Tag Archives: Project Phoenix

Interview – Hiroaki Yura (Project Phoenix)

During Japandaman and crew’s recent trip to Japan, we saw many cool stuff ranging from Tokyo Game Show to the many sights and sounds of Japan. However undoubtedly, the biggest highlight was reserved for the second last day when we managed to have some sit down time with an important guest. Project Phoenix marks Japan’s first foray into uncharted territory by being the first Kickstarter funded project, featuring amazing AAA talent, to come out of Japan. And leading the charge as Director and Producer of this huge undertaking is Hiroaki Yura, founder of the sublime Eminence Symphony Orchestra and CIA, or Creative Intelligence Artists.

Project Phoenix Logo

We met up with Hiroaki in Harajuku where we were able to have a chat in a local cafe about the status of Project Phoenix, the state of indie game development and just why so much is riding on the success of Project Phoenix.

Japandaman: Is PP a code name, if so, when will we hear what the title will be?

Hiroaki Yura: Yes, its the project title. It’s not really the title of the game.

J: Do we know what the title will be?

HY: Hmm, no…no idea. NFI (laughs)

J: Has PP been an idea that you’ve had for a while?

HY: It was initially a get rich quick project. We were going to use a tower defence mechanism with some JRPG elements but as us creators got together, we’re never really good at making get rich quick projects. We decided to do a proper JRPG. We were kind of tired with the mechanics and we decided to do a pretty interesting RPG, sorry RTS mechanics.

J: How have you found the transition from music directing to leading a game development project?

HY: I haven’t finished my job yet, I can’t really comment on that. It’s my first time so we’ll see how it goes.

Hiroaki_Yura_2

J: How did you pull the project team together? This is a large team of world renowned industry professionals, so pulling that together is a significant achievement, how did you go about doing that?

HY: I didn’t. I think we initially started with friends that I know and those friends brought in their friends to fill in gaps we don’t have filled. And the friends I know are really top notch developers and that’s because I don’t just work in japan, I also work outside of japan as well.

J: So it was word of mouth, people hearing about it and saying count me in?

HY: Yes.

J: Were there people that you wanted on the project that knocked you back?

HY: There are several but it’s mostly because they want to do it except they have other work, other commitments that’s going to take a lot of time.

J: If the game is successful, have you considered setting up your own game studio?

HY: We are planning to make a game studio for Project Phoenix. But it won’t operate like a normal game studio as in having a bunch of designers or illustrators. I think that defeats the point of being an indie game. I think its better to have freelance people and people get together on the merit of their skill rather than their business skill.

J: So it would be on a project by project basis?

HY: Yes. So people would still have to perform in order to be a part of it. They’re always being scrutinised.

J: With additional stretch goals being added, are you still in the process of adding to the team?

HY: It depends, if anybody has the skills that we need that benefits us.

J: So for all intents and purposes, the team isn’t locked down, it’s still open to having more people join?

HY: Well, to a certain extent. There are already a lot of people we haven’t announced.

J: Tell us how you were feeling with reaching and then surpassing your initial stretch goals?

HY: We’re not gullible enough to think or naive enough to think we can reach the biggest stretch goal of $4.8 million. But we did prepare it just in case. But truth be told, we only needed 100,000 to prove to the world that we can make it.

J: We noticed that one of the later stretch goals included the Skywalker ranch, did you have to negotiate this before offering it and is this one of your dreams, to record at Skywalker ranch?

HY: All you got to do is pay money to get to Skywalker Ranch. That’s it.

J: so it’s open to anyone as long as you have the money?

HY: Absolutely, why wouldn’t it be? It’s a studio. I think its the world’s best recording studio.

J: With the game itself, what stage are you up to? Are you still at concept stage or are you into the development?

HY: We’re into development already. I mean some of the art is still being concepted but we’re getting ready for mass production of characters and the world. So what does that mean? It means we are getting ready to set the standard of the model creation and how we do things. So once that’s set, then it gets out to a lot of other people that will turn out things of that quality.

J: With PP being Japan’s first indie game Kickstarter funded project, can you please tell us how that feels?

HY: It felt like the right thing to do, for me anyways.

J: Is this an inspiration to other indie developers in Japan?

