VA-11 HALL-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action is a booze em’ up about waifus, technology, and post-dystopia life. We caught up with Wolfgang Wozniak, the man tasked with porting the Vita version of the game to find out more.
Hello Wolfgang, thanks for taking the time to talk to us! Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into developing games?
I’m an old theatre kid, I did technical theatre (that means I ran the house audio) and film in high school. I graduated in 2007, around the same time as the PS3 was launching. And as someone who was interested in theatre, when I got my hands on Heavenly Sword and saw all the special features with Ninja Theory and Andy Serkis, I saw what games could be in a theatre and film context. I chose to pursue game development in college at Full Sail U. I took the Digital Arts and Design (Graphic Design) degree out there as a way to get into developing games. The combination of playing FFXI all throughout high school and seeing Andy Serkis sort of show me the fine arts angle of games really set my course. Since college I’ve been doing prototype work for the mighty Iron Galaxy and starting up my porting/publishing thing on the side. It’s all been going great!
You have been working on the Vita port of Sukeban’s VA-11 HALL-A. Can you tell us what it is?
Sure! VA-11 HALL-A is a “Cyberpunk Bartending Simulation.” You tend bar, listen to customers’ needs, and try to serve those needs all the while trying to get more information from them or expand the conversation. The story is the reward here!
What games would you describe VA-11 HALL-A as a mixture of?
That’s a very interesting question. The main hook is that on the surface, it’s a sort of visual novel. However, there’s no “dialogue” system to speak of. The way you alter and manipulate the conversation is by serving drinks either right, wrong, or with more or less alcohol. It’s a very interesting system and I can’t wait to see what Sukeban has in store for everyone.
What sort of things will gamers encounter during their experience?
I think that if you’re looking for some really chilled out, cool PC-98 visual novel experience in 2016, that VA-11 HALL-A is the best place for you. I imagine a lot of people playing this game in a dimly lit room drinking Earl Grey and pondering the story. I imagine players curling up with their PS Vita like a book.
Can you tell us anything new about the game?
The developers just revealed that there will be an increased focus on the daily life of your player character, Jill. The apartment interactions and as Sukeban would say “comfy” atmosphere in this hub-world are great. I love little vignettes like that.
What was the motivation behind bringing this to the Vita?
It’s a visual novel with pixel-perfect and hand-done dithering with a PC-98 art style. It was born to be on the Vita! Just look at it!
How difficult has it been bringing the game to the Vita?
We haven’t started the port-work just yet, we’re awaiting Sukeban to put the finishing touches on the source. They are not that far out it seems! I have a near-final PC build to toy with.
How long do you anticipate the porting process to take?
We anticipate about a 1-2 month conversion process from getting the source to released port. Of course, this is if everything runs perfectly and there are no scheduling conflicts!
Will there be any compromises to get the game onto the Vita?
There will be a little work resizing the screen, so you might lose a little bit of the frame-border you see in screenshots. We want to preserve those beautiful perfect pixels in the primary art. Other than that, I can’t see much else changing.
What Vita games have impressed you the most?
Hmmm, I guess these days I really enjoy like the art/tech side of things. There’s something about the way that characters are rendered in Persona 4 Dancing All Night that I love. It’s silly, but I really think their art style is really effective for that. All that carefully controlled rim-lighting on the characters just looks fantastic, here, let me share my favourite video that sold me on it…
And look at that animation! The second half of the video is just the raw animation. Ugh so good. There’s just such a grace to this whole thing. As a recently 3D artist and character modeller/animator… I love the presentation. Just can we all admire this artistry?
What Vita games (if any) are you excited for this year?
I’m unusually excited about Dragon Quest Builders. Before Dragon Quest Heroes, I hadn’t played a Dynasty Warriors OR Dragon Quest game. Now, I’m kinda thinking about going back to older games in the series. I really like Alena and Yangus. And an RPG with voxel-based Town building elements? Sign me up! However, I have one burning question: Does it have PS4 cross-save?
What’s next for Wolfgame? Would you work with Vita again?
Well! Before VA-11 HALL-A is released on PS Vita, we’re releasing a game called Dungeon Hearts DX for Wii U. We’re very excited to be working with Nintendo for the first time, and I’ve had a load of fun making the new art assets. (I finally figured out how to make the Floor Constraint for Bones work in Blender!!).
Next for PS Vita, we’re planning a release of the Gyossiat Collection which is an almost complete body of work from the legendary avant garde designer, musician and artist Amon26. That’s very much a passion project, but I hope fans will look forward to that one from us as well.
Additionally, I should say I’m also doing a lot of 3D art for a game called Undead Darlings ~so long my love~, which is targeting PS Vita as a lead platform.
Of the two Vita models which do you prefer, the OLED or the Slim?
OLED all the way! (I haven’t held the Slim model at all, I wonder how the Start/Select buttons feel)
I’m also the proud(?) owner of a Vita TV/PS TV. I put it in my PS3 kiosk!
This interview first appeared in our February issue of The Vita Lounge Magazine. Stay tuned to our magazine for more exclusive and magazine first content soon!