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Student's goal of creating online shooter solo a hit with Japan's gaming community

Katsuo Sato shows off some of his work on "QUICAL" in this photo taken in Sapporo's Chuo Ward on May 17, 2020. (Mainichi/Kaori Sanbongi)

HOKKAIDO -- A student aiming to make a competitive shooting game all by himself has taken Japan's online gaming community by storm.

Katsumi Sato, 19, is a second year student at Hokkaido Computer School in Sapporo, the capital of the northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido. He's set himself to work on a new kind of shooting game, and his sights are trained on delivering it by January 2021, while keeping players updated on the progress of development via video sharing sites and other means. He says his target is for 20,000 people to play the game.

In development since July 2019, the game, "QUICAL," is a battle royale style first-person shooter (FPS). Players control their character from a first-person perspective, and the objective is to use guns to defeat other players.

Many FPS games allow for competitive team play that can lead to long battles, but QUICAL is designed with convenience in mind, so it's currently planned to be playable as a one player free-for-all, with one match taking only around five minutes. Sato also says it will enable weaker players to win without having to rely on luck.

But one of its major draws is also that it's highly tactical and very much a true gaming experience. Players will be able to customize their choice of weapons and battle abilities, with among them improvements to their physical abilities to be able to jump up onto roofs in an instant, or the option to make themselves much slower and weaker to power up their arsenal instead.

Video games in which players can move around a wide area tend to be made by teams of workers. But Sato has set himself a challenge to make on his own a game good enough to put on sale. His videos on the development process are peppered with comments below from admirers telling him it's amazing, and that they're rooting for him.

To drum up money for development, he started a crowdfunding campaign online on May 11. Within 28 hours it exceeded its initial goal of 300,000 yen. Now it's reaching the 700,000 yen mark, and Sato has pledged to include a Japanese-style street scene stage in the game if he raises 1 million yen.

Sato started making games when he was a high school student, and now spends between one to two hours developing on weekdays, and all waking hours of his weekends working on his laptop. At his school, he takes a combination of university and training courses, and is also studying management theory. He said, "Working on my own, I can make my ideas the way I imagine them, and create what I want to create." He says his ambition is to become known in the world as a game developer. His crowdfunding campaign continues until May 31.

(Japanese original by Kaori Sanbongi, Hokkaido News Department)

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