Square Enix details Unreal-powered action-RPG

Ryutaro Ichimura is heading up development of an action-RPG, using Unreal Engine 3, for publisher Square Enix.

Ichimura, co-producer of 2009 DS RPG Dragon Quest IX, told Famitsu magazine that the un-named project is being made for a worldwide audience; 1UP's report says that concept art shown in the magazine more closely resembled Elder Scrolls than Final Fantasy.

"We do have a worldwide market in mind with this title, and we're prepared to deploy along those lines," Ichimura said. "However, we're not trying to make a game for overseas gamers – the challenge we're undertaking here is to present a fun game to the entire world that only Japanese people like us can make."

Ichimura is clearly mindful of Dragon Quest IX's performance overseas – where it sold less than a quarter of the 4.3 million it sold in his native Japan – and says he has taken his time to ensure he understands overseas tastes.

"I think Japanese studios have a tendency to make these 'good enough' imitation backdrops when they're making a game set outside of Japan," he said. "We're working closely with our overseas staff to keep this game from winding up that way.

"We're not trying to push what we want to do on others – our approach is to gauge what gamers want right now and take that one step forward. That's why I've been travelling around the world for the past two years to fully investigate our potential userbase.

"If anything seems off to the gamers in terms of art style or the test gameplay, we write detailed reports and rework the problem area. Now we're finally at the point where the foundational research and technology is pretty well set in stone. It's a new experience for me, but this trial-and-error approach is what I've set out to do from the start."

Square Enix is increasing headcount as work on the project begins in earnest, and despite the atypical, customer-focused approach to development, Ichimura has been pleased with the speed at which progress has been made thanks to the use of Unreal Engine 3. The publisher announced that it had licensed Epic Games' platform for multiple projects earlier this month. No name, release date or target platforms were announced, though Ichimura apparently hinted that the game could be released on next-gen consoles.

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