Panzer Dragoon Classic Game Postmortem at GDC 2019

Panzer Dragoon Classic Game Postmortem at GDC 2019
Avatar

Published by Solo Wing .

Yukio Futatsugi and Kentaro Yoshida recently presented a “postmortem” talk on the Saturn Panzer Dragoon games at Game Developers Conference 2019. In a series of tweets, Brandon Sheffield has captured some of the slides from the talk. Key points include:

  • Futatsugi originally chose to make a racing game, but Gale Racer was greenlit first, so he made a shooter instead.
  • An organic dragon was chosen to contrast with the “hard” ship designs found in shooters of the time.
  • The homing laser was added because the original shooting mechanics were tough to aim with.
  • Futatsugi was inspired by the space rail shooter Starblade.
  • Team Andromeda were able to develop the game world and language because the Saturn development kits were behind schedule.
  • Panzer Dragoon’s graphics were a response to the threat of the PlayStation.
  • Panzer Dragoon Zwei’s on-foot sections were designed to accentuate the feeling of flight.
  • The development of Panzer Dragoon Saga has given Futatsugi the most grief in his 25 year career.
  • In Panzer Dragoon Saga, they originally they wanted you “to be able to go anywhere at any time” but realised it was impossible at the time.
  • The tunnel in Zoah was added to hide loading time.
  • For Panzer Dragoon Saga’s FMV sequences, they used a magnetic motion capture system.
  • The development of Panzer Dragoon Saga was delayed by a year.
  • At the time, SEGA had company culture of having employees engage in work that fell outside their fields of specialisation, which allowed Team Andromeda to break new ground.

Further information about the talk can be found on GDC’s website.

A couple of articles have been posted relating to Yukio Futatsugi’s attendance at GDC. A Game Informer article elaborates on how the threat of the PlayStation influenced Panzer Dragoon’s development. According to the article, Futatsugi said:

We rode the train home thinking, ‘What the hell are we going to do about this?’ That’s how much we were thinking about the PlayStation at Sega.

A second article from USgamer talks about the original idea for Panzer Dragoon’s storyline, and it’s even more fourth wall breaking than Panzer Dragoon Saga’s ending.

One idea we had was that the Panzer world, the whole world of Panzer Dragoon itself, was just a dream a salaryman was having. And so eventually the two worlds would start to mingle and mix at certain points. For example [the salaryman would] be riding the Yamanote line in Tokyo, and he’d look out the window and see a dragon flying there. So, we sort of had that idea we were running with, but we eventually gave up on.

Personally I’m glad Panzer Dragoon ended up being more grounded in a single reality than this, but it’s certainly interesting to learn what Futatsugi was originally considering for the game’s storyline.