivolution are the basics we want to get in there. For evolution trees, we hoped to get Agumon and Gabumon’s lines in there at the least, but planned on a couple more. The demo release is TBD, but we’ll keep fans updated as we go.
If anyone is interested in joining in with Project Ark are they able to and how might they go about setting that up?
Haru: We’re always looking for more creative people to help our team and speed up development. The best way to get in contact with us is through our email which is [email protected], where you can send previous work and questions our way. Get in touch, we’d love to hear from you!