RPGamer Feature - Dragon Fantasy Book II Interview
Dragon Fantasy Book II
Developer: Muteki Corp.
Release Date: 2013

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If you happened to miss out on Dragon Fantasy for iOS, PC, or Mac, you're in luck as it is being remade for PlayStation 3 and Vita and will be available soon via PSN. That's not all, as the sequel Dragon Fantasy Book II is also in development. Today, we were lucky enough to be able to talk with Muteki Corp's creative director Adam Rippon about his work on these games and the future of the Dragon Fantasy series.

Michael A. Cunningham (RPGamer, Editor-in-Chief): I was a fan of Dragon Fantasy on iOS a year or so ago, so it's great to see that more people will get to experience it now. How'd the deal with Sony to release Book II on the PlayStation 3 and Vita come about?
Adam Rippon (Muteki Corp., Creative Director): Well, we were invited to show Dragon Fantasy at MineCon in Las Vegas, which was a very new experience for us. We demoed the game to the 4000-some attendees there, and had a lot of fun and met a lot of other indie developers. All of them told us we had to show at PAX East and that it wasn't that hard or expensive to do so, so we decided to give that a shot. While we were there apparently Sony scoped out our booth, although I wasn't there at the time. Nothing came of it then, but at GDC and E3 we bumped into them again, and eventually the dialog opened up to the point where they invited us to their offices to show them DF2. I remember driving down that day with Muteki President Bryan Sawler and saying "there's no way they'll go for this"...and then driving back up saying, "there's a slim chance they'll go for this." And then a couple weeks later, we had a deal!

MAC: How has the shift to developing for PS3/Vita been? Any unexpected challenges? Do you feel your RPGs are more at home on these systems than on iOS or PC?
AR: Smooth as butter - we had the game up and running near flawlessly on the Vita within seven hours of receiving our dev kits in the mail. The PS3 build was even just a little quicker. The only unexpected challenge we've had with the dev kits was when we found out that we couldn't use them to demo the games in public...after we'd set up our booth at PAX Prime last year. Sony leant us two demo-only kits for that show, thankfully! The Vita in particular is a wonderful system for our style of RPG, I think. It can do everything the mobile versions do, plus it has honest-to-god buttons, which I will always prefer. And personally, I like my RPGs to be portable, because I just don't have that much time to sit in front of a TV for hours at a time.

MAC: Having developed the same game for iOS, PC, Mac, and now PS3 and Vita, how greatly does development for each system vary? I ask because of Sony's announcement of shifting to the x86 for the PS4.
AR: Honestly, for us, PC was the hardest, believe it or not. Dragon Fantasy's codebase was originally written with the cross-platform GCC compiler in mind, which supports more up-to-date C standards than the Visual C compiler. Getting the game to run on PC was thus kind of a pain. We also had some difficulty with DLLs and installer packages...things that aren't necessary on other platforms. I used to do PC stuff all the time, but honestly, it had just been so long that I'd forgotten most of the particularly annoying bits. And to add insult to injury, at the time there was no real good store that accepted indie games, so because we weren't on Steam, our PC port floundered.

MAC: When you first announced Book II, many wondered how they'd be able to get a chance to play the first game. How did the remaking of the original Dragon Fantasy come about and what all has changed?
AR: Honestly, some guy commented on the PSN launch blog that we did (which was a great success despite being rushed and riddled with typos and bad grammar) and said he wouldn't play it if he couldn't play the first game on PSN too. So we figured, what the heck, it's the same engine, let's do a special edition! We added an optional 16-bit mode that put a fresh coat of paint on the game to make it look and sound like an early-era SNES game (as opposed to DF2 which looks like a very late-era SNES game). We also fixed Anders' chapter by adding another dungeon to smooth out the really crappy difficulty ramp-up between the sewers and the ice cave.

MAC: Is the bonus Minecraft chapter still in? I loved the monster recruiting that was added in that chapter.
AR: Yup! And if you liked monster recruiting in Book I, you'll love it in Book II!

MAC: Moving on to Dragon Fantasy Book II, give us a brief overview of the series for those who haven't played Book I or read up on it.
AR: So, during the events of Book I, Ogden, the former young hero of Westeria and slayer of many a dragon (actually, all of the dragons) has to come out of a very dull retirement to become a hero again, some thirty years past his prime hero-in' days. An ancient evil known as the Dark Lord had appeared in Westeria and kidnapped Prince Marlon, and so Ogden had no choice but to reforge ancient weaponry to slay him. Along the way, he met a mysterious stranger named The Woodsman, who proved invaluable in his aid. Anders, the other prince of Westeria also embarked on a separate journey to find his brother, discovering an ancient talisman called a voidstone and then taking it to the eastlands. And finally, in the eastlands, a thief named Jerald and his niece Ramona swiped said voidstone, which had a profound impact on their plans to escape to the southlands together.

MAC: We've seen the screens and trailer, but what all has changed for Book II? The game will be releasing as a complete package instead of episodically like DF initially did, correct? Still broken into chapters?
AR: Oh boy, where to start...DF2 is a much more modern game design. Really the only thing overtly retro about it at this point is the fact that it is pixelated - which, admittedly, is pretty retro. But where in DF1 we tried to include all the best things about RPGs from the 80s, in DF2 we're including all the best things from RPGs in the 90s, and a lot of more modern ideas as well. And yes, DF2 will be a complete story from day one. We do split the story up into different parts in a few places, but it's all part of the game world, rather than being a menu from which you select the story to play.

