What is the transition like going from working with the PlayStation 2 to the PSP?
A: We knew we wanted to create a strategy game RPG for the PSP from the very beginning of the project. It was a decision based on the features and strengths of the PSP, as well as the fact that we had staff available who had worked on strategy RPGs previously.
Strategy RPGs typically have an image of being very difficult-perhaps that stigma has prevented more titles from coming out. And in a lot of ways, that stigma holds true with many of the titles. In fact, figuring out the complex rules and using it to your advantage is part of the fun of strategy games.
As the technology gets better and better, there's no need to make the system turn-based, so real-time strategies have become the norm. That being said, however, turn-based strategy games offer a different kind of fun. With Jeanne, we designed the game so that players new to the genre will still be able to play the game, while veteran strategy game players will find this game both nostalgic and entertaining
It's great the game is on the PSP because it provides gamers with a massive story, more than 40 hours of gameplay, and tons of missions and quests that people can play anytime, anywhere. The battles have a great variety to them, and can be easily played in short bursts. But the real trick was getting the visuals to look as good as they do on a PSP screen and in that regard the game definitely hit its mark.
Jeanne d'Arc merges history with fantasy in a unique way; could you give us a little idea of the new underlying story?
A: At first, we planned on coming up with an original story, but we decided that it might be interesting to create a story based on historical events. In the end we decided to make a game based on the story of Joan of Arc.
This was done for a number of reasons, one of which was that we didn't want to pick a story that was familiar in only one country. We needed to select a historical event that most people have at least heard of. Given that criteria, the story of Joan of Arc floated to the top as it's a story that almost everyone is familiar with to some extent-the heroic maiden burned at the stake. Her story also worked from a strategy RPG perspective as it takes place during a medieval war.
The adventure takes place in the 15th Century where France and England are locked in battle during the Hundred Year's War. Here, a young crusader named Jeanne must not only defeat the English, she must also hold back a demonic army attempting to destroy the entire human world. It will take all of her strength, and powers beyond this world, to face down these challenges and free her homeland once and for all.
We wanted to make sure that people would be able to enjoy the game even if they didn't know anything about the history of Joan of Arc. For those that know of her story, we hope that they enjoy our take on the story and historical figures.
Our focus was to make the game a fun experience, so we took plenty of liberties where needed rather than trying to recreate a faithful historic recreation.
Could you tell us about the team-based attack system?
A: Jeanne d'Arc allows players to implement numerous special attacks and defensive strategies in turn-based battles. Players will acquire multiple characters during the adventure and will be able to use them within each battle, combining skills to create powerful combat strikes.
What is your favorite aspect of the game and your favorite character?
A: There are many strengths in our minds, but the biggest is the visuals.
It looks like current PS2 level game for sure...stunning graphics.
Our favorite character is Jeanne of course!
What did you find most challenging when working with Jeanne d'Arc?
A: The biggest work was done on the voices. The gameplay was so good, we didn't need to make many changes to it for the US. However getting the voices just right was the trick.
Because the story takes place in France, we felt that it was appropriate for the characters to keep their French pronunciation for names, as well as speak with varying degrees of French accents. For the voiceovers, we really had a difficult time deciding on the level of French accents we should go for, or forget accents altogether and just go with neutral sounding English.
After some discussion, we decided that plain English took away from the atmosphere of the locale and characters. We then experimented during the audition process with varying degrees of French accents. We auditioned French actors and actresses with thick French accents as a baseline of what a true Frenchman sounds like, then had them pull back on their accents as well. We also had American actors play with French accents to see how authentic it would feel.
In the end, we chose to have American actors do very mild accents for the main characters, and have a few authentic French actors play some of the side characters to add more color to the dialogue. For the American actors, we had a French consultant to help them maintain the proper accents. It was pretty difficult to strike the right balance, but this was one of the most fun voiceover projects we've done.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
A: Thanks in advance for taking the time to speak with us and giving our visitors a glimpse of this well-received PSP title.