After finally playing Warriors: Legends of Troy, the Dynasty Warriors title set during the Trojan War, I wanted more than ever to hear from the minds behind the game. Taken together with 2010's Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage, it is clear we are seeing a branching out of the Musou games, as they are called.
Sincere gratitude to Tecmo Koei team members Mike Bond and Hiroshi Kadowaki for taking the time to answer these questions and to Vincent Slaven, public relations manager at Tecmo Koei America, for facilitating the interview and for being a great guy all around.
TNL: Congratulations on another excellent Tecmo Koei title. Besides the historical feel and the "hero" dynamic, how is Warriors: Legends of Troy similar and how does it differ from other Musou games?
Tecmo Koei The basic "1 vs. Many" concept from previous Warriors titles is still intact. Fans of the previous games will feel right at home with the controls and the basic fighting mechanics. Where our game differs substantially is in the presentation and story. Obviously, our game is much more brutal and violent than most Musou games (except for Fist of the North Star), and you'd expect that, given the nature of the myths that it's based on. Another difference is that the game's mission structure follows one long storyline rather than splitting into optional side missions. We chose to go this route because it's the first time we've used the Trojan War as a theme and we wanted to give the player a clear and dramatic introduction to the story and characters. Almost everyone will recognize the names "Achilles," "Odysseus," and "Helen," but they may not necessarily know the exact roles that these characters played in the myth. We didn't want to make assumptions about the player's knowledge.
TNL: How early in the development process were you aware that this would be a gorier game than what we're used to seeing from Koei? How big a factor are the gods and other mythological beings in this game, and was that level of supernatural involvement planned from the beginning?
If our target had been Japan, we wouldn't have been able to move in this direction.
Tecmo Koei It has always been a goal of ours to bring Musou to a more mature audience; not just in terms of violence but in terms of the whole presentation. If our target had been Japan, we wouldn't have been able to move in this direction but western gamers tend to demand more serious storylines and presentation. This works well with the Trojan War since the nature of the story is both tragic and often shockingly gruesome. Honestly, lots of our staff and testers were eager to have more realistic depictions of violence in the game, including severing limbs. Unfortunately, this was a technical constraint (at least for the first game).
From the very beginning, we wanted to have the gods play a central role in the game. In The Iliad, the gods constantly meddle in the lives of mortals and sometimes even physically impose themselves into the world of mortals. We wanted to stay true to the myths and present the gods as real powers within the world. In the early days of development, we actually had mythical monsters like centaurs running around on the battlefield but we felt that this type of thing was taking the game away from the mature world of The Iliad and closer to a fantasy story for kids. In our game, supernatural elements mix with the real world in more discrete ways. If a god summons a mythical beast, it happens in a kind of netherworld that usually only the player character witnesses. We feel this is more true to the way the Greeks interpreted the myths.
TNL: I understand that some of the team traveled to the region where the Trojan War took place. How did that influence the finished product?
Tecmo Koei Yes, we traveled to western Turkey and visited the ancient remains of Troy. We also traveled down the coast, visiting many Bronze Age sites (as well as some later ones as well). Seeing the area and the ancient ruins in person really gave us a better feel for what the world might have been like at the time of the myths. We were inspired to present the look and feel of the region as accurately as possible and we hope that that spirit is apparent in the final product.
TNL: What is Koei's team structure? The fantastic Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage was developed by Omega Force. Is there an overlap between that division and Koei Canada?
Tecmo Koei While we had many Japanese staff in the management team, almost all of the staff in the development team was Canadian.
The entire game system and game engine were made in Canada and we got feedback and advice at each of our milestones from Omega Force. In addition, some of the art assets were designed and produced in Europe.
TNL: Tecmo Koei Canada was founded on the union of Eastern and Western culture. Do you feel that basing a Musou game in the Greek myths will help make major inroads into the North American market? What else can we expect to see from your team?
Tecmo Koei We feel that using Greek myth as a theme certainly helped us to target this game at Western users and we hope that even those who are not Musou fans will give it a try. The Trojan War is really just a starting place. There is potential for games based on The Odyssey and other great works of western literature as well.
Our ultimate goal is to make games that Western players love and we're working hard to achieve that goal. The next project is being planned now and it will certainly be aimed at Western users.