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What is the fascination with light and dark?
MM: I wouldn't call it a "fascination," exactly, but what it does do is make the game's storytelling a great deal easier to understand. There's that aspect to it, but I wouldn't say it's something we expressly think about.
For example, the core gameplay of Ikaruga revolves around switching between white and black and absorbing shots of the same color as yourself; that was really more of a gameplay design invention than a color-based one. Working with two of a particular type of thing is more interesting, and more profound, than having just one.
What do you feel is too complicated? In Bangai-O Spirits, there are so many weapons available that it can get pretty overwhelming.
MM: I wouldn't see it as being complex; I see it as having a wide range of options to choose from. The previous Bangai-O offered a fairly limited range of weapons -- there was homing and so forth, but not very much of any given type.
One of our aims with Spirits was to add a wider variety of close-range weapons, like bats and swords, to help enhance the game's basic action. We went through a series of "having this weapon in the game would be pretty neat" phases, and the weapon count wound up zooming higher and higher as a result -- but having that wide range doesn't inherently mean that the game's more complex.
Have you played Portal before?
MM: I know about it.
In that game, you have red and blue portals, which you can place anywhere you want with the left or right triggers. If you enter the red portal, you come out of the blue one, and vice versa. It's a very simple game design, but the puzzles created with it get very complex. You can make your own custom stages, too.
MM: Sounds pretty fun.
Looking at that design, I wonder if the makers were fans of Treasure games. It's the same sort of idea -- a simple concept lending itself to complex gameplay. If Treasure made an FPS, what sort would you like to make?
MM: I could see that happen; I mean, there are a lot of people in the company who like FPSes. There are a lot of extremely well-made FPSes out there, though.
We'd have to make something really original, because simply making a well-made FPS isn't going to be enough to separate ours from all the other ones already released.
Design is at the center point of a lot of Treasure's games. How long of a turnaround is there between coming up with an idea and creating the prototype for it?
MM: I don't know how often we do that sort of "prototyping." The first time we did a prototype in the way you're stating it was with Ikaruga, because we really had no idea at all how fun the idea was until we actually had a chance to play it for real.
Otherwise, we don't make those too often. More often, you start with the idea, and then you build the game around that, putting elements in and taking them out in a trial-and-error process.
You can't really understand Ikaruga on paper.
MM: You can't.
It's that sort of game, isn't it? You can easily explain what the game's like to someone now, but if the game didn't exist beforehand, it'd be a lot more difficult.
MM: Yeah. In the case of Ikaruga, there wasn't any way that simply telling people about it in presentations would be good enough -- we had to have something running to show people.
That's the main reason we had a prototype early on in the project. You needed something to show.