7 de junio de 2013

We talk with Siter Skain and Nyu Media about The Tale of ALLTYNEX and the indie scene. English and japanese text!

The tale of ALLTYNEX

We talk with Siter SkainThe Tale of ALLTYNEX creators, and Seon King, Nyu Media founder who gently answered our questions and helped us to translate our questions into japanese.

Hello! First, we want to know more about you. Who is Siter Skain at the moment? What are your games?

Siter Skain: There are three SITER SKAIN members: Jirurun (circle representative & I’m providing answers for this interview), Ysuer, and Burnas. Everyone has day jobs and developing games is our hobby.

Japanese indie games being published in the West is quite a recent development . Why do you think the Japanese indie games didn’t reach overseas sooner?

Siter Skain: Japan has for a long time had sales events where indie developments can release and sell their games - Comic Market is the best large scale example. Also, some Japanese retail stores carry indie games, so there are opportunities to sell games across the country. I think this is a reason why many game development circles haven’t felt the need to release their games overseas. There’s the language barrier as many Japanese people have limited English language ability.

Alltynex Second, Reflex and Kamui are well-known among the community that loves this genre. Which one is your personal favourite and why?

Siter Skain: I play games of any genre, but I particularly like STG. I like that you can feel yourself improve as you play more, there’s the thrill of destruction, taking on giant boss enemies, they can be played in relatively short amount of time, and for some reason many STG have really great BGM.

What were your inspirations for those games?

Siter Skain: It’s a mix of ideas and bits and pieces that we’ve picked up from seeing a lot of games, anime, movies, books, etc. I’d have to say the biggest influence is TAITO’s RAY FORCE (English name: GUNLOCK).

Alltynex Second is a remake of the original FM-Towns game from the late nineties. We are very curious about that particular game. Was it famous in Japan? How could you describe the indie scene of the Fujitsu’s machine in your country at the time? 

Siter Skain: ALLTYNEX on the FM TOWNS really wasn’t very well-known. The maker of FM Towns, Fujitsu, sold a series of CDs called the ‘Freeware Collection’ that was made up of software submitted by users and included many amateur games and original tools. However, I didn’t apply for ALLTYNEX to be included and submitted it to a games contest in a different magazine. We won the contest, but barely any FM TOWNS users read that magazine, so our game ended up pretty much unknown.

What tools do you use developing and designing your games? What about the music?

Siter Skain: I program mainly in C++ using VisualStudio. Our go to graphic editing software is Photoshop, the modelling tool we us is Metasequoia (a well-known Japanese modelling tool for independent creators), for music I use an old piece of hardware call the Roland SC-D70, and for composing I use an old Japanese tool called Recomposer forWn95R3. I use old equipment and software to create the music mostly because I’m just used to them. The only tool we created ourselves for game development is a simple map editor.

The STG genre is very well-established and popular in Japan compared to the west. What do you think are the reasons for that?

Siter Skain: I think it’s because of the way in which Japan’s game scene has evolved and in particular because it’s been a major genre in media like Game Center. Having said that, RPG has been the most popular genre in Japan for a long while now and STG is a less popular genre these days. Despite that, it has some die-hard fans and there are many games in the works by indie developers.

For a long time, the STG genre has dominated by the bullet hell games, such as the Cave productions. This is sad for gamers like us. Why have more original and diverse games like yours been forgotten? It is because they are more complicated to develop or to design?

One major reason is the impact that CAVE’s danmaku flagship title ‘Dodonpachi’ had when it was released. The thrill of evading bullets that at a glance look totally inescapable is addictive. After ‘Dodonpachi’ came out, all the STG creators put their efforts into making danmaku games. Bullet curtain ideas and game balancing are important when developing danmaku STGs, but on the plus side, focus effort primarily on those elements and there is the benefit that it looks crazy. On the other hand, the workload increases significantly when you’re placing traps in levels or creating bosses with many moving parts, so games like ours are pretty hard work to create. However, there are developers who feel the same way and a fair amount of STGs put effort into the game mechanics rather than bullet curtains.

Companies like Nyu Media work hard to bring attention to games like yours in the West. Is it important to you to become well-known in countries as the USA or Europe?

Siter Skain: Right now, I have no idea at all how these kinds of STG will be received outside of Japan.  Having said that, I have actually received fan mail from people overseas and I expect that Nyu Media contact us because they feel people will enjoy them. If the ALLTYNEX series does well, then we’d like to look into selling future SITER SKAIN products overseas too. The upcoming releases will help a lot for us to make this decision. Also, if these games are well-received overseas, then there is possibility that other Japan-made STG will be released overseas too.

