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Shin Natsume, the executive producer for Castlevania - Ballad of Angels, kindly took the time to answer our questions.
Q: What type of game is Castlevania – Ballad of Angels?
A: Ballad of Angels is actually a gen-remix that includes parts of RPG, action, adventure and jump'n run. But it plays mostly as a realtime RPG...
Q: There are quite a few Castlevania games out there; what makes your game special?
A: Well, this is the first time a 3D Castlevania has RPG Elements. In Symphony of the Night for the PSone, one of the best Cv games out there, we saw this Metroid like game for the first time, but in 2D. Lament of innocence (PS2) as well as the N64 titles feature this stage like gaming experience. This time, you get free roam, not only over Dracula's castle, but also over whole Transylvania. You can level up and buy items. I think we pushed Castlevania to the next 3D Level. A task, IGA (Konami's boss of Castlevania) failed to emerge...
Q: One of the features listed at your home page is “huge 3D world”. How big is the world in quants and what tricks have you used to make it that big?
A: That's a good question. See, this huge 3D world actually consists of many, many small levels, edited together via the Half Life level changer. But since we used some code, the next levels you can enter already load up while you still play the other map. This deletes almost every loading delay. So that's why I cannot say how big the size is actually. It changes from map to map. We found ourselves traveling throughout the land of Transylvania, not finding the way to the first mansion, which is, in fact a bit silly for the creators... But Turrican got the best line ever: I've been chased by werewolves and I had no weapon...
Q: “Almost every thing you do effects the game story” says another line at your site. How did you code that? Can you give us an example of a decision that changes the game story?
A: Yes, surely. For example, if you talk to a girl that waits in the town of Jova, you learn that she lives in a town called Kunan. When you enter Kunan then, you will get a completely different scenario than entering this town without talking to that girl. Or maybe if you take too long to reach a specific point, the task for entering the next mansion changes. This actually affects the story in a nice way but not too much so that the main task does not change. But we also have different endings depending on how well you do and how fast you are...
Q: It looks like C-BoA will use many in-game movies; are they going to be created with the Acknex engine?
A: Yes. We do not use any AVIs in the game due to the fact that they simply would be too big in size. We need to keep the size small, since it is free downloadable for anyone, and I don't think anyone would download 650 megabyte where 350 megs are only video.
Q: “75-100 different Enemies”. What tools have you used to create, animate and skin all these models?
A: Mostly Milkshape. We don't have different skins per model; those 100 enemies are all unique models.
Q: Do you need more members in your team?
A: Well, I would say it this way, we always could use some help, but since the game is as good as finished, there wouldn't be too much to do...
Q: Have you found a publisher yet?
A: Well, we do not sell this game. First of all because we can't, since all legal rights of the characters and names belong to Konami, secondly because we wanted to create something for those people who supported us no matter what. So we don't need a publisher. If you want to play it, simply download it from the official website or any website that offers it. It will be released on the 19th of June on the Dusmania, and two days later available worldwide for free download.
Q: Please give us a few tips for beginners!
A: Tips? Like what? Maybe like don't set your score too high when starting a game? As Tobias Runde, writer of the book "Game creation with 3D Gamestudio" (German only) once said: your first ten games will suck, I can only repeat that line. We worked over 4 years on that game, and well, a lot changed since then. I can remember the first beta that was available somewhere, and hell, that was so bad. But since then, everything changed. Not only I gathered some of the most talented people out there together, and yes, its actually their effort that this game is so far, not mine. We also learned so much in all those years. Best tip to all noobs would be to never give up. No matter what anyone says, continue. If you ever want to create something good, go on and on... I think that's the best advice, since I don't think any technical specs or code would help them at all...
I want to thank my team at this point. I could not have done it without your effort. Especially Turrican, Error014, newsoundfactory, Fuxerz and puppenheim. You are the best guys I ever worked with, and also became good friends. Thank you.
Thank you a lot, Shin.