In Platinum’s upcoming open-world action game, Scalebound, your dragon is your showcase.
While at E3 this year, I had the chance to sit down and talk to creative director Hideki Kamiya and creative producer JP Kellams (who also translated for Mr. Kamiya) about the game and the demo we watched at Microsoft’s press event.
Watching the Scalebound demonstration, I started to wonder about the process of customizing these dragons in terms of multiplayer. The hardest part of multiplayer is getting a balanced team. Different games choose to tackle that differently. In some, you’re expected to do the balancing manually. Need a healer? Mention that in the group chat. In others, you simply unlock all the available skills as you move through the game, and you can customize your character to fit the situation. If you’ve got a sniper and a melee fighter, tank up and protect them, and then switch back to your standard play style once you’re alone.
The multiplayer, Kamiya explained, isn’t a mode separate from the rest of the game. It’s core to the experience, and it hooks into the greater narrative of the game – though that’s not something they’re talking about quite yet. Similarly, the dragon you build as you play the game is your dragon.
“We really want players to spend a lot of time tinkering with the trade-offs they make with their dragons,” Kellams said. “The dragon is your showcase – you want to go into the open world, grind, buy loot, customize your dragon, show your dragon off. The dragon’s going to be a very personal part of you.”
Rather than tweaking your dragon to match the situation, your dragon will be an extension of you. As Kellams explained, I immediately got the image in my head of the combat anime that have come out over the years, stuff like Dragonball, where two characters will fight and other on the sidelines of the battle will explain what’s going on. I get the feeling that Kamiya and his team want players to see each other through their dragons. This player is using this type of dragon – that tells me certain things about him.
In that way, I’m reminded that, indeed, Platinum is a Japanese company, and, because of that, the approach to multiplayer is going to be a different one. I’m curious to see how that’ll go down, as multiplayer is a much bigger part of Scalebound than, I think, any Platinum game to date.
We hit on a few other elements as we went back and forth, too. The music Drew, the main character, hears, is licensed music, currently all Western. When the headphones go on, the music changes, and is part of the dynamic music system working in the background as we saw with Metal Gear Rising.
One of the toughest parts of creating Scalebound so far has been, pun intended, the scale of it. The enemies in Scalebound start big and get absolutely huge, and the team has to think about how they look up close and far away, as well as how they play at both distances.
Finally, I asked if we’d see a reference to Space Harrier, eliciting a laugh from the otherwise stoic developer.
“Maybe – what do you think?” he replied.
Scalebound is set to hit Xbox One – and PC via Xbox Play Anywhere – next year.