Forging a fantasy epic with Dragon's Dogma

Capcom's latest fatasy adventure sets its sights on the Western market.

Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest are some popular RPG properties to come out of Japan, and they are often distinguished by their unique characters and setting. Capcom's latest fantasy adventure, Dragon's Dogma, has adopted a more Westen approach to appeal to markets both in Japan and overseas. It is also making use of the Cloud to introduce new features and functions to the RPG experience.

Hideaki Itsuno, whose full title is development strategy and support senior manager, and director of creative direction and execution at Capcom, shared with us his vision for the game.

What is it like to work at a company like Capcom?

Capcom video game director, Hideaki Itsuno (HI): When I was university I didn’t think I would ever become a game designer, so I was really happy that I was able to become one at Capcom. Maybe I would feel differently if it was a different company that only operated in Japan, but working for a company like Capcom that operates on a global scale has been a real honour. The experience so far has been very enjoyable and fun for me, but it has also been a lot of work.

What is your favourite Capcom property so far?

HI: I always approach each project with the aim of making it my best work, so whenever I start on a new project, I aim to make that one my best. Since my newest work is Dragon’s Dogma, I currently consider it my favourite, but before that I considered Devil May Cry 4 as my favourite work, and before that it was Devil May Cry 3.

How different is Capcom now compared to then?

HI: Something that we have always strived for at Capcom is to create games that always manage to surprise players in ways that they can not imagine, so the way games are created also had to change. The way it’s been up to now has been to rely on making direct numbered sequels to a property, such as 2 or 3 or 4, and if you stop making them, the property has a tendency to then die. As such, Capcom now is working with overseas developers to find new and exciting things to include in our games, which is something we really didn’t do in the past.

How does this game compare to Monster Hunter?

HI: I’ve actually been told about the similarities between Dragon’s Dogma and Monster Hunter many times, but I feel that they are unrelated. I actually assisted with the development of Monster Hunter, and during that time we talked about creating a “real fantasy” game and the result was Monster Hunter, but after that I continued to think about creating a “proper real fantasy” game using today’s gaming technology. Also, Monster Hunter initially was about hunting, but Dragon’s Dogma is about melding adventure and action together. It is true that it is similar to Monster Hunter, but I feel the overall concept is different.

What aspect of Dragon’s Dogma stands out?

HI: That we were able to convey to the user the feeling of excitement that is connected to adventuring through every aspect of the game design.

Is Dragon’s Dogma Capcom’s most expensive game?

HI: I’m not sure if it is the most expensive, but I do know it is one of the most expensive projects at Capcom, and that it also has the most staff working on it. Within the company, we have 150 people currently working on it. If we include outsourced staff, that adds another 150 people for a total of 300. As for why it costs so much money and needs so many people, the game has a lot of content and there also numerous technical challenges, which should become evident once you play the game. For example, we used between fifty to sixty people to do the voice acting for the game.

Do you feel more pressure compared to the previous games?

HI: More than feeling pressure, I am glad and grateful that I am able to create a game that I want. There is pressure, but I don’t really feel it and instead I have nothing but gratitude towards Capcom.

Any chance for a sequel to Rival Schools?

HI: I really want to create a sequel, which would the third and final installment in the series, and let [main protagonist] Batsu and the other characters properly graduate, but whether Capcom lets me do it depends on whether a lot of gamers request it. It’s not that I don’t want to create it, but we need more requests for it, and if we don’t get those requests, Capcom won’t go ahead with it. Last month, the original Rivals Schools was released on the PlayStation Network in Japan and it was in the top three of the sales chart. So it is popular, but Capcom still somehow still hasn’t given the go ahead for the sequel.

Want to read other video game interviews with key figures from Sony, Microsoft and more? Then check out Good Gear Guide's complete interview archive.

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