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  1. ZUNTATA - Darius / Taito Music Team Translated by rancor. Happy New Year to all! 9:30pm here in Tokyo, and I've just finished this latest translation as my new years gift to you all. This translation is from the new Darius Odyssey book: Once again, thanks to all who have purchased a copy through me - your financial support allows me the time / opportunity to do these. If you would like to support what I do and buy a copy of this book, please PM me and we can work things out. I won't stop doing this, but every dollar made counts. As I always say before these translations: If you notice any glaring mistakes, or are able to translate some parts in a better way then please let me know via PM. This translation took me MANY hours to complete - an hour alone just to format it to be readable on this site - and if you appreciate it and would like me to have the time to do more, PLEASE consider purchasing something from the link in my sig. This work is purely my own, and it you choose to post elsewhere please give credit to me for the translation. I reserve the right to edit this translation as I see fit. Sooooo... here we go! Echoing Life’s Pulse In The Universe The story of the grand battle behind the DARIUS series - what are the unknown tales from the sound magicians behind the making of this series? The secret production story from the DARIUS sound crew. —Ogura, would you please talk about the concepts and methods for composing the music? OGURA: Since I am the type of person who cannot compose music without first coming up with the words and letters, I begin composing by selecting the right keywords. I could not have composed the music for the DARIUS series without these keywords which I derive from conceptualization. To achieve these ideas, I search for inspiration that my musical antenna would catch as I read book or take a walk around the town. That’s how I found the keywords needed for the composition. The keywords often reflect the title of the music. For instance, the theme for the score VISIONNERZ of DARIUS GAIDEN was “illusionary sight.” I decided on the music title reflecting the theme first, and it guided me to completion. —The first DARIUS was loaded with Body Sonic which had an enormous impact. How did you compose it? OGURA: The soundboard for DARIUS was special. It was made of two FM sound chips that each could produce three sounds. Each chip was turned into data after the three sounds of were grouped together, and both chips had to be played at the same time. But, a glitch in the design could cause them to play out of sync. Because the company’s sequencer at the time was an inconvenient type that used a hexadecimal number system, it was quite difficult to fix the time lag. The adjustment of the volume balancer was tricky too. Volume in general gives different impressions to people depending on their physical condition that day (laugh). ISHIKAWA: I have heard that DARIUS’s Body Sonic was created simply by switching the low tone “on” and “off.” For works succeeding Ninja Warriors, a part of PSG channel was allotted to Body Sonic which was vibrated by synchronizing it with the explosions, but in DARIUS, it was merely a developing one that vibrated only when entered in the boss zone. —Three years after that, the sequel DARIUS II was released, are there any episode with the volume? OGURA: DARIUS’s music was composed under constant pressure. Since the first DARIUS was a success, the release of sequels could be anticipated, but coming up with the keywords that meet the expectations was hard. Hints for composing DARIUS II came from the Bible. The keyword derived from the chapter taking about “child of light,” the music was composed based on it. And in response to the request to incorporate the voice of a child calling “papa” from afar, the cry of the child gets clearer as the stages progress. —Is that idea linked to the fetus boss (Biostrong) as he appears in DARIUS II? OGURA: It was just a coincidence (laugh). You must have seen Biostrong while the game was being developed, but it was not the source for the idea. Composing starts both simultaneously and separately from game development, so - it is extremely rare that game images are available while the compositions are being written. That being the case, specifications are usually given for what it needed. —I never knew that. There was an impression that all bosses in the last stage in DARIUS series appear synchronized with the music, that being the case, I thought the game development was done before the composition began, especially for the last stage in DARIUS GAIDEN. OGURA: DARIUS GAIDEN was a special case. For example, synchronization was applied consciously to both the concepts, screens, and sounds. The sound direction was adjusted by constantly communicating with the programmers. The last stage begins with no music but only S.E. first, and then the music starts when the climax arrives. ISHIKAWA: That type of direction is used in Dariusburst too. In the last stage, the same music continues from the beginning all the way to the scene where the boss appears, and the tone of the music changes when the boss finally shows up. I got the idea from the method used in DARIUS GAIDEN. —G-DARIUS is regarded as the starting point of the series, does the sound used in it also reflect the concept? OGURA: Not really, I was not conscious that the sound was made that way because the stories available while to me were really coarse. I didn’t even know the tagline “You Will Witness the Birth of Life” until the game was released (laugh). At the time, I was studying about chimeras created by immunology, and used what I learned as the concept for the music in G-DARIUS. The theme was that the enemy is the fusion of a biological being and a machine. The image of the music developed based on the theme coincidentally matched up with the unknown concept. —I have been asking about episodes in making of the first DARIUS through G-DARIUS, but what are the most memorable works for you, OGURA? OGURA: In terms of direction, it is DARIUS GAIDEN. I am fond myself of the idea to play the same music through both stages 1 and 2 is a good one. —The bonus CD album contains a compilation called OGR SELECTION which you personally choose the tunes to be included, what standard did you use in order to pick them? OGURA: When I got the offer, I had no idea how to choose the music. Once I started selecting songs, I realized that it was impossible to compose the selection with the 7 pieces of music. This selection is not what I consider “The Best”, but I rather tried to select the pieces that would tell a complete story. The first tune is CHAOS and the seventh is KIMERA II, that was already decided at the beginning, but the order and arrangement of the rest was up to me, and it was hard to do. I was not sure if it was a good idea to include the tune FAKE, or if the fifth track should be “Dada” or “Network”, and I completed it after repeated trial and error. —ISHIKAWA, From your point of view as the producer of this bonus album, what was your impression of the OGR SELECTION? ISHIKAWA: I honestly thought the album came out fine reflecting what OGURA’s music is all about. I was worried that he would choose a tune like CAPTAIN NEO, which plays in the stage 1 of DARIUS, caring for ZUNTATA (laugh). ZUNTATA KATSUHISA ISHIKAWA Works as a sound engineer for ZUNTATA. Recently he took care of total sound design often. For Dariusburst he was responsible for both sound direction and sound effects design. Notable compositions – Metal Black (sound effects), Darius Gaiden (sound effects), Psychic Force Series (sound director) ZUNTATA SHOHEI TSUCHIYA Works as a composer for ZUNTATA. He takes part in creating music for products ranging from arcade games to mobile applications. He is renowned for his wide range of music sense. For Dariusburst, he acted as the main composer. Notable compositions – Haunted Museum ZUNTATA HIROKAZU KOSHIO Works as a composer for ZUNTATA. He takes part in not only composing but also developing sound development aiding tools and sound systems by making use of his deep knowledge of sound software. Notable compositions – Space Invader Extreme Series, Music Gungun! Series. HISAYOSHI OGURA MUSIC LAB HISAYOSHI OGURA Works as a freelancer currently after having created numerous reputable music under the name OGR for ZUNTATA. For him, “music” should provide visually active experiences and fuse sounds and images. He was one of the composers of the production of Dariusburst. Notable compositions – Darius Series, Arkanoid, Kageno Densetsu, Galactic Storm, Kiki KaiKai —The bonus CD album doesn’t only include OGR SELECTION but also the Super Famicom version of DARIUS TWIN tunes. What was the reason to include them? ISHIKAWA: That’s purely fan service. To add premium value to the sum of the DARIUS ODYSSEY series, I