MAC: The first Dragon Fantasy might have seemed a little old school, but the battle system was speedy, never taking too long. How does the new battle system keep up the pace? When defeated, do players still just go back to the nearest town with no progress lost?
AR: The battle system in Book II is roughly the same speed as in Book I. Although we have a lot more animation, if you mash the buttons it will start the next attack animation even as the current one is still ending. It's very important to us that battles be quick and painless (and never random), because slow battles just kill my gnat-like attention span. *laughs* And yes, when you're defeated you'll still go back to the nearest town with no progress lost, just a portion of your gold.

MAC: Are there new characters? More character customization? New skills? Maybe party selection or does the story dictate party members?
AR: We've got several new characters, and at least one new playable character - Milly. There's a lot of history between Milly and the other characters that I don't want to give away, but I've been excited to introduce her since the first game, so I think people will really like her. We're also introducing a new old villain named Atticus who pestered Ogden in his youth and is looking to start a fight again. He's a lot of fun for me to write, because unlike Ogden and The Woodsman who are old heroes, it's much, much easier to poke fun at a crotchety old villain! And then perhaps my favorite is Sarien Pontifex, who we've always just internally referred to as the Science Pope. Nuff said.

We haven't introduced much new in the way of character customization, but the monster capturing that we introduced in Intermission M is coming back in a big way, as is the soldier recruiting that we added to Chapter 2 in later updates. Delightfully generic heroes Punchibald 'Punchy' Von Hammerstone and Casterella 'Casty' Von Magicpants will be returning, as well as a couple others. Basically, after a certain point in the game, any time you don't have four people in your party you'll be able to fill your ranks with monsters and soldiers. By the end of the game, you'll have a huge stable of main heroes, monsters, and soldiers to pick from in the final battles.

MAC: The first trailer showed a ship battle, is that a one-time event or a recurring part of the game?
AR: It occurs twice in the main story (and I may try to write it in for a third time because hey, three is the magic number), and I'm hoping to have a bonus dungeon or DLC or something where we explore it more, because I really enjoy it.

MAC: How is exploration handled? Is there an overworld? World map? Fast travel?
AR: We do have a world map, although unlike in the original game there are no encounters on the world map. We've scattered smaller dungeons and places to discover to make it exciting and lush. And there's always the Warpios spell to quick travel, although I think it's going to be unavailable until the last part of the game.

MAC: Since many characters return from the first game, is there data transfer where stats will be transferred over or do character start over at level 1?
AR: I wanted to do this, I really did...but it's very difficult to do that across multiple platforms. So, no, it is not a feature in DF2. Ogden will start around level 20 or 25, roughly where he was at the end of DF1, and the others will likewise be about their ending levels. Ogden lost a bit of his magical prowess after the fight with the Dark Lord, however, so he's no longer able to cast higher level magics.

MAC: One interesting aspect of the game that we've not heard much about is the addition of multiplayer. How does that work in a story-based RPG? Is the play over PSN or local only? Crossplay between PS3 and Vita? Friends List only?
AR: So, multiplayer is set up to let you bring one of your team members into another friend's game, much like a recruitable soldier. Because the battle engine takes place on the same map as exploration, it's easy for us to have characters join and leave battles at will, which makes multiplayer much easier to implement. The main player's story will advance like normal, with the secondary players having no impact on the storyline, just assisting in battle. And yes, you can have two players in two different battles if you want to. As for the specifics of how it works with PSN and different systems and friend lists, I'm not ready to answer everything about that, so you'll just have to wait and see. *mischievous smile*

MAC: Any DLC planned?
AR: I've got a couple ideas. I'd really wanted to do a scene where the heroes visit a rock monster village and help Mr. and Mrs. Rock Monster reconcile their relationship issues, but it didn't make the cut for DF2, so maybe it would be some fun DLC! And there's a couple other characters who I'd love to expand upon in the third act, particularly Warren Q. Porkbringer who finally makes an appearance in the (copious amounts of) flesh.

MAC: When should we expect to see Books I and II?
AR: Soon, and slightly less soon.

MAC: Many indie developers focus on PC, Xbox Live Indie Games, or iOS. Any advice for indie devs looking to create an RPG for PSN?
AR: Getting a core game noticed on iOS or Android is hard to do. Sure, you'll find your dedicated fans, but you'll get lost in the deluge of freemium titles. And XBLIG isn't known for being all that much better, although I have no experience with it. PC seems like the place to be, but if you're not on Steam you're probably not going to make enough money to fund a large project like this. Far less than 1% of our sales were on PC, and that's just because no one knows it's on PC because it doesn't show up on Steam.

MAC: Is there anything else you'd like to share with us about the upcoming pair of Dragon Fantasy games or other Muteki developments?
AR: We've got some big plans for the future. You'll be hearing more before the end of the year! And of course, we'll be concluding the story of Dragon Fantasy with Book III, which will continue the progress of 8 bit to 16 bit to 32 bit (or maybe even 64 bit) RPGs!

RPGamer would like to thank Adam Rippon for taking some time to chat with us about the upcoming re-release of Dragon Fantasy and the future release of Dragon Fantasy Book II. We look forward to hearing more about these titles in the coming months. In the meantime, here's our review of the iOS version of Book I.

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