Individuality in Game Development (Part 4)

Platinum Games

Filed: Games, PlatinumGames

(Continues from Part 3)

Kai: Sometimes it’s not until things have finally taken shape that Kamiya realizes they have to change. I can understand why he feels the need to make those changes at the 11th hour, but due to schedule and budget constraints, it’s not something that is usually done. At the end of the day, however, what he does, he does for the players.

Shibata: When talking about the actual development floor, the topic usually shifts to Kamiya pretty quick, but I think Executive Producer Atsushi Inaba is even more impressive. Even a small change in the schedule or budget can put you in the red, but he manages to steer us through every time.

Kai: After working with him for so long, I couldn’t agree more. Especially at a place like PlatinumGames, where we put so much focus on quality, he allows us to put out games we can be proud of.

Shibata: Putting out games that are beloved by players is one thing, but games take a lot of money and time, and if you can’t keep paying your staff your company won’t be around for long. I respect Inaba for that – if it wasn’t for his management, Kamiya wouldn’t be able to do all the crazy stuff he does.

Kai: The games we produce are a result of them working in sync. Shibata, as a game designer you work as Kamiya’s right-hand man, helping him come up with ideas. But if given full creative control, what kind of game would you like to make yourself?

Shibata: I don’t have a preference about game structure, but I’d love to make a game with a lot of eroticism and violence, things that are usually a bit of a taboo in the real world. I think what games need are an edge, showing the dark side of the world as much as society will allow.

Kai: Why is that?

Shibata: Let me put it this way: there are acts that, in the real world, would be destructive or hurt others that, in games, are perfectly harmless. Of course, you could say the same about animation, comics, novels, etc., but since games allow you to actually take control of a character in that world it somehow makes you want to break the rules that exist in our society. Allowing people to do evil things, rather than things they would be praised for in real life, is a tried and true tenet of game design. In fact, I am always trying to sneak that kind of content into our games. To an extent the director of that particular project allows, of course.

Kai: I didn’t know you felt that way. Games are separate from the real world, so I can understand the desire to make game worlds something that would never be possible in reality.
How do you feel about the recent changes in production environments?

Shibata: Since we’ve started doing everything with 3D CG, every team has gotten more specialized and separated. I’m not a fan of this. Back in the 2D days, there were only two classes of graphic designer: objects and environments*. Nowadays the object group alone has splintered into various groups. You have design, modeling, animation, effects, and so on. Sometimes I feel that having so much granular separation takes some of the fun out of creating. Even if we do have these different categories, I think it’s important to give our young employees a chance to experience a wide range of tasks, to keep them from being pigeonholed into a single specialization.
*Objects: creation of the main characters, weapons, and items that appear in the game. Environments: creation of backgrounds.

Kai: It might be bad for efficiency, but I’m sure they enjoy the variety. When working on Street Fighter II, I remember that the texture of Ryu’s Hadoken and Dhalsim’s Yoga Fire were completely different. It was clear that those two effects were made by two different people, but in a way there was something nice about that lack of uniformity.

Shibata: I understand the need for efficiency, but there is something fun about making an entire character by yourself. It would be great to handle everything from the original design and modeling to the animation and effects.

Kai: For stuff like that, it would be nice to have an environment where we could just pick from a handful of options floating in the air and say “leave this job to me,” and have full control over it. I feel that this is a more healthy approach than doing what you’re told and then waiting until you’re given your next task. Even when straddling multiple sections, I’d like to consistently have the type of attitude where people can just go: “Hey, if nobody is going to work on this, can I give it a shot?” Whether that kind of system would actually be viable is another thing altogether. Back when I was just starting out I had no experience, and I just wanted to do everything, so I would always wonder “why doesn’t anyone give me anything to do?” or “They should just leave this all to me!” Of course, if someone actually HAD given me free rein to do something I’m sure I would have ended up going “wait, I can’t do this at all!” But it is thanks to experiences like those that I became who I am today. I just wanted to try everything that had to do with making games, even if it meant I just had to input quiz questions. I think there are not enough of these types of environments in game development today.

