Japanese doujin shooter, Gocco of War, was recently successfully greenlit on Steam, which caught our attention. We managed to get some time with the Shimizu Masanosuke, one of the Peakvox developers who are working on this adorable shooter, and we had some questions for him. You can read those and his answers to them below.
Niche Gamer: For our fans who haven’t been following Peakvox and Gocco of War, would you briefly describe the game itself, and its origins?
Shimizu Masanosuke: The game is an amusement-themed level inside the Gocco studio, which is a hologram studio. Players play the role of one of the kids living 100 years in the futre, and play the Gocco program with other children. In the program, you fight against cute and pop-like enemies. In this game, I also want to express my idea of future amusement parks like Disneyland or Universal Studios.
How long has Peakvox been developing Gocco? Would you say the game being greenlit on Steam has helped to accelerate your development?
The concept for this game was drawn up roughly one year ago, and we started development last Autumn. Although we’re excited about our success on Steam Greenlight, we will work carefully and sincerely for players rather than hurry to release it.
How many developers are currently working at Peakvox? Is your team primarily Japanese?
Gocco of War has about four people (all Japanese) involved with development at the moment. We sometimes get help (art assets) from our parent company.
From my experience, most doujin studios tend to have their games handled by external parties, like Playism. What made you choose to publish your game independently, on Steam Greenlight?
I also talked with Playism about this. I was preparing another way to release in the event we couldn’t get Greenlit by the end of January. After all, it is not important whether we become a self-publisher or not. Fortunately we got greenlit, but there still are some possibilities to collaborate with Playism as needed to increase funds.
As an independent Japanese developer, do you think the Japanese-English language barrier is what prevents more doujin studios from publishing outside of Japan?
Language seems like one of many tools like Photoshop, so we don’t think language itself is a big barrier—because we can communicate with others while not caring about grammar. But there are differences of thinking based on our own culture, and the time differences cause slow responses and misunderstandings between us and players. I guess this is something to study.
You mentioned in a previous correspondence that you didn’t particularly like games with blood. Would you say such this is common in popular games, or just Western games?
I think developers use blood or violence as a way to stimulate the user’s emotion so that they don’t get tired of playing. On the other hand, I want our game to be played by as many players as possible. I don’t want some users to be kept away from our game due to an age rating. As a supporter of expression in games, I agree with some blood from a user’s point of view. But we don’t want to do the same.
Is the overall Japanese gamer/developer perception of popular western games (shooters, action games, etc.) that they glorify violence?
Basically, Japanese people don’t like expressions of violence in a direct or strong manner. So I suppose this is why a player’s enemy tends to be a monster instead of a human in Japan. Although some Western gamers like direct expressions, Japanese gamers see them as a difference of culture.
Is the name “Gocco” the actual name of the hologram or virtual world the characters play in? What are the origins of the word?
“Gocco” is a Japanese word. It means children playing with imitating a hero on TV, or an adult in the real world. An imitation or parody is one of our concepts. By the way, I love the title, Gocco of War. The reasoning is that it can be shortened to GOW, like “God of War” and “Gears of War”.
The background behind the game seems a bit post-apocalyptic. Children/people are unable to go outside due to overwhelming pollution. Would you say Japan’s own pollution (nuclear) issues made you go with this background story, or is it centered on the issues of pollution in general?
This is unrelated to Japanese pollution. A war happens and pollution comes from somewhere in the world. People feel a kind of common anxiety about the environment of the future, I think. But even if kids live in a bad environment, I believe they will find something new and fun. The theme in Gocco of War is a contrast with being tough on kids and the stupidity of adults.
Will the game delve into these topics at all—or is it designed to be taken at face value, cute, simple, and fun?
It’s a cute and simple fun. Although it’s not intended to delve into the stupidity of adults, I hope this game make players feel a little something like that.
Gocco of War has a single-player campaign. Will each character have their own, unique story, or is story progression mostly quest-based?
Dialog scenes are in the game. I like your idea that each character has a story while progressing on a quest. The leading character keeps quiet, unlike Dragon Quest, which some players might have played. I hope you can find game characters that make you eager to play Gocco and enjoy it with them.
Roughly how many stages are currently planned for Gocco of War? If you could put an average time length on a stage, what would it be?
Gocco of War has four quest-worlds, more than 20 quests, and the difficulty levels. It takes about 20 minutes accomplish the goal on a level, and I consider replay necessary in order to see a rare monster and make different clothes.
How customizable will each character be? Can we expect a large number of accessories? Will players be able to find costumes, or are they only available via crafting (with materials found in stages)?
We are preparing as many items as possible. Players will gather various kinds of materials through quests, and create clothes, weapons, and accessories by mixing those materials. They can change clothes and craft items in the lobby (square).
So costumes are created. What kind of abilities can players expect to be able to attach to costumes?
We have not decided all of the abilities yet. They provide benefits like raising the critical rate of a weapon or speeding up movement.
The use of “air” as a pool of energy is interesting. Would you say this is linked to the game’s anti-pollution themes?
In an area in the game, a people have a small generator that converts wind into electrical energy. They have to charge by self-sufficient supply for the electricity. It’s called an air energy system, that is clean and good for the ecology.
Why did you decide to limit the number of attacks/interactions by air energy? Will players have to be strategic with their use of air? You mention adding more weapons aside from the current six listed on the game’s FAQ. Could you give us an idea of what kinds of weapons to expect?
The attacks and weapons have been expanded through discussions with our members, so they could still change. We always talk about a need to add various short-range weapons or status effects like poison or blind and such. I am planning to make some quests require energy management/strategic actions. Basically, I want to make it a simple trigger-happy shooter without searching for magazines [clips of ammo].
There are multiple difficulties in Gocco of War. Would you say skilled players would be satisfied with the higher difficulties?
The higher difficulty could make some players get heated with the game. I think it gives players the opportunity to get more rare items in exchange for a higher challenge.
Is Gocco of War still on track for a summer 2015 release date?
It will be summer or autumn 2015.
Lastly, do you have anything to say to fans who voted for the game on Steam Greenlight, and to your potential future customers?
Gocco of War has been evolving at the point of camera angle, enemy’s AI, and field’s art. We are considering posting a work-in-progress video every one or two months. I’m sure it’ll be a very exciting game. I know we can’t reach even the tail of Call of Duty or Battlefield, but something only we can create for fun must be left. Please look forward to the release. I feel having Niche Gamer fans on board is very reassuring.
I’d like to thank Shimizu Masanosuke and the folks at Peakvox Games for giving me the time for conducting this interview. Niche Gamer regularly interviews developers on a variety of subjects – if you’re a developer and want to chat with us, please contact us!