thought it was appropriate to include DARIUS TWIN which is not available on CD yet. DARIUS TWIN’s music was composed by an outside contractor. But the direction and programming were done by us, so I guess you can say DARIUS TWIN is a work of ZUNTATA. Aside from DARIUS TWIN, there is SAGAIA GAME BOY version that is not available on CD yet, but it is going to be downloadable on iTunes Store as of December 2009. With this one too, you will be surprised it was created with only 3 simple sounds and some noises. The Latest Work DARIUSBURST Sound Making Behind the Scenes —Ogura, Tsuchiya and Koshio, three of you who participated in the composition of the music in Dariusburst, what were you guys conscious about while making the sounds? OGURA: In hindsight, I think it’s fairly safe to say that the keywords in making the tunes were “prime numbers.” Although the way the producer Aoki expressed it and the way I did it were different, the belief that DARIUS sounds should be one of a kind was completely the same for us. The image I had in mind during the composition of the music was the establishment of a “network without the core” and “multi-dimensional structure,” but when I began thinking about the titles for the music, it became the keywords “prime numbers,” which were basically the words that related to the numbers that don’t have any divisors other than themselves. But there was more than meets the eye to it - a lot. Then I changed the thinking process for a bit, and came up with titles using some English words and numbers that had meaning to them, and then when I researched about them further, I found that those meaningful numbers themselves were prime numbers. It was also the case with G-DARIUS, these coincidental chemical reactions are what make creating music for DARIUS series (laugh). TSUCHIYA: I began using a different approach to that of Ogura. I started by not feeling the atmosphere, but the words. Plus I haven’t heard any of Ogura’s music for DARIUS since I heard it once at the beginning of the project. Actually I tried not to. It was simply impossible to interfere with Ogura’s already existing world. What I was working on was to create music that lives up to what people expected in Dariusburst, and hadn’t heard Ogura’s Dariusburst music till recently. —My impression on listening to the music by both Ogura and Tsuchiya was that as if you two had met up and composed the music together in a secretive meeting regarding the unified sprit felt in the sounds. TSUCHIYA: That coincidence is what makes DARIUS sounds so interesting in my opinion. Although I was conscious the whole time not to be aware of the sounds Ogura created, but the end result has all the essences DARIUS sounds should have. That proves to me that DARIUS has the definite presence that determines the way the music sounds no mater who makes it. ISHIKAWA: This time around, we asked Ogura to join as a sound team member this time around while Tsuchiya was chosen to be the main composer. As the sound director, I am relieved to get responses, that it was undoubtedly the DARIUS sounds, from the people who heard the Tsuchiya’s music (laugh). —Was there any problem you had to overcome before you started composing? KOSHIO: First of all I made some demos, but was told by Ishikawa they were not fitting as DARIUS sounds (laughs). Then I thought again what the DARIUS sounds were all about, by listening to Ogura’s past DARIUS sounds I tried to understand solely what DARIUS was really about. Finally I came to the conclusion that the music of Dariusburst exists somewhere has nothing to do with the view of world of DARIUS Ogura has created with his music up to now, as yet needs to have the impressions of DARIUS… Actual directions for the composition only became apparent after having listened to Tsuchiya’s music. Tsuchiya’s music was new and well represented DARIUS’s world. ISHIKAWA: As the sound director, regarding the Dariusburst’s music making, I was nervous what kind of music Tsuchiya and Koshio would come up with after telling them to create something new instead of mimicking Ogura’s music. After all, I figured that most users were anticipating the DARIUS world created by Ogura. Honestly, in the beginning of the production, I was thinking that it was such a pain in the butt to direct it due the undeniable impact Ogura had created in the past (laughs). But Dariusburst was the only chance to show the world what ZUNTATA could do in the present progressive form. WHO IS ZUNTATA - TAITO’S RIGHT-HAND MAN? The name ZUNTATA was first used when the TAITO sound development team released the album DARIUS in 1987. Since then ZUNTATA has been active for over 20 years now. The main figure Ogura later became a freelancer. Currently with Ishikawa as the main guy, members as Tsuchiya and Koshio continue to progress toward their next stages. Out of the many sound teams for video game makers, ZUNTATA is surely one of the most renowned. It is told that it was ZUNTATA who decided the sound specifications for TAITO’s arcade PCBs. THE MUSIC STYLE IS EVER-CHANGING. IT ALL DEPENDS ON ATOMOSPHERES AND WHAT MY ANTENNA IS CATCHING. Even after Ogura left TAITO, ZUNTATA is paving the way to revolution and continues to give birth to new sounds. The sounds of Dariusburst are the expressed determination for ZUNTATA. What constitutes DARIUS must be somewhere deeper than where Ogura’s music lies. I am pretty sure Ogura can describe what DARIUS is made out of, but we really don’t want to know. Otherwise there is no point for me to direct the music (laugh). I firmly believe that we obtained significant assets by trial and error in pursuit of what makes up of DARIUS. —Speaking of what makes up DARIUS, would you tell us what it will be in the upcoming series. OGURA: How we make the music is ever-changing. What we feel and is caught on our antennae at the time significantly changes the atmosphere of the sounds. There are no set ways the sound should fall into. We’d rather not say what it is in words but as long as we abide by it, I think we can keep creating new DARIUS sounds no matter if it would be in the arcade form or for PSP. TSUCHIYA: I am well aware that DARIUS music has to be created by Ogura more that the fans do. Nevertheless, I would honestly glad if the users were interested in my other music after playing Dariusburst. KOSHIO: What I noticed after completing the composition was that both the game creators and fans have strong feelings for DARIUS. So, I’d like to discover more of those feelings through Dariusburst. I would be truly honored if I could incorporate the synergy in creating future sounds. ISHIKAWA: DARIUS was a piece of work in which sound direction was extremely difficult. If I can join the team again for the next project, I would love all the composers to let me hear the music made with unlimited imagination and new ideas again. DARIUS is a very special title to us, and we wouldn’t stop reinventing the sounds as well as the game itself. —Finally, please give a message to the readers who will play Dariusburst. KOSHIO: The visuals are beautiful and sounds are fit to the contemporary trends. We’d like the players to feel something that exists though the series by both watching, and listening to the new DARIUS. TSUCHIYA: They should discover something new in the sounds if they read our interview once again after playing the game. OGURA: Even though Dariusburst is for PSP, which is a small device, it is created so that you can feel the vastness of the world and the hugeness of the enemies. We really hope that the players enjoy it by expanding their imaginations without boundaries. We also recommend them to pay their attention to the original DARIUS soundtrack album, which is on its way to be released. If you listen to it as a CD album, you’ll start seeing a different Dariusburst world altogether. ISHIKAWA: This latest Dariusburst sounds are high quality as music in general and also function really well as game music. That’s only possible because it exists within a game, and it can be considered as “the game sound.” We’d really like the fans to enjoy the music and sounds as they play the game without any preconception whether it is a DARIUS game or any other shooting game. – The members of ZUNTATA and Ogura, thank you for the valuable talks today. *This interview was recorded in 2009. 2013: ZUNTATA TODAY ZUNTATA is thriving even after the year 2009 when the interview was recorded. In 2011 they held a solo live concert for the first time in 12 years, in conjunction with the DARIUSBURST - ANOTHER CHRONICLE developer talk show. In 2012, they released the album “COZMO ~ ZUNTATA 25th Anniversary ~” celebrating the 25th anniversary of the start of the company. It received much attention of game music fans for its luxurious content that included the work of 12 members of the team. It contributes their musical pieces to game companies other than TAITO too.