Shibata: Maybe you’re right. My goal from here on out will be to simply leave something for Inaba that will sell really well. Since we live in a time of tight schedules and even tighter budgets, I just want to help Inaba by giving him something that actually sells really well. It’s the really good games that earn their place in history, so rather than focusing on short-term sales, I want to make something that has a lot of staying power. PlatinumGames was conceived as a company that would strive for more than just financial success, but making good games takes money. For that reason I want to make something for Inaba that I think will sell well and survive the test of time in terms of quality. And with the money we earn from that game, we can keep on making more crazy games in the future. That will be my goal for the time being. I’m not as young as I used to be, though, so I want to make a hit in the next 4 or 5 years.

Kai: That’s a good goal to start off with. After all, if we can’t sell any games now, you’ll never be able to make you dream game down the line. And I do feel like I just get to make whatever pops into my head. I always keep in mind that when you aim to create things, you cannot afford to compromise on your vision. We are able to cross those barriers and speak our minds to staff in other sections. We aim to create an environment where people on the development floor are able to share their own points of view, even if they differ from that of the director or producer.

Shibata: To be honest, I’m not really interested in the particulars of the development environment itself. No matter what situation you may find yourself in, those that can manage to keep up will keep up.

Kai: That phrase nicely sums up your stoic approach to making things, haha. However, as someone who learned a lot in an environment that allowed for trial and error, I’d like to ensure that we make our studio that kind of place as well.

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E3 2015 Report from Game Designer Isao Negishi!

NieR New Project

Filed: Games, Nier New Project, Star Fox Zero, TRANSFORMERS: Devastation

PlatinumGames announced three new titles at E3 2015! (More info here.)

As with every year, several PlatinumGames employees attended E3 as a learning experience. Fifth-year up-and-coming game designer Isao Negishi writes about his trip.


Hello, everyone! I’m Isao Negishi, a game designer. Just like every year, an observational group from PlatinumGames attended E3! Though actually, this was my first E3 and my first time ever in the US, so the entire trip was a new and exciting experience for me.

Since you’re looking at this website, you probably already know, but this year at E3, three new titles were announced that PlatinumGames is involved in developing: Star Fox Zero, Transformers: Devastation, and NieR New Project (temporary name).

Both the number and the content of the titles must have been a big surprise for everybody!

Some fans even wrote things like “PlatinumGames won E3 this year!” (That’s probably an exaggeration, but I am happy about it personally, haha.)

All right – let’s take a look at this year’s E3!

I’m a member of the NieR New Project development team, so on the first day, I got to attend the Square-Enix conference.

Finally, it was time to get started. This was the opening screen. Here you can see prominent titles like Just Cause 3, Deus Ex, Rise of the Tomb Raider, and more.

NieR New Project was a surprise announcement, so it wasn’t on the screen. (Heh heh.)

First at bat was Just Cause 3! And second was…

NieR New Project!!!

I’m a fifth-year game designer, but it was my first time to see a title I was working on being revealed live right before my eyes.

Of course, I had seen the trailer several times already and knew what it was about. But seeing it play on the big screen with the volume loud, and sharing that experience with everyone in the theater and the thousands of viewers watching live online, felt completely different from usual.

I was beside myself wondering how everyone would react. As the trailer played on and everyone learned that it was NieR, how would they react? Joy? Disappointment? Indifference? I had no idea.

I didn’t know that directly witnessing their reactions would be such a thrill. And at E3, the biggest exhibition in the world! I am one lucky guy.

So I wanted to watch the screen and the attendees’ reactions at the same time. For a moment I couldn’t decide which to focus on, but I ended up turning my eyes toward the screen and picking up their reactions with my ears.

The audience reaction was not over-the-top excitement. Instead, the attendees caught their breath quietly. I heard whispers of excitement, like…

“…It’s NieR!”


This is just my personal opinion, but I thought this reaction was actually very NieR-esque, in a good way. :)

Of course, there are also the guys who get THIS excited:

Watch the conference here.

After the Square-Enix conference, I walked over to the E3 venue.

At E3, the first thing that jumped out at me was Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End!

The first day opened at 12, so the lobby was packed with industry people waiting to get in.

There were a lot of displays in the lobby!

The interceptor from Mad Max!

Dark Souls III display. Black water is spewing out from the blue corpse.

I even met a guy with Bayonetta immortalized on his arm!!!

When I spoke to him, he asked me, “Do you like Bayonetta too? Did you buy Bayo 2?” After that, I had to reveal my identity, and we exchanged a firm handshake.

