MonsterVine had a chance to speak with LET IT DIE’s Game Director, Hideyuki Shin and translator Tyler Inouye about the challenges and inspirations that come from developing a free-to-play online action survival game.
Let’s start off, introduce yourself, what’s your name and your title?
This is Shin from Grasshopper Manufacture and he is the director for LET IT DIE.
As the director what is your role on LET IT DIE?
So he works heavily, on the game design, but of course when you have the other departments with graphics, animation, sound, and everyone else. He decides on the direction that they need to go in, brings them all together and make sure that it all comes in the game, to become a full product. So he’s telling everyone where to go, how to get things done and gets it done.
In terms of LET IT DIE, what is the game and how is it for players who are into Grasshopper games?
Oh so for players that enjoy Grasshopper Games?
So pretty sure for Grasshopper fans people enjoy Grasshopper games that they’re used to, they expect these slightly different, unique and odd kinds of games. Within LET IT DIE, people that are die-hard Grasshopper fans making the rule that certain aspects like the world setting, the characters and the scenario. There is somewhat of a story within the game that they will really find interesting and say yes, this is a Grasshopper game.
You worked with Suda51 as well, how much of his influence or where did he take the direction of the project?
So of course Suda51 was in charge of the world setting and character setting, or what kinds of characters would be doing what in the game, and Shin’s team worked together to create the game and present it to him, brings builds to him and says, “Okay we did this, we think this is fun and interesting” and he’ll be like, “Maybe you should change that or I think you should change that to make that a little more interesting.” There’s definitely different aspects, you could tell, that Suda51 has touched. For example, when you die and you see the insurance and and she’s like, “What do you think of our insurance offer now?” It’s like “Yes and No” right? Things like that, that’s definitely something he put in. “I think she should be like Yes, No, Yes, No.” Certain things in there, I think for people that understand his work will see that’s probably his doing.
So there’s influence from his previous work in LET IT DIE?
So there isn’t actually been a time, even in previous games, where they’ll take this from our previous game and put it into the new game. It’s never really what Grasshopper does but because of the members that work on it and kind of have a similar way of thinking that there’s certain aspects that might end up being similar other previous titles, in that sense.
In terms of what LET IT DIE is inspired by. Are there any specific films, television shows or media that influenced the game?
So regards to the world settings, it’s kind of post-apocalyptic and I guess you could say that were some elements that drew inspiration from things like Akira, Violence Jack or Fist of the North Star in that sense. But for the gameplay system, because a lot of the game is survival, heavily based on survival. There was a television show in Japan that was kind of like, what would one person do to survive in these extreme elements, and had to survive, having to live off the land or eat. The intense aspects were kind of driven, some of the creative ideas for the game systems, survival and LET IT DIE.
The characters in LET IT DIE, it seems like they are very quirky – the skateboarding grim reaper – how do you balance the seriousness of survival element with these characters?
So in regards to balancing the dark and gritty parts of the survival elements and then having you know, Uncle Death, death on a skateboard. It’s not really a matter of balancing, it just kinda came down to what we thought was fun here or fun or interesting in that sense. These elements plus this would be pretty interesting right? And that’s kind of what it comes down to, the design. Not really like, “We’re gonna have him to balance this part out.” It’s just really like, “We thought this was cool, so we did.”
LET IT DIE is an online game, the first for a studio in making this sort of game, with rogue-like survival elements with an action oriented gameplay. How do you go about balancing all those systems to making something that is cohesive?
So in regards to the world setting, it’s not really very balanced maybe, but for the game systems – very balanced. We have to put a lot of time and effort into it and of course, we took the core element of survival and added in things like action hack-and-slash. It was more less action hack-and-slash, and more like genres but if you put them in there in a specific way – you don’t want to not going too extreme or just taking some elements of it, and putting it so that it fits with everything was the most difficult part. But of course, we did spend a lot of time seeing what would be interesting if we added it into the survival setting and what would work best and what would we have to add and take out and it was an interesting process. But we made sure that what we did put in would be fun, interesting and balanced. So it was more taking a lot of things and adding in and see where these pieces would fit in the puzzle, in that sense, for the idea he was trying to create.
LET IT DIE is leveraging a lot from the community, and building your own community. How do you go about that strategy and keeping them invested in the long run?
So the community of course can be very important because its an online game and we have plans for adding content or events post launch. It will be really extremely important, we’re really going to rely on the people from the publishing side for the West and also for you guys because the community…it’ll be big for the success of this game and we are prepared for them, to have a lot of things for them to continuously play and motivate them. But also, a big part will also include the PvP elements and how that goes and how people are constantly be engaged with each other throughout the gameplay.
Of the challenges you face in creating a game like LET IT DIE, what was the biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge, if you look at now in this day and age, there are a lot of online games. There are a lot of action games. Just out there. Tons and so to make an action game, you’re going to be in a sea of many others here. But online action free-to-play, this combination you probably haven’t seen very much out there. Within that, that being a challenge, because it’s new and also free-to-play and being online, something Grasshopper hasn’t done yet but is now able to do this with the GungHo group. Since they joined GungHo, it’s probably the biggest challenge finding out the right way to approach this business model while being online.
More of a personal question, but what is your favorite video game?
Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. [laughs] I don’t know but if you had to put it up there, just that game tops it all right?
In terms of your favorite games or what personally inspired you in making this game in any way?
For him personally, it’s a great game. Love it. So many people love it and undoubtedly one of the greatest games out there right. It’s really this, I would like to make a game where a lot of people would say that its a great game or enjoy it. But saying that or I want to make a game like it, or have systems like it and make that a game that would pull any inspiration from it or aspects from its work, is nonexistent.
To wrap up the interview, any final closing thoughts for people are just discovering the game or following LET IT DIE?
So the biggest thing is, we’re going to say what the whole game is, it’s free-to-play. And we understand that free-to-play on consoles hasn’t had very good rapport right but that we want everyone to know is that we spent a lot of time, put a lot of content in this game. You guys have been playing for more than an hour and there’s so much more for you to find. The biggest thing is, if you got a PS4 – just download it and play it, you got nothing to lose and we feel that because there’s so much we put in here, there’s so much content that you know probably that of equal or more than your typical package game that you buy at the store. It has so much play time, a lot of things to do, so much content and if you have any reservations or anything – just download it. It’s free, there’s a low barrier to entry, just want you to try it, play it and enjoy it and hope that you do because we feel like if you don’t – you’re missing out. [laughs] You’re missing out on something great here so you got a PS4, when it’s ready and out, just please give it a try.