American McGee Interview - Part One

Famed game maker explains why you should care about his latest project.

Alice: Madness Returns creator chats with us about his latest project Akaneiro: Demon Hunters - a newly launched action-RPG(ARPG) that blends the Red Riding Hood tale with Japanese horror mythology for a unique browser-based experience.

Akanerio is a free-to-play action title that’s hinged around the game's Karma Shards, in-game currency that buys upgrades and unlocks levels, which is obtained slowly by killing enemies and quickly by buying them via the developer's online store. You can read more about the game in our first impressions feature.

HITC: Why an ARPG?

American Mcgee (AM): "We became fully independent from our publishing direction at the beginning of 2011 and that really marked a move away from console-retail games towards being able to work on designs of our own choosing. One of them, obviously, is [an] ARPG another one is a turn-based artillery game and the third is a real-time multiplayer death match game. These all reflect things that we are interested in ourselves and paly. They reflect things we have a passion for. With this new found freedom we could chase after and develop the things that got us excited."

HITC: In Akaneiro, how do you maintain a sense of progression in both story and in terms of gameplay when you're trying to balance off the free-to-play and the paid-for Karma sides?

AM: "Well, Akaneiro is kind of unique in that the game is presented via missions that are themselves little story chunks. That is a little bit different from how your typical ARPG might work. There is a linear progression taking place and, using that, we're able to move the player though the world and also encounters with other characters and, obviously, through the narrative.

"What we have in there at the moment is pretty light [compared to] what I have in mind for the future. But that's another one of the great things about building an online game, we can begin to pull a gamer into deeper aspects of the narrative as we release updates going forward."

HITC: How do you expect to distinguish it from other ARPGs, like Diablo or Torchlight?

AM: "Well those are, Diablo especially, much larger projects. [Diablo-developer Blizzard] being one of the biggest in the world, their constraints around development and the amount of stuff they can produce is very different to what we're dealing with. So, partly by design and partly by constraint we took a very streamlined approach to the way we presented the game and in a way try to get back to a purer sense of what the genre is about.

"What we hear players compliment us on are those aspects where they're not necessarily bound by a lot of the rules that you might find in a larger ARPG. For instance, we don't enforce class boundaries whether it comes to using skills, training those skills or in the types of weapons you can equip.

"No matter how you start off the game, skill or class wise, you're offered the option to play or explore a lot of the content whereas in a larger product, often times, it seems like it'll force an artificial constraint on what the player can do with the content.

"Beyond that, we're getting a lot of compliments on the art style and the fact that you can jump online and in your browser play it. The narrative is pulling a lot of people in … All the things taken together; we're seeing that people are finding it a unique combination."

Here Is The City's chat with American McGee will continue in part two of our interview soon.

Register for HITC Gaming Digest