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Dragon's Dogma: 'We're not sure how the world is going to accept turn-based RPGs from now on'

Hiroyuki Kobayashi talks us through Capcom's unheralded but very classy open-world RPG...

Although it may be muted compared to the likes Diablo 3 and Max Payne 3, two games that launch around the same time, Dragon's Dogma is generating a great deal of buzz. Those in the know have kept a keen eye on Capcom's ambitious open-world action RPG, and for good reason.

What was initially offhandedly dismissed as Japan's bland-looking take on the high fantasy genre has slowly revealed itself to be something much smarter and incredibly interesting.

With Dragon's Dogma poised to be one of this year's biggest surprises we caught up with the game's producer Hiroyuki Kobayashi to get a grasp on the game's inception and what it will offer players come May 22.

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Dragon's Dogma is a bit of a departure for Capcom, how did it first come about?

Kobayashi: First of all, I'm glad you think it doesn't sound like a regular Capcom title. That's exactly what we were going for, we wanted to try something new, and break into this open-world RPG genre - but, of course, to include all the Capcom elements that we have in a lot of our games.

The idea first started off with Hideaki Itsuno, the director of the game, and right around the time when DMC4 finished we started talking about what the next big game we wanted to make would be. Itsuno came up with a couple of ideas, and one of them was Dragon's Dogma, this kind of high-fantasy, open-world RPG.

Which elements of the game make it stand out the most from other games?

There are many open-world RPG games out there. But as far as Dragon's Dogma is concerned, we think we've done really well with the graphics and the action elements, which we think separate it from other open-world games.

Another big element that separates it from other RPGs is the pawn system - it's very unique. It is, I think, the first of its kind. A lot of open-world games like this are multiplayer, but we specifically chose to make this a one-player open-world game - with, of course, network functions. However, we chose to implement the pawn system.

What were your influences when making Dragon's Dogma? For instance, it's reminiscent of Shadow of the Colossus in certain respects.

One of the first inspirations or influences for the game was Itsuno-san, his dream of making a fantasy game. He really likes the Lord of the Rings series, for example, and when he was younger, they had these things in Japan called gamebooks, like choose-your-own adventure book. When he was in elementary school, he read those books and thought that one day he wanted to make a game like this.

Another inspiration was going back to the Lord of the Rings, the way that a lot of the fantasy movies are represented - we wanted to create epic battles. There are a lot of games where you fight bosses and hack and slash at their feet, but we wanted to add to that, where you can actually climb onto these enemies and aim for their weak points. So you can climb on a Cyclops and aim for the eye - that kind of stuff. We really wanted to create that realism of being able to take down those giant enemies, just like in the movies.

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How big is the game? In terms of the size of the game world, and how long it takes to play through it?

As far as the world is concerned, it's the biggest map we've created in a Capcom game. If you walk around the coastline of the world, it would take you four to five hours. So it's pretty big. As for the main campaign, it would take an average player around 50 hours to complete, just if you do the main quests. If you do all the sub-quests, it would take easily over 300 hours.

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