Eco-Creatures: Save the Forest is a brand new real time strategy (RTS) game from Lightweight Co. and publisher Majesco Entertainment for the Nintendo DS. Masakazu Tagawa is the project director at Lightweight and was responsible for the direction of Eco-Creatures: Save the Forest.
DreamStation.cc: Eco-Creatures: Save the Forest is a very intriguing game, could you explain the concept and tell us where the idea came from?
Masakazu Tagawa: Eco-Creatures is a RTS game but has a different theme to almost all other games in the genre. Most RTS games are about war in some way or another; however Eco-Creatures is about saving a forest and deals with environmental issues such as global warming and animal extinction. The concept evolved from an idea that one of the graphic designers had at Lightweight. A squirrel is capable of storing seeds in its cheeks but they are not very good at remembering where they buried them afterwards. So as generations pass the forgotten seeds that the squirrels buried will turn into the next generation of trees. It’s from this concept that the idea of Eco-Creatures was created.
DreamStation.cc: Video games have often been blamed for the decay of society or being “murder simulators,” so how important do you think it is for a game to have not only a positive message, but one that promotes change?
Masakazu Tagawa: Video games do seem to have a bad reputation. It would be nice to see games that are promoting good things like Eco-Creatures is also get the same kind of press as the ones that are blamed for influencing people in a bad way. I think that it’s important to bring such modern day environmental issues to the attention of people through as many different mediums as possible, whether it be films, books or games.
DreamStation.cc: Why choose a real time strategy for Eco-Creatures over any another genre of game? It has an “E for Everyone” rating from the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), but is it simple enough for just about everyone from reading age and on?
Masakazu Tagawa: The rating is a guide to let parents know that there isn’t any content that may be inappropriate for younger players in terms of sex and violence etc. I think players themselves have to gauge the type of game they play and whether or not they will enjoy it.
DreamStation.cc: In terms of the multiplayer for Eco-Creatures, what sort of features can players expect from the game? Also, could you discuss the Land Make feature?
Masakazu Tagawa: The multiplayer mode involves two players going head to head to see who can plant the most trees. Land Make is a level editor that lets players create their own levels for the multiplayer game.
DreamStation.cc: Could you take us through the creation process of Eco-Creatures and how long did it take to develop the game?
Masakazu Tagawa: The original idea was thought up around summer 2006 and the main development lasted for about 7 months from January 2007 to August 2007.
DreamStation.cc: Where did the development team draw inspiration from when creating Eco-Creatures?
Masakazu Tagawa: We didn’t take inspiration from any specific source such as a book or a film, but we knew we wanted to make a game that had a fantasy feel and a slow pace.
DreamStation.cc: The control schemes of the Nintendo DS and Wii tend to really translate well to one another, so what can gamers expect from the Wii version? (See what I did there?)
Masakazu Tagawa: Wii version? That’s the first I’ve heard about it!
DreamStation.cc: When the Nintendo DS was first announced it wasn’t exactly met with widespread praise, but what is it that you think makes it such a good platform for a game like Eco-Creatures over something like the PSP? Could a game like Eco-Creatures work on the PSP?
Masakazu Tagawa: Obviously the touch interface of the DS is a big factor as it is well suited to genres such as RTS.
DreamStation.cc: What or who inspired you to get into the video game industry and what sort of advice would you have for anyone who is looking for a way in?
Masakazu Tagawa: I wanted to get into the video game industry to make my own games. I think it’s probably the same for most people in the video game industry. The industry is getting more and more competitive so I’d advise anyone trying to break in to focus on one aspect so they become a specialist in that area.
DreamStation.cc: Is there anything we may have missed or anything else you’d like to add about Eco-Creatures: Save the Forest?
Masakazu Tagawa: I’m very happy with the way Eco-Creatures turned out. All of the development staff really pulled together and as a result everything clicked into place, which is normally what happens when a good game is made.
DreamStation.cc: Tastier confectionery delight: Cake or Pie?
Masakazu Tagawa: Pie
DreamStation.cc: Better TV show: Lost or Heroes?
Masakazu Tagawa: Lost
DreamStation.cc: DreamStation.cc would like to thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer some questions for our readers. We sincerely appreciate it and we wish you the best of luck.
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