HY: Well, I hope so, that’s what I kind of hoped from the indie stream event yesterday at Sony. The thing is its still very hard for people, indie people, to actually do this. Now Keiji san with mighty number 9 has a whole company set up just for this. So if he doesn’t, you know, he can take care of all that. For us, we don’t have a company, I’m bilingual and I know people outside of japan who are friends who are willing to help out that are doing this. But for other people, you need to speak english and deal with the backers. Talking to the backers even if you’re fluent in english is hard enough because you have so many questions flying around.

J: Do you see this as a start of a shift in development?

HY: I hope so. I’d love to have some competition.

J: What influenced your decision to port the game to PS4 and PS Vita? Playstation is talking about making the PS4 accessible to indie developers. Was this an influence?

HY: Not really, it was the fact that PS43 and Vita are compatible with each other. It was the fact that I believe currently Playstation is a superior, well the Playstation Vita and the Playstation 4 put together is a superior gaming experience than the Microsoft Xbox One. I hope Xbox One puts its focus back onto the gamers not just the multimedia aspects.

J: Do you see Nintendo’s stance on indie development a deciding factor?

HY: Well, Nintendo changed its tune on our portal Kickstarter. During the start of the Kickstarter, Nintendo said no Japanese indie developers are able to create games on their platform. I think 2 weeks into our campaign they changed their tune and they said they’ll allow, you know, the small type is gone. So I guess they’re allowing it now. But that being said for us gamers, us game developers, we want our game to be accessible by as many people as we can and the sales on the Wii U is way too low for us. It’s a great platform but the sales are just way too low for us to commit to it.

J: Me with the 3DS, that’s a different story?

HY: The problem with the 3DS is Unity isn’t supported so that’s a compatibility issue.

We had to wrap things up there but we were extremely thankful to Hiroaki for his time and wished him all the best with Project Phoenix. And for the record, Japandaman backed the project as well, We can’t wait to see this across all platform but especially on the PS4 and PS Vita consoles.

Project Phoenix coming to PS4 and PS Vita

Previously reported as being Japan’s first indie Kickstarter development featuring AAA talent such as Hiroaki Yura from CIA and Eminence Symphony Orchestra and Nobuo Uematsu from Final Fantasy fame, Project Phoenix has now reached a new milestone.

Project Phoenix Logo

Apart from appearing on Windows, Mac and Linux, the massive milestone that has just been announced is that the game will also be appearing on PS4 and PS Vita. Very exciting news for a Japanese indie title coming across to such a mainstream platform with the Sony console and handheld. The game is still a while away, not due for release until 2015. But if you want to contribute to the Kickstarter program and snag some awesome goodies along the way then click on the link below and join the cause. As of writing there are 70 hours to go before the deadline and some massive incentives to do so!

PROJECT PHOENIX KICKSTARTER LINK

Project Phoenix director mentions Nintendo “Interesting…Not Exciting”

Project Phoenix marks Japan’s first indie Kickstarter project which reached its initial funding of $100,000 in just under 8 hours which is an impressive feat. The project features some of the best AAA talent from Western and Asian gaming with Hiroaki Yura spearheading the title as Director and Producer and Final Fantasy composer, Nobuo Uematsu, on board just to name a couple of the talent on board. Hiroaki is the man who created the Eminence Symphony Orchestra, responsible for many game and anime soundtracks and also the Director of Creative Intelligence Arts, or CIA.

Hiroaki has recently gone on record regarding Project Phoenix and the possibility of the title making an appearance on a Nintendo console when the game is completed in 2015. Specifically speaking, while Yura san is a fan of Nintendo, he doesn’t believe that Nintendo of Japan look towards indie developers as far in supporting their titles on Nintendo hardware.

The problem with Nintendo… You know, I like Nintendo and everything…but not a lot of people buy it. I know a lot of fans buy it, but there are so many restrictions with Nintendo, and also the fact that Nintendo in Japan does not accept indie games.

We think Nintendo is taking a wrong approach towards games like ours. I think maybe it has to do with the Kyoto culture…very old companies. Nintendo itself in Kyoto is not that old, because in Kyoto there are companies that survived for hundreds of years, and compared to them they’re relatively young, but in terms of video game industry they are very old. They have a set of rules that does not fit with the core values of our game, basically.

They have interesting hardware, but it ends at “interesting”. It’s not “exciting”.

