Kodaka: No, that was in there from the start in the Japanese version as well. I personally am a fan of the director Quentin Tarantino, and he uses a lot of pop culture references in the movies that he makes. I think those make for a really interesting parts of the tales. I love putting those in my games.
GamesBeat: I enjoy the games for its huge cast. I think there’s just that much more that players can relate or attach to because of this. Is it hard to maintain such a large cast in these games as the scenario writer?
Kodaka: It’s actually not as much work as you might think, or at least I don’t really see it like that. I want you to know that even though there’s only two main female characters you can play as in our latest, Another Episode, the enemies have a lot of depth and a lot of background. I spent just as much time writing these enemies’ backgrounds that I did writing the main character’s backgrounds for the other two games. That said, there’s probably about an equal number of characters that have that depth within all the games, wether it be enemy or main character alike.
The game is already out in Japan. And so this time even though the main characters are two girls, there are a lot of players that have given the opinion that they relate more to the enemy characters.
GamesBeat: What’s coming for the future of the franchise?
Kodaka: What I really like is having the players surprised. That’s a really big thing for me. Announcing Danganronpa 3 is easy for me. But when we said it was an action game, people where surprised — I really like seeing that surprise from people. Sometimes the reaction is actually negative. When we announced Another Episode in Japan, people were asking why we were making an action game from this series. But at the same time, that’s what I like to play with. That’s the kind of expectations that I like to overturn when I do these things.
GamesBeat: How has the success of the series impacted Spike Chunsoft? Has the company grown? Is your business changing?
Kodaka: Actually, up until Danganronpa, as a company, we only had made games. What Danganronpa had allowed us to do is to do what’s called a “media mix” in Japanese. That’s to bring in different forms of media in an effort to have different core products. Specifically, we had a chance to do the animation, and we had a chance to do a lot of different goods. Those were the doors that Danganronpa opened.
GamesBeat: The game industry is changing, moving toward smaller, more abbreviated experiences, mostly on mobile platforms. Do you feel like this move is taking us away from storytelling and developing interesting characters? Where do you stand on this?
Kodaka: First of all, you’re right — it’s the same in Japan. Entertainment is moving toward something that is low cost, bite-sized, and easy to obtain.
For me, the way fandom used to be was very much along the lines of really, really intense people who were super passionate about something — the kind of people that would freak out and be upset if they missed a television show. It was their own unique culture that they could enjoy. These days, it’s really hard to have that when you make something cheap and accessible for everybody. For my part, it’s really important to create something that creates a real attachment in the user and makes them love something — something that makes them a true fan of that content. As a creative, personally, I’m not interested in perusing something like a mobile environment, or little bite-sized experiences or games.
GamesBeat: So you feel the changes in the industry have impacted fandom?
Kodaka: Back then, a lot of times when people had something, it might not have been big in the beginning. Word of mouth was a really big part of what drove something to success. A perfect example of that would be Gundam. When it originally aired, not many people watched it. The viewership was pretty poor. But by word of mouth, people began to trade tapes. Through that tape-trading, it became a really big thing. And when it was rebroadcast it was a huge thing.
These days, making something like that is hard to do. The environment we’re in isn’t really set up for that. Even then, that’s the kind of content and environment I want to create and the main thing I want to do with my work.
GamesBeat: Might there come a day where a full cast of characters and a rich story are considered old-fashioned in video games?
Kodaka: I can’t say if that’s exactly the way things are headed, but it certainly seems right now that this is the trend. But trends are always very circular. It’s difficult to say what will or will not happen. However, for my own part as a creator, if things are going that way, I’m very much interested in going against that trend and working on something that would right now be out of vogue or not in fashion.
It depends on who you talk to. Most people are wanting to make things like everyone else’s. For me, I don’t want to make something like everyone else. If what I’m doing is thought of as old-fashioned, that’s fine by me. I’m going to do what I want to do.