As you can see, there was a lot of excitement even before the doors opened. It was like a party.

Then finally it was 12 – time for the doors to open. The crowd raised a wild roar as they entered the show floor. That’s America for you – everyone was hyped.

On the first day, I wandered around the third party booths until it was time for the Star Fox Zero Treehouse Live.

This is the Street Fighter V booth. This very glamorous Cammy was kind enough to take a picture with me.

Asassin’s Creed Syndicate demo at Ubisoft.

This is the demo for Rigs, a first-person robot battle arena game that uses the Morpheus.

Finally, it was time to go, so I headed to the Nintendo booth. There, I found that Star Fox Zero, collaboratively developed by Nintendo and PlatinumGames, was showcased front and center!

There were huge lines in front of the demo stations. Everyone was whiling away the time playing Smash Brothers on their 3DS.

Then the Treehouse Live event began! Hayashi-san, the director at Nintendo, and Hashimoto, the director here at PG, explained the game as they played.
Watch the Treehouse Live segment here.

The audience seating was full. Everyone’s face looked so serious. The announcement must have made a big impact. As proof of that, I constantly heard Star Fox being mentioned around me after this event.

Some people who noticed from our ID cards that we were PG staff even asked to shake our hands and told us to keep up the good work!

Next door, at the Mario Maker booth, I was lucky enough to get my DS signed by Charles Martinet, the voice of Mario!

On the second day, I encountered NieR New Project producer Saito-san and director Yoko-san right after their NieR New Project interview at the Square-Enix booth! They struck a pose when I pointed my camera at them.

There was a live event for Transformers: Devastation at the Twitch booth featuring producer Kurooka and director Saito from PG, but I couldn’t make it.

Liz saw the event – check it out on her blog here!

Well, what with one thing and another, my E3 trip was over before I knew it.

Because E3 is a trade show, I thought that only a narrow range of content would be shown, but that turned out not to be the case at all. There were spectacular events and displays all over the show floor. The attendees’ pure passion for gaming made a big impression on me. Being right there live for all the reactions and excitement was a truly worthwhile experience.

Finally, I’m sure that we at PlatinumGames gave all of you some great surprises at this year’s E3.

Rest assured that we’re working hard to make an even bigger impact next year. Get ready to be blown away!

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E3 2015 Highlights

NieR New Project

Filed: Nier New Project, PlatinumGames, Star Fox Zero, TRANSFORMERS: Devastation

Hello, everyone. Liz from the localization team at PlatinumGames here!

Today I’ll be telling you about my first E3. Getting to go to E3 was actually a big moment for me – something I dreamed of when I was younger. So, did it live up to the hype? Let’s find out.

This was an especially exciting year to be at E3 as a PlatinumGames employee, because we announced three new titles! I hope all of you are excited for Transformers: Devastation, NieR New Project, and Star Fox Zero. We sure are!

Without further ado, let’s get started. Imagine yourself in sunny LA…

The day before the conference, the guys and I had some extra time, so I decided to take them to a video game store. Now, coming all the way from Japan, I didn’t want to take them to any old chain store, so I did some research and discovered an awesome retro game store in Los Angeles.
The folks there seemed to be excited to meet us when we mentioned that we were from PlatinumGames. Platinum games were prominently displayed in the store windows! Looks like these guys are fans.

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We got a kick out of the old consoles, some literally lying around.

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We were also amused by some recent Splatoon-related decorating that went on…
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The next day, it was off to E3.

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I was somewhat overwhelmed by the conglomeration of people lined up outside the halls, waiting to get in on the first day. It was modest chaos. Forget lining up, these guys are just milling around.


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As soon as the doors opened, there was a rush to the Star Fox Zero demo. Lines for this were long throughout the convention.

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In the afternoon, it was time for our very own Yusuke Hashimoto to appear on Treehouse Live with Miyamoto-san and other Nintendo staff to talk about Star Fox Zero.
(Watch here!)

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Hashimoto did a good job on stage, don’t you think?

There were also other Platinum sightings throughout the con. Of course, it was fun to see the NieR trailer playing at the Square Enix booth. Judging from the crowds, many people seemed intrigued.

