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Victor Ireland E3 '99 Interview

Victor Ireland E3 '99 Interview
by Rudo
This is part 1 of an interview with Working Designs' President Victor Ireland from E3 1999. In this interview, you'll find a lot of information about the various Lunar games, the mystery RPG, Detonator Gauntlet and much more.

Rudo: Okay, I guess Lunar 2 is now officially announced, so that'll be coming...?
Vic: This winter... you'll believe...maybe!

Rudo: Oh yeah? This winter? Really? *laughs a bit*
Vic: Well, winter goes to March, so we've got a pretty big window. I seriously doubt it'll be out in December, but if you realize that winter starts at the end of December, then we've got some margin.

Rudo: When did the translation actually start or are you taking most of the text from the Sega CD version?
Vic: Well, in Lunar:SSS, the text was changed about 80% from the Sega CD version. Some of the text was changed completely and there was also a lot of stuff added on top of that so there was tons of text, tons of changes and it was a nightmare to test and debug. On the other hand, Lunar 2 is approximately 80% the same, text-wise. Most of the upgrades in Lunar 2 are graphical or gameplay, so our Sega CD stuff can go almost completely over, so my goal is to have it running in English completely by the end of July, 1st draft. In comparison, we weren't completely in English with Lunar:SSS until about 3 months ago. Lunar:SSS was a nightmare with all the text change, the testing, the debugging. I mean, it's worth it in the end, but while we're doing it, it's like. "Is this ever going to end?" Have you played it yet?

Rudo: Well, I played a demo of it 3 years ago but not the English version.
Vic: Also, a lot of the audio and the animation are compatible [in Lunar 2]. I'm guessing that half or 3/4 of the audio is compatible so the studio time will probably be cut from 6 months to about 2 or 3 months. I think it's possible... Also, we're adding new employees soon. So it's possible, and Silhouette now is almost ready to go, finally, which has been dogging us for a year. Basically the reason we haven't announced anything new, like the mystery RPG...

Rudo: Oh yeah! The mystery RPG is Detonator Gauntlet?
Vic: No, it's not, I'll explain that. We're gonna come clean next week. But we've got this huge backlog of stuff that got stuck in problems, political problems, programming problems, you know, like 4 titles that just got backlogged. We used to announce stuff about 6 month to a year before we did it and then we were like: "Let's just catch up now, let's not announce anything new." But then people were saying like: "Hey! You guys haven't announced anything new for a long time!!" and we're like: "Well, we're trying to catch up!"

Rudo: But then again, if you announce it, people are going to start saying: "Hey! How come it's taking so long?"
Vic: Yeah, exactly, it's a catch 22. But I understand that. I just wanted to get caught up. We're almost shipping Silhouette Mirage, a couple of months; Lunar is like a week away. And now, we're at a point where we can talk about Lunar 2, Detonator Gauntlet and complete on the mystery RPG.

Now, here's the story on the mystery RPG. That was originally supposed to be Samurai Showdown RPG. We talked to SNK about doing it and the deal was way far along, and then the deal fell apart, for reasons I shall not disclose but it fell apart. But I really wanted to do it bad. We wanted to announce it literally 2 weeks after we first put it up on the board.

*Interview interrupted by Dave Zdyrko, who comes in to get something from the fridge. Vic offers me something to drink and I gladly take a Pepsi, which is then followed by a short discussion about Anakin Skywalker, who is on the Pepsi can.*
Anyway, there was supposed to be a 3 minute intro to the game and I had 2 minutes of that new animated intro completely done with music and everything in AVI format on my laptop. Damn! I should have brought that. I could have shown people what it would have looked like if we had released Samurai Showdown. It was a really awesome intro too, cause I took the animation from that...crappy movie. Actually, I shouldn't say crappy movie. The Samurai Showdown OAV. They were going to let us take animation from that and with the music and character from the game and let us do whatever we wanted with that. They gave us all sorts of material to do that and it was an awesome intro but nobody will ever see it.

Rudo: You don't want to make it public...
Vic: No, legally I can't. I can show you what it looks like here but I can't post it on the site. I'd LOVE to post it on the site cause it's a really cool intro but I can't.

Vic: Anyway, it was supposed to be that, that deal falls apart. So we're like: "Oh geez! What are we gonna do, we've got mystery RPG in there." It would have been better if we had just said that Samurai Showdown RPG was canceled and all that but..

*Interview interupted by Working Designs staff looking for a copy of the Lunar:SSS packaging to show people outside (they are down to only one copy left because some copies were given to people and others just kinda TOOK them, thinking it was a gift).*
Vic: Anyway, so we're wondering what to do and we've got this other game in negotiation and it should come through in a couple of months, so let's just leave the mystery RPG there for now and we'll come back to it once the deal is done. That game was supposed to be Spectral Force 2, which sucked... Cause, we found out that the team from Dragon Force had left for Idea Factory and they did Spectral Force 1, which also sucked but it had the artist from Dragon Force. The art was identical cause it was the same artist. Anyway, we thought they'd get their act together for the second one. So, we were hoping the sequel would be great and we got a beta copy of the game and after about 20 minutes of play, we said: "This is NOT going to be the mystery RPG!"

Rudo: Yeah, you've got this big hype around the mystery RPG and all...
Vic: Yeah... that sucked but anyway we said, "Okay this isn't going to work but we've got this other game coming down the road, we can license this title, this can be our mystery RPG," and this one I can't tell because it hasn't happened yet and may still happen, but there's another game that was supposed to be the mystery RPG and this one still isn't done but next week we should be able to complete on the mystery RPG. And some people think the mystery RPG is Detonator Gauntlet and you know... if my name was Bernie Stolar I'd probably say: "Yes, that has been the plan all along, that was the mystery RPG," but the truth is, it's not.

Rudo: Yeah, cause I wouldn't think that this is the kind of game that you hype that much...
Vic: Yeah, exactly, a year and a half to announce a strategy RPG as the mystery RPG, it's not exactly... You know, we needed a strategy RPG in there and this is a really good strategy RPG, but if it was the mystery RPG, it would have been a traditional RPG or an action RPG. But there are still a number of titles in the work but the mystery RPG, we'll be taking it down next week and we'll come clean with a nice little story, but maybe you can beat us to the punch with a story on your site about the mystery RPG.

Rudo: There are a lot of rumors about the mystery RPG and what it could be.
Vic: Yeah, Langrisser won't happen. People were saying it would be Langrisser but... Langrisser is too big; it's like 4 & 5 in Tribute, which is awesome. It's an awesome package and it's an awesome game but it's way too much conversion for as limited a market as it's going to be, and the presentation is not enough to pull enough people to sell enough. It would sell to ultra hardcore people only, and considering the amount of time we'd have to spend on that game, easily a year or more since it's Langrisser 4 & 5. Also, there are a lot of voices in the game and spending a year on that when we can spend it on something like Lunar 2 or Lunar 3, I mean, those are better choices. I'm willing to spend 6 months on a strategy game but a year is too long, especially since there's not enough market for it.

Then, there was like Slayers 2. IGN for some strange reason said we were going to do Slayers 2.

Rudo: And then, there were people saying that Grandia was going to be the mystery RPG, and we know what happened with that.
Vic: Yeah, so anyway, that's the whole story about the mystery RPG and next week we should have more info on the game, and we've also got 6 to 8 titles in negotiations right now, but you never know which ones are going to come through or not because there's so many things that can happen that you never know.
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