Penny Blood Creators Radio #6

M: Good evening.

K: Good evening!

M: We were getting our room ready just now. I couldn’t get my mic on, so I closed Twitter and restarted it. I just invited Iwasaki-san as a speaker. How about Kondo-san? As usual, we’re going to start at 9:05 pm. So now’s your time to go get a drink, go to the bathroom, etc.

K: Right.

M: Once Kondo-san joins the space, I’ll send him a request.

K: He’s here.

M: Oh, there he is. Okay. Thank you. Please remove your mute, Kondo-san. Are you here too, Tsuyoshi-kun?

T: Yes!

M: Tonight, we’re all men. I’ve been calling the campaign team the Mamma Aiuto, which is a group of middle-aged men, and the staff members I’m talking to today are basically the Federation of Air Pirates.

K: Very wild.

M: Wild. It’ll be fun. Is it still hot in Tokyo?

T: Yes, in the daytime. But it’s cool at night.

M: I see. No more people wearing shorts?

T: No… I mean, there are foreigners and white people walking around who wear shorts even in winter, that’s about it.

M: Thank you for the valuable information. (LOL)

We’ve got a lot to talk about today. Iwasaki-san, can you hear me?

I: Yes, I can.

M: Good. We were all just practicing a moment ago. Some people heard us, but we didn’t record it, so only a chosen few were able to listen in on that.

I: Sorry that I don’t know how to work this.

M: That’s where we discovered that Tsuyoshi-kun couldn’t join us on his Android.

T: Right. It didn’t work.

M: I’m glad we were able to work things out in the end. Okay, it’s the five minute mark now, so let’s get started. Good evening, I’m Matsuda Machizo!

I: And I’m Masa-chan!

T: And I’m Nacchan!

KO: And I’m Minami Haruo!

M: Thank you. (LOL) The person who said Minami Haruo at the end is Kondo-san, a project manager from SHADE.

KO: Nice to meet you!

KO: Let’s all step on the minefield together!

M: I make anyone go through this ritual, no matter how far up at the top they are.

First, the goal of this radio show is to share things with the fans that they can only hear here, over the next thirty minutes. We hope you’ll stick around!

First, this is sort of an introductory thing, but we took over the Penny Blood Instagram and started posting different pictures. It seems like they’ve been received very well, and we’ve been getting a lot of followers. Thank you all for following us. From here on out, we’re going to show images on Instagram that you can only see there, so be sure to check it out.

We might run out of things eventually, though… Once the content starts to dwindle, just assume that we’ve run out of things to show. Once we start uploading ramen there, it’ll be safe to assume that we’ve completely run out of content.

K: Yes.

M: Once it becomes food and flowers, you’re in trouble.

K: Like an old person…

M: At the end, we’ll at least have Monaka to rely on.

Since we have three guests here, let’s begin. Backstage stories from the Penny Blood development team: Iwasaki-san, Watanabe-san, Kondo-san! First, Iwasaki-san, please introduce yourself.

I: Okay. I’m Iwasaki, a producer at SHADE. Nice to meet you.

M: Now, Watanabe-san.

T: I’m Watanabe from SHADE. I’m the visual director of this project. Nice to meet you.

M: Now, Kondo-san.

K: I’m Kondo from SHADE. I’m the project manager. Nice to meet you.

M: Aw, I wanted him to say he was Haruo again. He’s actually a very serious person. I just forced him to do that. Thank you.

Now, let’s start with Iwasaki-san. You’ve produced many games this far – you’re a veteran producer. Since Penny Blood is part of a double kickstarter, which is a first-time experience for anyone… Can you tell us a little about what it feels like to produce such a project?

I: Okay. But I’m not sure if I should give you a serious answer or a funny one…

M: Just be your natural self.

I: If I’m too serious, it probably won’t be fun to listen to… This is a first time for me, so I can’t tell what level I should be at… Anyway, I hope you understand.

Anyway, thank you for the introduction, Machida-san. I’ve been a development producer for a long time, and basically things go like this: the creator gives me a budget, and we develop based on that. That’s how we’ve always done things. But when Machida-san brought this idea to me about the Kickstarter campaign, I didn’t even know what that meant.

It was a complete first for me, so I had no idea what to expect. The production itself will run the same as it’s always been, and since we’re a development company, it meant that we would get to develop a spiritual successor to a really famous title. That’s quite an honor.

M&K: Thank you.

I: Basically Kickstarter campaign or not, I really wanted to work on it. I basically raised my hand and said “I’ll do it!”

M: You really helped us out.

K: Thank you.

I: I had no idea what to expect from the Kickstarter campaign, despite having it explained to me. It’s just something you can’t understand until you do it, so I wasn’t sure how to proceed. Now that it’s started and we’re a week away from the finish line… I feel like I sort of got an idea of how things were going to go about halfway through. Not a single member of my staff knew what to expect, embarrassingly enough.

Anyway, the biggest difference is probably how much love the players have for the previous titles. This is deeply apparent when looking through the comments – which means that we really can’t screw this one up. We always work our hardest, but we’re going to have to really go all-out for this one.

