Siliconera recently had the opportunity to talk to Sword Art Online game series producer, Yosuke Futami on keeping the best parts of prior titles Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment and Sword Art Online: Lost Song, his plans for side content and his thoughts on a possible VR title in the Sword Art Online series.
Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization seems to blend the two previous games together, making a game that looks like a MMO but plays like an RPG. Why did you decide to go down this path?
So Hollow Fragment had elements of MMORPG and that was something people would really be able to enjoy the action of being right there in an MMORPG. And then for Lost Song, which as you said is action oriented and that’s going to really visualise how Kirito and the other characters, how they move, how they use their skills like in the animation. So this time, we’re looking for the same thing, we’re looking for a lot of action but those actions are based on what you see in an MMORPG. So with that in mind, I would like to bring those good elements from those two previous titles and merge them into this title.
Hollow Realization is the first Sword Art Online game to not be based on any prior story. Hollow Fragment is based off the Aincrad arc and Lost Song is based on the Fairy Dance arc. Was there anything you were able to do with Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization that couldn’t before?
One of the key concepts of this game is we’d like to make it so all the characters like Kirito and other characters, along with the player themselves, are able to experience the game from the very beginning. In Lost Song or Hollow Fragment, both start at different levels [in their world] which gives you the image of starting the game in the middle. So this time, because Sword Art: Origin which is built from scratch, players can experience the story right from the beginning.
Hollow Fragment had a lot of side quests and side content like the dating systems whereas Lost Song was lacking in that area. Will Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization see the return of this sort of content?
Of course! I cannot say anything specific about the dating system just yet but I’m trying to enhance that in this title too. Basically the concept is going to the be the same but we’ll be enhancing strength of some elements of the dating system so I think there’s going to be plenty for people to enjoy aside from the main story.
I remember some of our readers were glad that Lost Song moved to more simplistic action RPG style, that they found the MMO stylings, the skill bars and gauges of Hollow Fragment to be intimidating. Now these are back in Hollow Realization, what would you say to those who preferred a simpler game?
I cannot go into too much detail yet but there is a shortcut command when using skills so for those people who feel there is too much information on screen so this is will make it so you can keep your favourite skills tied to a button on the controller so by using them, they can then concentrate more on the action. Then for some people, they can keep all their skills in the centre of the screen so they can immediately switch and customise their skills while in battle.
Virtual reality is something of the hot topic in gaming right now and Sword Art Online seems like a natural fit for the series. I know there’s some projects going on with Sword Art Online right now but would you like to to make a game in VR and what sort of ideas would you go for?
So like you mentioned VR is a popular topic right now and we are thinking that this is something we definitely have to do something with for Sword Art Online. However, this will be quite challenging and we’d like to take things step by step. it may take us a couple of years in order to realise it but VR technology is going to be implemented in the future and they’ll be VR exclusive titles too so we are researching into those games and looking into their positive parts and then we’ll decide how to implement those technologies in order to make a Sword Art Online VR game so we’ll happily look forward to making a Sword Art Online VR game in the future.
Have you ever tried a VR game where you can a swing a sword or something similar?
No I haven’t. I would like to though!
I’ve had to chance to try a VR game where I could swing a sword using a VR system but at that time it was not really synchronised so I could feel some awkwardness with it right now. I didn’t feel totally synchronised in the VR world yet however of course, year after year, I’m sure this awkwardness will be removed so I’m ready to wait for the technology to improve and so I can take that technology and bring it into a Sword Art Online game.
Then maybe it’ll be possible to realise a VR dating system! [laughs]