When we spoke to indie game publisher Rockin’ Android about their Sony Online Entertainment partnership and porting process, Enrique Galvez, CEO, also shared his thoughts about publishing other genres. Rockin’ Android plans to expand beyond shooters with action games, RPGs, and maybe even visual novels in the future.
Read on to hear more about Galvez’s plans, the life of a doujin publisher, and the answers to your questions.
As a doujin publisher, what’s the toughest part of your job?
Enrique Galvez, CEO: When porting over a game that was originally developed for another country, it brings into question all kinds of localization issues. There’s translating and making sense of the translation, then you have take into consideration the social aspect of the material. What might be acceptable in one place may be completely unacceptable in another. Then there’s age appropriate language, because many of our games are doujin titles, discreet editing is taken because of age ratings. On top of all that there’s just the unknown: code, unlockables, art details, etc, so everything we attempt to do has its own set of hurdles.
We’re lucky to have a small but talented team that is excellent at handling different tasks. We pull together and get the job done. It’s an exciting business for us and we are not afraid to take on new challenges.
Can you tell us about your partnership with Sony Online Entertainment? How was that formed and what do both sides get from it?
Our plan from the very beginning was to bring these games to console systems. One important step was to come out the gate with a strong release. The downloadable and PC retail release of Suguri Perfect Edition was a great success for us. It just so happened that a copy of Suguri PE ended up at the Sony offices and eventually into the hands of SOE producers, who were excited about the bringing the game over to PS3. Xbox 360 was on the table for discussion, but the PlayStation Network didn’t really have any games like the Gundemonium Collection or Crescent Pale Mist on its roster. Being PS3 fans ourselves, we felt it was great opportunity and challenge to bring the Rock Android game line up to the PlayStation Network. Now, we wouldn’t leave Xbox 360 fans in the cold, so yes, we’ve got some things brewing for the future.
Rockin’ Android has been bringing made for PC games to PlayStation Network. What’s the process like to make games like Crescent Pale Mist appear on PlayStation 3?
Our first release on the PlayStation 3 was the Gundemonium Collection and Crescent Pale Mist is our second. SOE is a co-producer with Rockin’ Android and we have a fantastic programming team that knows that ins and outs of the PlayStation 3 architecture. The process to port over an older PC game to a newer console system like the PlayStation 3 is no walk in the park, especially when cleaning up older game code. With Crescent Pale Mist, SOE and Rockin’ Android wanted to add a bit more polish. If any of you have seen or played the original PC version, there were areas of frustrations and the tutorial was lacking.
The developer ClassiC is a one-man team, so he didn’t have the full resources he needed when he was finishing the game. With the original developer’s blessing, we hired a new artist, Keiko Sakurai, and smoothed out many of the areas that could not be fixed in the original release. They are not major changes, but we feel it helps with the flow of the game. Another perk was that we got a chance to up-res the graphics, enhance texture, lighting, environments, add leaderboards and trophies. Games like Crescent Pale Mist were meant to be played on a console system.
What have the developers said about seeing their games on PSN?
When we first approached them about the possibility they were shocked and didn’t think it would be possible. When you consider that these games were meant to be played only by Japanese gamers, it’s a great sense of pride to see their game release in multiple territories.
Shikou san the developer of Crescent Pale Mist is very happy with the results and so are we.
Are there any plans to release game demos?
Game demos are very important for the sales of the game, so we’ve released game demos for all of the PC versions we’ve released. It was always our plan to have demos for the PSN versions, but our game are small compared to the blockbusters titles. Creating a demo isn’t practical for us, and at this moment, not cost effective. I’m sure if the fans continue to support us we can find ourselves in a position were SOE is willing to support us on demos for future titles.
Are you thinking about licensing any other titles from ClassiC Shikoukairo or Platine Dispositif?
While I can’t get into specifics, we have several titles from Platine Dispositif planned for PC and Xbox360. We’re very excited about the upcoming ClassiC game; it’s different than Crescent Pale Mist and leans heavily toward strategy.
