During Anime Expo 2018, GamePress jumped at the chance of an exclusive interview with KLabGames. Armed with questions from the r/ShiningLive Subreddit, we sat down with a producer from Utano☆Princesama Shining Live.
GamePress wants to express our gratitude to Mark Mowbray from KLab Games Station for not just arranging this interview, but also interpreting for the game producer. He’s also the Global PR Director!
Hi! Would you mind introducing yourselves?
We have with us a producer for Utano☆Princesama Shining Live.
And I’m Mark, the Global PR Director for KLab Games.
Yes, I’m on every week!
First, I’d like to ask about Utano☆Princesama: Shining Live. Before it was released, the otome genre hadn't truly taken off in North America. Did you release the game overseas expecting it to help grow the Utano☆Princesama franchise and the otome genre as a whole?
Yes, we’d like for it to be an excellent gateway into an entire genre!
That’s an excellent question. Uta☆Pri’s 8th anniversary was back in June. Originally, we started talking about this project with Broccoli back when Uta☆Pri was only five or six years old. It’s been two or three years since then! Uta☆Pri as a whole was already very popular in Japan, so we had this extremely popular otome content, and we had experience creating a rhythm game with idols already. We felt it was a good match all around. It also gave us the opportunity to make a game based on content that was specifically for female gamers. That was something that was an interesting challenge for us, but also something that we really wanted to be a part of.
Do you have any big plans for the first anniversary of Shining Live?
We’re getting a lot of stuff ready for the first anniversary — it’s coming up in August! It’s a bit too soon to give any specifics, as we haven’t announced our plans yet, but we want to let you know we have a lot of stuff in store. I think that the fans will really like it.
What happens when you decide to develop a new feature? How long does the process take and what is involved?
It takes about 3 to 6 months for big features. We release an update approximately every month with bug fixes, little features, QOL improvements, stuff like that.
Also, I’d like to note that while there are different teams for each game, everyone is aware of what all the other games are doing — it’s not that big a company, we have 524 full-time employees as of March 2018.
That’s a decent size.
It’s a decent size, but there are a lot bigger companies out there. When there’s only 524 of you, you pretty much know what everyone else is doing in the company.
Is there some kind of competition, sibling rivalry going on?
(laughs) Yeah, there’s a little bit of sibling rivalry going on there! You want to provide better service than the team sitting in the next row of desks behind you — I mean you kind of want to do better than them, right? That’s just a natural part of human nature.
However, what we like to focus on more than that is cooperating with each other. Because we work at the same company, it gives us an immense opportunity for that. When we see new features that are coming into other games, we can walk a few rows over to their desks and see what they’re doing before it even comes out in the game! That gives us ideas for our games, for other games, which is a window that you might not get at a company that’s only doing one game. So we like to think that having multiple teams actually leads to an overall better user experience for everyone playing all the games we develop.
I’d love to be at that coffee table while you’re all arguing over whose game is better.
What’s the workflow for making a new member (UR, SR, and so on)?
When you make an outfit, you have to make it for all 11 idols in the game, because it has to be a set. That ends up taking about 6 months. Not only do you have the illustrations for the idols themselves, you also have the Live 2D aspect as well, and that also takes a little bit more time. Also, each idol has slight variations on their costume, so that’s a factor as to why it takes a longer amount of time.
This might be a tough question — whenever you bring a game overseas, securing rights for music, voice, and media can be very challenging. How does KLabGames and your business partners work together to localize these games?
It’s a fairly complicated process, but please allow me to give a general answer. We have to keep in mind what’s most important for us when we make the global version — and this also applies to the Japanese version as well. We’ve been given this incredibly popular series to work with. For us, the most important part of our job is to make sure that worldview and universe that is created for Shining Live is translated correctly and localized properly. We want to ensure that it comes across in a proper way for a global audience. This is what we feel is the most important part of our job.
On the topic of translation, Shining Live has some very specific names for game mechanics, such as ACT being translated as CHARM, and also character dialogues. What is the process involved for getting that translation right?
We have a professional localization team in-house that does all that, and they are localization professionals. This is tied in with your last question, but the most important thing is that we get the worldview, the universe, translated correctly for a global audience. We also have staff members on each team who are in charge of making sure that the universe is being properly upheld, so they’ll check all that as well.
Are developers directly involved in the translation process?
Absolutely. They’ll check to make sure that we are maintaining the standard of quality that we want to. That’s a very basic overview of how the translation process works.
There is some content missing from Shining Live. So we’re wondering — are you planning on adding it as soon as possible?
Yes, we want to get that into the game. However, it’s a little difficult because we’re on the same event schedule as the Japanese version. With Shining Live the difficulty is there’s a full schedule of events. With KLabGames titles, there’s always something to do and always something going on. That makes it difficult to find space to introduce old content into the game without it just being like, “Whoa, too much!” That is something that we’re working on, but I’d like to point out that in July we got the Summer Beach Photo Shoot into the global version of the game for the first time. That’s something that we’d like to continue in the future.
In case people want to ask more questions directly, what’s the best way to get in touch with Customer Support?
The best of all ways... we understand that there are multiple ways you could attempt to contact KLab, but the best way is through the in-game support option. Why that’s the best is because all the people on the dev team get that feedback directly. The producers make a point to directly review that feedback. That makes this route the fastest and most effective way. As an aside, if you tweet @KLab_EN, I and the rest of the PR team will see that, but the development team won’t see it unless it’s shared with them directly. The fastest way is to go through in-game support.
What we want is, of course, your OS or hardware questions, but also your opinions on the game. Things that you’d like us to add, things that you’d like to see, how you feel about a certain event, reviews, all that is priceless information and excellent feedback. If you give that directly to the team, then it helps us make the game better for everyone. Please keep in mind that we can’t necessarily respond directly to people who contact us through this system. We have a customer support team who does that.
I think it’s time to wrap this up. We got a lot of answers that your fans have been waiting for, so thank you very much!