This interview is simply my interpretation of the events that lead to the development of Asura’s Wrath and as such it is entirely fictional.
It’s summer in Osaka. Heat radiates from glass and metal, cracked black asphalt like skin stretched taught against the brilliance of the morning.
A muggy humidity beats down on the commuters who labour to work, and seeps from their pores.
But this room is cold, almost uncomfortably so. Three figures sit in silence, arms crossed, their eyes fixed on the opening door.
“Punctual as ever”
Two suited men shuffle in and bow awkwardly, their footsteps echo out into the vast sterile space.
“Mr Matsuyama, Mr Shimoda… Thank you for coming. Please.”
He gestures and, the pair take their seats.
“We know our last meeting wasn’t as… fruitful as we’d hoped it might be, but we are still confident that our relationship can be a successful one.”
They bow politely, hints of a sanguine smile.
"I’m certain Mr Inafune only rejected your proposal because he knew you we’re capable of so much more.”
Mr Matsuyama is the first to speak.
“Not at all, in fact I feel it was a blessing in disguise. Since then we’ve essentially reworked the entire project from the ground up. A small team at cyberconnect2 have been working on some concepts and I think… Well I’m really quite proud with what they’ve been able to produce.”
“We’re are delighted to hear that.”
“I see now that there was a certain lack of purity in our original pitch, we needed to take a step back, to think about the experience we wanted to craft and the essence of the action genre… what we’ve come up with is entirely more focused in its themes. We began with a single emotion, that of rage and built the game from there.”
“Yes, for what purer emotion is there, we’ve all felt it at some point regardless of colour or creed… in a way it’s a theme which transcends such boundaries…”
“…but were our past games have been very much action orientated, and this project will continue to build on that, this time we want the narrative to drive the experience… Not the other way around.”
“Look at modern action games. The majority have become nothing more than thrill rides with little to no player agency. This is appropriate for what they are trying to achieve, they live and die not by their content, but by their pacing.”
“This is true.”
“Much of the gameplay revolves around shepherding you through a series of elaborate set pieces, but without momentum you are left with dead time… where you have peaks you must also have valleys, and this is not conducive to an enjoyable experience. Players will simply suffer through this dead time in order to reach the next scripted set piece… And we’re not From Software… the last thing we want the player to do is suffer.”
“Quite… So how are you going to break this trend.”
“Break it…? On the contrary… in a way, we mean to embrace it!”
“May I ask, are you familiar at all with western drama? 24, Lost, Battlestar Galactica…”
“Of course… but I’m not entirely sure where you’re going with this.”
“The vary wildly in their themes of course but is there not a consistency in the way they weave their tale… at their best they demonstrate complete mastery of pacing and the creation of a compelling narrative. We began to wonder if it was possible to adapt this same formula to a game, to split the experience into episodes and create something where it is the story which urges you to progress.”
“Mr Yoshida, Mr Kamiya has shown it’s possible for a Japanese developer to produce a quote on quote western game, but I assure you it’s not as easy as you might imagine…”
“The structure is taken from western drama, yes, but the story itself is very much a Japanese one… If I may.”
He reaches down and produces a piece of concept art. The character is striking, a shock of white hair and shining eyes set in a face the colour of burnished copper.
“I like to think that we at cyberconnect2 have our own style and with this game I’m confident that our artists have once again succeeded in creating something unique. A style that pays homage to both its Japanese origins and its East Asian influences.”
“I see… so you’ll deliver this story through cut scenes or during combat?”
“As I said, the narrative is the main focus, and we thought…” He pauses for a moment “we want to use quick time events.”
An uncomfortable silence descends.
"Mr Tanaka, I’ll admit that while both Mr Mikami and Mr Suzuki have been able to use these QTEs to great effect, by themselves they’re hardly the most stimulating method of interaction… Do you plan on delivering your all important narrative through QTEs alone?"
“We have been looking at more traditional combat sections as well as on rail shooting sequences but as I said, we want the experience to be a spectacle and we feel a straight quick time event is the best way to maintain some level of interactivity while showing the player something dynamic and interesting.”
“I see… So what happens if I fail your quick time event?”
“Well… Nothing… That is to say, the on screen imagery may vary but the story will, in most cases, continue.”
“There are those, Mr Tanaka who maintain that a game with no fail state is not a game at all.”
“Yes, but when you consider the alternative then I’m confident that our way is in fact, the lesser of two evils, especially when your game is trying to tell a story. QTEs quickly become a nuisance when you are forced to repeat them, but used in the right way we believe they can complement and even enhance the impact of the moment. They’ll give the game a rhythm, an ebb and flow a… heartbeat.”
“Well you certainly don’t lack conviction. If you would be so kind as to excuse us for a moment.”
The three men exchange a few brief words before turning back to the pair opposite.
"Well Mr Matsuyama, Mr Shimoda… It seems our faith in you was not misplaced. I must admit I see real potential in your ideas.”
“Then we have your permission to continue development on project?”
“Yes… begin by polishing the prototype, Mr Tsuchiya will be assigned to aid you with production…”
"Yes sir of course… Thank you."
“Mr Matsuyama… there is one more thing…”
“We haven’t yet spoken about downloadable content…”