RPGFan Interview Series - Victor Ireland
RPGFan Interview Series - Victor Ireland
By: John McCarroll and RPGFan Staff
April 12, 2012 Victor Ireland is a name that's well known amongst hardcore RPG fans. Formerly the president of Working Designs, the publisher that brought titles like Lunar and Arc The Lad to North America, he's long been a figure in the localization of Japanese games. Now at the helm of a localization company, Gaijinworks, Vic is working with publisher Monkeypaw Games on bringing over Class of Heroes II. Right now, they're running a Kickstarter campiagn for additional localization and a special edition of the title. What's going on with that? You'll just have to check out what Vic said!
RPGFan: What was the impetus behind choosing Class of Heroes for this Kickstarter project?

Victor Ireland: It was an issue of talking with many publishers and having deals on the fence because of the Kickstarter model we wanted to use. Acquire was willing to move "off the fence", roll the dice and be the first to try this with us. The goal is to fund this and use the success to move the other games stuck in talks or negotiations "off the fence" so we can get them out as well. It's not like we're doing a title we didn't want to do. Class of Heroes 2,3, and 4 were targeted by us when we were just starting to talk about trying something like a Kickstarter early last year. I felt the one that was released in the US was so weak compared to the second and successive ones in the series, and I wanted players here to see that firsthand.

RPGFan: XSEED Games recently began localizing Falcom's titles for PC, and Steam has been a great platform for indie games. Is this a platform under consideration?

Victor Ireland: Everything's a possibility, but our focus is initially console, portable and otherwise. There really hasn't been a great track record for these type games on Steam to date, but if that builds, we're open to all options. However, just wanting to do a Steam release doesn't mean you're guaranteed to do it. Steam has a rigorous approval process.

RPGFan: What is a $500,000 budget required for? This seems like a very large sum of money for a localization project.

Victor Ireland: That is a big misconception we've tried to explain, but it lives on. The money is not for the localization — we're doing the base localization for the digital release. The Kickstarter funding goal is basically is to cover the cost of the deluxe packs and also to have some additional budget to do nice things like dubbing, song re-recording, game improvements, new music, etc. $500,000 would be reached with less than 7000 Deluxe packs. That's not a lot of product. The portion of the $500k funding threshold dedicated to the improvements is quite a bit less than $100k.

RPGFan: Why choose to localize a game for the PSP?

Victor Ireland: Because there are a TON of great RPGs jailed in Japan for the PSP, and PSP games can still be played on the Vita via Digital Download. That expands the potential market for a single game. There are so many PSP RPG titles we want to do — titles we're either talking to the publishers about or are in active negotiations for that we could be busy for 5 years just doing the ones we already want to bring out. Now, clearly there will be a transition to the Vita and we'll have some traditional console releases in there, too, but we want to liberate as many of the PSP titles as we can while the options are open so English players can finally enjoy them.

RPGFan: Can you speak at all about future localization projects? Are you looking just at titles from Japan, or are you considering other Asian markets?

Victor Ireland: We want to keep the focus on funding this Kickstarter, because it really is key to getting the other RPGs on our laundry list checked off as well. At this point, all the titles on our want list are Japanese, and most of them show up, over and over, on fan want lists as well.

RPGFan: Many of Working Designs' localizations were known for being very liberal with the original content - is the intention with Class of Heroes to create a more straight-laced script or a more original one?

Victor Ireland: It will be in the Working Designs vein — I wrote or edited everything we released, so it's really hard to change one's style too drastically. That said, there was a clear evolution of the WD-style from the early 90's to the early 2000's, and the work here will be a continuation of that evolution. There will be no Clinton jokes, if that's the concern. Class of Heroes 2 already has a pretty lighthearted, comical style, so that will be adapted for the US audience to enjoy.

RPGFan: Might you consider the localization of Doujin titles? Recettear has done very well for Carpe Fulgur.

Victor Ireland: Nothing is out of bounds. If the Japanese title is cool and RPG-ish, we're probably aware of it, talking about it, or negotiating for it.

RPGFan: Vic, you worked on Miami Law - do you think that visual novels can be successful in North America?

Victor Ireland: Miami Law was a weird title in that I originally was just helping the Japanese team as a coordinator, before it was even called Miami Law. After taking them to law enforcement meetings in Miami, doing gun training, and a bunch of other research in Miami I facilitated for them, they asked me to help localize the title, so I did. It would not have been the visual novel I would have chosen for Gaijinworks, but it turned out okay. I think there is a place for visual novels in the US market, but it will take time to give them a chance to grow. In fact, a number of titles on my "to do" list would be classified as visual novels. Whether or not they actually happen isn't sure, but I definitely have my eye on a handful of them I really would like to do.