American McGee has been part of the videogame industry since the 1990s when he worked at id Software on such titles as DOOM II, QUAKE, and QUAKE 2. After leaving id he went on to release a handful of games for EA including Alice. Afterwards he formed his own studio, Spicy Horse, releasing the episodic game Grimm. Now American and Spicy Horse are looking to make a splash in the Action RPG market with a game called Akaneiro: Demon Hunters.
Akaneiro is a game that is based on Japanese mythology, drawing its art style and design from 19th century Japanese art. It mixes this with a story inspired by Little Red Riding hood, making for something that sounds incredibly unique.
While the game is all but complete, the American wants something more for the game. So he's turned to Kickstarter in the hopes of adding 4 major things: Co-Op, Portable versions, crafting, and support. We chatted with the legendary designer about a few of these things.
Co-Optimus: Obviously the art style of Akaneiro is the big draw, with the Japanese watercolor inspired visuals, but what is the game's biggest gameplay element that will attract players?
American McGee: We've been listening to player feedback since late 2012 and hearing pretty consistent noises about what's liked, loved and in need of tuning. By far, the biggest attractions, as told to us by our players, are the streamlined elements of core game play, open training across classes, unified currency (Karma) linking together all aspects of the game, the open nature of the economy and that it's really exciting without being too grindy. In most respects, what we hear is it "doesn't feel forced."
Though it's not necessarily a "gameplay element," we also working really hard as a development studio to build and maintain really high quality customer support and community services. That means we've got people online 24/7 in our chats and forums, interacting with players, taking feedback and helping to make the overall game experience better. It's great to be able to interact directly with our players without having a big publisher standing in the way!
Co-Optimus: Two of the biggest ARPGs launched last year on the PC with Torchlight 2 and Diablo 3. What inspiration, if any, do you take from these games and the genre?
American McGee: Both games provided a lot of inspiration for the team – and now that Akaneiro is in the market, we're hearing a lot of favorable comparisons being drawn to both D3 and T2. Design and production was mainly driven by Spicy Horse's Creative Director, Ben Kerslake and his design partner, Matt Razzano. They both dove deep into the genre, examining ARPG's new and old. Their goal was to present a streamlined experience tailored to web and mobile play – while still being able to offer appeal for more hardcore fans of the genre.
Co-Optimus: Why choose this particular genre of game to make? What about it was appealing to you?
American McGee: Since 2011, our studio has been fortunate in being able to choose what types of games to work on without having to ask a publisher for permission. Our decisions are driven primarily by a desire to build games that we ourselves would enjoy playing. ARPG's have a long and successful history in Asia, so the team jumped on the idea without hesitation – even though creating a game in this genre is typically considered "hard" when compared to other genres. That fearlessness is an indication of their passion for and knowledge of the genre.
It's appealing because there's plenty of room to explore everything from narrative to art and design. Everyone in the studio's had a chance to contribute in a meaningful way to the project. It's also a genre that invites a high level of player interaction with the team – we've seen this when comparing it to the other online titles we're making. Whenever RPG elements are introduced, the curiosity and desire for mastery really increases.