The promotional video has been released already, but now we’re working on a scene of the character actually moving around in the game. It’s surprisingly fun to work on, you know.

M: (LOL) That’s good to hear.

I: We’ve been working on it while having weekly meetings, where we get Machia-san and Kato-san to give us their feedback. Sometimes they compliment us, and other times we need to fix things. After we fix things and hear ‘Perfect!’ or ‘Excellent!’, it makes us really happy.

M: (LOL) It looks better and better each time you show us something new.

I: It’s the ultimate compliment for people like us. We’re very grateful.

M: Regardless of what we say, it’ll ultimately be up to the fans and the backers. Whether or they say it looks cool.

I: True, true. And we’ve gotten a lot of great compliments already. We’re feeling more pressure than we’ve ever had before, but it’s so worth it. Whenever we finish something good, we feel so glad to have had the chance to make it.

M: Yeah.

K: We’re very grateful to hear you say that.

I: Now that I finally understand how the process works with backers supporting us, and I look at how much they’ve supported us thus far, I just think: “Wow. They’re really expecting a lot from this.”

M: Yes.

I: I didn’t expect to receive this much support. So once the full-on production begins, as a producer, it’s my duty to make sure we create something that will satisfy everyone. I’m going to work my very hardest. So, to summarize, I had no idea what a Kickstarter campaign was at first… And now I’m finally starting to understand. The biggest thing is how it allows us to directly hear everyone’s voices. This is really big for a creator. Normally when we make something we’re only ever talking with the client, the client’s producer, or the client’s director. You really don’t get to hear from normal players until the game is announced.

M: True. That’s a big difference.

I: At first you can’t even tell people what you’re working on. But with this, we’ve already told people what we’re going to be creating, so getting to hear their voices from the get-go is really big.

M&K: True.

I: Since you worked on the previous titles, you probably know what I mean. You were speaking directly with your client. You couldn’t speak directly with the players, right?

M: No.

I: Sorry to turn the question around on you, but I’m really curious. What’s it like?

M: It’s our first time doing a kickstarter as well, let alone a double kickstarter… How should I say this. We aren’t announcing a game and saying “Look what we made!” Instead, we’re saying “We’re thinking about making this kind of game!” So we really want to make sure what we show properly depicts the charm and appeal of the game. With that in mind, Iwasaki-san, Watanabe-san, Kondo-san, we’re so grateful that you were able to create such amazing footage in such a short amount of time. The full production will be starting soon, and I’m sure there will be a lot of obstacles to overcome, but I still want us to cross the finish line together.

I: Thank you. It makes me very happy to hear that. We’re a really good team, aren’t we? I think we’re the ultimate team.

M: True. We talk about a lot of dumb stuff normally, too. It’s fun, though.

I: Can’t make something good if you aren’t enjoying it, after all.

M: Okay, now let’s move on to Watanabe-san. This is a question for you. Tell us what was really hard about visualizing the world of Penny Blood at first.

T: Okay. In the beginning, we had to figure out how to make everything 3D. There are lots of different kinds of normal 3D, but none of them seemed to perfectly fit the feel of Penny Blood, so Kato-san and Machida-san suggested going with an American comic look. We decided to use a cool shader in that style, which would help people recognize Penny Blood from a single glance. The trial and error was a lot of work.

M: When Kato-san suggested the American comic look, and you actually implemented it… I’ll never forget that. It was really incredible.

K: It was fast, too.

M: True. At first, we were thinking that we wouldn’t be able to go with a photorealistic style, something like you’d see in a Triple A game, due to the scope of the project. But thanks to all your trial and error, Watanabe-san, you were able to create a 3D model that retained all of the elements Kato-san had given it. That really moved me.

T: Thank you. I wanted to make the models so that they wouldn’t differ very much from Kato-san’s illustrations, and I think I did a pretty good job.

M: Incredible. Thank you. I know how hard it was.

T: (LOL) It took me like one or two months.

M: Having to put the mask on the fusion monster was also hard, wasn’t it?

T: Yes, at the very end. Personally I felt like it was better without the mask, so we could see its facial expressions.

All: (LOL)

M: Hopefully we can have a scene where it takes off its mask in the main game. It makes a really cool expression.

T: Yeah, it came out really well, so it’s unfortunate that we had to hide it.

K: It’s a shame we had to hide something he worked so hard to make.

M: Next, I’ve got a question for Kondo-san… Once the Double Kickstarter ends, the main production will begin… Have you already started on the preparation?

KO: Yes. Once the campaign ends, we’ll move into the main production phase… We’ve been reading all the comments from people who have been waiting for years for a sequel to Shadow Hearts 1 and 2. It’s moved us, but it’s also given us a good idea about what people consider to be the strong and weak points of the previous games. Not just the story, theme, and atmosphere, but also the battles, dungeons, and customization options. The elite planners at our studio are analyzing all of this and making preparations on how to fit this all into Penny Blood.

M: Wow. Penny Blood isn’t a sequel to Shadow Hearts, of course. It’s its own game.

KO: Yes. Just as a spiritual successor.

M: We want to strengthen the good points and power-up the weaker points.

