RWBY: Arrowfell, the latest game from WayForward games, features characters from the popular American anime RWBY. In this game, players can expect to see their favorite RWBY characters Ruby, Weiss, Blake and Yang in a new adventure. I caught up with WayForward Game Director James Montagna to learn more about this latest release and what fans of the series can expect.
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RWYB ArrowFell Transcription
Mason Paine: Ruby Arrow Fell is a brand new game from way forward games that features Ruby, Weiss, Blake, and Yang, the popular characters from the series. Ruby. Joining me to speak about this latest release and what fans of the series can expect from this game is way forward. Game Director James Montagna. Thanks for joining me James.
James Montagna: Oh, it’s my pleasure.
Mason Paine: So how long have you been in the video game industry?
James Montagna: I started at way for maybe about like 15 or 16 years ago and I was just out of college actually way forward. Brought me on as an intern and I was working here just helping out wherever I could. I still remember my first day, I showed up and I was just helping . Build furniture . I was helping, put together chairs and desks, for people. I even put together my own chair and desks that I was working on as an intern. And that was, that was my start and they had me helping out on some games on, even on day one, besides that. But yeah, that’s how I got started. I was going to college and I was self taught, teaching myself game design, taking some courses on game design. Eventually the school hooked me up with that internship and then they decided to hire me and I’ve been at wayforward ever since.
Mason Paine: Wow. That’s amazing that you went from intern to game director. Did that surprise you at all? Do you ever look back and say, whoa, this is my life?
James Montagna: It’s a little bit surreal when I think back sometimes, but I was so driven to make games one way or the other that. It’s not too surprising. I always knew that one way or the other, I would, wanna be making games. So here I am. Today we’re releasing games and I’ve been able to help direct, so many titles and it’s been great and it’s, been a long road and, gradually worked my way through it. You know, I actually. Started out as an animator because when I was in college, I was going to school for animation. And so, when Way Forward first brought me on board formally from being an intern. That was my title for a while. And so I was doing animations for various different games and at one point I expressed the desire to get into more of a design role, and that’s when I started doing level design, which eventually led to me becoming a director.
Mason Paine: Now as a gaming director, what exactly do you do? Because when you hear director, you think of movies. So I, but I imagine you can’t tell people in the middle of, you know, coding cut. That’s not it.
James Montagna: Right? You, interrupt them. They’d be very, upset with you if you did that to a programmer. They really need their focus. So basically what my job is, and it’s a split title, I’m designer slash director. I could tell you a little bit about each of these two distinct roles, that I’ve taken on here. It starts out where, as a designer, what I’m doing is I’m creating what we refer to as the G D D or game design document . And we do this for every title. It’s basically a blueprint of the game we want to make. It will have all the details of the game. How many players, what kinds of, game mechanics, what kinds of levels, what sort of enemies, who do you play as? All the details that we can stuff into this document. Usually they’re like a tome. Now, they’re digital, but there are many, many pages. And so as a designer, I’m creating, the blueprint for the game that then goes to the team and that’s when I switch hats. Once it’s out the team. I become the director and my job then is to guide the team in realizing the blueprint. So as they’re creating things to the specifications that have been created by the design, my job is to play it every day and provide feedback and guidance to the team and help them realize the vision that we set out to. now, it’s not a clean break. I switch hats back and forth daily. because sometimes we need to revise the design or, sometimes, someone needs, very specific guidance on something we have to, to work it out, or I need to play it and go through and make notes for the team. So that’s kind of what my day to day is like and what my responsibilities.
Mason Paine: Now, how much influence did your previous projects have on this particular game?
James Montagna: RWYB Arrowfell is, our latest release, wayforward. And so this game being the genre that it is, which is a exploration game, some people like to call it a metrovania game, right? I use the term exploration game, but. This is a genre of game that way forward really specializes in. So you asked the question about our previous titles. Well, when you look at games like the Shante series, which I had a hand in helping out on, and even some of our license titles, like the first, adventure Time game that we did on Nintendo 3Ds, there’s a lot of titles that have similar sort of, progression. We’ve even helped out. Blood stained, game, which is, very much, taking influence from that classic sort of castlevania title. And so this is a genre of game that’s very much in our wheelhouse based on the experiences of the games we’ve made previously. So I would say to answer that question, RWYB: Arrowfell is taking all of the expertise and experience of way forward that we have of this particular style of game and channeling it into this new title. So a lot of influence really.
