Cubed3: Where did the name 'Archime-DS' come from and why change from the original name of 'LOL DS'?
Kenichi Nishi, Route24: The name comes from the ancient Greek mathematician "Archimedes". LOL DS was just a temporary title (LOL as in "laugh out loud," not "Lack of Love.") The people who worked on it said things like, "I don't understand it" or "It's so bad..." or "If you want me to help, change the title." Anyway, I had no choice but to change it.
C3: Last time we spoke with Mr. Nishi, he was the only member of Route24. How large has that team become now?
KN: Route24 is still a one-man company, just me. The fiscal result of the first year was a deficit of more than 2 million yen, and when you have such a bad result it's impossible to hire anyone. However, the Japanese tax laws allow deficits to carry over for 7 years, so in the end it's kind a good thing to minimise tax.
But unfortunately, like in O. Henry's "Gift of The Magi", I have to sell my hair and my gold watch just so I can feed my dog Tao.
C3: With Skip, Route24, the Archime Development Group and Sarugakucho listed as being involved in the project, which team is actually doing the main development?
KN: The development is being done by Route24 and Archime Development Group. Sarugakucho has been handling additional production tasks.
C3: When Archime-DS was recently presented in Japan, what were people's reactions like? Did you receive any criticism or feedback that may make you alter the game slightly before the final release?
KN: The event was actually a comedy show so naturally the questions and the answers were very humorous and had everybody in the hall laughing out loud. I left before the end of the event because my butt hurt from the hard chair I was sitting on, but as far as I know there wasn't any negative feedback. Archime-DS seemed to be well received by the audience so I am not thinking about changing anything.
I also have to respect the last words of my father which where "Never change your mind once you have decided" and "Never get close to a sexy woman".
C3: From the images that have been released so far, the visual style seems extremely basic. Is this intentional to keep things simple for all users or is there much more of the game that has simply not been shown yet?
KN: The core concept of "Archime-DS" is to let the user decide the use of it. Based on this concept, we have kept only basic functions. It's the same for the visual design. We wanted to make something very simple and neutral.
C3: It has been stated that the game is for between two and four players and is definitely not for playing on your own. However, considering some people cannot always be with a group of friends, will Archime-DS include the Wi-Fi Internet function so people can enjoy laughter at any time they want?
KN: Archime-DS is designed to be played face to face with other players. To hear others laugh is very important. However, if it sells 500,000 copies we may make a sequel with on-line play. Who knows?
C3: Will any sort of music be included that suits the 'comical' mood of the game, or even sound effects for gamers to use that could make their responses more amusing?
KN: Of course we have some catchy sound effects and background music but we kept everything as simple as the rest of the game.
C3: How far away is Archime-DS from being completed? And how strong will the promotional work be?
KN: The development is 90% finished. As far as our promotional plans, we're going to see how far we can go without spending any money on it.
C3: It was reported that Mr. Nishi's personal wish is to sell 500,000 copies of the game...Considering the current state of the Japanese market, where simply Kanji Quiz games can sell nearly 500,000, surely this is not an unrealistic wish? What do you think about the possibility of this happening?
KN: It's not me, but I've heard that the president of Skip has been saying that it would be nice if we could sell 500,000 copies. He just married a woman 20 years younger than him so he may need to make some money for the future
I will try to buy the first 490,000. We are trying to find a way to release it in the UK too, so if you guys could help me with the remaining 10,000 it would be nice!
C3: For those who do not know, could you please explain what 'Oogiri' is? How will Archime-DS differ from this?
KN: The basic rule of "Oogiri" is to answer to a question. It's that simple. But the key point is that the players have to make the funniest answers to the question. The most important skill for "Oogiri" and Archime-DS is the player's sense of humour.
One difference is that usually in "Oogiri", the one who asks the question doesn't have to answer it. But in Archime-DS, everybody, including the person asking the question, will have to give an answer. Also, players can use the Nintendo-DS to draw pictures, which is quite different with the ordinary "Oogiri" where most of the questions are based on text.
C3: Although the basic idea comes from a Japanese game, it certainly seems like something that would translate very well to the US and Europe markets (especially here in the UK, with our 'dry' sense of humour and heavy sarcasm!). Could this happen, or are talks already underway about finding a publisher to bring it to the West? (Playing Archime-DS with people all over the world sounds like a fantastic idea...)
KN: Archime-DS is definitely a good way for you people in the UK to show your unique sense of humour and sarcasm! We cannot say for the moment if the game will be sold outside Japan, but we are seriously thinking about this possibility.
C3: Recently there was a video podcast featured on Route24's website that was apparently about a new project. For those without an understanding of Japanese, could someone please elaborate on this matter?
KN: The video was an animated movie that was shown at a wedding reception. I made it about a year ago, with the help of the people who worked on the graphics and sounds of Archime-DS.
When I started Route24, I didn't have any work. I announced this on my blog and added that I was open to any type of job offers. I got a mail from a kind lady who was a fan of my games. Her request was for a short movie for her wedding reception. She wanted to show how she and her future husband first met and eventually got married.
I thought that being a part of a wedding was a quite good way to start my new company, so I accepted.
C3: Moving away from Archime-DS to finish, is Skip or Route24 ready to develop on Nintendo's Wii yet?
KN: Sorry, we cannot answer this question.
C3: In fact, what are your thoughts on a more developed version of Archime-DS coming to Wii?
KN: Nothing is planned at the moment.
C3: Finally, Skip is apparently working on a project other than Chibi-Robo: Park Patrol. Can anything be said on this subject, please (even what system it will be for)?
KN: Sorry, we cannot answer this question either.
C3: In closing...
KN: If there is anything else about Archime-DS that you feel I have not covered with these questions, please do mention this below. Thank you very much for your time and help with answering these questions!
Recently, games have been "passively interactive." Users do not really have to think about what to do; they are guided around until they reach the end of the level. These types of games do not rely on the creativity of the users. We wanted to make a game in which the users' imagination would be the key, where they would be totally free to do what ever they want to.
This means that if you can't enjoy playing Archime-DS, it's not because of the game. It's simply because you are not funny or creative enough
Also, there have been a lot of challenges in making this game:
Keeping it extremely simple (we had to resist temptations to add more functions) Working with an extremely small development team (only 5 people, like in the old NES days) Developing it with an extremely low budget (nobody got paid for it!) Promoting it with extremely limited resources (we have no promotion budget!!)
To play the game is challenging, but the development conditions have also been very challenging, don't you think?
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