Compared to other mobile games, Kingdom Conquest II is incredibly deep. The KC Community Team thought it would be interesting to sit down with Tadashi Okuda, KCII’s Game Designer. We wanted to learn more about the challenges of developing such an ambitious game and what’s rewarding about it.
1. First off, thanks for sitting down with us today. Could you tell us how you came to work at SEGA and specifically on Kingdom Conquest II?
I enjoyed video games since my childhood and wanted to create games as my job. I especially enjoyed games by SEGA the most, so I applied right away during my job hunting days as a student. I was lucky to get accepted by the company.
I was primarily involved in producing consumer games, but I also heavily played war-games like “Browser Sangokushi” (Browser Three Kingdoms Conquest) in my personal time. Just as SEGA was internally announcing the startup of an online game specialist division, I was invited to take part in the creation of KCII by Masamitsu Shiino, the producer of the game.
2. How did you come to work in game design and balance? Was it always your goal, or was it unexpected?
I was always interested in becoming a director for a game title, but this role came to me while I was producing another title, so you can say that the timing was a bit abrupt. The reason for me being here is because I have experience in managing overall game mechanics in the past and, as I have stated earlier, I heavily played war-type games like “Browser Sangokushi.”
I also managed alliances with over 250 members for quite a while on other games. Thus, I've had experience providing feedback to the team working on the original Kingdom Conquest when we were in the same department.
3. What’s the best part about getting to work on Kingdom Conquest II?
Getting real-time feedback from users. It’s never a dull moment.
4. What are some of the challenges you find most interesting when designing new features for Kingdom Conquest II? How do you work with all the different aspects of the gameplay, and make sure that everything stays balanced?
The thing I enjoy the most is monster combat. We brainstormed a lot of ideas related to this very topic. For example, what exactly a Commander’s role is regarding the growth and use of monsters. How he/she can play a key role in the outcome of the game while still ultimately emphasizing the role of their monsters, etc.
Granted, out of the big changes from the original Kingdom Conquest; the removal of the “Food” resource, the addition of L Size Monsters, and animated reports, the roles of Commanders are the most heavily discussed topic. Once the Commander system was in place, the finalizing process took long hours of discussion, but I already had a fairly comprehensive mental image of what I wanted. So, let’s just say that in terms of “balance”, this was a repetition of internal trial and error.
5. Where do you gain inspiration for these new ideas? How often do balance concerns get in the way of your ideas?
I am basically a numbers guy, so I am not one to say that ideas and inspiration suddenly hit me in the face. I do however play lots of games regardless of genre and hardware, so I tend to draw ideas from them.
As a matter of fact, I always try to think about balance and gameplay in the back of my mind. I also try to keep thinking of new game mechanics, so there’s never a moment where I hit mental roadblocks.
6. Setting aside reality for a moment, if you could design and implement anything you wanted in Kingdom Conquest II, what would it be?
A Commander Marriage System, a system where every alliance member can join and build a castle, and a humongous alliance monster that moves across the map.
7. What other titles have you worked on?
- Jet Set Radio Future
- Panzer Dragoon Orta
- Ryu ga Gotoku 1 [Yakuza 1]
- Ryu ga Gotoku 2 [Yakuza 2]
- Ryu ga Gotoku Kenzan!
- Ryu ga Gogoku 3 [Yakuza 3]
- Ryu ga Gotoku 4 [Yakuza 4]
- Ryu ga Gotoku OF THE DEAD [Yakuza: Dead Souls]
- Ryu ga Gotoku 5
8. If you could design a game from the ground up, what kind of game would you make?
I would love to have a chance to create sports games, but unfortunately, I’ve yet to have that opportunity.
9. What result of your design has surprised you the most with Kingdom Conquest II?
For KCII, turning the City into a 3D environment left me with the biggest impression.
I have to admit that I was slightly against it at first, but thanks to the hard work of the designers and programmers, the rich visuals turned out to be beyond my expectations for a smartphone app. In the end, this new design made the title what it is today.
10. If you could play only one game for the rest of your life, which would you choose, and why?
This is a really difficult question, but perhaps the arcade game “Sengoku Taisen”.
This game is very unique where moving physical cards is required to play the game. While the game mechanic is simple, deck management, situational awareness, and accurate army management is required. All these factors culminate into addictive 8 minute battles that offer the joys of victory, and at times the bitter taste of defeat. This game is played with other players, so there is plenty of deck variety to be seen with lots of art illustrations. It’s almost impossible to see the same deck from any two people. I’ve continued playing this game for over 7 years and I don’t think I’ll be getting sick of it any time soon… much like KCII.