A chat with Yatagarasu developers, Hotapenon July 5, 2013 by Geraint Evans
With Yatagarasu’s successful release earlier this year – and Yatagarasu: Attack on Cataclysm’s crowd-funded indiegogo campaign now underway, we thought it was about time we had a chat to Yatagarasu creators Hotapen – three ex-SNK dvevelopers – about how Yatagarasu came about, their influences, and their plans for the future.
There is a distinct feeling of SF3: Third Strike with Yatagarasu – was this intentional?
Of course it was. 3rdStrike is a great game, and it surely influenced us largely in making Yatagarasu.
Were there any other fighting games that influenced you in making Yatagarasu.
3rdStrike or KOF series had the biggest influences on Yatagarasu. However, we do not want to reproduce exactly the same thing as those games.
I think what actually had the biggest influence on me is the whole experience in playing a lot of games throughout my life, rather than an individual title. I got to know what I found interesting, through playing a range of games and through my experiences in daily life, and I think Yatagarasu is the output of all those experiences.
What was your main goal for Yatagarasu? What did you try to achieve to make it different from other fighting games?
Some of our hopes are to get the game to be played in arcades, and to get involved in big game cons like EVO and Togeki. But this is not necessarily for a financial success. It would be great if we could achieve these as a result of getting lots of people to enjoy our game.
It is difficult to say what our main goal is.
The most important thing for us to make this game was to enjoy the process of making it.
Yatagarasu is a game created by individuals, not by a company. What made us to decide to make this game were our desire to enjoy making a game itself, and to create something we really wanted to.
Therefore, there is not one particular goal that we aim to achieve. We would be happy as long as we can enjoy creating the game, and also people enjoy what we make.
(Probably game companies may have these sorts of ideas as well, but I guess it’s not their priority to think about whether or not the creator is actually enjoying making the game.)
In terms of the content of the game, Yatagarasu, we are intentionally featuring effects that would have seen in games from older generations. This is because we want to take anything that we think is good, regardless whether it’s new or old. Rather than aiming to achieve a financial success, we put priority in doing what we really want to.
The last generation has made fighting game popular again – why do you think this has happened after being unpopular for so long?
I am not a specialist in the game industry, but I personally think that the main factor that made this happen was the great hit of Street Fighter 4. A lot of people got attracted to fighting games because of Street Fighter 4, and it livened up the genre of fighting game.
Another factor I think is the existence of fighting game cons like EVO and Togeki, which still continuously took place regularly even when the genre’s popularity was on the wane.
Also there is a fact that anyone can access to video sharing websites where they can see the fighting scenes from the game. I personally watch them often as well.
Do you think fighting games should become increasingly more complicated – or should they try to be more accessible to new users?
I think there is no one particular answer to this.
No developer would be unhappy with getting more audience, I guess everyone wants to get more users to access to their games. However, it is a different matter whether the game is actually interesting, if it was made in a way that everyone would like it.
You wouldn’t be able to make an interesting game if you don’t clearly decide who your target are.
It also depends on what the maker’s situation is like – companies make their games as business, so they would try to target a range of people, whereas the majority of individuals are not making their games for financial purposes. Therefore the latter would not need to set sales quotas, and would be able to target more specific audience.
What have been your favourite fighting games of this generation?
Soul Calibur is our designer Kontani-san’s favourite. But we enjoy almost all the fighting games that have been released.
You’re making a new version ‘Attack on Cataclysm’ – can you tell us what will be different and improved?
The biggest feature this time is the fact that we raise funding for game development through “IndieGoGo”. The quality of development will depend on the amount of funding we get, so your donation would be appritiated. We have a range of presents depending how much you donate for us.
In terms of the content of the game, there will be more characters to be added. Keep your eye on the IndieGoGo website for more details.
I think Hanzo needs to be able to do Dive Kicks from any height! Can you please change this! 🙂
I will pass this on to the person in charge. I think this is unlikely to be achieved though. ;P
Will you continue to make version of Yatagarasu, or would you like to work on a new fighting game?
There are a lot more we want to do with Yatagarasu, but also we would love to make a new fighting game as well. However, since we are a small team, it is unfortunately impossible for us to do many different things at the same time. For now we want to be concentrating on developing “Yatagarasu Attack on Cataclysm”.
At least we are sure that we’re going to continue making fighting games.
Yataragasu has been well received by the western Fighting Game Community – has this surprised you?
It indeed surprised us. As we are such a small team, there is no way that we could export our game to overseas. So we are very pleased that there are lots of players in Europe who enjoy our game. We will continue to make games in the future, so it would be great if you could keep checking us out.
We rarely know anything about the game scene in Europe, so reports from Rice Digital are great source for us to know about European scene.
By the way, Japan Expo in France is very well known in Japan. We are hoping to go there one day.
The doujin scene is not well known in the West – can you tell us a little about how Hotapen began life?
Hotapen was formed by people who wanted to do something that we couldn’t do in a game company.
In Japan, there are certain events where only indie games are sold, such as “Comic Market”, as well as doujin shops like “Melon Books” and “Tora no ana”.
Because of these, developers can distribute indie games to the consumers quite easily.
They can also communicate with the audience directly there, so these events work as a lively market where developers and users can both enjoy.
Because of this, there are a lot of groups of individuals in Japan who make games themselves, and they are called “doujin soft circle”.
Are there any other doujin games out there that you enjoy- that our readers may not know about?
The majority of doujin games are novel games, which I guess is not well known in the West. Some of the most popular novel games are “Higurashi-no-naku-koro-ni” and “Umineko-no-naku-koro-ni”, but there are range of games that have been released in doujin scene.
These titles below are not too popular, but they are very good games.
『CIRCLE OF THE DEAD 』(http://circle-of-the-dead.net/)
There was a meeting among doujin developers in Japan recently called ‘BitSummit’ – what did you think of it?
I think it is a great event. The existence of small teams of developers, like ourselves, is not well known, so this kind of event would be a good opportunity to get known by people. I went there once, but it was a very enjoyable event. However, I’m not sure if there was any benefit for the organiser from having this event. If we desire this event to take place continuously, we would need to think more about the organiser’s benefit.
Would you like to see more doujin developer events like that?
Yes I would. This kind of event is a good opportunity for promotion, and to communicate with audience and with other developers.
What do you think the doujin scene needs to do to break out of Japan and be more popular in the West?
In Japan, Comic Market and doujin shops are working very well in the indie scene, but it suddenly gets difficult if we want to achieve more than that. (For example, marketing, stepping into overseas scenes and so on.)
It would be much more achievable if there were some kind of systems that support those kind of things. I’m expecting Rice Digital could play a role as a part of that.
Big thanks to Hotapen for taking time out to speak to us.
Please show your support for their next project – Yatagarasu: Attack on Cataclysm – by donating to their Indiegogo campaign.
You can also purchase the original Yatagarasu from our store here for £7.99. Available worldwide.