Quite a while ago, I had a mini talk with Adam Rippon, the mind behind the fun Dragon Fantasy series. Shortly after the launch of the sequel, The Black Tome of Ice, I decided to ask him more questions for a full, in-depth interview. Here they are! My questions are in blue while his is in orange.
Q1: What inspired you to remake the original Dragon Fantasy Games from iOS for newer systems? Was it a decision from Choice Provisions or was it something you guys were hoping for a while now?
A1: I love iOS and mobile gaming’s potential more than I love mobile gaming’s reality – I think you can make amazing games for mobile, but the sad reality is that it is very, very hard to sell mobile games for actual money. I’ve had people actually suggest that I make a free-to-play JRPG where you can pay $0.99 to level up, and that idea is just so very gross to me! So my strategy for the last few years has been to make games that work well on mobile, console, and PC. I figure if I can make a game that does reasonably well on console and PC, I don’t have to worry about if it’s a financial success on mobile. But then I’m at least supplying the mobile world with games that support cool things like MFi game controllers and dual screen emulation in portrait mode and what not, even if I don’t actually make any money off them.
Q2: What was the reasoning behind having the remakes of DFI and DFII launch separately from each other, instead of releasing them both when they were both done?
A2: I don’t have the luxury of being able to coordinate releases like that – the actual process of console releases is almost as time consuming as actually making the games in the first place. It took an entire year to get The Black Tome of Ice through Nintendo’s certification process because of the number of people involved between me and Nintendo who all had too many things to do at once. The reality in that situation ends up being that you pretty much have to release games when you can, because if you sit on them to do a simultaneous launch you just end up never shipping anything.
Q3: With both DF games now remade in a way that you guys are satisfied with, what do you think of the original titles for folks interested in trying them out? Are they still an interesting experiment to compare with, or something best left forgotten?
A3: I have kind of wanted to see the original 1.0 version of Dragon Fantasy again, before the second chapter was added, but for the most part the first game’s additions are almost entirely able to be disabled. So you’ve basically already got that, minus a few minor UI redesigns and tile set changes. As for The Black Tome of Ice, almost all of the changes were additions and bug fixes, so I think there’s no reason to look at the original, other than maybe to laugh at some of the terrifyingly awful bugs that gave me nightmares for a year!
Q4: The First Dragon Fantasy title supported Crossbuy on Nintendo Systems. Was there a technical issue on why it’s not supported for the sequel?
A4: I love the idea of crossbuy and I would always prefer to do things that way, but the way it works on Nintendo systems just didn’t work well for us. On Sony platforms, crossbuy means that if a user buys it on one system, they get it added to their account on the other system. But on Nintendo platforms, they give you a free download code for the other system. People just ended up giving those codes to friends, which meant nearly half the people who got the game didn’t have to pay for it. It wasn’t the end of the world, and our sales numbers for the first game were reasonably okay, but it just wasn’t something I wanted to do again. I love crossbuy, but I just have a hard time justifying it when it’s not actually used for the intended purpose.
Q5: Do you feel like the Dragon Fantasy games have reached the vision you guys had for them since the beginning, or do you think there could still be more improvements? If you feel that the games are complete, what’s next for Muteki corporation?
A5: Yuji Horii, the creator of Dragon Quest, told me when I was working on Dragon Fantasy that he dislikes playing his own games because he can only see their flaws. He was absolutely right. Neither Dragon Fantasy game is perfect by any means, but when I go back to them I see plenty of things I would change if I had the opportunity. But I feel now like they’re both done. If I went back and added anything else it would be another chapter in The Volumes of Westeria, but I don’t think I’d do that unless it came to yet another new platform. I like to make sure there’s something new in every new release. But barring that, we’re finally starting to think about the next game at Muteki. It will probably be a strategy game, since I’m a little burned out on JRPGs right now. We’ve tossed the idea of Dragon Fantasy Tactics around quite a bit, who knows!
Q6: And last but not least, would you guys be willing to drop any vague hints towards the location of the Developer’s room for our readers? On Steam nobody has found it yet! (Editor note: This was asked in early june, when it actually was the case. Now it’s likely someone has found the rooms.)
A6: For reals? Wow, there’s actually two of them! The developer’s room is hidden in a town with only one living inhabitant. The other one, the publisher’s room… honestly, I can’t remember where it is right now! I think it’s somewhere attached to Atticus’ lair, which almost no one has found either! If you find it, remind me where it is on twitter 🙂
I would like to thank Adam for taking his time to answer my questions and also for being patient with me getting the review done during this busy time of year! Hopefully you all learned something interesting about the game or the future, and check out my reviews for Dragon Fantasy 1 and 2 if you haven’t already!