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On the second day, I watched Kenji Saito (Director) and Atsushi Kurooka (Producer) talk about Transformers on Twitch! They had several appearances throughout the con, so they were pros at appearing in front of the camera by then. Great job, guys!

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Luckily, I also had a fair amount of time to wander around and see what else E3 had to offer.
One thing that made an impression on me was what a big theme VR was this year. It was all over.

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One of my coworkers reported trying it and feeling a little sick, though! I’ll give it a try… one of these days. ;)

Of course, the console makers’ booths were gargantuan.

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But the third parties weren’t far behind!
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Here are a few more sights from around the convention:

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Con-goers also appreciated the retro gaming area:

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Personally, I had a lot of fun at the indie games area. I enjoyed checking out Wattam (a Katamari Damacy successor), and an Alice-in-Wonderland-based game that was actually an interactive pop-up book.

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So, what other games did I play? I mostly eschewed the long lines, but I did find time to check out Fable: Legends, the new Amplitude, and Life is Strange. I spent a long time immersed in the Life is Strange demo. I’m a sucker for mystery/adventure games, probably the result of my childhood obsession with Myst.

Finally, I have to set aside a moment to discuss one of my other loves in life – food. I really had to restrain myself, or this blog post would have been a long parade of food and drink shots. With the excuse of exposing my Japanese co-workers to American culture, we visited a different restaurant each night. They were pleasantly surprised by the California rolls!

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In conclusion:
Well, it’s hard to wrap up such an overwhelming experience in the format of a blog post. I had been to PAX and other conventions many times before, but this was my first time attending an industry event like E3. While the noise, lighting, and sheer number of people were exhausting, the love and excitement for gaming was truly infectious. It was particularly gratifying to see and hear the anticipation for the three new titles we announced. E3 was a great reminder of what this job is really all about. I was also glad to run into many game industry friends and acquaintances and renew some old ties.

So, that’s it! I hope you enjoyed this report a fraction as much as I enjoyed attending E3, and stay tuned for more. Next up: more Scalebound news at Gamescom!

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E3 – A Message from Tatsuya Minami

Platinum Games

Filed: Games, PlatinumGames

E3 is the biggest event in the games industry, and I am very pleased to announce our development of multiple new titles during this year’s show.

Each of the titles we announced is a new kind of challenge for our studio. The reason we’ve taken on these projects is simple. We believe that they are all opportunities for us to exercise our strengths as developers, and collaborations like these lead to final products that both we ourselves, and our fans, will find thrilling.

Our forte is innovative and satisfying action mechanics delivered in an exhilarating package. By playing to our strengths, we believe we can help these beloved IPs shine even brighter – nothing would make us happier than giving our fans exciting new gameplay experiences with these titles.

Finally, even though we haven’t shared anything new with you at this year’s E3, we are working full steam on the development of Scalebound, our next flagship, original creation. We’ll probably be able to share some new information with you at this year’s Gamescom in August.

We can’t wait to continue showing you what is next for PlatinumGames.

PlatinumGames, Inc.

Tatsuya Minami, President and CEO

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NieR New Project announced!

NieR New Project

Filed: Games, Nier New Project, PlatinumGames


 All-Star Development Team Formed for NieR New Project

 LOS ANGELES (June 16, 2015) – SQUARE ENIX® today revealed NieR® New Project (temporary name), a new third-person action role-playing game (RPG) and follow-up to the 2010 cult hit NieR. Offering a fresh blend of action and RPG gameplay styles, NieR New Project is currently being developed in collaboration with PlatinumGames Inc. exclusively for the PlayStation®4 computer entertainment system.

The game’s all-star development team consists of producer Yosuke Saito (DRAGON QUEST® X / NieR), director YOKO TARO (Drakengard® / NieR), character designer Akihiko Yoshida from CyDesignation, Inc. (FINAL FANTASY® XIV / BRAVELY DEFAULT®), game designer Takahisa Taura from PlatinumGames Inc. (Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance), and composer Keiichi Okabe from MONACA, Inc. (TEKKEN / Drakengard / NieR). PlatinumGames Inc. will be amplifying the action-oriented combat and building a beautifully diverse visual experience that will fully harness the graphical power of the PlayStation®4 system.

