Could you give us a run down of the setting and story for Red Steel?
In Red Steel you embody a US guy living in LA. To save his fiance'e caught in the middle of a war between two generations of Yakuzas, the player will have to fly to Japan and fight his way through the Tokyo Mafia. During his journey he will come face to face with their codes, learning new and more efficient ways to use his fighting skills.
How much of the game will take place in LA and how much in Japan? What drew you to the Tokto underworld as a backdrop for the game?
Approximately a third of the game will take place in LA; but the Japanese side of LA. It will illustrate the Japanese way of like in the US, show Japanese places such as a massage institute, and the Japanese mafia as well. The rest of the game will take place in Japan. The game is like a tour of very Japanese enviroments. The Tokyo underground is a part of those famous places. It was important to us to be true to this town and to show this side of the life at night that balances... traditional and ancestral aspects of the life there. It was also very funny to associate this enviroment to characters. It gave them a lot of background and attitudes; such as Mama San who is recruiting Shibuya girls in those dark and dangerous streets to fight for her.
We're told you won't just be fighting the Yakuza but also gaining their respect so they can help you. How important will this be in the game?
In Japan, the honor code concept was already very important to the samurais for centuries. Today the Japanese mafia reuses those values and adapts to them to its way of life. As we want to offer the player a complete experience, you can in fact use this value as well and spare your enemy's life. They will then owe you respect for that. Those choices will help you to progress in the game, rally clans to your cause and be stronger in the end to face your deadly enemy.
How has the Wiimote and Nunchaku control configuration influenced the design of Red Steel?
The Wiimote and the Nanchaku have been at the core of the idea behind the Red Steel project. The Wiimote is very easy to use. It's easy to aim at the screen and shoot once the cursor is on target. Since the Nunchaku is held in the other hand, moving while shooting becomes natural and self-evident. Yet, once first contact with the gear has been made, the player realizes that to master the use of the controllers, he has to concentrate, calmly aim, strafe and take cover, shoot at the right time without making any brusque movement, and generally keep a flowing motion. Such mastery of emotions and moves is related in our minds to eastern martial artists. We wanted to go in that direction because we think it's totally relevant to the way the Wii controller works, i.e. not only acknowledging button-mashing but, also, spatial movement and aiming towars the screen. The way the Wiimote movement is recognized makes one think of sword movement. The right move has to be performed at the right time. For example, by parrying the player will have the possiblility of performing a counter attack to disarm or incapacitate his enemy.
From what we played in the demo, the Wiimote doesn't map your movements when sword fighting but rather triggers an animation depending on the direction of the swing. Will your actual movements be mapped in the final game? If not, why was this decision made?
The Wii controls are changing a lot especially since the E3 version when we saw people playing for the first time with our game. For us it was the first time ever we could get a huge quantity of important feedback from newcomers to this console. >> The system needs a little time to recognize your move ( This I'm worried about... ) but at the end this is your move that is performed on screen. Besides, today on the current version, we have some movement being mapped and some not. Some will stay mapped at the end so that with an accessible move you can unleeash and impressive action you would never be able to perform in real life.
Are there any other intresting implementations of the Wii controller you can tell us about? For instance, we've seen that you can open doors by twisting the controller to turn the knob, and tell enewmies to get down on the ground by motioning with your left hand.
We will have more interaction of the controller but I can't tell them right now. >>This concerns the use of weapons ( What if we can reload with the Wiimote + Nanchaku?! That would be awesome! ), the relations with NPC...
Is there an equal balance between sword fighting and gunplay or is one weighted more havily gameplay wise? Has it been hard finding a good balance?
At the end, we estimate we will have a balance between sword and gun with perhaps a little more gun. To tell the truth, ( and repeat ourselves ) the way the controllers work has helped us. Both gameplay are strong and immersive. Gunfight requires precision, good aiming, no abrupt moves, while katana fighting requires swiftness, rough moves sometimes, good reactions and timing of attacks. Since both gameplay ask for totally different movement, it seemed evident for us to alternate sequences in order to catch the player off-balance and offer him a unique gaming experience.
Will you learn new skills as the game progresses? Definetly, you will learn to master gun and sword fights, for which you can get trained regularly in the dojo or in Harry's Club, but also some more weapons or interaction with your enviroment. You will discover the mafia rules as well.
Tell us a little about the AI of enemies in Red Steel and in particular the '' clan '' system.
Our AI system is based upon a morale meter. Factors that influence positvely the enemies' morale are: numbers, knowledge of the player's location, leaders being alive and giving orders. In these cases enemies will advance towards the player, outflanking him or being able to find a better firing axis. If the enemy is wounded, he will seek cover, retreat, or even flee. The controllers have enabled us to tune the enemies' movement very precisely. In a standard console FPS, enemies stand relatively still so the player can aim with the pad. In Red Steel, the enemies do move alot, jump over crates to outflank the player, lob grenades, take cover and pop up to shoot at him, etc... To pass vertain situations the controller's possibilities will have to be fully used, by moving and aiming on screen with great precision. As for clans, we aim at depicting the eastern code of Honor. Why kill someone when he is begging for mercy and doesn't stand a chance? The player merely has to disarm him, and pin him to the ground. If a leader is bested, he will respect the player, his minions will do too. They might even help him. If the player kills a leader who is disarmed, his allies will be furious, hate the player and will do everything they can to kill him. Some scenes can be passed by merely diarming the enemies' leader: the player will then prove his mastery, and his enemies will respect him.
Tell us about the ''focus aiming'' in the game.
This is an option you can have while fighting well with your gun. You can freeze time and choose either to kill, hurt, or just diarm your enemy.
Red Steel is looking very strong graphically - what engine is it running on and what are its strengths?
Red Steel is running on the improved version UNreal engine for the Wii system. A large portion of our team has already worked with the Unreal engine. They are already well aware of its strengths and weaknesses. We have pushed the engine to its limits to offer a rich, colored and different setting to the player. Eastern culture allows for original and seldom seen scenes. We are taking advantage of that.
How are you finding the Wii to develiop for in general?
Developing a game for the Wii is a unique oppurtunity, this for several reasons. The approach is based on the specifics of the gaming system, i.e. its controllers and what they allow for, in terms of game design and game mechanics in a FPS. It has enabled us to focus on what really matters: gameplay and immersion. With the Wii controllers, we are moving through 'terra incognita'. FPS controls have to be designed almost from the ground up, as we have no previous refernce with the controllers. The problems we find are new, and the solutions are really intresting. Moreover, Nintendo does actively participate in resolving the problems, we are lucky to have very good contact with them. This enermously helps the game development. For all those reasons, the Wii platform is the one to be developing on right now!