Capcom's Monster Hunter
franchise has been explosively popular in Japan, but hasn't had the same kind of success in the West. The company is hanging its hopes on Monster Hunter Tri
, which hits U.S. shores in March 2010.
Producer Ryozo Tsujimoto talks to Gamasutra in our latest feature
about ways the team considered to make the game appeal to Western audiences. One surprise is that a title that relies so much on networked play is coming not to Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 but to Nintendo's Wii, whose online features are much less robust.
Developing for the Wii gave the team the opportunity to develop what Tsujimoto feels are more intuitive controls, a major consideration for Western users. But social behavior remains key to the title's appeal -- and he tells us about how developing monsters that are driven by lifelike behavioral rules rather than simple design patterns is one way to encourage players to communicate and collaborate.
"You don't see the monsters' health, so it's very hard to tell when a monster is ever going to die," Tsujimoto says. "So, in that respect, it makes the game much more analog, not digital... in that sense, it's easier to build communities."
He elaborates: "You get people talking to each other because you're like, 'Is he going to die?' 'Oh, I don't know!' You really get people talking. So, in that sense, having it realistic in that way in an analog sense, I feel that having no gauges and being realistic gets people more together, and that's a good thing."
In that way, the trend toward realism -- more subtle HUD elements, for example -- is helping drive more community interaction, Tsujimoto suggests.
"The game creator should not tell everything to the player -- to make the game in the sense that you have to make the players find out for themselves," he explains.
"For example, with Monster Hunter
, one of the big things is we don't tell everybody all the different monsters you can find," he continues. "We don't tell everybody all the different weapons you can create. We don't tell them all the situations where all these things can happen. But the players themselves foster a sense of community by having to go around and explore."
And as for developing networked play on the Wii, Tsujimoto says it's all gone smoothly: "The service has been working really well without a hitch," he tells us. "[With] the experience of online, at least in Japan, the reaction has been very favorable. People have felt that it's very easy to get online, it's very easy to manipulate, and it's very easy to get around and do what you need to do online."
The Monster Hunter Tri
team went into the experience with an advantage, however -- Tsujimoto says that the experience of having to develop an infrastructure for Monster Hunter Dos
on PS2 made it much easier to create a networked game this time around.
"It was really a blessing that we had that training and experience," he says. "This time, actually, it's been a much, much easier, much smoother experience, because we were already experienced in setting up our own infrastructure, so it actually wasn't that big of a deal."
In the full Gamasutra feature
, Tsujimoto goes in-depth on targeting a Western audience, tailoring the Wii controls and the monster behavior for a more intuitive, naturalistic gameplay experience -- and tells us what his most-desired item of wacky Monster Hunter