Q&A With Ron Eagle
Dark Cloud

RPGamer recently had a chance to ask a few questions via email of Ron Eagle, Associate Product Manager for Sony about his past, future, and work on the PS2's Dark Cloud.

RPGamer: How long have you worked for Sony?
Ron Eagle: Almost 6 years.

RPG: What games, other than Dark Cloud, have you worked on for Sony?
Ron: Some of the Disney Products like Disney's Atlantis: The Lost Empire (this is the most recent - coming out June 12th). I've also worked on games like Crash Bash(TM) and Spyro: Year of the Dragon(TM).

RPG: Besides the additional dungeon levels, what other changes were made to the North American version of Dark Cloud?
Ron: We added more than 30 percent more code. We have included new monsters, new weapons, new items to find, and tweaked the combat system to allow for more real-time combat with the addition of 5-hit combinations. The development team also worked very hard on the enemy AI - making the game a bit more challenging.

RPG: There has been a lot of hype surrounding Dark Cloud. Many publications have labeled it the "Zelda Killer." Do you believe that such a comparison is fair and just?
Ron: I think both games offer a different type of gaming experience. The comparisions are inevitable because of the real-time combat and targeting along with the RPG storyline they both possess. I personally think that Dark Cloud takes that type of game a couple of steps further. We have real-time strategy, where the gamer rebuilds the world that was destroyed. The most amazing part being, as soon as you restore a building or home, it is immediately available for you to interact with. This is all real-time, no waiting, no loading, it's right there for you!

RPG: Dark Cloud contains some elements that are rarely seen in console RPGs, such as the wearing down/rusting of weapons and thirstiness. What was the reasoning behind adding these and how much do they affect gameplay?
Ron: The dev. team thought it was important to add some elements of realism. I think it also challenges gamers to be strategic in their weapon use.

RPG: What makes Dark Cloud stand out from other RPGs?
Ron: What did you enjoy the most? I think it's the first game to successfully blend genres into a complete and engaging package. Where else do you get elements of Action/Adventure, Strategy/Simulation, with a deep character driven storyline? Again, the amazing part of this is that it all takes place real time!

RPG: How does the players' actions while in the Georama affect the overall game?
Ron: This plays into the strategic element of gameplay. Depending on how the gamer rebuilds the towns and villages in Dark Cloud, he/she will get different pieces of the story or clues needed to complete the game.

RPG: If you had to sum up Dark Cloud in just one sentence, what would you say?
Ron: The best RPG experience available for PlayStation 2.

RPG: Dark Cloud combines Action/RPG with Simulation, while the upcoming title Ico combines Action/Adventure with Puzzles and according to some sources, a dash of RPG; is this "genre blending" something we can expect to see continued in future SCEA titles?
Ron: I can't comment on SCEA's plans as a whole, but I can say that the power of the PlayStation 2 really allows developers to use their imagination and create what they like best in games. I think we all like certain things in games from different genres, now the challenge is too see how or if they interact together to form a new gaming possibility.

RPG: Now that Dark Cloud has been released, what project will you be working on next?
Ron: I have a couple of products that will come out this fall. Monsters Inc. from Disney/Pixar will be coming out along with the feature film this fall. I'm also working on Formula One Racing, which will also come out later this fall.

RPGamer would like to thank Ron Eagle for taking time to answer our questions. Everyone should watch for our Dark Cloud review that will be posted soon.

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