Posted: Wednesday - March 27, 2013
Interview with cloudphobia developer Marsbound by Ian Wilson
We noticed some similarities to classic shooters like R-Type and Gradius. What games helped influence cloudphobia directly?
It was strongly influenced by Taito’s Metal Black and Raystorm in terms of the background elements. Treasure’s Raidiant Silvergun and Ikaruga were good references for the commander bonus system; for example to get a higher score, players must defeat enemies in a particular order. Of course, players having to remember enemy placement by playing the game many times was influenced by R-Type and Gradius.
The game utilizes an interesting system in which the mothership must be defended at all costs. Was this an idea that you had for the game from the very beginning?
It was originally just a game in which the player could change their speed by igniting the booster. I soon realized that it was not a very interesting mechanic, even though the speed of the booster itself was pretty cool. So, I felt I needed to have some kind of restriction. I wanted to make a game where the player could not clear a stage just by speeding up but has to break for a convincing reason. I decided that adding the mothership was the best solution. There is another merit to this; it makes the feeling of freedom stand out when the player uses the booster.
The background elements really stand out and help give the game additional depth. A great example of this is Stage 3, Disorder. The stage reminded us a lot of Macross. Are you a fan of the series?
Yes, Macross is a masterpiece. I am a big fan of Ichirou Itano-san who created the animation for the series. I especially like the way he animates the missiles flying toward a target. I used to record these scenes and study them frame-by-frame. I think I made the most of this study in Stage 3.
The atmosphere of the game gave off a very desolate and almost post-apocalyptic feel despite the technology being used. Was there a specific feeling or emotion you were trying to invoke in the player through the setting?
The director of the movie Se7en said, “I’m always interested in movies that scar”. I feel the same way about videogames. People can be briefly moved by happy amusement, but that feeling doesn’t last long. However, a scar on the mind stays forever. I wanted to have something that will stay in player’s minds and the setting was created as a result of this idea. Another reason was that I really like this kind of setting, personally.
There are very few shooters, especially ones that deal with high speed, that include a sword-like weapon. Was there a challenge in balancing the game so that it could accommodate both the rifle and the sword without giving too much advantage to either weapon?
It was very hard to balance the game since there was no game that I could take as a model. I played the game many times to adjust the balance so that both weapons can get similar scores. In addition to keeping the game’s balance, I needed to be careful that players can play the game differently with each weapon. It would be meaningless if playing with different weapons felt the same, whether or not the final score were the same.
Early on, we noticed the stages in cloudphobia were named after songs from iconic British post punk band Joy Division. How did that come about?
It is simply because I love the band. I felt that the title of their song, “She’s Lost Control” fits well with the first stage. I was strongly influenced by every aspect of Joy Division as they have a view of life that resonates with the story of cloudphobia.
Are there any ideas that you didn't include in this game that might make an appearance in a sequel or spiritual sequel to cloudphobia.
Actually I wanted to include a fight against the battle ship in stage 3, but I couldn’t fit that scene inside the time limit for the stage. I also wanted to use the missile scene in more in other parts of the game since I really like such scenes. There are many more elements I couldn’t include this time, but I want to include everything if I make a sequel.