So far, Rockin’ Android has a bunch of doujin shooters to the West, but what about other genres. Have you considered fighting games or action games?
While we love the shooter genre, we have action games, adventure, RPGs and much more on the way. Shooters have been prevalent in the Japanese gaming scene for many moons, so when many of the seasoned programmers decide to independently create games, it feels like the shooter genre is a great starting point, since they all remember these types of games fondly and pay homage.
Thankfully many innovative and talented teams like Cave have kept things moving and have developed games that can compete with the big boys. We have a few more fantastic shooters on the way, but also side-scrolling action adventure, strategy, puzzle and of course we are working on our own IP. This is very hush hush, but it will be collaboration between RA and a Japanese developer.
How about visual novels?
We recently came back from Japan and we did speak with a few visual novel circles, but discussions leaned toward mobile devices. We’ve been doing our research and we have plans to develop visual novels apps, but with so much of our focus on consoles at the moment, don’t expect anything until late 2011.
Maybe you can elaborate how Rockin’ Android selects titles to localize?
That is a difficult question since there are many variables. What the Japanese think is fun doesn’t necessarily translate to American tastes. When we started Rockin’ Android, we asked ourselves what types of games are missing from U.S. PC and consoles. 2D sprite based games are starting to make a comeback thanks to the DSi and Wii, so our love for doujin games came into play.
Digging further it became about what games translate well across different continents. For example the shooter genre is well regarded and has been around long enough that most people young and old have a decent grasp on how to play them. Fun factor, length of game, price point, visuals and developer support all factor into our decisions as well. We look for games that have familiarity to players outside of Japan, easy to pick up and play but addictive. Also, if the code for the game is too old, we can’t do much with it. There were titles that we wanted to license, but once we inspected the code, it was unusable for release on another platform.
Some readers want to know about Rockin’ Android’s PC plans. Will you still release games for PC? Are you considering distribution over Steam?
I’m so glad you mentioned Steam. We’ve been speaking to them, and they have given us all indication that they would like to work with us, but nothing official. Fans, please email them and ask for Rockin’ Android games on Steam. Seriously, we want to continue to support PC games, and if Steam were to get involved, that would insure that we continue to release PC titles for some time to come. We have Suguri, Acceleration of Suguri, Flying Red Barrel, and Qlione 1 on Direct2Drive and Gamersgate, but we feel that Steam can really help push our titles to the PC crowd more efficiently. We might eventually open our own DL site to release titles that will not appear on consoles systems.
We have some requests for Suguri for PlayStation 3…
Acceleration of Suguri-X Edition will be coming to the PlayStation 3 early 2011! This is very exciting for us since we want to give the player the ultimate Suguri experience. With the support of the original developer Orange_Juice, we have done some graphical tweaks and made some expansions here and there. I’ll say no more for now, before I get into trouble.
What are your thoughts about the Tohou series and ABA Games?
We are big fans and we’ve had meetings with Zun san, but nothing official on a U.S. release. One thing to keep in mind is that many doujin developers really enjoy creating and sharing there games without the restrictions of company protocols, so in Zun sans case, Tohou games are Japan only, at least for now. We completely understand his position and we’ll continue to bug him until he says yes. He’s truly is a nice man and I was honored when he signed a copy of Scarlet Devil for me on at one of our meetings.
If there’s one doujin developer, anyone out there, which one would you like to work with most?
Does it have to be a doujin circle? OK, as far as doujin circles go, we’re already working with them. Seriously, the nicest and most talented people you’ll ever meet in gaming outside of that Rockin’ Android crew. Just kidding, but I would like to work with Vanillaware, or, wait a minute, Treasure. Yes, they’re an inspiration to us.
Hmm. Well, you now know that Acceleration of Suguri is coming soon. We also have the intoxicating anti-shooter Qlione Evolve bundle, which consists of two complete games, Qlione 1 and Qlione 2. These games are for those looking for something bit more unique. This title is tentatively scheduled for December 7th. Please check the Rockin’ Android site for more details.