Interview: Quantum Theory’s Makoto Shibata

During E3 2010, I got a chance to sit down with Makoto Shibata, producer of Tecmo Koei’s upcoming Quantum Theory. During our interview, spoken through a translator, Shibata-san reveals the story of the game, the reason why it went multiplatform, how it differentiates from Gears of War, and much more.

To kick things off, can you give us a little background on Quantum Theory? What’s the plot or main goal of the title?

The story takes place in a world where civilization has collapsed. These towers have sort of popped up and they’re the remnants of civilization. The story picks up where the main character Sid is trying to reset it for this one particular tower to destroy it.

Sid has destroyed other of these towers – they’re called Arcs. He’s going around the world destroying these towers, basically for revenge. The details of his revenge will become clear through the story.

Do these towers represent anything? What are their purpose?

The towers themselves, they do have a purpose, though the purpose in the real idea behind the towers will become clear during the course of the story.

So you can’t really reveal anything?


Sid has been going around with other teammates destroying these towers. Though, everyone he’s ever fought with has died in the towers. That’s why he’s out for revenge

So he’s part of a group?

Yeah. He was originally part of a group that’s destroying the towers, but he’s the only one that’s left. In the story, he’ll actually team up with someone that he meets in the tower, a heroine named Filena.

Who is Filena? How does she get involved?

Filena is someone you meet partway into the tower. There’s a phenomena called the Diablosis that is sort of changing the tower – the towers are alive and the Diablosis sort of mutates the tower like a cancer. Filena is out to stop that phenomena to preserve the tower.

I have to ask. We’ve seen Quantum Theory compared to Gears of War. What are your thoughts on that? What makes this game different? What makes it unique?

It is a cover-based third-person shooter, but we’re trying to add more action game elements into the genre. We sort of feel that cover is one kind of action for a shooting game and as a different kind of action we brought in the combination actions with the heroine Filena.

Speaking of Filena. I know, as part of Sid’s combination action, you’re able to toss her into enemies. What else can be done cooperatively with her?

There are actually two kinds of throws. If you tap the button, you’ll throw her above enemies and she’ll throw stun grenades down to stun an area below her. If you hold it down, you can aim her at one particular enemy and you’ll throw her at one particular enemy for a really strong attack.

It’s not just about those two, you can use it strategically. To throw her behind enemies, to break them down or to get caught in the middle, to reach enemies you can’t normally shoot, if position wise, they’re high somewhere you can throw her up there. So you can use the throws strategically like that.

There’s also melee attacks – a combination of melee attacks that you can do with her. There are two kinds of melee attacks. One will take out an area of enemies around it. Another is a more focused, single-enemy attack. Both of these combination melee attacks, there are three levels. You start out with a normal melee attack and in time you can get up to three hits with these variations.

The first hit is just Sid if you press the button, if you time it right the second time Filena will jump in, the third time again if you time it right, both of them will cooperate sort of like a kung-fu movie playing off each other.

The game obviously has a very dark and very gritty art style. Was there any inspiration when creating that type of style?

We were originally trying to come up with a unique sort of art style. When you first enter the tower, it’s actually a really pretty place. There’s stained glass, it’s a very open, colorful, and vibrant world. As you progress through the tower, you’ll see as the Diablosis mutates the tower, the shift to a more gothic and twisted art style comes in.

When Quantum Theory was originally announced, it was conceived to be a PlayStation 3 exclusive. Later it shifted to multiplatform development. Was there a reason it went multiplatform?

As we merged with Koei, they had the technology to go multiplatform. So we were able to use our merger strengths to develop an Xbox 360 title, as well.

I see. I asked because I remember in June 2009, Tecmo stated Quantum Theory was a PlayStation 3 exclusive because it’s the “most powerful hardware“.

So we still think, of course the PlayStation 3 is a high-spec system. When we were first looking at things, we did think that there were things we couldn’t do on the Xbox 360, but Koei had the technology to make some of those things happen.

So there are some slight differences because the hardware is different, but we had to make adjustments to balance it for both. Overall we were able to port the game – our vision for the game – to Xbox 360 because we had that support from the Koei side.

Tecmo in the past has focused on one particular piece of hardware. And if they would port it, they would port it later and then again, focus on that hardware. Koei, on the other hand, has a very different style and have done a lot more multiplatform games and that’s sort of the basis of a lot of platforms at the same time. So with the merger, we were able to leverage their experience by going multiplatform and make that happen.

Now, does Quantum Theory take place in the tower the whole game?

For the most part, it’s in the towers, but you’ll actually start out in a different tower and then you’ll see how it progresses from Sid going through that tower and outside this tower, entering it, and there’s a flashback sequence that will take you to another area, as well. Most of the action takes place within the tower, but there are other sections, as well.

What I wanted to ask was: games like BioShock do a proper job of keeping you inside a building the whole game, but changing up the environment. Will wee see any major environmental shifts in Quantum Theory. In BioShock we saw the game change from gardens to carnivals splendidly.

We have a variety of environments even within the tower. Of course, the stages that take place outside the tower – the bandit city – and even within the tower, you’ll notice the difference between the preliminarily stages which are very pretty, colorful and grand and elegant. Those will differ from some of the final stages which are twisted and horribly mutated. We also have other stages, there’s a greenhouse area. You’ll see a variety of different tastes inside the tower.

Will there be any weapons in the game that are unique to Quantum Theory?

We’re triyng to put in some different kinds of weapons. For example we have a reflecting laser that bounces off of walls when you shoot it. The more it bounces, the more powerful it gets. If you have an enemy that’s in the room and you fire it and it bounces around and hits an enemy later, it could knock him out in one shot. That weapon is more useful in multiplayer games when you’re online in a small environment you can just fire it and let it go, it’ll build up power and take out an enemy.

Of course, you have standard weapons as well: shotguns, machine guns, grenade launchers.

What kind of online multiplayer modes will we see?

There are three online modes – three major online modes. There’s Battle Rail or death match, there’s a team death match, there’s Guardian Mode, and there’s a fourth custom where you can set your own rules.

You can play as a female character online. Within the Guardian Mode match, the team leader is the female character which someone will play as. As long as she’s alive, you’re gonna respawn. If she’s not alive, though, you won’t.

The female character actually plays a little differently than the male characters. She’s faster, more nimble, but she can take less damage. She also has a stronger melee attack.

Tecmo Koei doesn’t generally create shooters. Why take the path of the shooter this time around?

Tecmo, of course, has been known for action games and fighting games. We were looking for a new challenge to make a new game. We looked at the other genres out there and of course, shooters are big, especially in the west. So we decided that would be a good challenge for us to see if we could make a good shooter that could stand with the other shooters that are out there.

Thank you for your time, Shibata-San.

Check out the E3 screenshots for Quantum Theory at the gallery. Check out the E3 trailer below.

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