Mason Paine: Now, it’s funny that you said it’s a metroidvania kind of elements to it, because when I was playing this game, at one point I, I kept going back to a cliff and I kept saying to myself, I need a double jump. I would love to have a double jump in this game. Why isn’t there a double jump. Right? And then it came to me like a, like a big boulder on my head. Like, oh, I see I have to this, I’m not at the right place yet. I need to go back out. And honestly, that absolutely surprised me because I didn’t expect. From a game like this. I don’t know why. It just, it didn’t feel like it. Usually games that are metroidvania ish would be darker. And this wasn’t dark at all. This was a, it was a pleasant surprise. If anything.
James Montagna: I’m glad you had that experience with it. Yeah, it’s the sort of thing where we can take this format of an exploration or metroidvania game, as you call it, and we. Wrap it around a different looking games such as the world of RWYB. It’s not necessarily dark, but because a lot of games in that drama do have that theming. People do kind of get used to seeing that sort of thing. So, this was a good opportunity to kind of fit. That genre around something a little bit different. And I think the results, work pretty well. And as far as the double jump, you know, that’s what Weiss is great for. She has her, glyph semblance, and once you create a glyph, you can jump on top of it and then you can reach a even higher places. And then when you upgrade it, you can do that twice and get even higher. We think of these things like people want to have like a double jump and it’s like, well, how can we kind of turn that on its head and do something a little bit different? And that’s one example of.
Mason Paine: And I thought it was really clever that you guys decided to spread it out amongst the four. I mean, this, particular anime has a pretty big following. So to not, you know, put just one character as the main focal point and to have all four of them share like, the spotlight every once in a while. That was a nice touch. Like, did you guys think of that immediately or was that something that you just grew into eventually?
James Montagna: You know, as far as the anime itself is concerned, with Ruby, it really is about the team of Huntress. That’s the name. It’s like the first letter of everyone’s name. It’s really about the team. So I think with the game like this, we knew from the outset and even speaking, to Rooster Teeth, I feel they agreed. We wanted to make sure that every character of the team, and Ruby was part of it, so we wanted to make it so you could play as all of them instead of just focusing on like Ruby’s story, because that’s not really what the show is about. It’s really about how they work together as a team and the connection that they have. So that was really, part of the thought behind allowing players to switch between the different characters. We wanted to make sure we were true to the identity of the show
Mason Paine: you know, I’m happy you brought up Rooster Teeth, that’s the people who created the show. Did they have a lot of input on this or was it just like, Hey, stay within these parameters and you’re good to go?
James Montagna: They were incredibly helpful for us, for many reasons. Actually. You’ll notice that in RWBY: Arrowfell there’s these anime cut scenes that the game will occasionally jump to. Rooster Teeth, the show’s animation team actually put those cut scenes together just for our game. So it was a really unprecedented and really cool collaboration to be able to have those cut scenes because it feels just like watching the show. So that’s the first one. Otherwise, they really were helpful in. Making sure that everything was on brand, all the lore was correct. There was weekly meetings, chatting with the show team. And we really, were honored and excited to be able to work so closely with them. So they were definitely collaborators. And of course, you know, they trusted us to handle the game. We were able to in turn, lean on them for everything to do with the show, even to the point where when, I wrote a lot of the script or the character dialogue that you’ll read when playing the game myself. But at the end we were able to get a ton of feedback from the show team. About how to make the characters be even more themselves, even more of those characters. Things that we could change in the voice, things we could tweak to make this story work a little better. And that was a real treat and honor to be able to work so closely with them. So it really is a collaboration in a lot of ways.
Mason Paine: Now, I really enjoyed this game and I actually finished it, so I’m a little curious. Are there gonna be any, like DLCs added to this game or any other downloads?
James Montagna: There’s no plans for anything like that right now, and that’s a very common question that we get these days almost with every game. We release some, everyone wants to know if there’s gonna be a dlc. It doesn’t always work that way. If you’re interested in something like that, let Rooster Teeth know. Let wayforward know, make your voice heard. You never know what can happen, but as of right now, there’s no plans for, something like that. But I’m always, looking forward to what’s next that we can make. So we’ll see what happens.
Mason Paine: Well, james, thank you so much for joining me. I really appreciate you being here. For those listening, where can they find more about wayforward games and RWBY:Arrowfell
James Montagna: Of course, wayforward.com. Our official website’s always a great resource. You can also, follow us on Twitter at wayforward and we’re always posting updates on the latest stuff that we’ve got going there. And, if you wanna follow me personally on Twitter, I’m at James Popstar and I’d be delighted to hear from, anyone.
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