  2. Gandalf42

    Goals for the site.

    So I started Shmuptacular around thirteen years ago.. granted it's been on hiatus for a number of years.. but the goals have always been the same. Originally, I launched the site because there just wasn't a ton of STG related content (games, reading material, art, etc) that was easily available to fans and I wanted to tie together what was out there. Over the last five years or so, everything has really changed. STG games are much more common then they were before and accessibility (due to online shops) has helped the genre flourish. I'd always planned on bringing the site back and now seemed as good a time as any. One of my main goals with this relaunch is to bring a lot of the disparate parts of the genre together under one roof. To that end, I've started adding doujin freeware games into the files section, the forums encompass all topics from playing and collecting to development. I've also started to aggregate video content from some of the big channels in the STG scene. I've added a few of blackoak and rancor's excellent interview translations to the articles section. The gallery section has a selection of shmup artwork (professional and fan created). All of the content is also being appropriately tagged- so using the tag system on this site will allow you to pull all content related to a specific tag by just clicking on it. There are still some kinks to work out with the uploads to the site being buggy.. but hopefully we'll get those worked out in time. I've also been trying to reach blackoak about his stance on me mirroring his translations but I haven't heard back from him yet. My reason for including them is really about preservation.. having the translations on multiple sites will help make sure they survive if a few sources go down.. That being said, all of his excellent translations are available from his site Shmuplations and most of the ones I'm mirroring are from his posts on Shmups Forum. That's about all for now. If you like the site be sure to share it with your friends! Take care, -Gandalf42
  3. ASTRO PORT Interview Translated by rancor. —First of all, tell us about the beginning of your circle. SAK: I met ORDAN on a Dezaemon 3D fan site. We made games by exchanging floppy disks through the mail. Ordan started to complain saying, "it's time to switch to a more efficient method of doing this". ORDAN: I suggested to him that I could be in charge of programing while he would be in charge of everything else. From this basis we formed our group. This was in April of 2006. —I see, so Mr. ORDAN managed all the programming matters, and Mr. SAK took care of the rest. SAK: He also did overall game design, I did planning, direction, and other miscellaneous stuff. —Games coming out of non-hentai circles are mainly shooting games, right? What are your favorite shooting games? ORDAN: The Gradius series. Especially II, Gaiden and V. Among vertical shooting games, I like Battle Garegga, I own the PCB for that one. I also like Image Fight. SAK: I like the Gradius series too. It was the title that made me realize how wonderful video games can be. It had such a great influence on me that you could say it led me to this industry. My other favorite game is ZANAC. Those two are the best to me. —Back to Satazius, how did you guys come to create the game? SAK: Because ASTRO PORTs games are usually so easy to clear, we wanted to make a game that is harder. As we said, we love Gradius as well as other terrain dependent shooting games that are rather hard even though they have been made easy to play. —The game contains a lot of elements found in Gradius and Darius, doesn’t it? SAK: That is true. The tagline "Prepare Yourself" is also an important element of the game because you’ll most likely have to repeatedly die before clearing it. The message is that only those who are prepared to die should buy the game. ORDAN: I really wanted to include infinity scroll in Satazius. Like the fifth stage of Salamander 2 and Gradius V, it’s great to be able to scroll up and down freely as far as you like. —In terms of difficulty, the stage one boss is pretty ridiculous in Satazius. I really got into it. ORDAN: It's been criticized that the boss in stage 1 was far too difficult. In fact, the boss in stage 2 is not as tough as the first one. Initially the first stage boss was to be put in the second stag and vice versa, but the order was changed at the last minute to make more of an initial impact. SAK: We anticipated that we’d get complaints regarding the order. However everything turned out OK because that decision gave the game a bit of publicity. —I find it unique that weapon power up methods are different for each shot. It’s also remarkable that only the most powerful mode has the time limit. ORDAN: First, we were gonna make the most powerful mode to gain special points, but changed it because the point of changing the weapons gets lost if the weapon that is in its most powerful mode can earn more points than others significantly. So we put the time limit on the most powerful mode, and the time would extend if you get more items. SAK: Originally we were worried that the setup might cause unnecessary stresses to the rest of the program, but found out that it didn't at all. We are always making games by trial and error. —Are there any particular points in the game that you want people to pay attention to? SAK: All of the mechanical design. We wanted to make the machines in the game to be distinct. In that area, we put a lot of work on every vehicle. ORDAN: The up and down scrolling I was talking about earlier was really difficult to realize. And the part where the missiles fly really close to the ground was harder than I thought initially. SAK: That was already being done in the 80's, but it was much harder to actually program it myself. We were amazed to know that something that is still hard to do today was already being done in the 80's on hardware that was far inferior than ours. We'd also like people to notice how the armor of the stage one boss gradually comes off. —The game has a lot of scenes that remind me of the famous scenes from some older vertical and horizontal shooting games! ORDAN: Yes. In the stage one, if you make holes in the bridge, it collapses and blocks the way. That was inspired by the MSX version of Gradius. We thought of stage one of the Game Boy title Nemesis 2 for the rapid scrolling while fighting the bosses, and for the stage one, the fifth stage of Salamander. But what we ended up with was entirely different from those. —Were there any other unexpected incidents took place in the production? SAK: Yes, my hand suddenly stopped working while working on the title. I faced a slump while creating graphics. I think it was a mental thing. Right away I emailed ORDAN and told him "I am sorry, I’m really messed up now!" Because we were so close to the completion, I asked him to make the final adjustments. ORDAN: I told him it was OK to take time off until he could recover. SAK: I felt relieved. For a week, I concentrated on my daily job leaving the doujin life behind entirely. But after that week, I started wanting to draw again. I was happy to hear from ORDAN that I could count on him —I can feel a strong tie bonds you two. I really want people to play the game all the way to HARD after clearing NORMAL! Thank you very much for today's interview!
