Interview | PlatinumGames / Nudemaker on Infinite Space (Nintendo DS)

By Jorge Ba-oh 23.06.2010 3

Earlier this year Cubed3 reviewed the highly entertaining Infinite Space on Nintendo DS, a space-oriented turn-based RPG that included a gripping storyline and extreme amounts of customisation. Recently SEGA gave us the chance to quiz both Atsushi Inaba-san of PlatinumGames and Hifumi Kouno-san of Nudemaker to discuss the game in more detail, as well as talk about future plans.

Image for Interview | PlatinumGames / Nudemaker on Infinite Space (Nintendo DS)

Cubed3’s Adam Riley, Senior Editor: Why did Platinum choose to work with Nude Maker on this project?

Atsushi Inaba-san, Executive Director and Producer at PlatinumGames: I started out with the desire of wanting to work with the director, Hifumi Kouno. He is a talented game creator, and I knew he would come up with something interesting and original. It was made in a bit of a different manner than the other PlatinumGames titles, but I am happy that it turned out to be something quite fun in the end.

AR: Sales in Japan started very strong, but there were reports of there being problems replenishing stock levels quickly enough to meet the high demand. Can you discuss these issues, and are you disappointed that so many potential sales were ‘lost’ during the launch window?

Inaba-san : I think it was a really sad situation. Clearly it was a missed opportunity. Cartridges and cartridge production carry an inventory risk that is higher than that of a DVD, so it is quite difficult to decide how many should be included in the first production run. However, when the game was released, even though there was really nothing else like it in the Japanese market and the game was anticipated by Japanese users, it was decided to take the path of least risk, which you can now say was a mistake. PlatinumGames did not have the final say on the initial production run numbers, and it ate at me with this one. I think the word “lost” is a good way of putting it.

AR: Wii currently lacks many epic adventures, and it seems like a game such as Infinite Space would be ideal for the system. Would you like to create something like this for Wii, or is ‘Infinite Space 2’ more likely for DS or the new Nintendo 3DS?

Inaba-san : I think that we were able to squeeze out a lot of fun for a portable system with Infinite Space. I also think we were able to create something of a scope that you just don’t see on portable hardware. If there were a sequel, which hardware it would be best on is something that is difficult to answer at this point... I would like to try making the game on a console, and really fleshing things out. As for the 3DS, I have absolutely no idea what the thing really is, so I can’t comment on whether it would be a home for Infinite Space 2.

Image for Interview | PlatinumGames / Nudemaker on Infinite Space (Nintendo DS)

AR: Does Platinum Games still have plans to create more games for Wii and DS, or are sights now set on Nintendo’s next round of systems instead?
Inaba-san : This is entirely my own personal opinion, but I think that you truly have to respect Nintendo as a company in the games business. I am, of course, interested in whatever new hardware they put out, and I am also interested in whatever new games they release. If Nintendo says they are going to do something new, I want to be first on-board that bandwagon. Again, completely personal opinion here, but that is how I feel about things.

AR: Where did the idea of Infinite Space’s story originate? Were elements of the story influenced by anything or anyone in particular?

Hifumi Kouno-san, CEO and Director at Nudemaker: The biggest influences on me were Arthur C. Clarke and Yoshiyuki Tomino, the director of the anime Space Runaway Ideon. Another base I called upon was the universe of H.P. Lovecraft. I think you can see the roots of the contrast between the unfathomable infiniteness of space and the finite, small, nothingness of humanity that Lovecraft supposed in all of my works.

AR: There is quite a contrast between the high quality anime stills and the 3D space battles, compared with the somewhat ‘retro’ visual style of the character graphics. Can you talk about some of the decisions made in terms of the game’s art direction?

Kouno-san: The character graphics were the first thing that came out of our production line. Once we had those, we wanted to do our best to express the special touches the graphic designers had included, and we decided the best way of doing so would be via dot-like graphics with gradation. Finally, the decision to do the cutscenes with anime stills was something borne of schedule and production constraints, but looking back on things now, it probably would have been a better choice to match everything to these anime stills and used that style of anime-like graphics for the characters.

Image for Interview | PlatinumGames / Nudemaker on Infinite Space (Nintendo DS)

AR: The soundtrack is very impressive. Is the composer someone that Platinum has worked with before, or will be working with again in the future? What sort of challenge was faced when creating a musical score for such an epic adventure?

Kouno-san: The soundtrack was primarily produced by Masafumi Takada, who was with Grasshopper Manufacture at the time, and Jun Fukuda. I have asked the two of them to work with me on titles many times before, including on Steel Battalion, and to me, they are the two composers I trust more than any others. I asked them to come up with tracks that really expressed the expansive nature of space, and it seems it was quite a difficult task to express this concept while using the limited sound capabilities of the DS.

AR: Why did you choose the ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors’ approach for the battle system, and were there ever concerns that the extensive customisation in the game would scare off ‘casual gamers’?

Image for Interview | PlatinumGames / Nudemaker on Infinite Space (Nintendo DS)

Kouno-san: For the battle system, we started off wanting to make it something that was somewhat simple, and it was only after that that we arrived at the “Rock, Paper, Scissors” approach. If we would have made a complex system that was more about rewarding player technique, I feel it would have detracted from the customization elements of the game. By selecting a “Rock, Paper, Scissors” system with a minimum of elements, I wanted to defend the core game mechanic of increasing the power of your ship via customization as the sure fire path to success. I was afraid that we would lose more casual gamers, depending on the complexity of the customization system, but watering down our core concept �" that of customizing a battleship �" was never an option.
AR: Did you ever have any plans to include Wi-Fi play for multiplayer battles? If not, could you please explain why?

Kouno-san: We looked into including Wi-Fi play very early on in development; however, when you think of the game’s overall scope, as well as the size of the production team on the title, we identified Wi-Fi play as a very risky element that could cause production problems towards the end of development, so the idea was set aside. Personally, I think that if Wi-Fi play was included, you would have to move forward with an initial game design that had that idea as a prerequisite, or you would end up with a compromised design.

AR: Looking back at the finished product now, are there any elements you are particularly proud of, and any aspects you think should have been done differently?

Kouno-san: It hasn’t been too long since the localised versions were released, so I feel it might be a little too early to look back and reflect on things. I have my own ideas on doing this or that for my next development project, but instead of sharing those, I think now is the time to be open minded and listen to gamers’ reactions instead.

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I thoroughly enjoyed Infinite Space, but there were definitely a few flaws that stopped it from becoming the classic it so longs to be. With any luck, Nudemaker and Platinum will be able to work on another game in the series, perhaps even on 3DS! Smilie

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]
ben (guest) 25.07.2011#2

they should bring out another one

it could be like yuri and his crew have to fight there way back to the smc and he finds nias grave

Pennywise (guest) 11.08.2011#3

This game was brilliant. Easily the most entertaining DS game I've played.

It'll be a crime if there is no 3DS sequel, tho I feel a direct sequel really isn't necessary. I'd be more than satisfied with a new game with a new cast and a new story.

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