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Monster Hunter producer on series’ presence in the west, keeping it on 3DS, focusing on 3DS for MH4 Ultimate, more

Posted on March 11, 2014 by (@NE_Brian) in 3DS, News, Wii U

Eurogamer recently caught up with Monster Hunter producer Ryozo Tsujimoto. During the interview, Tsujimoto was asked about the series’ presence in the west, why the franchise hasn’t truly branched out on PlayStation and Xbox platforms, and whether or not there are plans to bring Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate to Wii U.

We’ve rounded up some of Tsujimoto’s responses below. You can find even more over at Eurogamer.

On what the first thing he does when he sits down to think about the development of a new Monster Hunter game…

Game development is often about an output of the ideas we have into game form, and putting it out there into the world. But I also take input very seriously, and what it is you take in from the community in order to make the next game or the next iteration.

We have today a lot of community and fan events for the series. And in Japan in particular we have a lot on a regular basis. We go to these events and observe people playing the game and see how they’re taking it in, and how they’re playing the latest entry into the series. That direct feedback from the community is really important to me and the team.

We’ll take the temperature of the current title as it’s being received, and then directly feed that back into our process of what we want to do with the next title in the series. That kind of process and flow we have has been very useful for the series. Whenever we think about what we want to challenge next with the series that’s always a key element in how we think about what direction we’re going to take it in.

It’s obvious we’re not going to suddenly turn the game into something it’s not. It’s not going to become a puzzle game or a shooter or something with the next title. So, outside of the scope of such drastic changes to the core concept, we’ll look at what kind of thing we could add to the game that would shake it up while still keeping it in the same area.

One example is the water-based environments that were introduced for 3 and 3 Ultimate. That was something where it was an idea, but we also said, well, what could we get out of that in terms of gameplay, and how exciting would that be for the players, and what would that bring to the table? If it seems like a good idea we’ll put it in. That’s how we approach where to go next: whether that will will make the next title interesting and exciting, based on what we’ve seen from the community, and combined with ideas we have in our own heads about what could be incorporated.

On whether he believes he’s achieved his goal of having Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate securing a breakthrough for the series in the west…

It would have been impossible to imagine five years ago we would be able to get over 100 people together to bring their game systems to play Monster Hunter in the west. We definitely aren’t sitting on our laurels with the achievements we’ve had with the last title and its sales. But we want to bring the title to even more people and increase the player base with the next iteration of the series.

We’ve definitely developed the community greatly from when it started in the west, from when the first title was released here. We’ve got to a great place now, but we’re not stopping. We’re going to keep going and we’re looking forward to being able to achieve greater heights with the community and with the next Monster Hunter titles over here.

On what he can do beyond what’s done previously to increase the series’ popularity in the west…

Monster Hunter 4 has got online play for the first time in a portable entry in the series. That’s going to mean we’ve got a whole new stage we can bring the community to. We have our community members now who love to meet up and play the game on local wireless. We hope they can be ambassadors for the title, so when we get more people into the next one and they want to play online, they’ve got a whole gang of people waiting there who know the game inside out. If they’re newcomers to the series and not sure what to do, or they want to go on a quest but they don’t want to go alone, if we can use our built-in community as a way for people who are new to say, don’t worry, we’re here and we’ll give you a helping hand, then that’s going to be a great way to expand the size of the community.

And then of course people who join that way, perhaps through online play as a first step, will then hopefully get involved in the game community itself and then they’ll be motivated to come and join some of the meet ups and get involved in the whole community spirit. So, the online functionality will be a big step in the west in growing our community size even larger than it is today.

On why Monster Hunter (presumably 3 Ultimate and 4 Ultimate) isn’t out on PlayStation and Xbox…

I mentioned earlier that when we think about the next title we think about what challenges we want to take on and what new aspects we think would make the next title in the series something we’re excited about working on.

In the case of bringing it to the 3DS, it’s obviously a very unique piece of hardware. Not only do you have the double screens with the touchscreen, but also the 3D effect. So the motivation for that platform choice in particular is very much based in the challenge to the development team of what could we make of Monster Hunter on this hardware with its unique features? And then we see what we can do with that on the hardware.

It’s based on resources. Frankly, it’s not like we have some multi-thousand member development team on this game. It’s about 150 people on the Monster Hunter development team.

We want to focus at the moment on each platform we decide to bring it on and do the best we can on that platform, given what we have to work with. We want to be able to make each title the best it is. That’s where we are now. That’s why we don’t try to spread ourselves too thinly.

It’s a good mark of the interest and buzz around the title if people are clamouring for it to come to their own favoured platform. It’s better than people not talking about the title. But, we prefer to follow through fully on our decision to choose a certain piece of hardware.

On whether Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate will launch on Wii U in addition to 3DS…

At the moment we’re focused on 3DS, purely because with the previous title, the 3DS version couldn’t go online on their own. There was a system to bring them online in conjunction with the Wii U console, but they were only local wireless play by themselves.

In 4 Ultimate, it will be online play just on the 3DS. We really want to see how having just a single platform online multiplayer game works out. So at this time we’re focusing on the 3DS version. Monster Hunter 4 in Japan was also 3DS only.

On what Monster Hunter will be like in another 10 years…

I wonder if I’ll still be working or retired by then! My first instinct is to worry about my own health!

It’s never going to be drastically changed out of the fact it’s a multiplayer action title. We’ll still be pursuing the ultimate we can make in that arena. And we’ll continue to use this process I mentioned.

It’s like World of Warcraft, whenever they put out an expansion it’s always had a lot of feedback from the fanbase incorporated into it every time. They keep putting it through that cycle. We will do the same thing we have been doing, which is every time a title comes out we take the player base’s concerns seriously and try to plug that feedback straight into the next title to develop it.

If I have to think about what I hope it will be in 10 years, I’d like to think we will have refined the action part of the gameplay even further, that it will get better and better with every iteration. Trying to picture that title in my head is quite difficult.

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