Interviews// Bladestorm: Akihiro Suzuki

Posted 7 Nov 2007 17:33 by
It?s hard to create a new franchise and get it the attention it may (or may not) deserve. Whether it sinks or floats, getting new intellectual property (IP) out there is a challenge riding as it has to on wave after wave of sequels. Just as well then, that Bladestorm is not only getting a lot of coverage lately, but that it?s also shaping up to be quite an enjoyable game.

I know this because I was recently treated to a demonstration and steered through it by none other than producer Akihiro Suzuki. He then sat down and took me through the concept of the game, and the inspirations for the European action battle outing from Japan.

SPOnG: Suzuki-san, thank you for joining me today. First, could you give our readers a bit of background information about your career? What interested you in developing video games?

Akihiro Suzuki: My original interest in Koei was through their RPG games, although ironically my very first project was a quiz game! It was a very minor release in Japan. After this I got into producing Dynasty Warriors for a bit, and now I?m producing Bladestorm (smiles).

SPOnG: Bladestorm is an interesting concept for a video game. What inspired you to focus on this period of war history?

Akihiro Suzuki: The game is based on the Hundred Years War, and it takes place 100 years after Mongolia started to invade Europe. This conflict allows us to look into the many different cultures that there were from East to West, so I wanted to be able to use that background and incorporate different cultures into the game. In the game for example we have Mongolian characters as well as African tribes so we were able to involve a lot more cultures than we ever could before.

Koei?s history with war games also meant that the best way to capture this vast diversity for us is by detailing a conflict, which involved all of these cultures clashing in spectacular ways. I am very interested in history personally as well, so I wanted to cover a period of history that has largely been unseen.

SPOnG: Did you conduct any particular research into the Hundred Years War? If so, what was the most interesting thing you learned from such research?

Akihiro Suzuki: At the very beginning of the project we worked very hard to learn and understand how the art of war was carried out in Europe. About the biggest thing we came back with was the nature of the landscape. The landscape of Europe is very different to that of Asia and so there were different battle tactics to that in feudal Japan. The housing and structures of landmarks and buildings was something we also learned more about, like stone castles and moats and things like that.


SPOnG: The way the game is presented appears similar to the Dynasty Warriors series. How have you used the additional power of the PS3 and XBOX 360 to make the game its own and more advanced?

Akihiro Suzuki: I suppose it would be very easy to just make the game prettier and to make the game more elaborate, which would be the process of creating a sequel to something like Dynasty Warriors. Instead, what we wanted to do was use the power of the consoles to make the game more fun than what you were able to do with the Dynasty Warriors series.

In order to do that we created a much bigger battleground and set all the action in real-time using multiple AI on your troops and enemy troops; there is also the ability to choose different kinds of militia when you need them. We wanted to be able to get an action game on a bigger scale than anything previously possible on last-generation consoles.

We have taken the raw excess power of the next-generation consoles to put into AI and rendering on the larger battlefields, so - as you can see on the screen - you can sometimes have many, many troops all on screen at the very same time. That is something we wanted to do to make the game more fun and exciting.
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