Kickin’ it with Hiroaki Yura – Project Phoenix
The Kickin’ it with double feature week just keeps on giving! Today we present to you an interview with Hiroaki Yura from Project Phoenix, a very interesting JRPG seeking funding via Kickstarter.
4cr: Welcome to Kickin’ it with. Can you please give our readers a bit of a background on who you are and what you’ve worked on before?
My name is Hiroaki Yura. I’m the Creator/Director/Producer of Project Phoenix. I’ve worked in various roles on game titles from both Japan and the States, ranging from SOULCALIBUR V, Diablo III, Valkyria Chronicles and Xenoblade to name a few.
4cr: What is Project Phoenix and why should gamers take notice of this new game?
Project Phoenix is Japan’s first attempt to make a JRPG catered to the whole world, not just Japan, through the use of Kickstarter. Since I was brought up in Australia for the most part of my life, I share common values with Western and Japanese gamers and hopefully I can make full use of this experience in my work ahead.
4cr: The campaign was funded on the first day, which must have made everyone very happy, but it also presented a challenge since you now need to improve the game to please all of the backers that believe in Project Phoenix. Two stretch goals have been reached (twice the character and monster models, and full modeling for cities and towns). What other stretch goals have you considered?
The next stretch goal is where we can model the whole Overworld. If we can do this, we feel that the majority of the game is “complete” as we wanted to make. However, there are several upgrades we can do, like recording of the music with the Eminence Symphony Orchestra and the implementation of multiplayer.
4cr: The quality of the group of people that is working on Project Phoenix speaks for itself, but one particular person does stand-out for us RPG fans – Nobuo Uematsu. His contribution to Final Fantasy, Chrono Trigger, Blue Dragon and The Last Story, to name a few, really made a difference. What is it like to work with him for Project Phoenix, and how much music will he contribute to the game?
Nobuo Uematsu is very easy going and he was the first person I worked with on a professional level in the game industry nine years ago. He loves his music (and great food/alcohol) and it’s always been a pleasure working with him. Next year marks our 10th year since we first worked with each other, and I guess that in itself is a special occasion. He will be contributing the main theme and the major motifs (themes) to the game and setting the tone for the whole work.
4cr: It might be a bit early to know for sure, but how long would it take someone to play the game from start to finish?
We’re thinking around 50-60 hours but we’re not 100% on that yet. There will be adding replay value as well.
4cr: You’ve mentioned that you’re considering Vita and PS4 ports for Project Phoenix. Since you’re developing in Unity, have you considered a Wii U port as well? Do you feel that the unique control options of the Wii U GamePad make porting it to the WiiU an interesting option?
I must admit that the WiiU could possibly be an interesting platform for our game, however we are unsure as to what the current situation for the indie dev publishing from within Japan is like at the moment. Last time I checked was that it didn’t allow Japanese indies to publish games on the WiiU but this may have changed from a recent news article I read.
4cr: I love the art style and design for the game. Going from what has been said, if enough funds are secured, the models used during battle, while exploring the overworld, and while in towns and cities will be the same, but a different model will be used for cut scenes. Why separate them instead of using a single model for everything in the game?
We have a good reason separating the head/body ratio when it comes to Events/Cinematic and in-game play. The reason why in-game play is 3.5 heads/body is so that the player can identify each character easier and it also goes in line with the classic JRPG look. In the events and cinematic, we want to make it 6 heads/body so there will be slightly more realism and expression.
4cr: 2015 seems pretty far away, but considering the scope of this game it is actually a short development cycle. How will the release date be affected by the stretch goals reached by the campaign?
We may extend it if we feel it isn’t ready for release. The main thing for us is to make sure we deliver a highly polished game (without running out of funds). Our budgeting is conservative to say the least and we will definitely be able to deliver, the question is if we are able to balance the whole game well. We take balance seriously and will be conducting extensive tests in order to have the “right” feel of the game.
4cr: Our time here is just about up. Is there anything else you might want to add?
Thank you for interviewing me, it’s been a pleasure talking to you about the game. We are astounded by the amount of support and love we received for the game and will do more than our utmost to deliver to your expectations and beyond!
We’re very happy that we got a chance to talk with Hiroaki Yura, and would like to thank him for his time. Be sure to check out Project Phoenix and lend your support if you’re a fan of the JRPG genre!