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It's funny: People expect a sort of continuity out of their games. It's hard to satisfy. You see a lot of older franchises that have been around awhile struggling with this. People expect a certain continuity, but they expect it to be as good as the competition that's out right now. I imagine that balance is just really tough.
AJ: Yeah. If you think about it, obviously tone and world and the environment and visuals have changed a great deal, but if you're talking about combat, the iconic elements of the franchise are there: you've got Ebony and Ivory serving relatively the same function as they did in previous DMCs; you've got the rebellion; there are some moves that are very similar to previous DMCs; there's story continuity with Vergil.
We were very mindful of knowing that, while we wanted to revamp a bunch of stuff and hopefully update it in line with a more contemporary taste, you can't throw the baby out with the bathwater.
There was obviously a ton that got Devil May Cry have four instantiations of itself before we got on the scene, and I'd like to think we struck a pretty good balance between those two. That'll largely be in the fans' hands, but I think now that they've seen that the gameplay is going to be fine, that everything else will fall into place.
Did you require the people at Ninja Theory to play the first four games and fully understand them, and did you provide them with any sort of bible or design documents of previous games? Did you say, "I want you to have a basic understanding of what Devil May Cry is"? How did you strike that balance?
ME: We were lucky in the sense that we didn't really need to issue any order like that, because the guys already had a great deal of respect for the series and had played all of the games before and didn't need to be asked to -- especially 3 and 4; there seemed to be a great deal of Devil May Cry 3 and 4 fans and analysts, so to speak, on the Ninja side, so we didn't really share any documentation or specifically ask them to play those games.
We concentrated our feedback and our information-sharing on more of the abstract concepts -- more of what is the essence and the core of the series -- and then allowed those guys to put their own spin on things and have their own take on it.
We talked a little bit about how you're collaborating more with Western studios, but -- and this is for both of you, basically from your own perspectives -- are you collaborating more with your U.S. office as well? It's not just "They take the games we make, or have made, and publish them in the U.S."? Is it more getting their perspective on the audience in that market, and that kind of stuff?
ME: We feel on the Japan side that we obviously have a lot of experience in the Japanese market and creating and marketing games specifically for that audience, but, yeah, absolutely. We use the capacity of our Western branches to explore other avenues as well as kind of a multi-strategy approach. We've still got our stuff going there; we're working more closely with Capcom USA and other branches to find new ways, new avenues, and new methods of doing things at the same time.
AJ: Yeah, in a lot of ways, having us to source the actual dev team for this game, wanting to make it more Western-facing. I can only speak from my own experience; it tends to be very siloed on the publishing side, so it's basically down to who's working with whom, but, as far as this project's gone, yeah, it's been fairly collaborative in nature. I've had insight and made good suggestions into what we should do, and these guys have been listening; they work with our marketing team.
Yeah, normally we've done stuff separately, so this is actually maybe one of the first test cases in working together this closely on one particular project, and it was the first one of that nature, so we're still in the figuring-it-out mode, but this was a pretty successful maiden voyage for this whole deal, so I'm pretty happy with it.
Devil May Cry is still a popular IP in Japan. Are you expecting the Japanese audience to accept the new direction? We talked about how the Western audience has come around, but have you seen how your domestic audience -- which is now the overseas audience for this game -- feels?
ME: It's actually quite similar to what we saw happen in the West. First there was some nervousness and unease about the new direction, but, much like in other territories, with the more gameplay videos that we showed and the more information that we released, people started to sway over into positive territory.
What it's looking like right now is not only are we doing a good job of winning back Devil May Cry fans because it is, of course, a big IP there, but we're also getting a lot of interest from action fans who aren't even necessarily Devil May Cry players. So we're in a pretty good place in the Japanese market now. Once again, much like the West, the more we show and the more we talk about it, the better the reaction has been getting.