Atsushi Miyauchi On Dynasty Warriors 8, And The Open Worlds Beyond

Dynasty Warriors is a misunderstood game in the West. Its Japanese headquarters regularly makes games that not only polarise, but seem to chart a perfectly antipodean scale of interest. It's something Director Atsushi Miyauchi knows all too well, but he thinks its new strategic options are enough to establish a franchise beachhead.

There are, of course, still plenty of fans in the West. I don't pretend to understand it myself - some go as far as ranking it on lists of franchises that need to die. But games are expensive, and nothing goes this long without good reason.

Seeing Dynasty Warriors 8 amongst all the other games of PAX Aus was an interesting juxtaposition. It was suddenly very easy to notice the localisation efforts that went into games developed in the same region, whereas Dynasty Warriors remains unashamedly Eastern. The names of important characters aren't changed to "Walker" or "Johnson", stubbornly remaining at "Zhang Chunhua", or "Huang Zhong". I asked Miyauchi what he thought about the game's regional interest.

"The game is very popular in Japan, Taiwan, and mainly Asia. And when it comes to the West, North America and Europe, it’s probably about half of the popularity of Japan," says Miyauchi. "Probably a reason behind that is what players are looking for, in the West, a lot of players are looking to be surprised by something new. Always wanting something different. Whereas with Japanese users, they prefer to have the same similar elements or the same core. Maybe the story might change a little bit but most of the gameplay would be the same.

"We do change the game, of course, but the very blatantly noticeable stuff... To the West it kind of seems like the same game over and over, though it's not exactly the same."

Being developed in Japan, yet loosely based on the ancient Chinese novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms, it strikes me that despite its kingdom-crushing combat, the game might be a good insight into Eastern culture, for those interested. Or could it be the other way around? Could certain mythologies simply resonate with some people more than others, for cultural reasons?

"It being based on Chinese history may be a bit of a turn-off for some users, but at the same time, we've actually tried making similar warrior type games using different topics, like the Hundred Years War, and using Greek mythology in Warriors Legends, and so we've tried using sources that maybe Western audiences were more familiar with. But still, it didn't quite catch on.

"It really seems to be the core gameplay as opposed to the setting and the story that kind of separates the users."

The fun of Dynasty Warriors hinges on making the player feel very powerful, and able to take on hundreds of people at once. But if a player feels too powerful, the lack of any sense of danger might make the game feel pointless. Every person is different, and the amount that other NPCs are allowed to execute attacks that interrupt your sweeping combos could be easy for some, and hard for others. So how does the series walk that line?

"That’s very difficult for us to handle. We don’t think we’ve got the system perfect quite yet. We’re still working with that as we go. In terms of Dynasty Warriors 8, what we've kind of done to help with that is added in something called a 3-point system, where each weapon is given an affinity, Heaven, Earth, and Man, so it’s a rock/paper/scissors idea. Any main enemy officer will also have a weapon affinity, so you may be equipped with a certain affinity and you may have an officer behind you that you’re strong against, but maybe the officer in front of you is equipped with a stronger affinity. So if you switch your weapons, now you’re stronger than the character in front of you, but weaker against the one behind you.

"So that’s something we’ve added for this time around, we don’t think the system is quite perfect yet, and we’re still learning, but as mentioned, it is a challenging thing to maintain."

He's not kidding, either. Miyauchi had quickly identified the interviewers that really know the game, and made sure they sat down and got some weighty impressions, before scheduling separate feedback sessions later on. Among those lending their expertise were Bradley "D-Yoshii" Jolly of New Game Plus, and Jason "Pesmare" Hawkins of The FRAG. It was encouraging to see a developer so eager to absorb criticism.

While this new version of Dynasty Warriors 8 has some deferred lighting effects, as seen in the new Battlefield games, and will also run at a constant minimum of 50 frames per second, I wanted to know what's in store for the franchise's future. Taking on thousands of fodder enemies has always limited the NPCs to very basic AI routines and animations, no matter what the game. Perhaps the Xbox One and PS4 would allow the series to come into its own - the beginning of a new Dynasty.

"Next-gen, well, we don't know whether the next Dynasty Warriors is coming out yet..."

At this point, I'm unsure if this is a joke - both because of the translator, and because this is something interviewers get a lot from developers. But this is Dynasty Warriors we're talking about. We all chuckle a bit, and he continues.

"Some of the ideas that we have floating around, and it’s still in the idea stages, is possibly with the next gen, with the increased memory base, we’d like to maybe explore an open feel and open world environment, where maybe several battles are taking place on the battlefield. Players could just jump into any battle on there, and maybe based on what happens there, it might affect the outcome of the entire battle. Things like that.

"As well, changing the gaming style depending on the weapon they’re equipping. If they’re equipped with a sword, maybe they can do more typical one-time attacks, but maybe if characters are equipped with more of a secret, concealed weapon, maybe they could sneak up to enemies, maybe more like Assassin’s Creed or assassin style. It’s not a matter of switching characters to switch actions, just switching the weapons in order to have the same character with different things."

Open worlds, especially, sound like a very interesting possibility for the franchise. Our thanks to Atsushi Miyauchi for his time at PAX Aus.


