Stranger of Sword City Makers On What Makes Dungeon RPGs Popular In Japan
Experience is known for making various dungeon RPGs such as Demon Gaze and Stranger of Sword City. Siliconera recently spoke with company president Hajime Chikami on what makes the genre popular in Japan, and their plans to expand and go beyond with more.
While Wizardry had a huge influence on dungeon RPGs, it seems like the DRPG genre is more popular in the West. Between Acquire’s Wizardry games, the Class of Heroes series, Eliminage, Etrian Odyssey, and Experience’s many DRPG titles the genre is quite strong in Japan. Why do you think Japanese gamers are so fond of DRPGs?
Chikami: There has been an increase in the number of story-driven games on the market and fewer games that have more focus on role-playing aspects, such as selecting and customizing your character. I believe these factors both contribute to the popularity of DRPGs among Japanese gamers currently.
How was Experience founded? What did you, Chikami-san, want to do different with the DRPG genre after his work on Wizardry Xth?
“We need a place where we can develop games for the rest of our lives.” That was the thinking that lead me to establishing a company. By around the year 2000, DRPGs were on the decline, so we aimed to revive the popularity by providing content that even beginners would be interested in.
The basic character classes for DRPGs are tanks, damage dealers, and healers. How do you invent and balance new character classes?
In case we have to add classes on top of existing classes, we search for classes that have abilities that would fill in the missing gaps or classes that may provide a new, unique quality. In regards to balance, it’d change depending on whether it’s the main character or sub character in that title, but basically, we try to adjust the balance in a way where it would be useful in several party compositions that might be used.
The DRPG genre isn’t exactly welcoming, but Experience has added ideas like the Magic Chalk and auto walking through completed areas in Demon Gaze to make the games friendlier to newcomers. How do you think you can expand the market for DRPGs? What features have you been working on?
Though it’s only done within Japan, we are trying to increase the opportunity for people to take interest in the games by offering multimedia development for each title and demo events throughout Japan.
Also, although this is obvious, we’d like to provide fun, new titles that have settings and systems with a hook to them that would appeal to users’ interests. Most recently, we have asked Mr. Benny Matsuyama, who is famous for writing wizardry novels, to write Stranger of Sword City.
Has Experience thought about expanding beyond DRPGs?
Of course. We are currently planning several different things, so please look forward to our announcements!