  4. Yotsuba (Crimzon Clover) Translated by rancor. —When did you start programming this title? Yotsuba: I began working on this game as a result of finishing my formal university schooling. From that point, Crimzon Clover took me 5 years to complete. —Was it your intention from the beginning to make a shmup title? Yotsuba: Without a doubt. I suffered a setback in learning programming while I was a college student. It was very difficult to learn in theory without practice, and I just didn't have the time to dedicate to learn it properly. After I graduated and started working in the programming industry I had a chance to code as a part of my job. Doing it everyday and being around people that could answer any questions I had, I leaned how I could finally make the game I was seeing in my head. I started making games with the intention of creating what I believed to be the "Ultimate Shooting Game", but couldn't because of the sense of failure I had experienced during my college years. —One can totally feel that you love the STG genre from your game. And it can also be felt that you really had gamers in mind while creating the game. I think it is a game in which the player can vividly feel that they get better as they progress. Yotsuba: I'm really happy to hear that it is the impression on the game. I made sure that the game players can choose either 1UPs or a higher score at the conclusion of each level. For example, upon seeing the "Game Over" screen, I want players to think: "It was my own fault that the game is over because I didn't take the 1UP that last time." Even in the shop system, I attempted to include the concept that "lives can be purchased by your own will" has more impact on the playability than "automatically increased lives." —What was the reason for being able to choose either a bonus score or a 1UP after clearing a stage? Yotsuba: With arcade games, it is usually the case that more skilled players get scores faster than those who are not so skilled - however - since I could now write the rules in my own game, I wanted to make it faster to get lives for those who are less skilled. Therefore more skilled players can throw away 1UPs and gain a high score, while less skilled players can choose 1UPs. That is the logic. —That's a new idea! What are some other points you want people to pay attention to, and take care to notice? Yotsuba: For better or worse I aimed for a game that doesn' t evoke a sense of being a "doujin title". One example of me attempting to achieve that goal was that all of the graphics for the ground-based gun turrets were basically done in perspective. Because rotating perspective graphics look unnatural when they lose their rotation functionality, I had to draw many frames of animation. If I say that there are 32 animations for each tank, it means that I have put in 32 times the effort of other games that also have a sprite rotation functionality in them. Moreover, if you'll notice, bullets from the enemy come out from the tip of the gun, not the center of the tank as many other titles do. This is a very lazy approach to animation because where the bullets come out changes as the gun barrel rotates. Doing those menial tasks without becoming overwhelmed was my motto during creation of this game because I believe that the image of quality as a concept is deep-seated in the nature of the game. You can't take short cuts here and there and expect to be a groundbreaking title. As far as adjusting levels of difficulties goes, I asked a lady friend of mine who likes shooting games to help me with play-testing. Since I'm on the developing side of the game, I would have not made too many adjustments as a result of my numbed senses from getting used to the character of the game so much, but I became sure that the game would work because the girl helping me finally cleared the original mode - barely. Should any complaint that the game is too easy arise, I could simply say, "forgive me for that, the game is designed so that even a female player can clear (laugh)." —I see (laugh), What kinds of reactions to the game have you been getting since it's been released? Yotsuba: Thankfully I have been receiving mostly positive responses. I've been quite surprised by reactions from overseas. Even at the Comic Market event in Odaiba, foreign people were buying my game - I even received e-mails asking whether I would sell my game online or not. —Any final thoughts for the readers? Yotsuba: Until now, since I had only been on the playing side of doujin gaming, I didn't realize how rewarding it is to have my game played by so many people. The game was made with the goal that "this is the ULTIMATE shooting game!" I sincerely hope everyone out there enjoys my creation!
  5. Akai Katana Round Table Discussion Translated by rancor. —First off, please tell us your responsibilities in Akai Katana. Yagawa: In my case, I’ve been a part of this game since the initial conception of the arcade version. So the contents and the playability of the game had never been my concerns while doing the programming design. To explain my work assignment - I worked on the internal coding parts of the software and the others dealt with the parts which more directly have to do with the visual parts of the game. Fujioka: I’ve been on the team since the conception of the Xbox 360 version of "Akai Katana Shin." Incorporating the surrounding areas of the interface, and the result and save parts into the game was my part in creating the game. Koizumi: I worked on the player mechanics and most of the systems around scoring, and also directed the demo version of "Akai Katana". I am wholly responsible for the creation of "Zetsu・Akai Katana" - I made it all on my own. Kimura: I’ve been on the team since the planning of the Xbox 360 of "Akai Katana Shin". I’ve been working on product management and the overall graphic/design matters. One of my responsibilities was to create the manuals as well as the initial packaging design. Once we all decided on the general framework and look of the game I made further adjustments. —OK, so what was the motivation for you guys to create "Akai Katana" to begin with? Koizumi: When I joined, Mr. Yagawa was already working on the project - you had been working for 3 months up to the point, isn't that right? Yagawa: Uh...that's right. I think I stared in March of last year (2010). —Had the world and the style of the game already been decided? Koizumi: The world of the game was already shaped when I joined the developing team. Yagawa: This time around I didn't participate in the initial planning at all, but rather worked on realizing the concepts developed by the main designer Mr. Nomura. Koizumi: In all of our games we have the designer set up the world before anything else is done. After the designer has finished creating the outline, the programmers start working based on this simple outline. My part with this game didn't start until the overall idea was formed. —Were the new game systems for the X360 version proposed on the designers side as well? Yagawa: No - I think those were created by IKD... Kimura: I think it all started when IKD said, "Once they complete regular mode, people will eventually want something more hardcore." After we completed the last fantasy-themed game for Cave, we decided to go back with the style of what we made in the earlier years... We knew we wanted to get back into the military genre, but we also wanted to include human characters as well that was absent in some of our previous games. Yagawa: Uh... I don't remember haring about any of that (laughs). I thought it was going to be much closer in style to our other games. I remember that there was definitely a military flavor in it after seeing for the first time the screen samples in Mr. Nomura’s initial presentation. After a while, when it was actually beginning to be made into the game, the transformation of the plane to the human form became a fact. Kimura: Wait… So if we had always planned to include a human element, why was it a robot game in the beginning? Yagawa: Robot game? It was never going to be a robot game. Not that I know of. Kimura: Really? Am I the only one who saw that? I’m sure that in earlier versions there were robots transforming into planes (laugh). Koizumi: Come to think of it, maybe there was a period in which that was the case. Yagawa: What? I had no idea (laughs). Koizumi: It was before the name "Akai Katana" was even decided - even before what kind of a world the game should take place was decided. That was when ideas were just being thrown around for our next game. Kimura: From what I heard, the players character was originally on a horse. You could become a character with a horse and you had this ridiculously large sword that you wielded. Yagawa: ...Isn't that a completely