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snshunter's Interview with Chuck Kallenbach


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Back in June 2021, snshunter had got in contact with Chuck Kallenbach and asked a few questions.


First a generic fluff question, Got a favorite card?


My favorites were the four promo PCs named after playing card suits. I had to think a bit to get all four of them playable at one time. That was fun!
The promotional cards, and especially the Level Up! cards, were a real blast to create. We tried to blow the doors off with some of those cards.

Did decipher approach Bandai with a proposal or did Bandai reach out to decipher?


Unlike every other game I've ever worked on, a couple of us were playing the dothack video games and we told management that they should get the license. Amazingly, they did!


The cards used a mix of character promotional art, 3d game graphics, and screenshots from the series as opposed to any original artwork, Not an uncommon thing of the time, and also true of the .hack card games released in Japan at the time.Are these the result of restrictions placed by the license or caused by other factors during development?


One of the factors that brought about the end of the game's life was that we were running out of monsters. Our excellent art department created some 3D monsters in the same style and pitched them to Bandai, but they were never approved.
I have a saying about licensed property game design: "No part of the buffalo is wasted." We realized that the OVA series could be a source of new images, and again it was a fun challenge to come up with how that worked in our game.
When I saw the stylized characters that we used for .hack//GIFT the first time, I knew I wanted to grab them right away.

For the 3d graphics, where these something Bandai sent to be used or did your graphics team have to work those out of the game somehow?


All the 3D monster images were sent to us by Bandai. There were a large number of screenshots used in .hack//ENEMY, which we usually tried to avoid at Decipher, but we didn't have the resources to do original art.

Most of the time things are as expected, some times there is Crimson Knight.
His mouth is a thing of wonders, truly. (I'm a bit fuzzy as it's been a while but I recall that frame of the anime was also made fun of at the time.)
I have to know, do you know if this still was used on purpose or did no one on the team find it as funny as the community now does?


This was definitely not done on purpose! None of us were aware of that goofy glitch, and I do find it very funny now that you've pointed it out.

It's also been noticed by the community that there are a couple of Blademaster characters from the game are labeled and treated as Heavy Blades in //Enemy.  It's assumed that this is the result of a general lack of Heavy blades available in the source materials. Is this the case or were there other factors at play? Were there other issues with the source material that y'all had to work around?


We certainly wanted to have similar numbers of all the different PC classes, although those could have just been errors.

Knight cards become a thing in the Breakout expansion, but even before then the original Ginkan promotional card is labeled a knight well before then though the original Suburu is not. How far ahead of time were the features of each expansion pre-planned?


We had already played through the games and watched the videos, so we knew what was coming down the road. Personally, I'm a big fan of character traits, so I stuck those in whenever I could.

One thing that I've personally wondered about //Enemy is just how different it feels to other cards games, The limited card plays, building up numbers and anticipating attacks, the way you "may" do so many different things, and how drastically that changes how each deck essentially plays the game. In my experience nothing has quite done what it's done since.
What things went into inspiring the design of this game?


At Decipher, we were in the business of making card games that served the IP they were based on. That meant 3 PCs, wielding weapons, fighting monsters, in areas (fields). That's where the card types came from.
We had lived through several Star Wars games with good guy decks and bad guy decks, and we decided to use the system from Lord of the Rings TCG with good and bad cards in the same deck.
The "spot" system was also derived from some of the costing in LOTR.
Originally, ENEMY didn't have the destiny draw system, but the game needed added variance so we pulled that reliable old mechanic off the shelf.

Were there any cards or concepts that y'all were unable to use for one reason or another, or things you wanted to make but were unable to do?


Bandai pretty much allowed us to make whatever we wanted with the stories and images they had created. There was nothing they said no to, apart from the creating monsters issues listed above.

Were there any strategies that were found that forced y'all to rethink the the design at all going forward?


We were always aware that it was possible to make a deck without PCs. That was something we watched carefully, and would have changed the rules for tournament play if that ever became necessary.

Had the game been allowed to continue, do you think it would have expanded into other .hack properties, such as Legend of the Twilight or G.U.


I would have loved to explore other connected properties, but unfortunately, I don't think the sales of the game warranted further products.
ENEMY came to market the same time as a number of other anime-based CCGs, and that split up the fan base somewhat. ENEMY outlasted all of them, but by then, the market had moved on.


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