This week's interview features Cavia's Takuya Iwazaki. Cavia first appeared on the gaming public's radar as the developer of Square Enix's Drag-on Dragoon (Drakengard) series. Mr. Iwazaki was serving as both games' producer. Last year, Cavia, together with Artoon and FeelPlus became a part of AQ Interactive. Currently, the three development studios are working under AQ Interactive's umbrella on several high profile titles for next-generation consoles, among them the Xbox 360 action RPG Cry On and an untitled PlayStation 3 action RPG. The former is co-produced by Mr. Iwazaki and Final Fantasy mastermind Hironobu Sakaguchi. Despite his busy schedule, Mr. Iwazaki and AQ Interactive's public relations team took some time to talk about their current and upcoming projects as well as the industry as a whole.
Q: Mr. Iwazaki we have many questions for you. But first, could you tell us about the impetus that made you enter the game industry?
A: I thought "I want to do something new" and found employment at Namco, which has always offered original games. Until I entered Namco, I admired Czech anime and subculture from Yan Svankmajer and others. However, as I have been working on Ridge Racer and Ace Combat, I have received questionnaire cards from people of various generations, and since then have become addicted to the fascination of developing games.
Q: You have revealed that you are currently working on a major 3D title for PlayStation 3. Can you reveal some details about this game to us? Are this game and the Cavia-developed action RPG which was announced at Tokyo Game Show 2005, the same project?
A: The details are still secret. Please wait for follow-up information.
Q: Cavia is the developer of Square Enix's Drag-on Dragoon series, however as a result of Cavia's relationship with AQ Interactive, will Cavia be able to develop games that are published by Square Enix?
A: In the future, Cavia is set to cooperate not only with Square Enix, but also with publishers other than AQ Interactive on game development.
Q: Final Fantasy mastermind Hironobu Sakaguchi is an AQ Interactive shareholder and serves as producer of Cry On. Is there a possibility that he will be involved in other upcoming games published by AQ Interactive?
A: We can't give you a concrete answer here, but the possibility, of course, does exist.
Q: How does development for next-generation consoles differ, when compared to the development for current-generation consoles? It is often said that development costs are increasing significantly, but what is your take? Also, what are your impressions of PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Revolution?
A: As a result of hardware's specs rising, it is like you can do everything. Hence, one does not implement every feature, but instead [ask] "where can I specialize in order to create [a game]?h I think these choices have increased. Isn't it important to probe if [a game] matches its concept? As far as this issue is concerned, "the play [element] in using the controller" has been specialized with the Revolution and I felt that Nintendo's "Policy towards Playing" has been proposed more decisively.
Q: What kind of company does AQ Interactive aim to become after five to ten years? Konami, Bandai Namco, Sega Sammy, Square Enix and other major companies are becoming bigger and bigger. What is AQ Interactive's business strategy in such a market environment?
A: Apart from major RPG titles, AQ Interactive will make use of networks of entertainment businesses from various genres and develop one [piece of] content not only for consumer game consoles, but also expand to various [other] platforms such as mobile [platforms], animation, comics, etc.
Q: Let's hear about the possibility of AQ Interactive's games being released outside Japan.
A: Regarding all of our games, we are aiming at business chances allowing for worldwide expansion.
Q: When looking at the game industry right now, one can observe a trend towards the continued spread of MMORPGs. What are your thoughts on this issue? Also, how do you think, will the industry and in particular the RPG genre evolve from here on?
A: When we talk about the MMORPGs which are spreading in Japan, I think one enjoys communicating by sharing the same experience with fellow users rather than enjoying the actual game itself. There is no competition and strategy [involved], you surely just roleplay a situation known as an adventure. In an environment where games are diversified, one can probe "what is the fun [factor]?" within the various categories and then distinguish more clearly. I think, then the [number of] genres will increase.
Q: Mr. Iwazaki, what games are you playing yourself?
A: DigDug, Mother 2 and Legend of Zelda have become something like my favorite three titles because the starting point is more important than anything. I like titles that give you a feeling of "autonomy" inside the various limitations that exist through the expression of a videogame.
RPGFan would like to thank Takuya Iwazaki and Daita Sakamoto for their cooperation and support in enabling us to present this exclusive interview to our readers.