Project Phoenix site is live tomorrow

Project Phoenix is a hugely ambitious kickstarter incentive which is about to kick off very soon. The aim of the project is to bring to life a JRPG with RTS elements to PC, Mac, Linux, iOS and Android. The project is being spearheaded by Hiroaki Yura of Eminence Symphony Orchestra and Creative Intelligence Arts, or CIA, fame. Japandaman recently obtained a press release for this exciting kickstarter project which is bringing together some AAA talent from both Western and Japanese gaming scenes. Just as an example, one of the name’s working on the music: Nobuo Uematsu. Yeah, it’s that big.

Project Phoenix Logo

 

Official press release for Project Phenix:

August 8, 2013

Contact: info@projectphoenix.info

TOKYO… Project Phoenix today announced their intention to set up a Kickstarter to develop a Japanese role-­‐playing game (JRPG) combined with Real Time Strategy (RTS). Uniting top developers from the East and West, Project Phoenix is the brainchild of game developer Hiroaki Yura, the founder of Creative Intelligence Arts. This fresh take on the JRPG genre featuresthe art direction of Kiyoshi Arai,
who brings experience from Final Fantasy XII and XIV, and music headed up by Nobuo
Uematsu,the legendary composer of the Final Fantasy series, marking Uematsu’s first-­‐ever commitment to an independent game project.

Hiroaki_Yura_2

“For 25 years, I’ve been working on a lot of video game music like the Final Fantasy series. This is the first time I’ve worked on an  independent game,” says Uematsu, Project Phoenix’s lead composer. “Although it’s fun to create a game within a large company,  I’ve always been interested in being able to work in a small, passionate independent games team. I’m really looking forward to it.”

The development team members have an impressive array of credits, including the Final Fantasy seriesHalo 4, Crysis 3, L.A.  Noire, World of Warcraft, StarCraft II, Diablo III, Soulcalibur VDisappearance of Haruhi SuzumiyaSteins;Gate Fuka Ryōiki  no Déjà vu, and much more. Several of the members are yet to be announced, including a secret designer from a leading anime  mecha title that changed the course of Japanese pop culture’s influence in the world.

Nobuo_Uematsu

The Project Phoenix Kickstarter is seeking $100,000 to fund the programming and artistic development of the game. Backers have the opportunity to secure digital and limited edition physical copies of the title, along with the chance to be featured as non-­‐playable characters such as a bar owner with their own personal musical theme composed by Uematsu. Stretch goals also include the creation of additional areas, graphics and cinematics, as well as the talents of Grammy Award winning sound engineer John Kurlander (Lord of the Rings trilogy, Skyrim, The Beatles) and the Eminence Symphony Orchestra bringing the music of Uematsu and his co-­‐ composers to life.

Players will follow the story of the amnesiac angel, Ruffles, who has landed in the world of Azuregard and encounters the troubledTemplar, Marcus Stern. Together with
the elven princess Sylrianah, who is reserved but curious to see the world beyond the forest, and Zarum the Lost, a battlemage with his own internal conflicts,
they form an unlikely bond. These four heroes must discover their place in a world brought to war by misunderstanding and ignorance, and perhaps ultimately even save it from itself.

Project Phoenix is a sprawling adventure where you will travel and battle enemies across Azuregard. The game departs from  traditional JRPG conventions through its use of RTS elements, yielding a combat system that is fast-­‐paced and dynamic. Furthermore, players can have their characters interact with environmental terrain features, be it rope bridge or boulders, to create tactical advantages.

Project Phoenix is scheduled for release in mid 2015 for PC, Mac, Linux, iOS, and Android. Excited fans can venture to  http://projectphoenix.info to learn more about the game’s development and join the community forums. Game director Hiroaki  Yura and team members will be there to answer fan questions about the development of Project Phoenix.

About Project Phoenix

Project Phoenix is Kickstarter’s first Japan-­‐based video game project that brings in top talent from around the world. Founded in Tokyo, Japan in 2013, Project Phoenix will be working on its squad-­‐based real-­‐time strategy game combined with Japanese RPG design influences, with the goal of releasing it to worldwide audiences by mid  2015. Visit http://projectphoenix.info and http://twitter.com/PhoenixJRPG for more information.