KO: I can read a bit of English, so I’ve been reading those comments as well… And it’s not just ‘hey, that content is awesome!’ People are wondering what we’re going to do about other areas as well. We’re trying to take in all the opinions. Not just ‘Please do your best!’ A lot of foreign people especially have written long messages about questions they have or things they don’t agree with. Especially certain people who write the same thing over and over again. It really does seem like the love for the game is stronger overseas.

M: We do feel that too. We’re very grateful.

I: When we first talked about this radio program, everyone, including myself, was worried about whether or not we’d be able to do a good job. But we’re doing great!

M: Everyone’s doing fine.

I: I’m starting to look at them in a different way now.

M: Everyone’s giving us some great commentary.

K: Thank you.

M: Now, do any of you have any words you’d like to share with the fans?

I: I’ve looked at some of the comments myself. Some people who’ve seen the PV have written about how they’re really excited to see further scenes, and that they’re huge Shadow Hearts fans who have been waiting for a sequel for such a long time. How many years has it been?

M: Over 15 years.

I: Wow. They’ve really been waiting a long time. With everyone’s help…it won’t be a sequel, it will be a spiritual successor… And it’ll still take us a while to finish it, but I really want everyone to know that they can keep their expectations high. We’re really excited to see the finished product too.

M: We’ll be posting updates once a month on the main site as well, letting them know how the development is going. So I hope everyone will check those out as well.

I: Like I said before–

M: Hold on, stop trying to end the show on a good note, we’re not done yet!

I: Sorry.

T: There’s going to be nothing left for us to talk about. Okay, here’s what I’d like to say. With the visuals this time, I first got a written storyboard from Machida-san, then we created our own visual storyboard within the studio and began the modeling. Finally, we added motions to the models and started animating them. That’s a normal flow, I think, but if you just animate things on based on the storyboard alone, you’ll still be lacking the necessary pauses and ‘space,’ so it won’t feel like a proper performance. I took special care with adding those so that the movements would look more realistic.

M: I see. It’s true that you really put a lot of care into moving things from the written storyboard to the visual storyboard, so that everything would look really good. Watanabe-san and the team went to such great lengths to make sure all the little details about the movement, etc. that weren’t present in the visual storyboard properly made it into the final version.

T: Yes. Without those details, you’d lose the humanity. It’d look more like robots, but we wanted to make the models look like actual humans performing.

M: I see. That’s probably what led to Demna smiling at the end as well.

T: Right. Those little touches really help.

M: We put a mask on him, though.

T: Yeah. We really want to try to put a lot of little touches into the final version.

M: I’m sure the other characters will all have great expressions in the final version, too. I’m really excited, too. Watching them in motion is so fun and moving.

How about you, Kondo-san? What would you like to tell the fans?

KO: This is my first time being involved in a Kickstarter, too. Personally, through my experience working as both a developer and a publisher, I’ve gotten used to only thinking about the product in-house and then getting feedback from everyone only once it’s released. With this project, however, like I mentioned previously, we get to see backers’ feedback from the very start. They’ve been complimenting us as well as giving us suggestions on how to improve things from the previous series. We aren’t exactly coming at things from the same viewpoint, but we are both taking a very close look at what’s about to be created. That’s how I feel.

M: Wow. Everyone really came up with some great comments.

K: Yeah.

I: Oh, I forgot one thing. Happy Birthday.

M: Oh, that’s right. It’s Kato-san’s birthday today.

I: I almost forgot to say it.

K: Thank you.

M: Isn’t that nice.

K: I feel like Alicia-chan now.

M: We’re almost at the 30 minute mark now… I hope you all enjoyed listening to the air pirates talk passionately about how much they’re enjoying their work on the game. The next episode will be at 9 PM on Thursday, the 29th. And the truth is, both Kato-san and I will be in Tokyo. Why? Well, I think it’s been announced already, but the 30th is the final day of the campaign, and we’re going to be appearing on a closing stream. The same is true for everyone else who’s been on the show, so we need to go to Tokyo.

As a result, I’m not sure if we’ll be able to do a Creators Radio episode or not, but if we get some time at night, I’d like to. We won’t have a guest, though… If anyone wants to join from our previous guests, of course, they’re welcome to. But what I’d really like to do is invite the listeners, or the backers to become speakers and talk with them. However, if you ask me a question I can’t answer, I’m going to make the ‘kapow kapow’ sound. So please understand that. I’ll only talk about what I can.

And here’s one more little tidbit… The day after the closing stream, on Oct. 1st, there will be a music performance with Hirota-san and other musicians. You’ll be able to check out the details in the next update. It’ll be one big last thank you to everyone, so I hope you’ll check it out. There’s still some time left, so… Anything else you’d like to say?

I: Okay, let’s have Kondo-kun speak some English.

KO: That’s kinda hard… Earlier, I only spoke a little because it was a rehearsal. I was just trying to sound cool. I was saying how I really wanted to push this project forward together with the backers, so I said some words in English.

M: Now I really want to tease him.

KO: We’ll be meeting in person soon, so go ahead.

M: Okay, I think that’ll mark the end of Creators Radio 06. Thank you so much for joining us! Hope to see you all again during the final episode! Bye!

ALL: Good night!