Devil May Cry's Future Isn't Tied to How Well Devil May Cry 4: Special Edition Sells
Devil Never Cry.
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Hideaki Itsuno is a seasoned veteran of the Devil May Cry series. Having served as director for Devil May Cry 2, 3, and 4, the developer has been with Dante, the son of Sparda, for a long time. With Devil May Cry 4: Special Edition out now, the creator has finally returned to the series once more.
I got the chance to speak to Itsuno during E3 last week. The following discussion contains a variety of topics, including the challenges of adding new characters into Devil May Cry 4, his thoughts on DMC: Devil May Cry, and some of Itsuno's hopes for the series moving forward. But what was most intriguing out of all of this in our conversation was how the sales of Devil May Cry 4: Special Edition will not determine the future of the series. If anything, the game's existence is more of a message to fans that the main series is far from over.
What were some of the challenges introducing three new characters into Devil May Cry: Special Edition?
Itsuno: We always planned to have Virgil added to the game because he was in the special edition of Devil May Cry 3. That was there right from the start, but we were originally planning on having Lady and Trish be alternate re-skins of Dante, Nero, and Vergil. Then we looked at it and thought, "Maybe people don't want that." Even though we were already part way through the project, we already accounted time for making costume diversions of Lady and Trish, so we decided to go the the extra mile and add them in as full-fledged characters with their own unique move-sets. Though, the toughest part of adding them was having less time than we anticipated we would have to do more work, but we got there in the end.
Did Lady and Trish necessitate any sort of tweaks or changes to the original gameplay in terms of level design or balance to be able to put them in?
Rather than changing the game's level design, we put our effort towards designing Lady and Trish to be gameplay experiences that are different from Dante, Nero, and Virgil. The only thing we changed was some of the bosses in order to accommodate Lady and Trish's different play styles so they don't get caught in an attack exploit due to the new gameplay that wasn't anticipated during original development.
However, these changes are per character. So if you're playing as Dante, you'll get the same boss fight experience you had in the original game. But if you play Lady, for example, that's when the bosses become Lady compatible bosses so to speak.
Now that Devil May Cry 4: Special Edition is complete, do you have a favorite character that stands out for you of the five that are in the game?
I would probably say Lady. It's a real discovery I made myself when we created her. To put a long range character into DMC and to take on the challenge of making that work was clearly something very different from what we've done before. We worked really hard on her and I'm really pleased with the way she came out. The fact that something that is something totally new to existing players is really fun.
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Is Lady a character that you think that is strong enough to support her own game, maybe, in some stage?
Yeah, as a matter of fact we considered that after making Devil May Cry 3. We thought we could have a Lady spin-off. It never happened, but she's definitely cool enough and strong enough character.
Something I read, and I wanted to confirm with you, is there a survey within the game for fans, which will help determine the future of the franchise?
I think it's a bit of a misunderstanding. At the time of Devil May Cry 4, I spoke to an interviewer in Japan and I had given a message to the fans at the end of the interview saying "Let us know what you want to see in the future of DMC." I spoke to the same guy this time around for the special edition and I kind of just made an off-the-cuff comment along the lines of, "We're always listening to your feedback, please buy the special edition." So I think the fans with internet have taken that there is a literal survey somewhere with check boxes that will feed into a future game, but it was just a general comment on my part saying that Capcom values fan feedback.
Because that headline read as the future of the franchise is dependent on this, and that's not the case, is that correct?
No, I have never said anything along the lines of holding anything in the future hostage to sales of this title.
The Devil May Cry series has a very dedicated fan base who are still playing Devil May Cry 4 to this day. What do you want to say to them in regards to what they can look forward to with the Devil May Cry series?
After Devil May Cry 4 came out and then Ninja Theory's DMC: Devil May Cry followed it, some fans were disappointed and felt the main series had ended. But I'm glad that the message is out there with Devil May Cry 4: Special Edition that the main series is not over, and that DMC: Devil May Cry did not kill it. But that isn't to say that the latter was just a one shot, that game also got it's own next-gen re-release earlier this year.
Speaking of Ninja Theory and DMC: Devil May Cry, at the time you had said that part of the reason you went with them was that you wanted a different sensibility around the franchise. What were your overall thoughts on the final product and the game?
I think I'm happy with the performance of the game. If it had been a world changing hit, it might have changed the course of the series by becoming the new DMC. But at the same time, if it was a lot less successful than it was, it might have just been a flash in the pan failure that never got followed through with the definitive edition this year. In a way, I'm actually really pleased of where we were able to hit between those two separate extremes.
So you see those, I guess, those two series games as fairly separate?
Yeah, they are a little bit apart in that sense that if you didn't look at it that way you couldn't release the DMC 4: Special Edition, for example.
Do you see yourself sort of taking that on internally again, or working with partners to develop?
I honestly don't know. I don't really know, to be honest, at this stage.
You mentioned earlier before that you guys are always listening to fan feedback. How much does that influence your decisions about that game? The fan community is very vocal, but you still have to serve a broad audience. What do you pick up from fans and what do you try and stick to your vision about?
I like to listen to all the fan feedback that I can, but listening to it doesn't mean listening to it and doing everything that the fans request, because that would end up with a not very good game. That's not to say that the fan feedback isn't good, but if you took it all on board and put it all together then you would get a mess in the game. You have to make these decisions about what to include and what not to include. The high level play that we see from the really hardcore fans is something that we want to keep.
The high level play that we see from the really hardcore fans is something that we want to keep.
At the same time, I want to expand the base of that structure so that you have this very high peak that the fans can reach, but that you still have an accessible of enough base so that people who aren't as hardcore can still get in there and enjoy the gameplay. With that in mind, I like to listen to the fan feedback but not necessarily do exactly what they've asked. Instead I think "Well that's what they like and this is why they want that, but how can I even go above and beyond that with my own idea that will hopefully satisfy those fan desires?"
What are the most common things that fans keep asking you about apart from, "Where's my Devil May Cry?"
People ask me a lot if we can have more development of Sparda as a character, and also I get asked a lot if there's any possibility of co-op coming to the series, which is something we've flirted with in the past. In Devil May Cry 3, and its special edition, there's certain parts of the game where Dante would have a doppelganger on screen. You can actually plug in a second controller and press start, and a second player can take control of the doppelganger. It's kind of hidden co-op feature that maybe not many people know about. That also works for a boss battle in that game where Dante and Virgil team up against a boss. So it's definitely something we've had in our minds for a long time that I'd certainly be interested in exploring.
Do you think that the style of gameplay that you want is conducive to co-op?
Well, we wouldn't go as far to say that, because obviously if it was completely 100% suited to the gameplay we have, we would have put it in by now. Part of the reason co-op has appeared as a secret feature in bits and pieces is because there were problems with simply implementing co-op into Devil May Cry as it is.
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