The video game industry has always has a sweet spot in its heart for Samurai games. Games such as Ninja Gaiden, Onimusha, and the recently released Blade & Soul have all submitted its place in video game history. Now another upcoming multiplayer samurai game developed by MPact Games is looking to take you back to 16 century Japan. The Sengoku Period is the time of the warrior where people are fighting for love, honor, and greed for the future of the nation. We recently sat down with Matt, Creative and Art Director of Hanako: Soul of the Samurai, to see how production was going and to give us some insight on what the game has in store for us.
GC: When most think of Samurai style games they usually think of Ninja Gaiden and the Onimusha series. Were those influences behind the idea of Hanako?
MPact Games: Not as much as it might seem, though I love both series. The biggest influence game-wise is probably the Jedi Knight series with the theme inspired by The Last Samurai and Shenmue.
GC: Is it true that the name Hanako is loosely based off your mother?
MPG: Yes, she passed away while I was in college and we started an early iteration of Hanako back then. The entire game is a tribute to her and those lost while the game has been in development.
GC: Since Hanako is running using Unreal Engine 4 and takes place in Japan, would you say that world design is especially important with development?
MPG: World design is everything in our game. Since the game is multiplayer but is also telling the story of my mother’s battle with cancer it presents an interesting challenge. The fictional feudal Japanese war we created serves as a metaphor for the real-life story, so the world very much tells this story as players can play maps of territories representing different parts of that struggle.
GC: In your most recent blog you showed a piece of concept art for Hanako Village. Will that be the central town the game takes place out of?
MPG: The game doesn’t have a persistent world, so it doesn’t quite have a “home base” sort of level, though this is the home of the Hanako Clan. Players who play our campaign mode actually start off in a large battlefield called Gifu Crossroads and if you’re playing the antagonistic clan, the Yamai, you would fight your way towards this map. It currently is the second of three maps in the Hanako territory. Basically, the winner of a given battle determines which map plays next in the losers direction, as they get pushed back further towards their own castle.
GC: I also read in the dev blog that you discovered had some underwater battles in a pond. Was that accidental and will it stay in the game?
MPG: We do have swimming in maps that have standing water but we never explicitly designed for combat to work under it, it just sort of did. I thought it was hilarious, so I think we should keep the attacks that work with the swimming legs on the lower body but it’ll be up to a team vote.
GC: Can you give us some insight into some of the customization for the warrior?
MPG: We are saving this for down the road after core gameplay feels just right. But the goal is to have different helmets, shoulder sets and different weapon replacements. They won’t change any stats but will give players the chance to look more unique. We haven’t worked out the minutia but something of that nature.
GC: You just started working on the Ninja class, can you give our readers some insight about that class and what it entails?
MPG: The Ninja class is very hard to design because we’re worried he might overshadow the other classes a little bit with all the options he has. He uses a Kusarigama, which is a long, chained weapon with a sickle on the end. He will have the capacity to grapple up defined objects in levels and grapple players if that ability is chosen. He will be a bit of a glass cannon, dealing fast, high-DPS but with very low armor and high mobility. We are working towards eventually having multiple build options where players can choose from 6 abilities and learn 1 of 3 “master” skills that grant another ability. At the moment, since we’re a small, unfunded team, we are choosing 3 abilities per class to design and start players with what we feel represents their roles the best.
GC: How big of a role will multiplayer play into the game?
MPG: It’s everything. It’s a 100% multiplayer game. We hope this game will do well enough to allow us to explore single player down the road. We have stories to tell but single player is very expensive to make.
GC: Since Multiplayer plays a major role, will there be any kind of mod support?
MPG: Presently, there’s licensing terms that don’t allow for full editor support of UE4 with your shipped title. I think mod support is always good but we haven’t made any official decisions. Since we’re launching on steam, it’d be nice for the community to be able to submit their own weapons on Workshop later down the road. Still a lot to figure out there.
GC: Where can our readers keep up with the progress of Hanako?
MPG: We post all updates on social media so Twitter: @hanakogame and Facebook: fb.com/hanakosoulofthesamurai | Our official site is hanakogame.com. We try to do at least one developer/art stream every Tuesday on twitch.tv/hanakogame