Comments

    I love the dynasty warriors franchise, can not wait to see what they do with next gen open world would be a great step for the series

    What I want, what I think needs to happen, is an expansion on their Legends mods. It's nice to be all powerful and such, but it's usually only for one battle, and doesn't do much. I liked Dynasty Warriors 6 Legend a lot, because my battles actually affected the war. It needs to go further. I want to jump on Red Hare on one side of China, and ride all the way to the other side of China, through the night, stopping off to kill some bandits, to jump off and mount a defense against a huge force, then push forth leading my armies back into their lands

    Like how in DW6, you take bases on a battle field, and in DW6 Conquest you dictate what territories to take. Those two need to be combined

    The only warriors games I never really enjoyed that Ive played were Warriors Orochi 3 and One Piece Pirate warriors, but only because they had only the original Japanese language track and i couldnt keep up with the action while reading the subtitles...but thats my own fault for not speaking japanese, nor being able to multitask well lol

    Just picked up my copy of 8 a few minutes ago though. Really looking forward to it.

    I loved Bladestorm and the Gundam DW games, but never got into the main series itself due to the horrid voice acting, I just couldn't handle it. I watched VideogamerUK's gameplay video and holy crap, it's still a PS2 game. I swear they must have about 3 guys working on these titles, and two of them are in marketing.

    "we’d like to maybe explore an open feel and open world environment, where maybe several battles are taking place on the battlefield. Players could just jump into any battle on there, and maybe based on what happens there, it might affect the outcome of the entire battle. Things like that."

    Previous Dynasty Warriors games I played had that - I called it "levels which always auto-fail because the map is so big you have to pick a battle, but your pants-on-head AI general runs blindly to the other one and gets killed" - much as I love the concept and the easy-to-learn combo system (ie. more beat-em-up than fighter) it could really do to add some Overlord/Pikmin style fine squad control and some sort of strategic overview map to command and coordinate with critical NPCs who otherwise embody the very worst of escort missions and then some!

    As a PC gamer though I don't exactly get to see the latest and greatest of the series since only the occasional title gets ported, so apologies if this was addressed in any of the more recent ones.

    Different fighting styles for different weapons sounds like a nice improvement though.

    I've only played one DW game, some variant on 6 where you invaded different territories to unify the kingdom, but as much as I loved the idea of the game it was all too samey and dull. You just spam the one attack button over and over, mixing it up occasionally because you were bored, not for any strategic reason.

    I'd gladly jump back into the series if it changed enough that I actually felt like I was genuinely engaged in the combat, but not while it's just incremental changes on the existing formula.

      There's the thing. And I think it's tied into why all Japanese games seem to rate you from S to F - the combos and bonuses and fancy tricks aren't a matter of survival as much as they are of expediency and style. You don't do things to avoid failure, you do them to get ratings.

      I personally don't like that method of gaming, but it's really common in Japanese games, and I think it hits on why the West doesn't have as many fans.

      Personally I love the Dynasty Warriors series, but in my eyes you really only need to own one, then you own them all. If they could mix in a few levels of meta-gaming, overarching strategy, territory conquest and the like, I'd totally be picking up the latest copy. But maybe not the next four or five games that carried on in the similar vein. Feels to me like Miyauchi is so right when he said, “Probably a reason behind that is what players are looking for, in the West, a lot of players are looking to be surprised by something new. Always wanting something different. Whereas with Japanese users, they prefer to have the same similar elements or the same core."

      Come back here when you have played the highest difficulty mode.

    I love the Dynasty, Samurai, Orochi series so much Ive started to teach myself Japanese so I can understand the game in its native language. The voice acting in the Japanese version is so good that even without being able to understand whats being said, you can tell by the tone in the voice that the particular person is upset, sad, angry, impressed or in danger. The last few titles I havent bothered to try the localised versions.

    I applaud Miyauchi for his continued attempts to bring the game outside of Japan when its clearly not appreciated. How anyone can consider these games as being too repetitive when the likes of Call of Duty and Battlefield dominate the western market. Pick any one of those games, compare the number of stages included in the game with Dynasty Warriors. You could even compare the number of weapons against the number of playable characters, you'll find Dynasty Warriors has substantially more content.

    I've been playing DW games since DW3, and oh man, do I miss the older ones. I feel that they've really simplified the attack system to the point that the combat is starting to feel repetitive and boring. I still love the games, and the story never stops being excellent, but yeah, I want my old 6 attack system back with charged variants. The new weapons/items and skill systems in the latest game have been excellent however and definitely a huge improvement over the older titles.

    All in all, I'm looking forward to DW on the next gen devices, and am hoping that they make a new empires game much like 4's empires variant, which was by far the best Dynasty title to date.

    Last edited 24/07/13 5:25 pm

    So are they going to change the damn play style or is the same sheet from the past 7+ games??? Maybe they could start with that.

    Anyone else seeing the top pic reminded of Ichigo Kurosaki's hollow mask?

      Cannot unsee you prick.........

      Ive been a fanboy of the Warriors games for a long time. Orochi, Gundam I love em all. Knowing that theres still plenty to come makes me happy in the pants

    I loved the PS2 Dynasty Warriors games. Played them constantly. I have great memories of fighting Lu Bu, unlocking the red hare, unlocking special weapons and fighting thousands with my mates.

    Sadly when DW6 came to the PS3 I was so dissapointed. Many of the characters and features from older DW games were missing. I really didn't like the new weapons they gave characters either.

    However I'm going to give DW8 a chance. Hopefully they've ironed out all the problems I had with DW6.

    Whereas with Japanese users, they prefer to have the same similar elements or the same core. Maybe the story might change a little bit but most of the gameplay would be the same.So essentially it's the eastern equivalent of Call Of Duty or Battlefield? I'm only half joking though, there are actually commonalities between the games, such as a culturally identifiable military aspect and the very fact that each game is an iteration of the last cycle with the same core but tweaks here and there to improve the gameplay.

    I played one of the earlier DW games a long time ago and enjoyed the pure, stupid fun of just being an overpowered fighter plowing through enemy troops. Each time a new one comes out I feel like I should play another one so maybe I'll try out this one.

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