RPGamer Feature - Dragon's Dogma Interview
Dragon's Dogma
Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Release Date:

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Today, we take some time to chat with Capcom about the upcoming console RPG Dragon's Dogma. To give us a little more insight into what this action RPG is really about, RPGamer welcomes Hideaki Itsuno, Director of Dragon's Dogma.

Michael A. Cunningham (RPGamer, Editor-in-Chief): How is Dragon's Dogma structured for someone looking to complete a campaign? Is it mostly mission-based like Monster Hunter or is it more about following a story arc?
Hideaki Itsuno (Director, Capcom): The story fundamentally progresses by quests but how each quest occurs in this game differs. Sometimes it comes about if you talk to an NPC and the other times it occurs just by going into an area. Some of the quests you can casually take might be written on the Quest Board located in various places. There also are times some quests happen as you have had met the conditions spontaneously.

We can also classify our Quests into 3 types; one progresses story, one has its episode but doesn't progress story, and the others aren't related with the story. If you complete the first type of quest, you might not be able to receive or fail on some specific quests. There are quests which don't occur when you take on a specific quest or sometimes how you complete one quest might affect the occurrence of the next quest based on the consequences related to the specific quests. There are also the ones which change the difficulty of the related quests or the conditions for completing the quests.

You'll probably catch some kind of clue, if you face the quests which might remarkably lessen the number of quests that you can complete or which makes big progress in the story. However, this game is developed in a way that players won't be able to distinguish which quests do/don't progress story so you might be enjoying the game more in the end, if you just play the game however you feel. Although, it might be better to take some consideration on taking a specific quest or the way completing these quests just to make sure you won't regret later on in the game.

MAC: How is quest progress handled? Do harder quests simply become available as players work their way up the ranks via lesser quests?
HI: We've prepared various kinds of quests. It's not constructed only by the combat action elements but also requires elements like puzzle solving, fateful decision making, and action puzzle gaming. It's not easy to identify each difficulty level by one unified criteria. Players can imagine each difficulty level by taking a look at the details of each quest. The occurrence of quests is not completely reliant on each player's levels but rather defined by which point of the story they're at in the game, or how they have completed each quest up until then. You don't have to complete every quest that you've received and there isn't any limit for the numbers of quest that you can take in the game. So, it might not be bad, if you just receive one quest and try it once and decide to complete it at a later time if you think that specific quest is too difficult for you at that time.

MAC: How is the world structured in terms of exploration? Is it zone-based or open to explore anywhere?
HI: From a gameplay standpoint, players can travel anywhere in Dragon's Dogma's world map. However, there are some places you cannot access until you reach a certain point of the story. In that case, you will need to complete some quests. In order to move forward with the story, it'd probably be most convenient if you set your base location for the exploration at the capital "Gran Soren." Even if you explore the world as you like, you can also progress yourself through the story as well.

MAC: Is there only one main town in the game? What resources are available to the player in town?
HI: Players will be able to obtain a lot of resources at "Gran Soren," which is a major base for this game. However, please note that there certainly are things you cannot do in "Gran Soren."

MAC: Since you have to select a class at the start of the game, how easy is it to shift your focus later on?
HI: Players can change their classes as they wish once their level excels 10, but only when they are at "Gran Soren Inn." I would say probably most of the players would be over level 10 at the time they reach at "Gran Soren" so you might not have to be worried about it. You'll also need Discipline to change your vocation. You can gain Discipline when you defeat your foe or complete quests. It doesn't require Discipline when you go back to a vocation you previously had, so if you actively alter your vocation and it didn't really suit your play style or you didn't like it, you can easily go back to your original. However, the parameter of proficiency is set based on each vocation so you might temporarily have difficulty right after the job change depending on the type of jobs you'll be shifting in between. (If you have been pursuing excellence in fighter kind of vocations for a long time and suddenly you changed into mage type of vocation, in the beginning you don't have high status in magick power so the total balance of your mage is also kind of weak, even though you can still cast a spell. However, if you keep being a mage for a longer time, the magick power will intensively grow and that'll help you to cast a deadly spell later on.)