a different game? Kimura: No! Wait! I have really seen it (everyone laughs)! The horse-play stuff couldn't be realized because it completely changed the characteristics of the game. - Robots - —So when did "Akai Katana Shin" shift development from the arcade version to the Xbox 360 version? Yagawa: It was like once the arcade version was out, that was it – we were finished working on the coin-op version. The very next day we began work on the X360 conversion. Koizumi: As far as the early planning went, we were always thinking about eventually making the Xbox 360 version. —So at what time were you working on the special consumer PCB version that was only available through the online shop? There were a few changes in the versions, right? Why? Yagawa: Um, that was... there was a lot happening... Kimura: I'd say that things were included in that consumer version that we just didn’t have time to implement in the arcade PCB. I can assume that users want to know the real reason. I'd say it was that there were a lot of things IKD couldn’t finish with the deadline we were working with. Yagawa: Um, I don't think that was the reason (laughs). Kimura: To make long story short, it was about making as much money as possible. In fact, the consumer board was the version full of IKD features. —Because there was a large number of enthusiastic users regardless of the high price, they went on with purchasing the PCB, right? Kimura: Didn’t it cost around 220,000 yen? Then it really is a treasure. It’s almost the price of an engagement ring (laughs). Koizumi: Considering the background of its creation, I don't think there will ever be a conversion - even though we are aware of the requests made by users. Kimura: Make sure to emphasize that part, with a "no way in hell!," like that (laughs). It really was a "limited version." —Regarding the system and the difficulty in the original version, did the “shin” system take the same form as in the latest version? Koizumi: We created the fighters and the human characters in advance, and then decided what we could do with them. First there was the demand from IKD that the game should attract new users... Not just the maniacs that usually play STGs. The current “shin” system was the result of us thinking what it would take to make a game in which anyone can play. —When the game was given the location test at HEY! late last year (2010), wasn't the game system almost fully complete? Koizumi: Yes. The overall game system was nearly completed by the time the location test was done. —Speaking of the location test, hasn't the red laser that could kill you with a single blow been changed dramatically? Koizumi: When it comes to the red laser, nobody was really in charge of it, and no one has taken responsibility... Yagawa: Nah, I think it was you (laughs). Koizumi: To me, penalizing the player with an instant death was too much... I applied a damage system instead because I wanted to avoid an unnecessary death if you cannot use Nenshin. Yagawa: I don't think you should die instantly with that kind of a laser. Koizumi: If you die so easily, there has to be much less laser shootings going on (laughs). I think the adjustment was just right for the enemy side to shoot the laser frequently. But, since the laser damage has been reduced, I personally think the laser should damage you a bit more. —I think it was a superb adjustment to have the guiding gauge recover when a red laser hits. Koizumi: To tell you the truth, the part of the gauge recovering was not intentional... Yagawa: Why are you revealing that?! So much for me keeping quiet about it! (laughs). Well, we had already decided to incorporate a damage system at the coordination stage, and later on we realized that the number of gauges was steadily increasing (laughs). —As far as the player vehicles go, there is a controlling technique called the "speed recharge," am I right? Koizumi: That was the result of a request that came from inside the department to maintain the guiding items by pushing the button slightly, right before the product version was to be released. From there the technique consecutively came into existence, but up until then it was totally out of the picture. Under those circumstances, in the Xbox 360 “arcade” mode the speed recharge is available, but we have made it unavailable in "Shin" and "Zetsu." —I'd like to ask you guys more about "Akai Katana shin," - what was the most important concept in this? Kimura: The No. 1 sales point was for it to be the first time one of our games would utilize 16:9 full screen for home use. Yagawa: Really? I didn't know that. Kimura: Yes. There was a full screen compatibility in one of our 3D games, but this is the first time in a 2D shooting. Well, there is no dream in the info since it is not directly related to the game (laughs). Originally a game is started being made from such a aspect, and most of arcade screens' aspect ratio is 4:3 right? But when it becomes 16:9, density of enemies changes, Yagawa suggested the change saying, "it's simpler than you think." At the stage of discussing about remaking the order of the enemies, there was finally the talk, "do you want to change the system too?" Either way, what came up from IKD first was what was called first "in which hurricanes flies" introduced in the introduction in February. After tweaking that over and over again, it became "Shin mode." —Koiszumi or IKD, who was in charge of the Hagane system in "Akai Katana Shin?" Koizumi: When I joined the developing team, it was the second half of the developing term... Kimura: In the very beginning, the "hurricane" system was thought up by IKD. But a "hurricane" is like a wind - nobody knew how to differentiate the two yet. Being so flashy was good though. And to make it discerned clearly as, "katana!" Then katana was flying (laughs). And there were a lot of generic katana items spewed out, but they were all tiny in the beginning. The first plan was that small katanas got together in like a “juggling” form and throw big katanas. But more than we guessed, it was visually a bit too vague (laughs). —Don't you think you worried too much about that when it was compatible with high resolution HD? Kimura: When you actually played the game, it was hard to see them. Koizumi: If all the colors used for every katana are similar, it becomes hard to tell them apart. Then based on Kimura's request to change the images of the items, the prototype of the final product version came up. —This small katana talked about here, was it almost identical to Hagane item seen in the product version? Kimura: Uh... there are the small katanas left in it too, but in the meantime, for the purpose of having a preparation stage, Hagane item and Hagane were born, but in the beginning those too were regular katanas (laughs). The arcade version's system had the impression of being really hard, so IKD was asked to make that simpler first. As a result of it, Nenshin's no-enemy was gone, and the whole thing had become simplified. Since this katana part was way complicated, it was open to question whether to increase items or not. Even without this challenge, it was a game with tons of items, we worried a lot saying, "what should we do, what should we do?! (laughs)." —You are right, "Shin" mode pumps out a large number of items no matter what you do (laughs). Kimura: Right - that was exactly as we intended. Koizumi: On contrary, since it was hard to understand the appearing conditions of the Kidou item on the arcade version, we created the form in which users get a response back in answer to their actions. Kimura: By varying the appearance rates of defense mode and attack mode, we attempted to make each role clearly assigned. After all, no matter what kind of attack it is, there is always a response from each item, and in reaction to the response, you can figure out a strategy to clear the game. Well, just seeing a lot of items popping out, one is happy (laughs). —While you are thinking "is it OK to pull out an item like this," your characters ship disappears, right? Kimura: About this part, is it OK if I ask you not to ask me (smile)? Actually none of the characters were disappearing while the developing team was first working on them. Koizumi: Well.. Of course we tried not to have the users plane disappear - that was a glitch out of our control... On the other hand if we had made them not to disappear completely, even though amazing things are happening, the items would not look as good due to bad art direction / composition. So, we thought it would not hurt too much to have the players ship disappear as a result of all that's happening onscreen. —Since the initial X360 version of Akai Katana I saw, I think the user interface has been largely reorganized. Koizumi: Well yes – that, and compared to the