Magic Castle

March 19, 2020, at 03:38 AM by mgarcia in Media, Games, Interviews (4 comments)

Title: Magic Castle Author: mgarcia Date: 2020-03-19 13:38 +1100 Tags: Media, Games, Interviews Comments: Open




Size: 3.07 MB

The VHS Video

  Youtube Video. 

PlayStation game: Magic Castle - VHS Video By PIROWO

Image: Images.Magic-Castle

English translation of the video narration

This game is a fantasy action RPG that explores the magic castle.

Survive battles with traps and monsters

The goal is to find the items and grow your character and ultimately get the illusionary treasure. Endless adventure, real-time action is the theme of this game.

Here is a simple screen explanation.

"My Character"
This is the character that the player controls. Like the players, "monsters" wander the labyrinth in real time.

"Items"
There are items that can be used such as medicines and items that can be equipped such as weapons.

"Player Information"
There is a mode to select items and a mode to change equipment, in addition to the mode to display physical strength and magic power. The display position of the player information can be changed freely.

The magical castle that sets the stage for the adventure is everything, such as items and traps, is composed and arranged three dimensionally using random numbers. The generated rooms are connected to each other and form a labyrinth.

There are four types of player characters in this game.

  • Knight uses swords and shields and is good at short range attacks.
  • Magicians are good at attacking by magic, you can fly in the sky.
  • Archers use bows and arrows and are good at hitting a long distance.
  • Fighters are characterized by their nimbleness and strength.

In this game you will find various items to help you with your adventure. Items include healing potions, weapons and armor, as well as scrolls and other special effects. These items can be left freely on the floor, and players can manage the items according to the situation.

In this game, the camera will automatically rotate to a comfortable angle. Monsters appearing in the game will attack the player with unique movements for each type.

Back Ground Music is sometimes intense according to the situation of the player. It has system in which the tone changes in real time without interruption, such as being quiet at one time.

In this game, up to 4 players can play simultaneously and items can be exchanged between players.

Co Op Adventures (helping each other) are possible.


Music and Sounds

Music and sounds was created by hosplug ( https://twitter.com/hosplug_hosoi/ )

hosplug writes on the video's comments-
There are only two existing music data, but I uploaded them to SoundCloud.
Please listen by all means. These are a study using Roland SC-88 and a tune made with PlayStation's built-in sound source.
I created music with MOTU Digital Performer, exported it as an SMF file, and then converted it to PlayStation data.
The tempo, and choice of track to play is controlled by the sound program.
We did not use (CDROM) streaming and controlled everything with MIDI sequence data.

Listen to both the original and PlayStation sound tracks of Magic Castle on soundclound.


Developer interview

Dated: 14th of March, 2020

The following is a quick interview given by the head creators of the Net Yaroze game, Magic Castle:

K. Matsunami
Current occupation: SEGA Game Designer / Producer / Director
@SG_matsu https://twitter.com/SG_matsu

PIROWO
Current occupation: Game Designer
@PIROWO1 https://twitter.com/PIROWO1

Note: It's mostly translated via google, the original questions and answers, in both English and Japanese are available here, which was created by both Matsunami and PIROWO.

1) How did you first get into gaming as a young person? What were the first consoles you owned? what games did you play?

K. Matsunami
When I was in elementary school, I played video games at the arcade. I love SEGA, NAMCO, KONAMI, CAPCON, SNK, and NINTENDO.

I bought the NES first. I bought Konami TwinBee because Super Mario was not available at the stores.

PIROWO
When I was a little kid, I enjoyed Nintendo's "Game & Watch" and various LSI games.

Famicom was released in the fifth grade of elementary school. When I played Mario Bros. on my TV at home, I was shocked by the fact that I was playing with the inertial movements on a pixel-by-pixel basis.

After that, I became obsessed with Namco's XEVIOUS, and my other favorite games are GAPLUS, Space Harrier, The Legend of Zelda, Mario 64, and much more!

2) How did you get into video game development? Tell us about your early experiences before Net Yaroze.

K. Matsunami
My father bought a computer when I was in elementary school, a HITACHI Basic-Master JR. So I made a simple game in BASIC.

Next, I was immersed in game music MML and game production at MSX. In Japan, a game or game music was printed on the famous BASIC magazine and published several times.

Then, I studied the C language on the Sharp X68000. As a video system employee, I developed SNES games. The title was SONIC-WINGS and the overseas version was Aero Fighters.

PIROWO
I composed a lot of music on the Japanese computer "X68000". So I learned the technology, and when I was a college student, I started working as a sound staff at an arcade game company.

We built a system where music and sounds created on the X68000, could be played on other hardware such as NEO-GEO, the arcade game Sonic Wings 2 is a typical example made with this system.

Next, both Matsunami and I progressed from just working on sound, to developing a PlayStation and Sega Saturn game called "SONIC WINGS SPECIAL", I was a co-director.

