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White Knight Chronicles

Platform(s): PlayStation 3
Genre: RPG/Action
Publisher: SCEA
Developer: Level 5
Release Date: Feb. 2, 2010

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'White Knight Chronicles' (PS3) Developer Interview

by Adam Pavlacka on Feb. 3, 2010 @ 7:49 a.m. PST

In the peaceful kingdom of Barandor, a coming of age celebration for the beautiful princess was taking place. Yet the celebration is attacked by a mysterious black army. The castle engulfed in flames, the King killed, and chaos erupts. Being there by coincidence on an errand of the wine merchant, a young boy helps the princess escape into the a treasure room. And there he finds the mysterious armor that was discovered from ancient ruins, the “White Knight”....

Throughout the game players will have the opportunity to explore the massive world of White Knight Chronicles, experiencing a medieval-like fantasy where the hero is able to engage in combat as the larger-than-life White Knight. Players will be able to custom create their own avatar and enter in a deep single player campaign or join a real-time online multiplayer quest with up to four others. Six different characters will be available to control in the game, each colorfully brought to life within highly detailed environments. In addition to the compelling storyline, gamers will have access to dozens of online quests, and create custom weapons and items.

WP: Who has the honor to speak with us? State your name, rank and occupation!

I'm Tsubasa Inaba, and I'm a producer at Sony Computer Entertainment America.

WP: White Knight Chronicles came out in Japan a while ago and is just now released in the U.S. What's the story background for the single-player campaign? Does it tie into any prior Level-5 games, such as Dark Cloud? Is there any character crossover?

TI: In those terms, this is a completely new IP for Level-5, building from scratch. It's their first full-blown PS3 title, as well a first full-blown online PS3 title. One of the main characters, Leonard, who you will encounter early on in the game, acquires the skill to transform into a huge White Knight. Even at the beginning, Leonard is perplexed. He's confused about why he's the chosen one, why he has the power to transform into the White Knight. You, the player, are then able to create an avatar character who is then enabled to join the main characters on their quest to not only find the answer to the question of why Leonard is the chosen one but also, as in any typical Japanese RPG, you will notice that the princess has been captured and taken away. That's another core mission that you will eventually need to conquer: save the princess and bring her back.

WP: You mentioned creating your character. We know you play as your custom character online, so when you play the single-player story, do you play as your avatar character, or do you play as Leonard?

TI: Consumers have the choice of playing the character that they wish. Yes, they will create an avatar character. They can choose to play that character all the way through, or they can change whenever they like to whichever character is available, whether it's Leonard or the other available characters.

WP: How do the missions intertwine? We understand that some of the online missions unlock based on how far along you are in the single-player story. Do the multiplayer missions build on the single-player story, or are they simply optional content?

TI: They are optional, I guess. They are additional content that you can explore. They will not change the story line for your single-player campaign, but I'd like to add that there is always the incentive to go online and explore and try those quests. Some quests will have item drops that are unique to the online experience, and once you've obtained them, you can bring them back to the single-player campaign. That alone is a very strong incentive for you to go online and play.

WP: In terms of online, one of the new features in the U.S. edition is voice chat. You didn't have that in the Japanese release. What drove that change?

TI: Basically it's us opening the doors, talking to our users and seeing what they want. As I mentioned, we can't cater to 100 percent of the requests. It's just not possible. We would love to, but then who knows when we'd be able to release the game? (laughs) We try to pick up in places where we realistically can fit, and we also keep note of what had been mentioned but we missed for any possible future projects.

WP: You had mentioned that the Japanese version had been patched a couple of times since its release, and the U.S. version will be feature-equivalent. Does that mean that U.S. players will be able to play with Japanese or European players, or are the servers going to be segregated?

TI: The simple answer is that U.S. and European players will be sharing the server environment, whereas the Japanese will be cut off. This is purely a preference of the gaming markets. For the U.S. and European markets, we thought, "Why not combine them? The more, the merrier." I'm not sure, but I think that Japanese gamers have their own comfort zone where they prefer Japanese-only. Me being Japanese, I wish I knew, but I don't. (laughs)

WP: Content-wise, aside from the story translation, is there anything new in the U.S. version that wasn't in the Japanese version? Any extra missions or quests?

TI: Story-wise, at least for the single-player campaign, they are identical, but again, yes, lots of effort has been put into the localization. Video sessions took eight to nine weeks of pure recording, let alone editing and all that. We do apologize that it has taken us a while, but we wanted to make sure that whenever we released the game, players would get whatever they needed on the Blu-ray. When they get home from their favorite game store, pop the disc into their PS3, the first thing that doesn't happen is that they have an update patch. We wanted to avoid that as much as we possibly could.

WP: Can you just pop it in and start playing, or do you still need to go through a standard process to install the game to the hard drive?

TI: OK, you got me on that one. There is the standard install to the hard drive, but that will enhance your gameplay. With the stored data, it will minimize loading times, etc.

WP: We noticed that you've got a lot of keyboards set up here. Will you be able to play with a keyboard and mouse like you can with a typical PC setup, or is the keyboard just for typing and you have to use the DualShock 3 for controlling your character?

TI: You will be restricted to the DualShock 3 for controlling your characters. The keyboard is to just support you with any text input that you would like for text messaging.

WP: With online missions being such a large part of the game, what about those players in the U.S. who don't live in big cities? If they live in rural areas and don't have broadband, can you still access the online quests in a single-player mode? Or if you don't have Internet, are you going to be cut off from half of the game?

TI: I have to admit, if you don't have Internet, you don't even have a PlayStation Network account, which you will need to activate your White Knight Chronicles online experience. But we have tested different setups in the U.S. to make sure that people with various connections, from very high-end bandwidth to not-so-high bandwidth, can still comfortably play. We must ask our players to activate their PSN accounts as much as they possibly can.

WP: So for White Knight Chronicles, it seems that the online portion is a requirement. This isn't a game where you can just pop in and play while you're disconnected from the Internet.

TI: You can still enjoy the single-player campaign, which, I would say can take an average player anywhere from 30 to 40 hours of gameplay. It's still a hefty game, but with the addition of the online portion, that hour count becomes endless.

WP: You said that the story was completely standalone, but how does White Knight Chronicles compare to Level-5's past games?  Does it feel like a Level-5 game, or does it feel like something brand-new from a new development team?
 
TI: I'd like to say that it's a mix of both, where obviously it's a new IP so there are new challenges. Obviously a lot is new for them. The PS3 is new and online is new, so that alone is a significant leap for them. But they are keeping elements, such as Georama, which was one of the key features in the standalone PS2 days of their Dark Cloud series. That feature was very well supported, players loved it, and Level-5 found a very neat way to keep their signature embedded in the game.

WP: If you had to sum it up in two to three sentences, what is really going to make White Knight Chronicles worth playing?

TI: I don't want to go into the volume. Rather, I'd like to touch on the interweaving experience between the single-player and the online campaign that we are offering. The standalone single-player portion is hefty on its own, whereas the online experience adds a lot more flavor to it, and the mix between the two is immeasurable. There's so much that you can bring back from the online campaign to the single-player portion and vice versa. There's so much that we're offering. Additional quests we're going to provide for free post-launch as well, so there's a lot out there for our players to come out and explore.

WP: Is there anything about the game that we haven't talked about that you wanted to add?

TI: No, I think we've pretty much wrapped it up!
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