simpler looking interface of past titles, the entire look of "Akai Katana Shin" is totally different thanks to the hard labor of Fujioka (smile). —Especially the function packed replay related parts that are receiving so many positive responses from users. Fujioka: The rewrite part of the replay was made by Yagawa, and we later decided to keep it in the final version. Yagawa: I made that after thinking that it would be great if the game had such a function. It is a bit hard to describe with words, but although good players enjoy scoring with a single coin, that is not the case with every player. If you can score a lot of points after a bunch of tries, that is fun too! Those approaches on how to play is an outcome of a lot of experimenting with what's fun and what’s not. Fujioka: Since there was no major problem with them in the end, we included them in the game. Yagawa: And he shaped the way to control them. —Some users are complaining that the number of replay saves is too low. Fujioka: If we increased the number of saves more than what is currently offered, the stage check on the title screen get too long. 20 saves per 3 modes, 100 saves for the novice, and the total number will match that of "Great Resurrection", it would be too much... Kimura: The game would refuse to start (smile). This time around we were into minimizing loading time for the XBOX, as well as ergonomics. It should be far more manageable than previous titles even without installing to the HDD. Fujioka: Yes - we wanted to prevent "Now Loading" from appearing in the first stage. Kimura: Not to flatter myself but I really think we did a good job on the menus. I’m especially impressed by the part when the cherry blossoms scatter as the scenes change. Fujioka: We showed the basic menu form in the first PV "An Important Message from Cave." But that and the product version are totally different. It was tough (smile). —How was it working with people who were working on different areas of the game on different platforms? Kimura: This is an opinion by someone who had dealt with consumer games, but the directing part was really hard. On arcade games you feel you have to keep playing a game as long as the one coin you put in allows you to - but on consumer games you can always pause the game. you’re playing.. For instance, “bust up”* of after-battle commentary, there is nothing strange about doing that on a consumer game but it would be annoying to be shown that over and over again in an arcade game. Koizumi: Indeed playing with or without pausing means completely different things between consumer games and arcade games. Kimura: This time it is not a cut-in, but eye gazing is there. That was my strong request, and it's been put in without stopping time... I think that is exactly what consumers really care about. The names appear on the arcade versions too, but I wanted to include those close-ups factors into the Xbox 360 version. —In contrast, how was creating this game as someone who came from an arcade game field? Yagawa: How was it? Well, I don't think the final product is bad at all. It might sound like a complaint, but I deeply regret that I couldn't put in what I wanted to do partly because of the limited production time. There’s a lot of regulation when making a consumer game, so needless to say but it is unavoidable for the software to occasionally crash. In order to give enough time to deal with it, there were a lot of features that had to be cut out, but replay and 2P simultaneous play were preserved. But the rest had to be cut. Koizumi: True, there is definitely more freedom in making arcade games in that regard. Yagawa: On the drawing boards, 2P simultaneous play was possible in "Akai Katana Shin" too. Nonetheless, there were so many hurdles that would need to be overcome to include it. The fastest way to meet the requirements was to limit the game to 1P play only. Well, we didn't find out about the regulations until we didn't have enough time to make changes according to the provisions, plus Fujioka was very frustrated (smile). Fujioka: I had a lot of work to do... Yagawa: Therefore, we gave up on realizing 2P simultaneous play in the game. And we also wanted to implement an online ranking with a replay function, but this too we’ll have to postpone for another game. —Had you already planned to have the hidden ending and Shin Bashou as additional features in the "Shin mode" from the very first stage of the production? Kimura: Regarding the "Shin" ending, yes it was planned from the very beginning... To tell you the truth Shin Bashou part was not planned (smile). Let’s just say that “someone” forcefully included that character... Yagawa: “Someone”? Who? Kimura: That would of course be Asada. Had it been someone like IDK, he would have not suggested such a thing so out of the blue. I didn't even know that it had been created and I was then all of a sudden told "this is to be included, and this is the appearing condition!" "Zetsu" was a secret too. “Someone” should not have revealed it (smile). Koizumi: That is right. He should not have said it (smile). Kimura: I asked, "Can I put it in?" And then the very next day the whole wide world knew about it (smile). It was so finely made, you will agree if you actually play "Zetsu." That was why we didn't want anyone to think it was only a matter of time. Koizumi: I didn't want users to think, "what was the arcade version all about?" rather than it's been a result of the process. Kimura: After all, it was not created based on the impressions playing the arcade version. It was merely an adjustment made thinking, "what could happen if we took out the restrictions of the 19:9 screen?" It was adjusted beyond the potentials of the base hardware... If we made it too apparent, we thought it would not give users a good impression, but honestly, we wanted to keep it. Our games often have things you can do with hidden commands. We were planning to incorporate more challenging things but we ended the ambition as soon as they were found out. Didn't it even already have commands in it? Fujioka: That's right. If you input the arcade version's removal command "Death Smiles II," "Zetsu" was to be released, but it was set aside indefinitely. —Had you also planned the stage added as of "Shin" mode from the start? Kimura: In terms of the new stage, it existed from the very beginning of the production. It is supposed to be depicting the scene on the way to attack the enemy's secret base, but I never expected it to be so long. Yagawa: That level takes way too much memory (smile). "What the hell is this?" was my first impression of the huge map that comes up, I hope somebody can sympathize with the person who had to make that... Koizumi: I heard that that was the result of Tanaka who was in charge of the background art and getting into it too much. Kimura: Well, I heard that it was a battle requiring the highest concentration. Right when your concentration weakens, the huge boss shows up. Koizumi: Tell me about it, it is really huge. It didn't even fit in the screen... Kimura: The very fact the boss is taking up most of the screen page and tries to crush the character right when a player loses his full attention is exactly the style of Ichimura. He admits it’s not supposed to be that hard to clear since you don't even need to use Nenshin... By the way, as far as "Shin" goes, he adjusted it so that a player can clear the game without using Nenshin. —This might be a rather arbitrary question, but what is one the one feature that cannot be excluded from "Akai Katana" for each of you? Koizumi: The "Ah, it is really huge" factor of the ending - I was impressed by the size of Suzuran standing at the ending of the third machine. That is something you cannot find in any other game. The ending of the arcade version was added in the very last minute, but the impact I got from looking at the illustration of the scene was something I still cannot forget (smile). Kimura: Concerning Gennin, that size has been always the final size, and it is not an exaggeration but the actual size. Without a doubt, it is an indispensable factor when you talk about "Akai Katana (smile)." Koizumi: Another attraction worth mentioning is undeniably the humongous Nensou weapons the boss character summons. Was it Yagawa who created the battleships that fall down one after another? Yagawa: Yeah I did, but still asked to include it in the game. Initially the graphic was to be used for the first boss, somehow Ichimura neglected that plan (smile). First of all, I was going be in charge of the basic parts, and Ichimura was working on the actual attack patterns - when I noticed that whole parts from our initial plans were being eliminated. I thought, "wtf?" and the person who was drawing the sprites was also confused - we were both