MAC: Can pawns be shared across platforms (PS3 to 360)? Is Xbox Live Gold required to access pawns on the 360?
HI: Unfortunately, players won't be able to share Pawns between different platforms. Xbox 360 customers can utilize all the communication methods provided by Dragon's Dogma with its free membership (of course the Ur-Dragon fight is available for you as well.) You do not have to have Gold Membership to fully enjoy Dragon's Dogma world.

MAC: Are you limited to only creating one pawn of your own? Can you retire that pawn and start anew if you aren't happy with it?
HI: If you would like to change your Pawn's appearance, you can customize their hair style, hair color, skin color and cosmetics. If you would like to change your Pawn's body type, gender, name and nickname, you can use the Rift Crystal for that purpose after progressing somehow in the game.

MAC: What level of AI control do players have over their pawns? Anyway to fine-tune their behaviors?
HI: Generally, your Pawn's AI (personality) develops around your gameplay style. For instance, if you would like to affect your Pawn's position during combat, you can put one over on you and place them on the location where you'd like them to be at for the certain situation in the battle. If your Pawn is developing in a way that doesn't suit you, you can let them sit on the "Knowledge chair" and teach them. Also you can purchase medicine with the Rift Crystals and give them to your Pawn to set them straight.

MAC: How does the game handle death? If you and your team are killed mid-battle, what happens?
HI: If the player dies, the game will be over. If you obtain the Wakestone that you can get sometime during the game and utilize it, you can restore the dead to life right at that moment. You will come back to the last time that you saved the game before the game was over and play the game again. You can also choose to start from somewhere safe such as Gran Soren Inn. If your Pawn becomes unconscious (looks like they died), you as an Arisen can revive them by touching the Pawn. In that case, the health for the Pawn will be the half of what it was. If you leave your Pawn as unconscious for a certain period of time, they will disappear, which is called them being "lost." If you still would like to enlist the lost Pawn, you can make it happen by accessing the Rift again. (If the Pawn was at a higher level than you, you need to purchase with Rift Crystals again.) If that was the main Pawn, it can come back via the Rift Stone no matter what conditions you are in.

MAC: There has been talk of the game taking on a survival horror feel, especially during nighttime. Is this an accurate statement? How so?
HI: Strictly speaking, I'm not completely sure what you define as "Survival horror," but I wanted to make the night time something where players would feel even more fearful in cases where they are getting closer to death, as the world shifts into the night. To make that happen, it was necessary for us to increase the possibility that the player is really going to "die, which equals game over," as opposed to some rule or typical practices. We needed to create a situation where players actually feel like "oh, we're going to die if we don't behave in a cautious manner."

If the night is so risky that you feel like it might increase your chance of death, then it'd be more of a hard line in the game. It would make an impact on your adventure that you'd try to get more done during the day before the world turned into night.

How we invoked the feeling of terror in the game originated in one of my true experiences in the real world. One example was the time that I played around with my friends to test our courage through a trip to an old shrine in the woods on the night of a new moon. It scared me to death as I couldn't see anything in the dark and it enhanced the terror I had at that time. So, I tried to be vividly aware of realizing this kind of dark environment in the game.

Once that was appropriately achieved, any terror could be amplified more and more, even if you encounter the same monsters in the map. (Of course, the position we placed our enemies in for the night time is differently set than the day time, so that it will actually be a more difficult to defeat.) You become hesitant just to take one more step in this kind of dark!

If players get this kind of feeling, they will start playing the game more cautiously as they prepare for the night time. I thought that would contribute to the sense of RPG gaming and hopefully it also provides more enjoyment for players of Dragon's Dogma.

We would again like to thank Hideaki Itsuno and the entire PR team behind Dragon's Dogma for this interview. Dragon's Dogma will be available on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on May 22, 2012.

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