A new trailer unveiled today at the SQUARE ENIX E3 press conference showcases the new visual direction of NieR New Project. This can be viewed on YouTube at:

More information regarding the game will be unveiled this Fall.


NieR New Project is now in development exclusively for the PlayStation®4 system and is not yet rated. Please visit the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) website at for more information about ratings.

Related Links



About PlatinumGames Inc.

PlatinumGames Inc. is an independent entertainment developer based in Osaka, Japan, dedicated to making high quality, next generation games for a variety of hardware platforms. Loaded with some of the gaming industry’s most talented creators, PlatinumGames seeks to break the mold of a sequel driven industry by creating innovative IP that exceed users’ expectations.


About Square Enix, Inc.

Square Enix, Inc. develops, publishes, distributes and licenses SQUARE ENIX, EIDOS® and TAITO® branded entertainment content throughout the Americas as part of the Square Enix Group. The Square Enix Group operates a global network of leading development studios and boasts a valuable portfolio of intellectual property, including: FINAL FANTASY, which has sold over 110 million units worldwide; DRAGON QUEST®, which has sold over 64 million units worldwide; TOMB RAIDER®, which has sold over 42 million units worldwide; and the legendary SPACE INVADERS®. Square Enix, Inc. is a U.S.-based, wholly-owned subsidiary of Square Enix Holdings Co., Ltd.

More information on Square Enix, Inc. can be found at

NIER © SQUARE ENIX CO., LTD. All Rights Reserved.

NIER, the NIER NEW PROJECT logo, BRAVELY DEFAULT, FINAL FANTASY, DRAGON QUEST, DRAKENGARD, EIDOS, SPACE INVADERS, SQUARE ENIX, the SQUARE ENIX logo, TAITO and TOMB RAIDER are registered trademarks or trademarks of the Square Enix group of companies. “PlayStation” is a registered trademark and “PS4” is a trademark of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.


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Metal Gear Rising 2nd Anniversary!


Filed: Games, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, PlatinumGames

Last week, Metal Gear Rising Revengeance celebrated its 2nd birthday!

Hey, everyone!
It’s Kenji Saito, director of MGR.
In order to celebrate the 2nd anniversary of my brainchild, I decided to play through it again recently for the sake of nostalgia, but man, I suck at parrying nowadays, haha.

I can’t believe it’s already been 2 years since this game’s release.
We’ve actually got several people working at PlatinumGames who entered the company because they loved Rising so much, which really made me aware of the impact a game like this can have on people’s lives.

As I write this, I’m looking at the Gecco Raiden figure (sorry, the site is in Japanese only, and the figure is sold out!) that I received from Hideo Kojima.
When the package arrived, I was as happy as a kid on Christmas!

Yong-Hee Cho, designer of Mistral, and Tomoko Nishii, who drafted the original design for Monsoon, have both provided some special 2nd anniversary artwork to commemorate the occasion.

Cho: Second Cut


Happy 2nd birthday! I wonder what Raiden’s been doing the past 2 years…

Nishii: The Only Thing I Know For Real


To this day, I still wonder if anyone helped him to pull of his little show in File R-03.

It’s been 2 years, but cutting and slicing your way through bad guys and, well, pretty much anything else still feels as good as ever!
Don’t forget to occasionally use Zandatsu as well though!

And if you haven’t played Metal Gear Rising Revengeance yet… What are you waiting for!?

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PG Inside: Atsushi Inaba & Hideki Kamiya (Pt. 3)

Platinum Games

Filed: Community, Games, PlatinumGames

The Instrument Called PlatinumGames

Kamiya: I feel a certain bond of trust with all of us who entered Platinum the first year it was founded. It makes you wonder why they chose to come to our company in the first place. My team: Shirai, Sada, Ohkura.

Inaba: We couldn’t do the usual recruiting cycle right after founding the company, so instead we went around asking at game design colleges. I was surprised how many hopped on board this brand new company whose name they had never heard. Of course, it’s those very staff who today form the core of our development teams.


Kamiya: I believe there is something about our company that attracts people who like to try new things, explore uncharted territory. The reason we are able to split up into teams and make games is that we respect each individual’s originality. Of course, this style can cause some conflicts with new hires who are used to the culture of other companies. But there are also many cases where they are able to move past those conflicts and embrace the PlatinumGames way.

