Sittin’ Down With Smoking Wolf

To help celebrate the anniversary of One Way Heroics Plus, we’re pleased to present a two part blog post that centers on the creator himself, Smoking Wolf. This first post is a Q&A that is exclusive to Playism. Originally posted on our Facebook, it’s now here for everyone to read and enjoy!
 
 
Hi Smoking Wolf. Thank you for talking with us today. To start with, could you please introduce yourself for those who are reading this?
 
I’m an independent video game developer and creator of the “Silfade” series, “ One Way Heroics” and the “WOLF RPG Editor”. I live in Osaka, and recently together with my parents.
 
 
To start with, I’d like to ask, what gave you the idea to create One Way Heroics and One Way Heroics Plus?
 
When I saw a discussion about forced scrolling games on Twitter, I thought it’s such a retro element you don’t see in games these days. I began wondering if I could use elements like that to make a retro compilation, and then the words “forced scrolling RPG” came to my lips and I found myself laughing.
 
So, as a test piece, or an attempt to prove my idea could be realized, I began to work on an experimental prototype that could at the very least function. I decided that if it looked promising, I would do make it for real.
 
one way heroics sketch
 
 
You are the creator of Wolf RPG Maker, right? Could you tell us a little about what motivated you to create it?
 
After leaving University, I entered a life where I had to develop games to feed myself. I figured I would need my own personalized tool, and that creating in file formats very familiar to me would be useful when transferring data, so I began to create the WOLF RPG Editor. It felt like a waste to be the only one using it, and finding and removing bugs by myself was a tough task, so it made sense to increase the number of people working with and  benefiting from the tool. I decided to make it accessible to the public domain in 2008, and though it meant I had to deal with a great deal of work covering support, I am always grateful for the bug reports I receive from everyone.
 
Since people were using my editor, I felt there should be something beneficial for them. The unofficial WOLF Editor contest I previously held was well-received, so I decided to hold contests officially as well.
 
 
Would you be able to tell us what your favorite part of One Way Heroics and One Way Heroics Plus is?
 
The best part was being able to start development on One Way Heroics Plus thanks to the folks at PLAYISM, but now I’ll tell you the second thing that left an impression on me.
 
The last epilogue added to One Way Heroics Plus was actually for Nemuri’s human ending. It is a hidden epilogue you can see by finishing the game with Nemuri in human form, but I originally had no intention to make this… right up until the very last moment.
 
The game was just about finished, and though people wanted it I felt I didn’t really need to make Nemuri’s human ending. I was convinced that such opportunist storytelling would be unnatural in a game like One Way Heroics.
 
one way heroics is now available on steam
 
At that time, however, I remembered how the Great East Japan Earthquake had been at the back of my mind all through the development of the original game. After all, that project began just about half a year following the incident. Recalling how those sad memories must have impacted the game in some way, I suddenly thought “Let’s weave in some hope for a bright future! Who cares if that’s opportunist storytelling? This is a video game!” And it was at that final stage of development that I added the human ending for Nemuri.
 
So that’s how it happened. I feel the “Nemuri +” ending is one that leaves you with the taste of desire for a fresh start.
 
 
Are you working on anything at the moment? What do you plan to do next?
 
I’m working on an action game called “Planet Howl” for NicoNico game magazine. The release is scheduled for September 18th.
 
To be honest, I’ve always wanted to make the kind of game that lets you enjoy every single decision. In games like “Celestial Silfade Story” I wanted the player to be thinking ahead, about how best to proceed. That only really lasted about three playthroughs though. Ultimately I think my ideal would be a Rougelike game. Also, I’d like to make an action game with funny actions. In “Monolith-Sphere” you have to drag the mouse to jump, but it seems there were few people who could adapt to that, haha.
 
Planet Howl
 
I want to make a game that constantly makes you feel a sense of dilemma; always making you think which path to take, with intertwined story and random elements – but I may not be able to make such a game in my lifetime. Currently there’s no signs of me achieving that.
 
 
What is your dream?
 
Just to freely continue creating video games. I feel I’ve earned more than enough fame, and my dreams of having my games released abroad and on consoles have already been realized. My dream for “Fushigi no Chronicle: Road to Victory” to be playable with no spoilers also came true.
 
If it wasn’t for the need to earn a living I would love to spend my days making only free games. When you sell a product, it is your first obligation to ensure the people who chose to buy it never feel it wasn’t worth it. That is the very minimum requirement, I think, but that alone greatly restricts what you are able to make. For example, when you need to make a game that almost all of your customers can enjoy. So, my ideas are restricted far more than I’d like.
 
Most of the paid for games I’ve made up until now are based on free models. “Silhouette Note: Kembunroku” became “Silhouette Note”, “Silfade: Gensōtan” became “Silfade School Story”, and I have been making these games as an extension of their free origins. There are also those who make paid for games the way they want to… but when something that fails to meet the fans’ expectations sells many copies, it is likely the feeling of disappointment is still greater. Free games are made at the cost of your time, but since you are not earning money from it you can make something that challenges the system. If “One Way Heroics” wasn’t a free game I don’t think it would be released. Its design is very alien to the existing fanbase.
 
 
Do you have an indie game that you recommend/love?
 
For Rougelike fans I’d have to recommend “FTL.” Or “I am Bread“, an action game with an unusual control scheme. Games like this are hard to come by, so I had a lot of fun. Very impressed.
 

 
Something that had an impact on me was the first game I ever played, which I found in a mook (magazine-book) called LOGIN SOFCOM. A Dante 98 game with some aesthetic beauty orientated, somewhat questionable contents, called “Aisenshi: June no Kizuna” (Love Warrior: Genet’s Bond). At the time “Genet” was a word used to describe boy’s love, but oblivious to this I had my first gaming experience with some help from my father. I learned how crude some games are, what may be permitted in a game. I feel this gave me a standard of freedom with which I approach my own game development.
 
 
Do you have a message for everyone reading this?
 
If I can make a fun game worth translating, I think I can have it released overseas, so when that happens I would be happy for you to play my game.
 
Tune in Monday when we post some additional words from Smoking Wolf about development, creation and following your dreams!

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