Cygames, a consolidated subsidiary of CyberAgent has released "PRINCESS CONNECT! Re:Dive," an anime RPG on Thursday, February 15, 2018. It is a sequel to the "PRINCESS CONNECT!" anime RPG that CyberAgent and Cygames jointly developed and released in 2015.
The production staff spent three years seeking to create a title that overturns the conventional wisdom of smartphone games. The game ranked in the top 10 sales right after its launch.
Successful game producer Yuito Kimura and scenario writer Akira talk about exclusive behind-the-scenes story.
Executive Director, Cygames, Inc.
After finishing graduate school at the University of Tokyo, he worked at Kanaden Corp. and Silicon Studio Corp., then started up Cygames, a consolidated subsidiary, in 2011 with Cygames Representative Director Koichi Watanabe. He has produced titles such as "Rage of Bahamut," "Granblue Fantasy," "Shadowverse" and "Princess Connect!," and has been in his current post since April 2015.
In 2005, Akira made his debut and won five new writer awards while still in high school. He has authored numerous works of mixed media, such as "Kyoran Kazoku Nikki" and "Sasami-san@Ganbaranai," and worked on scenarios for smartphone game titles including "Princess Connect! Re:Dive" and "Ensemble Stars!"
Combining Anime and RPGs to Overturn the Conventional Wisdom about Smartphone Games
Q. When did planning for the sequel begin?
It was at the start of 2016, when we announced that service for "Princess Connect!" would come to an end, that we had a plan. The previous title, "Princess Connect!," had a well-made vision, story and quality illustrations. All the players loved the content, so we thought it would be a shame to let it end there and we decided to produce a sequel.
Q. After you finished production, did you get a good response?
We enlisted help from a lot of people, and we got particularly positive feedback about the high quality in the animated parts and elsewhere. However, we had absolutely no idea how people would respond to us releasing another title in a series that we had already stopped distributing. I'm so incredibly happy that a lot of people have now taken to "Princess Connect! Re:Dive" and are playing the game.
Q. What do you think makes the title a hit?
Of course there's the animation, but I also think it's the high level of quality behind how we made all the elements, such as the scenario and the direction. Especially when it comes to anime RPGs, I don't think you can put out a shoddy product. I think a big part of the title's success comes from the fact that we made it with the idea of combining anime and an RPG to show people a game that's different from those that came before.
Q. And now Akira... Tell us about your impression of Cygames and why you accepted the offer to work on this title.
Principled, just, and charismatic. Through and through, Cygames has a unique appeal. This may sound odd, but I think the company’s like a hero.
I'm usually just like a lowly soldier in some evil organization, or to put it more kindly, some oddball writer, so I never even dreamed we would become buddies and produce something together. I am deeply honored.
I originally joined the team working on this title when another writer referred me and said they "just need a little help," so honestly I didn't think I'd get so heavily involved. There wasn't a dramatic encounter. One day we were just doing our thing as usual, when they asked me to "finally join our family," and we got hitched!
Q. One aspect of this game is the massive scenario. What was tough about making it?
I'm good at writing long pieces, so there was nothing difficult about it being "massive." What was challenging was that whenever I dealt with the content of the scenario, I always had to think hard about what to do. What I mean is that it's a very particular kind of title, so I had to think about whether what I was writing fit in with the content of the first game. Another example is when an animation enters the story at a key point. The characters can't just stand there like a tree and talk, so I have to think carefully about their movements.
I labor to keep everything that was good about the previous game, while somehow making it even better.
Most of the characters appear in the first game, and the people who wrote their parts then edit my work, so I take care just to not randomly change things up. But when I do alter something, I have a justifiable reason for doing so.
Akira is amazing because he can write up a huge, high-quality scenario in a short time. I don't think anyone but him can pull that off.
Q. Akira, what is your impression of Mr. Kimura?
When I'm sitting at a meeting or something, other people will be bewildered when I go off on some rambling, incoherent tangent, but he'll say, "Oh, so you mean this, right?" Only he gets me and can translate what I say in those situations.
Q. Is there any particularly memorable episode from your exchanges so far?
I just go about my work like normal, so there aren't any notable episodes, but somebody like me can't fathom why, the talented people working at Cygames, from Mr. Kimura on down, every day they act like silly high school boys, doing things that have absolutely nothing to do with work, like immersing themselves in building a plastic model. I am intrigued to observe them, and I wonder whether they'll end up being some great person like you read about in a textbook.
Q. Lastly, tell us about new things coming up.
Most recently, we're waiting on features that weren't available during the release, such as the Clan Battle (where you work with clan members to take on a powerful monster) and cooperative battles, but we're going to provide services so players can have more fun playing. Plus, this might be a bit early to say, but we really want to develop things like real-time battles and collaborations with other intellectual property, so keep an eye out for that.
The "anime RPG" all the production staff, including Mr. Kimura and Akira are so completely obsessed with is something whose awesomeness you can't feel until you try it out.
Take a look for yourself at what Cygames can do when they really set themselves to it.
Q. Around how many people are involved in this title?
If you include staff likes those who produced the illustrations, we have over 100 people working on it at present. When you include outside companies, then there are lots of folks involved with this game.
Q. How do you maintain a consistent level of quality with so many people involved?
We do it with communication and a uniform vision. When new members join the team, we clearly convey to them that we want them to take this project seriously. We take the time to keep the level of quality consistent by providing detailed feedback and using trial-and-error approaches over and over again.
Q. And yet your production team has an impressive lineup.
Indeed, especially Akira, whom I've always been a big fan of. He was the only person I wanted to ask to join us in his role, because I imagined he would make the title's scale and the world's breadth big. I contacted him, figuring I had nothing to lose, and he ended up coming on board.