The Nintendojo Interview: Corey Warning and Eric Eberhardt

We chat with the folks at Rose City Games and VIZ Media about The World Next Door and much more!

By Robert Marrujo. Posted 05/03/2019 13:00 Comment on this     ShareThis

Nintendojo recently reviewed The World Next Door, the inaugural publishing effort by VIZ Media which was developed by Rose City Games. We sat down with Cory Warning, the co-founder of Rose City, as well as Eric Eberhardt, the head of VIZ’s game division to talk about The World Next Door, as well as what else is coming down the pipeline that fans can look forward to! First up is Corey Warning:

Nintendojo (ND): The World Next Door just launched on Nintendo Switch and was developed by your studio, Rose City Games. How did Rose City come to partner with VIZ Media on this project?

Corey Warning: We met with VIZ at the Game Developers Conference back in 2016. They were interested in publishing original video games, and we were interested in making them, so it was a perfect fit!

ND: Given VIZ Media’s enormous catalog of manga and anime properties, was it more or less intimidating to be tackling an entirely original IP like this?

Corey Warning: I think I would have been more nervous tackling a beloved franchise like One-Punch Man or Sailor Moon. We had a lot of fun creating a world that we felt could sit on the same shelf as those IPs, and even dropped some fun Easter eggs into The World Next Door from our favorite series like Death Note and Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure.

ND: Jun, her companions, and the world of Emrys are exactly the sort of people and world that anime and manga fans gravitate towards. What inspired this unique backdrop for The World Next Door?

Corey Warning: Our designer, Lord Gris, had initial ideas for the characters during the concepting phase of development, and the team sort of used that as a starting point for developing the rest of the world. We were inspired by a lot of Dungeons & Dragons campaigns we had played with friends, the magic schools you see in Harry Potter or My Hero Academia, and even podcasts like “The Adventure Zone.”

ND: Another element of The World Next Door that’s gotten a lot of positive response from fans is the delightful art direction for the game. What led Rose City to designer Lord Gris for this game?

Corey Warning: Almost everyone we work with comes from the gamedev community, Portland Indie Game Squad (PIGSquad.) We met Lord Gris at a local event years ago, and stayed in touch. When we started putting together concepts for our first game with VIZ, we thought her style was the perfect match for something that could marry anime and indie games.

ND: One of the highlights of The World Next Door is its exceptionally fun combat system. What was the inspiration for it?

Corey Warning: The team had been playing Puzzle Quest and Tetris Attack at the time, and we wanted to take our own spin on puzzle battles. We knew that we wanted something that felt more like an action game, so our first step was prototyping how it felt to play with characters running around on a board, swapping tiles and shooting fireballs. We brought early versions of this prototype out to local gaming events under a fake game title, and once we proved the fun, we started building on top of that.

ND: The World Next Door seems to take some cues from a variety of different video games. Which game, if any, served as an inspirational springboard for the design team?

Corey Warning: We really loved the visual novel approach of games like Pyre, and the setting and tone of games like Oxenfree and Night In The Woods. We looked to other indie games for initial ideas, and then during development try to get as far away from them as possible so we’re creating something more original and unique.

ND: We touched on this earlier, but in a market that’s highly derivative, where established franchises rule the day, taking a chance with something new like The World Next Door was a really bold move for both Rose City and VIZ. What has been the reaction internally to the positive responses that you’ve been getting from fans?

Corey Warning: When we first started working with VIZ, we assumed we’d be making Sailor Moon mobile games – but we were pleasantly surprised learning that new IP was going to be the focus of our partnership. Creating new IP from scratch is one of our favorite things to do at Rose City Games, and working with VIZ has allowed us to do that not only in games, but in other media (like The World Next Door prequel comic).

ND: Conversely, every project is a learning experience: what elements of The World Next Door do you hope to improve and/or expand upon?

Corey Warning: We’re currently working on a free content update for The World Next Door, which includes a local versus mode. Players can pick their favorite Emryn, and compete in puzzle battles with their friends. It’s super fun on the Switch, and since you’re able to play using a single Joy-Con, you can bring Versus Mode anywhere.

ND: Finally, The World Next Door certainly left us wondering what’s next. Any word on a sequel…?

Nothing confirmed yet, but I hope we can revisit the world of Emrys soon, and continue Jun’s story.

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