upset by this – to put it lightly. Then by chance - on the path in the stage 5 vertical fighting scene - we had to tell IKD about that "we really need you to include our parts!" At first he hesitated, but after continually bothering him, he eventually put them in the game. —OK – I see that there were far more features that Yagawa couldn’t live without (smile). Yagawa: It is not necessarily true but since we’re being asked, we just told you how they came about. The factors may be impossible to delete, what would they be... —If nothing comes to mind, tell me things even not related to the game directly. Yagawa: There were many aspects we had a trouble with... On top of the large memory requirements, there were so many unreasonable requests - like how we were told the boss should have a certain “look” while we were in the middle of the production. Basically I look back on the creation of this game as an insane feat. There were so many challenging parts in terms of programming! Even with the Xbox 360 version, because the programming was transferred in the original form and rather hastily done in some parts, the whole thing is really taxing on the system memory. And to fix all the problem we discussed earlier would have resulted in the lack of necessary RAM for the actual game to run - it was an extremely tough task as we had to spend more than a month on bug squashing alone. I handled the replay function by reprogramming the entire thing from scratch in order to reduce the program size down to one tenth of the original. —OK, so what was it for Fujioka? Fujioka: Even though I am personally not so good at making shooting games, I am confident that the game is done in the way I can think loud, "want to earn!" I think one can easily say Akai Katana is a game that guarantees each shot will evoke the player with an exhilarating feeling... In "Dodonpachi" you can always go eagerly in a hyper mode, while in "Akai Katana" with a single shot enemy missiles vanish by an induced explosion, and in "Akai Katana Shin" they vanish by thrown katanas, I think those factors expressed by a single shot cannot be omitted. We hope users can enjoy the game because those points have been finely tuned. —Once Mr. Kimura took over as director, what elements changed? Kimura: Before I took over as director the game was much more action oriented. I added some opportunities for dialogue during the battles. I think that would be seen as my main contribution was taking over the position. Another aspect I’m proud of was the interaction of visuals and sound within the game. A lot of time was spent ensuring that not only are you seeing explosions but hopefully with the right audio setup you’re feeling them as well! (laughs). One difference you may notice between the arcade and ported version is that the backgrounds aren’t as animate in the arcade. For example – on stage 2 the moons reflection is animated in the xbox version. It looks very different in the arcade. This is because of the massive amounts of power available from the XBOX. With all of this being said, I don't want the player to only listen to what I have to say – telling you all of the things that we accomplished as a team – I hope that the emotions come across through the game without anyone having to tell you “why” it’s special, or what you should be feeling at certain points. I had worked before on the arcade version and compared to that I can honestly say the new systems included in the port are crazy fun. I can’t explain to you how to become an expert at this game – you just have to play it for yourself and find out what happens next. Yagawa: Wait – lets go back – you said that the XBOX is so much more powerful than our arcade boards – that is true - , but it wasn’t a problem of the arcade boards being underpowered, its just that we had a lot more time to spend on the XBOX version so of course it looks better. It had nothing to do with the system performance of arcade boards vs. the XBOX 360. —Ok! Final question! Do you have any parting thoughts for those reading the interview? Kimura: I feel very proud having been part of this latest release. Cave will continue to put out the highest quality shooting games as long as our customers stay interested! I hope that in the future the readers of this interview will have a chance to play the games we currently have in development. Koizumi: Coming from the arcade side, I hope that players will give the new XBOX port a chance – it really is good! Fujioka: Personally I was scared about releasing this game. As anyone familiar with our history knows, we don't have the greatest experience in releasing horizontal STGs. I was honestly worried what the fans would think and how they would receive it, but by all accounts the game has been relatively successful. I’m glad I got the chance to work on this rare side of CAVE and hope the experience will bring fun and opportunity to the fans as well as the company. Yagawa: This year at CAVE more titles than ever – across many platforms – will be released. We’d like to apologize to customers on a limited budget in advance – but please buy our titles!
  6. Makoto Asada Translated by rancor. —This year is Caves 16th anniversary. Please tell us how you feel about it. Asada: I’ve only been at Cave for the last two years, so I really cant comment on the 14 years prior to my arriving here. However, I can now look at Cave from the point of view of a staff member and also from the point of view of a fan – and I can see many things. To most of our fans, this company seems to be making only shooting games - but the size of the department responsible for this is actually relatively small when compared to other departments. When I came to Cave I felt strange because what people think is going on here is actually very different from the way things actually are. Honestly, with the way the market for shooting games is these days, how long do you imagine we as a company could survive in this world? I’m not speaking only of this section, but the company as a whole may not exist in the future. I can’t deny the possibility. I think it would be difficult for Cave as a company to continue if they only published shooting games in the future. We need to be creating new genres of games in the next two or three years in order to survive. I’m currently in the process of thinking of new ideas for coming years. Coming up with new ideas and making new games is one of our attempts at growing. —What did you do before you started working at Cave? Asada: I did many things. When I first got into the world of programming games I had a lot of worries because I didn't have a direction. “Making games looks like fun” was my entire reason for entering this world, but the reality is very difficult. In the beginning I was often too busy to even get a nights sleep. I think the only reason I got through this early period in my career is because of the “Power of Youth”. When I first joined Cave my job was to test completed games. This was all day, everyday. People thought I was lucky because not only could I play a lot of games, but I also made my living doing it. However, I only felt agony. Now I don't even play the games I make because of this agonizing past experience - never mind the games of others. I’ve made many games in my career here at Cave, but honestly I’ve played very few of them. Since I began working at this company, I don’t have any videogames in my house. I think if I were to play the games that I make I would only feel regret for the things that I could have or should have done. I’m far too critical of the way things turn out. Its better to turn this energy into creating new games rather than dwelling on what I could have done with games I have finished. —You’ve lost a lot of weight, haven’t you? Is this a result of working for Cave? Asada: Yeah, it’s true – I have lost a lot of weight since I started here. This happened during my first project because I just had too much stress. When I joined the team, there was no direction, I was given no advice, not even an outline of what I should be doing or what management was expecting. During that period of time I used all of my life energy either working or worrying. I was a bit chubby then, so perhaps the weight loss was for the best. The culture here at Cave is such that when we finish one title, we immediately move on to our next project. We honestly don’t have a break between releases. Cave doesn’t give us any breaks, so it’s difficult to stay healthy. In my case I never have only one game that I’m working on – it’s usually two or three so I’m probably busy beyond what you can imagine. Without a doubt, the most difficult point in my life here at Cave so far was between September 2009 and May 2010. This was during the XBOX 360 releases of Mushihime-sama, Galuda