Where we talk about JRPGs and WRPGs, the games they've made in the past, and the difference between indie games and doujin games
An Interview with OGSD, Part 2
Interview by: Douglas Schules; Translation by: Douglas Schules
Can you tell us a little bit about your circle? For example, how long has it been around, how many members are there, and where are you based?
OGSD The circle was a club called the “Game Developers Club” (GSD) at Hiroshima University that is the OB meeting. All of the members are also the same as the OB club.
It’s been around for 9 years. The GSD first exhibited at C74, which was held in Summer 2008. A few of the OB members attended the closing party. At that time, we were really pumped up and thought “We really want to do the circle activity again!” so we actually decided to do it. Currently, our activities are mainly done with 5 members.
All of the members are general company employees, and because they work at different places and have different shifts, we basically have to conduct circle business through the Internet. Usually we post things on message boards, and once every month or two we talk on Skype.
That’s a pretty long history. Can you tell us about some of the things the group has worked on over the years?
Here’s a list of games that we’ve released up until now:
Based on your experience with games and culture, what do the circle members think about JRPGs and WRPGs? This is a topic often discussed by fans overseas, and it’s becoming more prominent because of Cool Japan.
None of the circle members play WRPGs, so we can’t say anything important about them…
One of the opinions from the members is that the foundations of the games were influenced by the people they were aimed at.
I think that the foundations of WRPGs were born in the initial stages of PC gaming, and originally the target of PC games were adults. On the other hand, the foundations of JRPGs were laid in the Famicom and Super Famicom eras. Around that time in Japan it was widely thought that games were things for children to play. Therefore, we wonder if the foundations of JRPGs were elements such as unrealistically proportioned characters and stories centered on good and evil that children were allowed to play.
What plans does the circle have for the future?
For C93 we plan to continue creating the latter half of My Name.
We’re still undecided as to what we’ll do after that, but we’re hoping to continue and periodically release games of some kind.
How does your circle decide on the types of games to develop?
Through the meetings that we periodically hold on Skype, the members bring up various things that they want to make, and from those ideas we discuss and decide what to make.
You’ve obviously participated at Comiket. Can you tell us a little about your experience at this event?
Originally, as the Hiroshima University game production circle, we participated in Comiket, so we are mainly presenting works from the initial stage when our group was established.
Up until now, I’ve been using the term “indie game” to describe what appears at events like Comiket. But technically, Comiket refers to the games as “doujin games.” What, in your opinion, is the difference between these two terms? How are “indie games” different from “doujin games”?
This is my personal impression but I have this sense that “doujin games” are games that are only sold at closed spaces like Comiket and doujin soft specialty download websites, while “indie games” are sold not only at those locations but also on game platforms like Steam and PSN. They’re wider in scope.
So the difference in your opinion is based on where games are sold. To what extent do your think differences in content define them?
I think the big difference is whether it’s a derivative or adult work.
Because the former is a genre that can only be sold as a doujin work due to copyright, and the latter is a genre that can only be released in Japan where regulations are loose, naturally they will become products that can only be sold as doujin software.
Technically the former exists in a legal gray zone, but as there is a history of overlooking this as a unique trait of Japanese culture, I think that this is a unique characteristic of doujin software.
Based on your experiences at Comiket, what do you think about the future of the Japanese indie game scene?
I feel there are more opportunities year by year, so I would like it to become livelier.
Because general game development utilities such as Unity or Unreal Engine are now provided for free, the hurdles for development have been lowered. Even on a large-scale platform like Steam, amateur circles such as ours can sell the games we’ve made and we have more opportunities to present our works.
I feel that the environment is one where amateurs across the country who have high technical skills come together on the Internet to make large-scale games, and individuals can make games however they wish by using readily available, free materials.
However, I think that there are too many websites and games, so only those that are made by famous circles or are gimmicky stand out, and smaller projects often get buried because of this. In that sense, I think Comiket, where many people with various interests get together and sell their works, functions as an invaluable place where people can present their works.