Rabbit & Bear Studios recently announced Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes – with the involvement of Suikoden veterans Yoshitaka Murayama (Suikoden, Suikoden II), Junko Kawano (Suikoden, Suikoden IV), and Osamu Komuta (Suikoden Tactics, Suikoden Tierkreis).
To celebrate the announcement and uncover more about his exciting new game, we have interviewed Murayama-san about his soon to be Kickstarted project. You can find our full interview below:
Niche Gamer: There may be some who are unfamiliar with the Suikoden series and your other works; which you have stated have inspired elements of Eiyuden Chronicle. How do you describe Eiyuden Chronicle? A spiritual successor to Suikoden?
Yoshitaka Murayama: Eiyuden Chronicle was built from the core idea of us making something we found truly interesting and fun. It’s been forged through the collective experiences of the core team who are all Industry Veterans with good design sensibilities.
This is an ongoing evolution of what I’ve learned through developing games like Genso Suikoden and Alliance Alive as a creator.
NG: While you obviously have a deep love for the story you are writing, have any characters become your favorites even at this early stage?
Murayama: Of the currently announced characters I probably gravitate towards Lian.
She’s likes to act like she’s the smart person in the room and always pretends to understand some complex conversations that use specialty terms and then when she invariably doesn’t understand what’s being said, just goes with the straight-forward option of “Just tell me who I need to punch!”
Editor’s Note: You can find the above image at full resolution here.
NG: From the brief bit of gameplay we’ve seen, it appears the characters aren’t lined up in rows like in Suikoden, but across a battle landscape at different elevations? Is this what battles will look like, or more of a prototype? Will elevations affect how characters fight?
Murayama: One of the core philosophies on this game is that we won’t just make our backgrounds ever-changing wallpaper.
There are lots of positions characters will start in and based on that the different character skills will have merits or demerits. For example, an archer-type character can use high-positions to their advantage.
NG: The visuals are fantastic so far, and what we hoped Suikoden would look like in HD. Was it hard to decide between full 3D and something in between (like we see now)?
Murayama: We knew we wanted to use robust 2D pixels as our core form of character expression but we also wanted to couple it with the sort of modern effects you’d see in a big budget FPS.
However, that’s easy to say on paper but it took a lot of time to really nail that balance. For example, in the boss video we have released, really showing the right kind of depth was challenging.
We initially found ourselves been too bound to the old way of thinking where you show everything on the screen instead of a smoothing zooming effect to emphasize the action. Something that you really can balance in 3D.
Even more specifically in the video when Melridge (the character using magic) draws out his fire balls you have to time when to blur the boss and focus on Melridge and then when to shift to focusing on the boss who eats several fireballs. That timing ended up being harder than we thought.
NG: One of the screenshots shows the game with English text already. Who will be handling the game’s English translation or localization? Is it too early to ask if we can expect Japanese or English voice acting?
Murayama: We are working with one of the best localizers out there but as the project goes on it’s hard to say who will be leading the localization efforts.
Bare minimum, I can say we plan to have English and Japanese voice in the game.
NG: Speaking of that screenshot, we see it uses a speech bubble. Can we expect character art and dialogue portraits as with Suikoden in some scenes?
Murayama: There are so many unit characters that really need to have a face so I want to add portraits to the game where they make sense.
NG: Can we expect the same big variety of characters as Suikoden? Some joke characters, like Adlai?
Murayama: Yep. With so many characters to work with we really want variety and for players to find a character that is their favorite or that speaks to them. And of course you need to have a few really wacky characters that stand out as well.
Matter of fact, we have one planned that I know will make a big impression with people.
NG: Rune-lenses introduce the magical aspect of the game. Can we expect characters defined by their runes like in Suikoden?
Murayama: Rune-lenses are a bit more detailed and specific than Suikoden’s runes so expect them to provide a lot more customization options.
NG: We’ve see you’re already teasing a chef character being recruitable. The sidequests and minigames are the favorite parts of the Suikoden series for some; like the cooking. Can we expect both in Eiyuden Chronicle?
Murayama: Actually, there’s something involving food… and chefs, that I really want to do in the game.
You’ll see more about that when the Kickstarter launches. Some may require support from the backers to get there though.
NG: If there was one thing you could change about a previous Suikoden game, what would it be? Are you looking to adapt and improve specific things or mechanics from that series in Eiyuden Chronicle?
Murayama: Up until now we did the best with the tools and development environment we had so I don’t really have any regrets because we really put our heart into it.
Eiyuden Chronicle will be no different. New technology will help but the fact that we are putting our hearts into it will never change.
It is great to see Mr. Murayama, Mrs. Kawano, and Mr. Komuta all working together again. Does it feel like old times? How different is it working as an independent studio in comparison to a big company like Konami? Can we expect other former colleagues working on Eiyuden Chronicle, like Miki Higashino? Her music made Suikoden that much more wonderful for a lot of people.
Murayama: Right now pre-Kickstarter launch were are super super busy. But we also have freedom to do and make what we want for now.
As new veterans come on board, we will make sure to announce their participation. Until then, we need to keep them out of the public scene so as to not cause them problems.
NG: How did you come to decide crowdfunding was the best for Eiyuden Chronicle over the traditional publisher/developer relationship?
Murayama: The starting point of doing a Kickstarter was when the core members got together and say, “Isn’t it about time we really made something that we all love. Something we know will be enjoyed by the fans.”
In order to do that you need freedom to 100% control your vision. Kickstarter is one of the only options that gives a creator or team a path forward to really own and control what they are making.
NG: As the game is coming to PC, what distribution platforms are you considering? Would you consider exclusivity on one distribution platform if it aided in funding? (Steam vs. Epic Games Store?)
Murayama: If the Kickstarter is a success, we want to allow as many people to play the game as possible.
That’s one of the reasons an exclusive deal, even one backed with a lot of funding, really doesn’t interest us.
NG: Are there any details you can tell us about the Kickstarter at this stage? Such as your funding goal or possible stretch goals?
Murayama: I can say this… It may involve cosplay…. (laughs)
NG: If there’s one final thing you can tell your fans and newcomers about Eiyuden Chronicle, what would it be?
Murayama: In order for us to make Eiyuden Chronicle the game it needs to be — a game for the fans, we need those same fans to lend us their strength.
You are the heroes and now is the time for action! Thank you for all your amazing support.
The Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes Kickstarter will launch July 27th, and end August 28th. If successful, Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes will launch Fall 2022 for Windows PC, with other platforms as stretch goals.
Images: Silicon Era