“Shin Megami Tensei Online: Exclusive Interview”. Free MMO Gamer, 14 January 2010. <http://www.freemmogamer.com/2010/01/shin-megami-tensei-online-exclusive.html>
Shin Megami Tensei is a classic series from Atlus, and also a MMORPG game by Aeria Games. Still going strong after one year with North American players, it’s time to know more about it and its inner demons.
FreeMMOGamer: Can you introduce yourself and your role on Shin Megami Tensei: Imagine Online?
Answer – Hi, my name is Josh Forester, and I am currently the Community Specialist here on Shin Megami Tensei: Imagine Online. I have been with Aeria Games for nearly a year, and I have worked on other titles such as Twelve Sky and Twelve Sky 2 here at the company.
FreeMMOGamer: How did you come up with the idea to create a MMORPG in the Shin Megami Tensei universe?
Answer – Well, when considering what kind of game that Cave wanted to help develop and market, it only made sense for the Megaten universe to take a leap into the MMORPG market in order to continue to bring our fans another unique experience. While grouping up and working together may not be necessary throughout all portions of this game, there are still plenty of oportunities for a community to blossom and for other aspects, such as PvP, to flourish within this group dynamic.
Many familiar megaten features, such as being able to individually customize and allocate your skills and demon fusions featuring up to 3 seperate demons are still available here in Imagine. New systems, such as mounting demons and grouping up together in order to take down tough enemies or tackle harder dungeons are what seperate this experience from any of the other commercially released Megaten games.
FreeMMOGamer: Was it hard to get the rights from Atlus? And were they too protective during the development of the MMO?
Answer – Cave initially acquired the rights from Atlus, and also gained approval from them before finalizing the agreement with us. Because of the popularity of the SMT franchise, Cave adhered to all of the brand standards and requirements when they developed Imagine Online.
It was relatively easy for Cave to get the rights from Atlus because of their good standing relationship. While the other Megaten titles were developed as single players and on consoles, Cave felt it was necessary to stay true to the universe and follow the story, even though were not bound to it exclusively. This means our players should be able to expect not only some familiar storylines from later Megaten games, but also familiar characters and costumes. Even though they already had acquired these rights, Cave continuously stays in close contact with Atlus to jointly provide a better experience for our players.
FreeMMOGamer: How was the first feedback from players? Were they happy with the elements from the original series and the way they were treated in a MMO environment?
Answer – Our players were very happy with our game the day it was released for it stays completely true to not only more traditional MMORPG elements, but its storyline is sanctioned by Atlus and takes place between the original first two Shin Megami Tensei titles released by Atlus. Many comment that this game perfectly adds not only to the overall universe, but does a wonderful job in continuing the Megaten storyline which began back in the 1980s.
FreeMMOGamer: Shin Megami Tensei: Imagine is considered to be more linear than most MMOs. Did you choose this to focus on the story and characters?
Answer – Imagine is linear when the quest line and the acts are concerned, but that does not mean that there is no freedom. Due to the nature of the previous games in the series, which were highly story driven, this title is no exception to that trend. Unlike other games in the free to play market, Imagine starts you off not just directing you to go grind monsters and gain levels, but immediately gives you direction and a goal. Players also aren’t restricted to any kind of class when they start off as well, so they have the freedom to customize their characters with the skills they want with our mastery system. In that sense, players are free to do much more in our game than many other class based MMO’s out there.
FreeMMOGamer: What is the most interesting aspect in the game, the one you feel makes Shin Megami Tensei: Imagine special?
Answer – There are many aspects that make our game worth trying, but perhaps the most unique and in depth is our demon negotiation system. Other titles may have pets, but the Demons in Imagine can join in the fight, with customizable stats and skills themselves some of which are just as strong as the player characters! There are over 200+ catchable demons within our title, each requiring different methods of negotiating, bribing, or threatening in order to gain their contract. The possibilities don’t end there, You can also fuse multiple demons together and form a totally new breed, adding yet another dimension to the customization which is possible within Imagine. Each player will need to try and compliment their character build and play style with that of their demon, giving them the opportunity to accomplish much more together then they could alone.
FreeMMOGamer: The game is fairly recent in North America (about one year). What have you introduced and perfected during this year?
Answer – Imagine has received quite a few updates and additions since its initial release! As with many games, various balancing issues have been addressed, as well as many more demons, dungeons, and added zones. We receive content very frequently, so a player does need to worry about our positive relationship that we have with Cave and their willingness to continue to improve Imagine each and every day.
Other additional features we can mention are the PvP battlegrounds with a Team Battle mode, Demon Rebirth, our Motorbike mount, Item Mixing, many new sets of armor and costumes, and many new quest lines that are enjoyable to both the low and high level players. In the upcoming weeks in fact, we have a brand new Dungeon that is scheduled to launch in Celu Gold. Not only will this give the players more unique encounters and additional challenges, but will also introduce many new demons roaming its halls.
Overall it’s a been a great year and we’re just so grateful to our players that stuck by us. We can only hope 2010 will be even more rewarding especially for our players! 🙂
FreeMMOGamer: And what are your plans for the future of Shin Megami Tensei? Do you plan to release content patches, expansions, maybe a new title in the series?
Answer – As of now, there are no plans by Cave or Atlus to release another MMORPG set in the Megaten universe, so they have their full support behind this current title! Daily we are in contact with Cave, and new content patches are scheduled to be tested and implemented often. Even though there is a Japanese server with its own content plan and release, we are not bound to their schedule. We have requested and received many features our other server has not, so our content and balances will all come from our interpretation of the game and its balance, along with the feedback from the North American players themselves!
Although we can’t give out specifics at the moment, what I can tell you is that the next couple of months look very promising! Some of the new content that will be added has never been introduced and it will definitely keep our players wanting more! As much as we like to spill the details, what would be the fun in that? 🙂
FreeMMOGamer: Thank you for your time!