Are you pleased that your games are now arriving to new gamers around the world?

Siter Skain: Yes. We’ll be extremely happy if more people enjoy our games. That happiness will have a good effect on our future game development.

What other indie Japanese games (shooters or not) would you recommend us? Do you follow the indie scene in the West? If so, which ones are your favourites?

Siter Skain: I recommend ETHER VAPOR Remaster and SATAZIUS, both of which are also published by Nyu Media. Both are quality games that focus on game mechanics and level variety rather than bullet curtains. Nyu Media must be paying close attention to Japan’s indie STG to have already localized both of these games. I don’t know if they class as indie games, but I also enjoyed Castle Crashers and Trials on XBOX Live Arcade.

Out of curiosity, which game (indie or commercial) would you have liked to develop?

Siter Skain: Frankly, I’ve never thought that I would like to participate in developing games with other companies or circles. However, seeing games by other developers often boosts our motivation to develop own games. I’d like to make more fun games ourselves rather than work on other people’s games.

Finally, we wild love to know about your future? Can you kindly tell us what Siter Skain is currently working on and your plans for future games?

Siter Skain: Presently we’re developing an all-directional STG Dragoon Arms. We’re still at the stage of trial and error testing to make the basic gameplay fun and it’ll take over a year to complete yet.  We love STG and are only make STG, but one day we’d like to try our hand at different genres.

Hello Seon, please, introduce yourself to our readers. What is the purpose of Nyu Media. Tell us something about your history. What games have you launched until now?

Seon King: We’re a small, London-based independent publisher. I founded the company in mid-2011 after working in Capcom for seven years to fulfil an ambition of working with and contributing to indie creative talent in Japan. We specialize in localizing and publishing Japanese indie (or ‘doujin’) games for the PC.  By the time that The Tale of ALLTYNEX comes out on June 6th, we will have localized and published twelve games for overseas gamers.

Why did you choose Siter Skain games? Do you knew them before? 

Seon King: SITER SKAIN & their ALLTYNEX series are pretty well-known among people who know doujin games or shooting games, so they were on our ‘hit list’ of developers that we wanted to work with from quite early on. Until we connected by email, we didn’t have any relationship with them other than knowing about them and having played their games.

What do you think about the indie scene in Japan?

Seon King: It’s a small, but vibrant scene.  There are a lot of talent and great games out there that have yet to achieve the recognition that they deserve, although this situation has begun to improve over the last couple of years.

One distinguishing feature of the Japanese scene to the Western is that the development groups are ion average far smaller than indie developers overseas. Indie in the West can mean anything from one person making games in the spare time to 100+ man development teams with outside funding. In Japan it tends to be far closer to the former for 90%+ of the developers. I tend to think of ‘indie’ as meaning ‘not a major publisher’ for the West, but as short for ‘individual(s)’ in the case of Japan.

Japan’s relatively stunted infrastructure and appetite for digital downloading of games has also been a disadvantage relative to the West. There are events where indie game creators show and sell their games, but that’s a very limited opportunity compared to having them always available online with an audience that is comfortable using digital distribution. This disconnect between developers and would-be players has hobbled the development of indie games in Japan.

What are the improvements or differences between this new launch and the original japanese games?

Seon King: Besides being fully localized into English, we’ve added new elements where possible such as widescreen support, TATE mode, optimized performance, and other minor tweaks. From a gameplay standpoint, they are entirely faithful to the original games.

Now that the kickstarter campaign has successfully ended, what do you think about the crowdfunding systems? 

Seon King: Obviously, we’re fans of crowdfunding. The Tale of ALLTYNEX Kickstarter campaign has been a great experience for us and we plan to put that learning and experience to use in our next project which we’ll unveil toward the end of June.

Besides the crowdfunding campaign, you want also enter Steam via the Greenlight initiative. Why that interest in the Valve platform?

Seon King: The Steam audience is massive and being on Steam can easily make the difference between success and failure for the type of games that we work with. Our original business model was based around selling our games on Steam, but with the uncertainty (that’s a massive understatement :) that Steam Greenlight has introduced, we’ve had to reconsider this. Our present crowdfunding activities are partly intended to improve our chances and Steam Greenlight, but also to reduce the dependency on Steam and generate enough support and awareness for our games to be successful without Steam sales.

Do you have taken into account Publishing games from other countries like maybe Korea or Indonesia?

Seon King: Not at this time because most of our in-house expertise is based around Japan. It would make a lot of sense, but companies like KABAM have a huge head start on us there :)

What will be the future of Nyu Media be? Something about next releases you can tell us?