After that, together we became independent and started to develop Net Yaroze software.

3) How did your team meet, what roles did everyone have?

K. Matsunami
I met PIROWO at a game development company called Video Systems in Kyoto (as per the previous question).

My profession is a game designer, in this game I was in charge of game design and graphics. The pre-rendered graphics were made with Poser, the 2D assets were created in Photoshop and the 3D modeling with Lightwave. I consulted with PIROWO about the game design as we were both directors.

PIROWO
I met Matsunami in 1994 at the arcade game company Video Systems. When we first met, we were both 21 years old (as per the previous question).

In this game, I was in charge of game design and development of the whole system, character programs, random maps, etc. At that time, I was an office worker working as a sound creator.

There were two more staff members, one is a programmer in charge of the UI and a musician in charge of music and sound effects. They are friends from my elementary school.

4) How did you find yourself developing on the Net Yaroze?

K. Matsunami
Sony Computer Entertainment Inc (SCEI) was advertising them in game magazines.

I thought my game company couldn't make a great game. I left the company, purchased development equipment, and tried to make a game that could sell one million copies with two (key) people. I created Magic Castle as a pitch to a game production company.

PIROWO
Sony's Net Yaroze was a welcome opportunity for us who lacked sufficient development funding. At the time, I think Net Yaroze was the only hardware available for purchase that could make what we wanted to express. I rented the second floor of my aunt's pet shop, brought in a few PC's and a black PlayStation (very cool!) and turned it into a development room.

5) Tell us about the development of your game. Where did the idea for it come from? - what were your influences etc. - What were some of the hurdles in development you faced?

K. Matsunami
Both PIROWO and I loved video games. It is influenced by various games. We were trying to create a rogue-like game in 3D that could be played any number of times. Knight's sword play was influenced by NAMCO Dragon Buster. Collecting coins was influenced by the SEGA Fantasy Zone.

Magic Castle was produced in an independent studio called KAIGA. Kaiga is a team created by PIROWO and me.

It was not a company because it operated using the savings of two people. I quit Video Systems Inc. to achieve the common goal of making a game that sold one million copies. We love games and worked hard for our dreams.

The hurdle to development was that in one year, savings were exhausted and the team had to be dissolved.

PIROWO
In the early stages of development, we created an action game in which a large number of characters (students) competed in the school building, and built an object control mechanism. Later, we changed the worldview to a royal road fantasy. There was no rogue-like multiplayer game with jump action, so I was convinced that it would sell.

The difficulties in the development were the automatic control of the camera in multiplayer, and the variety of random map variations.

6) Did you contact Sony about our game? Did they see the VHS tape? If so, what feedback did they give? And did you pitch it to other companies?

K. Matsunami
We created "Magic Castle" in about eight months. It was incomplete, but the concept of the game was fully expressed. Even if it was unfinished, it was very interesting. I was convinced that, if I could get a lot of people and development time, I would definitely be able to make an action RPG that would be very popular.

I sent a videotape, a proposal (pitch), and a resumé (CV) of the members on the team to Japan's leading game companies, we sent this to about seven companies. We were going to make a finished product on the PlayStation from the beginning and because it was the company that operated Net Yaroze, I sent it to them first. PIROWO and I were expecting a response.

Three members of our team were making GUNPLA when Sony responded to PIROWO's email. Of course, a favorable reaction was written.

I made an appointment to meet with the person in charge of the (business) development at Sony, We were ecstatic. We lived a poor life every day as we developed the game using our savings. I felt that I could not continue my stoic life.

We invited Sony members to the conference room at a luxury hotel in Kyoto. PIROWO's green Aspire PC computer and Net Yaroze were loaded into the car and we headed to the hotel. We explained the project in the conference room. I remember PIROWO getting nervous and spilling a glass of water in the middle of a meeting with Sony. But I was able to successfully explain the Magic Castle project.

A few days later, SONY officially asked us. The content of the request was "I want you to participate in the game project that Sony is currently developing". As a general developer, we were asked to join Sony's project. The reason we left "Video System Inc." is that we couldn't make the game we wanted to make. We didn't want to go back to a corporate environment where we couldn't develop games with our ideas freely.

We turned down the proposal from Sony. I thought there were still a few companies to answer, so I decided to wait for more replies.

We got a response from another major game company. It is a company that produces famous Japanese RPG's. The letter said, "If one of the ten judges issues an OK, we will make this game." I felt that there was a good chance that I would be able to make a retail version of the game, because if someone who reviewed the game and liked it, the charm of Magic Castle would quickly be conveyed.

We packed the Net Yaroze's development environment and startup discs and sent it all to the company's office to get them to play the game directly. A few days later, we received the results of the screening process and it was stated that "three out of ten directors want to make this game." We were overjoyed to hear the reply. I was convinced that our game development approach and method of game development was correct.

