The minds behind .hack//G.U.

Of all the RPGs coming out this fall, .hack//G.U. is one of the most original. Just as the original series did in 2003 and 2004, it simulates an online world without forcing you to deal with the hassles - other players, lack of story - that come part and parcel with MMOs. But if you listen to the words of the creative minds behind it, that's about all it shares with the original games: it's been improved in every way.

Our interview blows the doors off the information you need to make a go of it in the fictional online game The World: R2. After speaking with Daisuke Uchiyama, the game's Chief Producer at Bandai Namco Games, and Hiroshi Matsuyama, President/CEO and Director of the game at developer CyberConnect 2 Co., Ltd., we're even more excited for its October release.

If you'd like to bone up on the game before jumping into this extensive interview, be sure to check out ourin-depth hands on.

To get a little bit more into the nuts and bolts of the game itself... you've switched to a full-action gameplay system for the battles. You've spoken before about how CyberConnect always wants to make action games. We were wondering if we could just get some insight how the battles satisfy you this time, and how you think gamers will respond?

Matsuyama: So, essentially, for the RPG market and when making RPGs, one of the things that people take for granted is that people try to finish the game just to get the full impact of the story. It doesn't matter if it's a good RPG battle - I guess you could kind of say that's the safety net most developers take for granted.

With that being said, what we wanted to do as you said is make it more action-oriented, due to our policy. But we don't want to make it so action-oriented that no one could finish the game, or people would get frustrated. So we've taken the time to tone things down.

So right now, I feel the balance for .hack//G.U. vol.1//Rebirth is just the right level. Once people go on to the next two volumes, the difficulty or the balance would go up a little bit higher and higher as people get used to the battle system and the workings of vol. 1. Jumping to vol. 2, we'll make it a little bit more challenging. But, still, not to the point that it gets frustrating. I think it's more challenging as it goes to the next volume.

One of the complaints with the last series was that there wasn't enough stuff to do in each volume. We've noticed that there's more side event stuff, like the arena. Could you talk a bit more about that kind of stuff now that we're closer to release - the side events and things to do?

Matsuyama: We've gotten similar comments from all over the world. When we worked on [.hack//G.U.], we doubled up the staff, and we've basically pumped in as many different things as possible. For example, the whole simulated online world and the avatar battles - which is more of a shooting type of game you'll see when the game's released. As well as... everything in general. We've pumped in as much as we can. That's something I feel that people don't have to be worried about, or jaded toward. We've got the bike as well [points to cover of a Japanese .hack//G.U. magazine which shows lead character Haseo on a motorcycle.]