Q&A: Chromehounds creator on launch day

Producer Toshifumi Nabeshima talks about the conception, design, and balance aspects of his new Xbox 360 mech shooter.

From Software producer Toshifumi Nabeshima is making the rounds to promote his new Xbox 360 shooter, Chromehounds. Last week, the developer discussed the online and strategic aspects of the game with Sega. With the game releasing in Japan today, Nabeshima talked about its long road to store shelves with ITmedia.

The game may be finished now, but it was a long road to get there. The original prototype was shown at the Tokyo Game Show 2003, Nabeshima said, when it was called Chromehounds: Age of Arms. That version of the game was originally shelved when From Software determined it did not have the resources to run the required servers and that the development team lacked experience with network games.

While From Software is already known for its Armored Core series of mech shooters, Nabeshima noted some big differences between developing games for that series and Chromehounds. "The Armored Core series has continued for many years, so we always must leave the game's atmosphere intact," he said. "Chromehounds is a first title, so we needn't worry about this. One of the game's attractions is the unrefined looking mecha, which you'd never see in Armored Core. Hounds aren't robots, they're evolved tanks... Overseas, the superhero styled robot that Japanese gamers love is not as popular as mechs that look like weapons of war."

Another difference from Armored Core is Chromehounds' lack of flying mechs. The explanation turns out to be simply a matter of balance. "In a game focused on land war, airborne units would be too strong. [Non-flyers] would be sitting ducks."

Concern over balance notwithstanding, pilots can eject from their destroyed mechs and wander around the map armed only with a light machine gun. "Damage for the machinegun is actually calculated, but if the target is a Hound, this damage always works out to zero," Nabeshima laughed. "Of course, this weapon is effective at defeating infantry."

The ability to wander around on foot is more than just a gimmick, Nabeshima said. "We put this feature in because we didn't want players to experience dead time until the end of the battle if their Hound is destroyed. We originally thought of letting the player float freely around the field in a sort of spectator mode, but that would have the unintended benefit of allowing him/her to search for the enemy's base with impunity."

Nabeshima also touched on the trials and tribulations of developing for network play. "The hard part was finding out which of the things we wanted to achieve could and could not be done with Xbox Live features. Also, each step of development was long. For example, on past hardware, I'd just tell the development staff 'fix this like this' and two or three days later, it would be fixed. Now it's not that simple. I cannot request fixes so lightly, and the balance between quality and scheduling is difficult."

Now that the game is out and online in Japan, the question of additional content is already at the forefront of gamers' minds. Nabeshima remained coy on the subject, saying only that the developers were thinking about it--"just thinking"--and should be able to announce something in the near future.

Nabeshima concluded by summing up his thoughts on the giant robot genre in general. "What's important is being able to express yourself. [This genre] allows [the player] to be narcissistic, but in a good way," Nabeshima said. "The truth is embarrassing, but I feel that the robot action genre expresses a common fantasy that everyone has, deep down."

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Discussion

40 comments
Ghost_117
Ghost_117

as for buying this game vs. Prey, at least this game might have a good multiplayer component... the bad reviews for Chromehounds came without haveing played online, so I'm still waiting for a review to actually have been written by someone who played the multiplayer before making a decision. The fact that the XBL play isn't up yet is probably why Gamespot doesn't have a review out yet.

trovello
trovello

not enough good games have come out yet for the 360 and i hope this turns out to be a hit.

soulknight63133
soulknight63133

Here in the U.S. only have the trailor, no demo yet.

Hugo_Fahkov
Hugo_Fahkov

Just read a review from Europe. They gave this game a 4 out of 10 and said it was terribly boring...

KingOfTheBlind_
KingOfTheBlind_

Looks Great but I am going to wait for reviews first. I've been burned too many time on games that looked great but weren't.

evilyoda861
evilyoda861

2 more days and I can finaly make an awesome mech. I am thinking of going Terminator or Ed209 from Robocop.

andyrook
andyrook

hmm i bought this game last friday here in the uk and yeah its a pretty solid single player title but however there is one slight problem....you can not play it online yet as SEGA have a BIG problem with the online side of things.According to their website there is a problem with artificial players(eg not you or me)hogging the servers.They promise to have this issue sorted by Tuesday the 11th Of July,which in coincidence is the day its launched for our American Compatriots...so heres hoping:)!Oh and one last thing,make sure you complete as much of the single player before going online as without doing so will limit how good A MECH you take online,cya online soon all those who are getting it

evilyoda861
evilyoda861

Already paid foar just have to pick it up on Wed! Also people without Xbox360's please stfu no one cares, get a job!

gerza_sumner
gerza_sumner

Anyone wanting the demo in the USA or Canada just has to make a new xbox live silver account. Its free. Make sure when you make this new account that you say that your country is australia or any country not in north america.

GCN49
GCN49

i'm a big fan of rts and turn-based strategy games. I loved Armored Core, and Chromehounds seems to blend together the best elements of both. Also, the multiplayer has a very mmorpg feel in that you can't go solo, you have to work together as a squad (notice i said squad, no clan... but i'll explain about that some other time)... can't wait for this game...

cjmhockey9
cjmhockey9

Can't wait to get my hands on this game.

ewjim
ewjim

From what i saw - Armored Core series are MUCH better! ;)

rynmls
rynmls

not interested, dont have 360 yet...

StumpyTrash
StumpyTrash

I really doubt that it's a magazine exclusive- OXM hasn't had a single demo out before marketplace!

smiley17O
smiley17O

i will be picking this game up

x-wing20
x-wing20

finally sometihng thats not FSP

SteveTwo
SteveTwo

No new demos today. No new games today. I'ma gonna go play me some KOTOR2. "Cause I'm the Juggernaut!"

REVENGEotSITH
REVENGEotSITH

Seems like all of the comments here about the demo are positive. In the 360 forum, they are killing the demo. Seems to me that if you go into it expecting Halo 2 gameplay, then you'll be disappointed. If you go in with more of a tactical expectation, then you may like it. Still, the game looks rushed (from the lack of detail in the environments on the screens and from the forum comments). Seems like Sega realized that the game wasn't shaping up that great and realized that if they release it in the summer, versus spending more development $ on it, they may have a chance to get decent sales.

Hellisunreal
Hellisunreal

I'm just worried bout the bland envoiroments & balancing

zemaj
zemaj

I am the demo

danmp18
danmp18

This game could be a sleeper hit on Xbox live. Reminds me a bit of MechAssault.

Toadstool1969
Toadstool1969

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Shawn20
Shawn20

There is no demo for the US or Canada.

Decknique
Decknique

where the heck is this demo... is it Japan only?

halo24life
halo24life

they dont have a demo on mp do they?

VinceL
VinceL moderator

Awesome.

JefHol15
JefHol15

This game is going to eat away much of my time. One of the games i'm most looking forward to. The Hierarchy of Angels will dominate in Morskoj.

36O
36O

I think Chromehounds is going to be one of the best 360 games to be released. I have High-Expectations for it but im still going to wait for GS's review

masterx24
masterx24

This game is great I just got the demo off the marketplace and it rocks

noelmo
noelmo

I'm looking forward to it too.

craig305
craig305

Looks great can't wait to play it!