After that, we had several meetings. I had PIROWO come to a small room on the second floor of the pet shop. The pet shop was a tattered house and is hard to say that it is a development studio. We wanted to save money for game development rather than renting a beautiful office for a higher rent. However, the pet shop would not have given them the atmosphere of making a game that could sell about a million copies.

The company would pay for the development, but they wanted us to find the development staff somehow. We were naive, and we weren't able to fill the gap. We didn't know any game developers who could participate in the project, so we couldn't get enough development members. The company decided that it was a piece that could not be completed. We were working hard and mentally we were at our limits. With no money, I decided to break up the team because I decided it was impossible to continue the development any more.

This is the result of me and PIROWO's Magic Castle project. For a few years afterwards, we couldn't face "Magic Castle." However, i can say with confidence that Magic Castle had the potential to be the most interesting game. This time, when we were asked to do an interview, we remembered the magic castle for the first time in a long time, and decided to write down the story of the magic castle project which was chasing a youthful dream.

7) How would you describe the Net Yaroze community as it existed in the late 90's?

K. Matsunami
Having a PlayStation development environment for only $1,119 was a dream for us.

PIROWO
At the time, there wasn't much information exchange between the developers of net yaroze, at least we worked alone without knowing of other developers. However, I think the people who developed with Net Yaroze are playing an important role in the current game industry.

8) What were the limitations of the Yaroze?

K. Matsunami
The problem is that you can't run a game created with Net Yaroze on the retail PlayStation.

PIROWO
Without passing through a presentation to Sony, there is almost no way to announce what you have developed. I still have the source code and the executable, but the only way to show this game is on VHS videotape uploaded to Youtube.

9) What are your thoughts on the state of the gaming industry today?

K. Matsunami
Using a game engine has made it easier than ever to make games. I think game ideas are becoming more important.

PIROWO
In the game industry, the technology has matured to some extent, and in recent years, I think that it has become a very interesting industry where hugely funded large works and indie games focused on ideas are equally valued.

10) What advice would you give to any young game developers today?

K. Matsunami
I want you to create a valuable game that only you can make. You don't need to make a game that imitates someone's idea.

PIROWO
Nowadays, the environment for making games is available to everyone. Unreal Engine, Unity or Dreams Universe? Most importantly, from the moment you develop your game, you can share it world wide via the Internet. This is very special!

Creating and sharing your own games that only you can make will surely be a good life.

11) I’m also curious about the different 4 player mode, was that like a battle mode? and I know the net yaroze didn’t support the multi tap, was this “controller sharing” one controller for two players?

PIROWO
4 player mode is cooperative play, the attack system does not decrease each other's health, so you can play a little mischief. The game was tested on net yaroze and eventually planned to be produced on the PlayStation, so we planned to support multi-tap later. In the video version of Youtube, four controllers are forcibly operated by two controllers temporarily.

12) What have you done since the Magic Castle? Where are you both today?

K. Matsunami
After the team broke up, PIROWO and I went our separate ways as developers. However, we are still active as game designers. I work at SEGA AM2, which I've been longing for since I was a kid. I planned and directed a Nintendo SWITCH game (Project Diva Mega39) which was recently released.

PIROWO doesn't reveal his workplace, but he's making a lot of great games.

We have had many successful game projects as directors and producers, ranging from Arcade games, consumer games, to even smartphone games. We both play an important role in popular game series, and titles that sold a million pieces.

We went our separate ways, but we achieved our goal of creating the hit games we had when we were young. We're in separate companies, but we're trying to create new and exciting games just like we used to. We're still our best rivals.


Many thank to @SG_matsu and @PIROWO for taking the time to tell us about their very impressive and early 3D RPG game, as well as sharing their very unique story in game development history!


4 comments on "Magic Castle"

  • qobol: 2020-03-23 00:45 +1100
    It's so sad how the project was cancelled after all the effort they put into it, but it's good to know they're still active game designers after all. Thanks for sharing your memories.
  • Jeremy: 2020-07-01 19:39 +0200
    Hi there, and sorry about contacting you this way. I was doing some research about the Net Yaroze and stumbled across the wikipedia article. It states that a standard playstation disk was made containing a selection of Net Yaroze games. It was made by SCEE and sent to PAL region Net Yaroze owners. I heard about the free demo disks in magazines but I haven't heard of these. Do you know anything about them? If so, would you be kind enough to answer me. I'll try and pop by the comments section here once in a while to see if you have. Anyways, many thanks in advance.
  • qobol: 2020-07-03 14:17 +0200
    There is a promotional disc with the product code SLED-01340. This may be the one you're looking for.
  • Jeremy: 2020-07-03 17:40 +0200
    Hey qobol, I've found a rom dump of the disc. Thanks a lot for the help.



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