II Black, and Deathsmiles IIX. Not only was I behind the scenes programming these games, but I also had to attend our matsuri events as well as attend press conferences and game conventions. You’ll notice that the time I mentioned falls within “Golden Week” (Japans week long national holiday) but even then I was in the warehouse packing CDs for FedEX. I honestly have no vacation time here. I wish that we as a company weren’t doing so many things at once, because I’d really like to have some time off. —You sound like a busy guy, do you have any personal time? Asada: Honestly, no. I didn’t have a single day off from October 2009 to May 2010. I was here at work on New Years Eve. Even with so much work, the only game I’ve ever delivered on schedule has been Galuda II Black. —Sounds like you’ve given up a lot to work at Cave. Do you have time for any hobbies? Asada: No. No time for hobbies. I liked playing games before, but I really don't feel like playing any now. When I was younger, I was really into video games. Actually, I take that back - My hobby is horse racing. I’ve written about horse racing, and I even wrote a horse racing game. I really got into it when I was about 20 years old. Once, when I was working for another company I got an 800,000 yen bonus ($10,000 USD) and I blew it all at the horse races. Well, I didn’t “blow” it, because I ended up winning about 4 times that amount. I spent all of the money that night going to Ginza with 20-30 of my closest friends. Actually, not only did I spend all of the money by the following morning, but I was actually in debt. These days I’m not so foolish with my money, but if there’s a horse I’m sure of I’ll throw in a bit of money on him. A while back there was a horse that I really liked to bet on but he retired. My friend owns a horse, and I went to the celebration of his first win. (sigh) That was a happy time in my life. —That's a great hobby! So when did you start playing games? Asada: I played my first video game in Kindergarten. It was one of Nintendo’s “Game and Watch” handhelds. Looking back now, these were very simple games with easy patterns and yet I was completely absorbed by it. After I played it so much and it became too easy I began to make my own rules such as “don't jump more than twice”. With those new rules I felt as if I had created a new game. In addition to the Game and Watch, my family had a series of home computers such as the MSX, SG-1000 II and the Sega Mark III. I played many types of games on these systems, but I had never played shooting games such as what I make now. When I was hired by Cave I played a shooting game for the first time, and I actually didn't know what to do. —Being a producer now, what do you put emphasis on? Asada: The most important thought to a producer is “How many games can we sell?” A producer doesn't make games, but I am responsible for the budget and sales. If these sales can’t support the budget than we go into the red. You obviously can’t run a company that way. We must sell as many games as possible in order to keep our company profitable. If we can’t release games on schedule and sell them in significant numbers then we need to cut the budget. I’m constantly worrying about the budget because I’m the one responsible for it. My title is producer, but in fact I do all sorts of odd jobs as well. —Would you say that you and IKD both do work beyond your job titles? Asada: Well, everyone in this section does! In my case I must budget, plan the games as well as organize public events. It’s probably fairly easy for most people to understand what making a game is like. Think about the construction industry. Even with people being hired and fired, people going on vacation, etc buildings still must be constructed on time. When one construction project is finished they move on to the next with little to no interest at looking back on what they have completed. Maybe a construction worker will have a bit of time off between one project and the next, but here at Cave we get absolutely no vacation time. When we we’re making Deathsmiles II X, I actually stayed here at the company offices for more than 100 days. Sleeping here, eating here, everything. I wish that our company policy were to concentrate on one project at a time. I feel like when I’m so busy I can’t pay proper attention to catching problems or squashing bugs. Each time a project is finished I reflect a bit on my faults and promise myself I wont make the same mistakes again. As you can probably guess, this is much easier said than done. When I’m asked to tackle so many tasks at once I try to prioritize them by how important they are, but I feel that I can’t do any of the tasks well. —It seems like everyone here at the Cave offices are really friendly with each other. Is this true? Asada: I really don’t get to see my team so much these days because I’m not spending so much time at the office anymore. When I do get a chance to check in it’s usually at night when I go for my walk. My house is actually quite close to the Cave offices and is quite well equipped for business these days, so most anything that needs to be done I feel I can do better from home. It’s not we don’t get along. I’m their manager, and I don't want to have this air of importance about me. My staff are all much more experienced than me. Most of them have worked here at Cave for more than 10 years, so they work well together and have learned each others rhythms and mannerism. I can say that my staff members are a very earnest group of people. If there’s anyone here that neglects their duties, it’s without a doubt myself. But they’re a good group. When people come to the Cave festivals they may think that working at Cave is this crazy experience and that the staff are all wildmen, but the truth is that we are all working very earnestly and quietly . It’s bad business to quarrel with the people you work with, so I never do. Our staff works very well together, and the beginning of a project usually goes something like this: At first I tell the staff my overall plan that I hope we can accomplish. After that they get to work and fulfill their duties. I sometimes check their work, sometimes I don't. If their work is different from my overall intention I’ll pull them aside and let them know that they are straying from the intended goal. —So would you say you meddle in other peoples affairs? Asada: Yes, I do! In fact, just the other day I took some photos of my staff during my break time and I ordered some custom Tirol chocolates with the wrappers being these photographs. I wanted to start making them in bulk and sell these chocolates at the last Cave matsuri, but they all refused to allow me. Those things cost me 3000 yen to make! —You’re the main event planner for the Cave matsuris now, if given a chance are there any other events you would like to hold? Asada: Currently we only have two chances a year to interact in a somewhat direct manner with our fans. I’d like to do something where the staff directly interact with the people who support us. I was in the early stages of planning a sports festival where our staff would compete in various events against our fans, but the legal department informed me that this was definitely not happening as we couldn't afford the liability of someone getting injured. Just the other day Mr. Inoue held a sports festival with his friends in the park. He even had trophies to hand out! If they were playing a sport and didn't have some item of equipment they needed, they would just ask strangers if they could borrow them. Japan is unique in that adults hold these silly events that don't mean anything and yet they take them so seriously. It’s completely crazy, I admit. I want to do crazy things like that. —Is it difficult to keep the fans of Cave happy? Asada: Our customers are constantly telling us to improve their online experience during the Cave internet matsuris. We’ve changed the system several times but it’s difficult to affect any meaningful change. When so many people around the world are accessing the site at the same time, our systems quite literally freeze up. We’ve spent a lot of money recently trying to improve the system, but it looks as if nothing has changed. We sell products during the Cave online matsuri because we recognize that not everyone lives near Tokyo and can access our products easily. I’m always considering how can we improve our users online experience. After all, if there weren’t fans willing to part with their money in our interest there would be no Cave. We really need to address this problem, but I’m only a lowly producer in the shooting games section. —Thank you very much for your time, I expect that we will be hearing much more from you in the future.
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