As part of the Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters: The Legend of Duelists QUARTER CENTURY 25th anniversary event, we got an opportunity to interview Akitsu Terashima, producer of Yu-Gi-Oh! DUEL LINKS, as he reveals more about the upcoming VR version of the game.
As mentioned, Akitsu Terashima is the producer of Yu-Gi-Oh! DUEL LINKS, a free-to-play video game based on the popular trading card game available on Android, iOS and PC via Steam.
[Interview is edited for clarity]
Bringing Yu-Gi-Oh! to Life
To many fans of the Yu-Gi-Oh! series, the idea of being able to bring the monster cards to life through summoning and feeling as though you are in the world itself like the manga and anime, feels like a dream come true. There were many considerations when it came to replicating this experience through the DUEL LINKS VR expansion as Akitsu Terashima said.
“The reason I’m bringing this to life at this moment that is this 25th celebration of the Yu-Gi-Oh! card game because this is one of the only chances where we can have fans gather up in one place. So this is a great opportunity for us to showcase the future of Yu-Gi-Oh!”
“DUEL LINKS has this uniqueness to it in terms of showcasing the character models and their voices. So, we believe that VR is a great method for showcasing what DUEL LINKS can do.”
Terashima later also went on and describe the team’s approach to the challenge of bringing the card game to VR.
“The start process was that we want it to be doorways for the 25th anniversary celebration. VR was the best method, but we had such small parts. One of the difficulties we faced was that everyone attending the event was going to be Yu-Gi-Oh! fans. We want to expand on the Yu-Gi-Oh! image with everyone and go on to the future together as Yu-Gi-Oh! That was the most difficult part.”
As of now, Konami has only confirmed that the VR version of DUEL LINKS will be coming to Meta Quest but not other platforms. Curious, we asked Terashima-san about their decision to focus on bringing the game to Meta Quest.
“This is our first time trying out VR and it was originally developed on Meta Quest 2, which was the most relevant headset at the time. While we were in production, Meta Quest 3 came out, so we shifted our development from Meta Quest 2 to the latest model.”
“There were some technical difficulties, of course. Headsets are usually only for first-person view, which means the person who has it on is the one who can enjoy the most. So, to have a way for others to enjoy, we chose Meta Quest 3 as it is capable of linking to other devices.”
“As part of linking with PC, the reason is that we want the view – what the players are viewing on a separate screen so that others can also enjoy.”
Since DUEL LINKS is available on multiple platforms, namely Android, iOS, and Steam, it is uncertain if the VR version will be released on any of the aforementioned platforms.
“We can’t say anything for sure as this is all just like what we have inside our mind. Probably in the future, but Meta Quest right now has a meta platform, which we’ve checked and it is capable of cross-platform experience with the current platform. Perhaps in the future, we’ll be able to have cross-play between someone playing with VR and someone on mobile devices.”
VR as the Next Frontier
VR is certainly a great advancement to the Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise as it simulates what was like in the anime and manga itself, so we asked if the developers would consider VR to be the next frontier of DUEL LINKS and the series as a whole.
To that, Terashima-san said “It is a tough question. I think that it’s one of the methods that we can use to simulate what is like in the original manga and anime, and there’re already scenes that are somewhat simulated in VR. We think it’s a nice way of doing it, but it is a different story on whether it’s the best method. Maybe, it’s closer to a mixed reality.”
“We’re going to be checking out players’ reactions first because we don’t have any plans right now. But one of the things we’ve learned from this demo is related to 3D models and how detailed they are in immersive VR quality.”
“After seeing players’ reactions and feedback, we are currently thinking about what to do in the future. So, we don’t have something that we can say for certain.”
The VR experience during the event was much more scripted and more to show what is possible with the technology. If it was extended to be an actual VR version of DUEL LINKS, there would be a much wider card pool set and many variables to consider. So, we asked Terashima if it had been considered to have a full-fledged VR version of DUEL LINKS and if it is feasible compared to the more scripted and controlled experiences.
Terashima responded “You might have heard, but firstly, making it actually something that you can actively play in VR would need user interfaces, and new obstacles tend to happen. As we mentioned earlier, the quality of the models can be immersive in VR quality because we create motion for it.”
“After we create our models, if we have not made any animations for them, then the big challenge will be the quantity of models and their costs. For the monsters you’ve seen inside the demo, we do think the models were at a satisfying level. But the more popular the characters are and everyone knows them, the quality of models must be at a much higher level. Those are the obstacles.”
In terms of whether instead of having a duel experience, the VR focuses on retelling the stories from the manga and anime, Terashima-san said “The idea is really interesting if it’s possible for us to turn it into a VR experience, hypothetically.”
At the end of the demo during the 25th anniversary event, the text “To Be Continued” is displayed and catches many fans’ interest, hoping that the demo would be available outside of the event. Acknowledging it, Terashima-san said “Hopefully we can go back to it in the the future. ‘To Be Continued’ is what we have in mind and what we are hoping to bring. We’re going to hear fans’ feedback and reactions to determine whether we want to continue the experience or have this demo available for everyone. Right now, we have nothing planned, but it all counts on the reactions. So everything will be up to the players’ reactions and comments.”
We’d like to thank Akitsu Terashima for taking the time to answer our question regarding Yu-Gi-Oh! DUEL LINKS and the VR concept of the game.
Yu-Gi-Oh! DUEL LINKS is available on Android, iOS, and PC via Steam.