As we all know, Lunar 2's release date is approaching. To help pass the time, RPGamer recently had a chat with Victor Ireland, CEO of Working Designs. The following is a transcript of what he has to say regarding all the questions RPGamers want to know.
RPGamer: The obvious first question concerns Lunar 3. While GameArts will be developing the sequel, what can you tell us about the game, and
the possibility of its release here... possibly via Working Designs?
WD: I can't really tell you anything about the game except that it's being done, and is for PS2. Oh yeah, I can say that it will blow people away, being the first completely "new" LUNAR designed from scratch since 1995. The way Game Arts is making use of the new technology will amaze people.
RPGamer: With no RPGs announced past the upcoming release of Arc the Lad Collection, we're curious to see just what you guys have hidden up your sleeves. What can you tell us about RPGs to look for from Working Designs in the future?
WD: They will have good characters and interesting NPCs. Given that Arc is still an immense task before us, I'm not really talking about what's next yet. No one has ever tried to put out a four-game RPG anthology in a single package.
It's a tremendous task, and I want to make sure that we don't let people down, so we're concentrating on that right now with some other peripheral stuff going on with other projects. That said, we should have Arc 1 previews out pretty soon, with Arc 2 soon after.
RPGamer: Speaking of Arc the Lad Collection... What brought about the
decision to re-release the games in the Arc the Lad series as a
collection for the Sony PlayStation?
WD: I pushed for that. It's no secret that I've been a fan of the series from the start, and tried to license it since the beginning. When I heard that III might be under developement, I pushed for licensing the other two so we could do an anthology. I believe that angle is what got us the license, since all other publishers trying to get Arc III just wanted that one game, which would be a huge disservice to the gamer. It would be like reading only the last chapter in a book.
RPGamer: By the same token, what brought about the decision to bring Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete to the PC?
WD: Game Arts was doing it, and we felt it would be interesting to try. But, we are by no means moving into PC publishing outside of LUNAR.
RPGamer: Has Working Designs considered porting handheld RPGs or other games to the North American market; and if not, what can you tell us about the possibility of this happening?
WD: It's possible, but unlikely just because of the inventory risk associated with carts. CDs are more flexible and less risky because you can make more games in 10 days, and you also don't have to stockpile them to bridge 2-3 month manufacture gaps like you do with carts.
RPGamer: You've recently released one game for the Sony PlayStation2, with another to come very soon. Now, some developers have spoken about the difficulties of developing for the PS2. What does Working Designs think of the PS2 as a development platform?
WD: I can't really comment on that because those two were not done in-house. We won't be doing in-house conversion until our NEXT PS2 game after Silpheed, but that's almost a year off at the earliest.
RPGamer: With so many new consoles on the horizon, development kits for each console are circulating widely. We'd like to know if Working Designs has received development kits for Xbox / GameCube / GameBoy Advance; and also what Working Designs thinks of each platform so far from a development standpoint.
WD: We're strictly PS/PS2 at this point, although GameCube is very, very interesting to me now. However, since the nature of our business is to take existing Japanese product (or near-final) and modify it for US release, we won't start work on things of that nature until there is Japanese product for the platform.
RPGamer: What can you tell us about the possibility of Working Designs developing its own games, in-house? Has this been considered?
WD: Considered, talked about, played with. We go back and forth, but the group we have now is very focused on doing the conversions we do with no real motivation to do original stuff. We're all huge Japanese game fans and there's always a great list of games we want to do.
RPGamer: Will you pretty please translate the Sakura Taisen series?
WD: Once SEGA licenses it out to Playstation 2, it's a strong possibility. The director of RED actually personally asked us to do Sakura Taisen 1 for him, but that was again during the time SEGA was trying to kill the Saturn and we had to decline. It was a very sad time.
RPGamer: And finally, Working Designs has become famous for its elaborate packaging. Why did you choose to start this wonderful trend, and as each game becomes more elaborate, what plans do you have to top all the goodies with Lunar: Eternal Blue Complete?
WD: It's a sickness that just sort of came on over time and is some kind of manifestation of my child-like obsessive-compulsive personality. We have things in process for Arc Collection regarding extras, but we may scale things back a little because it's getting to the point where the extras are holding up the game because the logistics of planning all the bits is so insane. At some point we have to realize that we're so far ahead of the pack that no one even wants to TRY to catch up. I do hope, however, that we've inspired other publishers to treat gamers better when presenting their games, and that gamers begin to expect more as consumers. And, I think to a small extent, we've begun seeing that.
RPGamer would like to thank Victor and all of Working Designs for this opportunity, for all the games they've made available to all RPGamers, and their projects yet to come.