Seon King: In the near future, we plan to undertake a much larger scale crowdfunding campaign that will start in late June. We also have a smaller scale project in the pipe with a developer with which we have an existing relationship and love to work with.

Thank you very much for your answers!

Seon King: You’re welcome!

Visit Nyu Media website for more information




 まず、私たちはあなたについての詳細を知りたい。 Siter Skainのメンバーは、現時点では誰ですか?

 SITER SKAINは、Jirurun(代表、今回のインタビュー回答者)、Ysuer、Burnas、という3人で活動している、日本の同人ソフト開発サークルです。メンバー全員、本業は別にあり、趣味でゲームを開発しています。



 Alltynex Second、RefleX、神威はこのジャンルが大好きなコミュニティの間でよく知られていますね。あなたの個人的な好みとその理由は、どちらでしょうか?



 私が過去に見てきた、多数のゲーム、アニメ、映画、本、あらゆるものから得た多数の知識やアイデアをミックスして詰め込みました。あえて最も強い影響を受けた作品をあげるならば、TAITO社のRAY FORCE(英名:GUNLOCK)です。

 Alltynex SecondはFM TOWNSNゲームのリメイクです。その原作は日本で有名だったでしょうか?当時のFM TOWNSでのインディーシーンはどうだったでしょうか?

 ALLTYNEXはFM TOWNSでは知名度は殆どありませんでした。FM TOWNSでは、発売元の富士通が、ユーザーから募集したソフトウェアを詰め込んだ「フリーウェアコレクション」というシリーズを販売しており、多くのアマチュアゲームやオリジナルツールはそのCDに収録されていました。しかし私はALLTYNEXをそれには応募せず、別の雑誌のゲームコンテストに応募しました。受賞はしたものの、FM TOWNSユーザーはその雑誌を殆ど見ていなかっため、知名度はあまり得られませんでした。


 プログラムは「VisualStudio」でC++を主に使用しています。グラフィックエディタは主に「Photoshop」、モデリングツールは「Metasequoia」(日本製の有名な個人製作モデリングツール)、音楽には「Roland SC-D70」という、古いハードウェア音源、作曲には古い日本製ツール「Recomposer forWn95R3」を使っています。音楽に古いものを使っているのは、使い慣れているから、という理由が大きいです。



 日本のSTGジャンルは長い間弾幕ゲームに支配されています。これは、私たちのようなゲーマーにとって悲しいことです。Siter Skainが製作するような、オリジナルで創造性の高いゲームがなぜ忘れ去られているでしょうか?弾幕以外のゲームの開発と設計が難しいためですか?


 Alltynexゲームの海外販売に関してNyu Mediaと提携していますね。それは、あなたにとって、このシリーズが米国、ヨーロッパなど海外の国で知られるようになるのは、Siter Skainにとって重要なことですか?

 実のところ、私は海外でこの手のSTGがどの程度受け入れられるのかを全く把握出来ていません。実際に海外の方からファンレターを頂いた事もありますし、受け入れられるとの判断があってNyu Media様から声をかけていただけたのだと思っていますが。このALLTYNEXシリーズの海外展開でよい結果が残せれば、今後のSITER SKAIN作品の海外展開も前向きに考えていこうと考えており、その判断材料として非常に重要です。また、この作品が海外で受け入れられるということは、より多くの日本製STGが海外に向けて発信される可能性が増えるということにもなるのではと考えています。

 Siter Skainのゲームが今後世界中のゲーマーに届けられるのは、嬉しいことですか?



 同じNyu Media様から既に海外販売されているSTG「ETHER VAPOR Remaster」と「SATAZIUS」をお勧めしたいです。先の質問の回答にもなりますが、2作とも弾幕よりもゲームシステムや各種仕掛けにこだわった良作です。この2作が既にローカライズされているあたり、Nyu Media様は日本のインディーSTGをよく見ていると思います。
 インディーゲームであるかどうかを深く意識したことはないのですが、XBOX Live Arcadeで遊んだCastle CrashersやTrialsはおもしろかったですね。



 最後に、今後のSiter Skain作品について聞かせて頂きたいです。Siter Skainは今何を作っているでしょうか?そして、今後はどのようなゲームを作成したいと考えているでしょうか?

 現在はドラグアームズ(Dragoon +  Armsの造語。固有名詞)という、全方向任意スクロールタイプのSTGを開発しています。まだ基本システムが面白くなるよう試行錯誤している段階で、完成まであと1年以上はかかりそうです。STGが好きなのでSTGばかり作っているのですが、何れは他のジャンルにも挑戦してみたいですね。


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