Inaba: That’s true, since you cannot expect a company’s culture to change to fit what you are used to. When you are committed to creating brand new games, the individuality of each staff member becomes very important.

When you think about it, in time this leads to the company taking on a personality of its own. For you, Kamiya, if you cater to the users’ every whim and compromise your vision, it will probably be the last game you ever make. That is why you have to let that personal touch permeate your games. If you have an idea you cannot just keep your mouth shut. If you betray the players’ trust, it will come back and bite you in the ass. It is true that from a management perspective it makes sense to forget inspiration and uncharted territory and go for stability with sequels to proven series. But stability is not the be all and end all. There is nothing wrong with a sequel to a great game, but sometimes there are other things you want to do, things that you need to do.

Kamiya: This may not be directly related, but the games I played before entering the industry hold a special place in my heart. They represent something I aspire to, something I devoted myself to more than studying or relationships. To a certain extent there has been a retro revival in recent years, with many games from the 80s being made available on download services like PS, etc. However, many of the minor titles never have a chance to see the light of day. I think this is the one of biggest shortcomings of modern gaming culture. There is a treasure trove of great games out there, but they are being thrown out and forgotten like yesterday’s trash. A lot of those games are no longer playable. This is a challenge that we, as an industry, have to face.

Inaba: I agree. We grew up alongside games – they are more than just a job for us. I am sure there are others out there who feel the same way about video games. Who knows, in the future there may be fans who feel just as passionately about PlatinumGames titles.

Kamiya: If those people, in turn, end up pursuing a career in the game industry, we can really say we had an impact on their lives. Those impressionable years back in middle school ended up determining the direction of the rest of my life. If we can inspire others to devote themselves to games, nothing would make me happier.

Inaba: To make that dream a reality, it is up to me to foster an environment that allows people like Kamiya to continue to express their creativity. At the same time, I have to keep an eye on the next generation, and make sure they are able to produce Kamiya’s games after me. Well, until Kamiya’s career is finished, I’m prepared to keep supporting him as his producer.


Kamiya: Yeah, I have been getting all self-important about my style as a director, but at the end of the day I’m just happy to be able to make games in a place like this. I mean, there are plenty of companies who keep you on a tight schedule, making sequels to games where they could change the entire development staff without anybody noticing. The only reason I am even able to go on like this about creativity is that I work in this environment. I’m not out there making games by myself – it is thanks to the development staff and everyone at PlatinumGames. I can’t picture myself anywhere else.

Inaba: I agree that our development environment is essential. But for me as a producer, I have to take a more active role in creating and maintaining my ideal office space. I don’t mean that in the sense of a floor plan or anything like that – I see the PlatinumGames environment as an “instrument”, a tool to bring out the best in our employees. In a way, it is a bit similar to a theme park, guiding the experience of those inside. I can’t say I have realized my ideals yet, but slowly but surely I am getting there.

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PG inside: Atsushi Inaba & Hideki Kamiya (PT. 2)

Platinum Games

Filed: Community, Games, PlatinumGames


For the Sake of a Better Game

Inaba: One of the projects I worked on together with Kamiya that I remember particularly well is Viewtiful Joe. He had been a director before for Devil May Cry, but for Joe, I had him do the original game design documents and control the direction of the entire project. I told him, “I want you to work this out alone, without anyone’s help!” In order to give him free reign over the feel of the game world, I oversaw the project as a producer, and kept the team size small.

Kamiya: When I first entered the industry I went right into work on Biohazard. There was already a large team involved, with many experienced staff ready to lend me a hand. But with Viewtiful Joe I was in charge of all the planning and directing from the beginning.

Inaba: I still remember, during the days of Viewtiful Joe and Okami there were times when I thought you had totally lost your way. At one point during the latter half of development, you stopped giving people directions and handed the staff a design document that was basically a blank sheet. I should point out, the way Kamiya makes games is not logical; it starts from a feeling, “This scene looks good.” A director`s job is to fix an overall direction that a game will take, look at what his teams brings him each day, and decide whether it is good or bad. The problem was that there was a while when you weren’t able to make those critical choices. When a director is able to logically oversee a game without any issues, a producer like me can just focus on the people, resources, and capital management needed to deliver a solid product. But back then, I was mostly preoccupied with supporting you and making sure you were able bring things together.

Kamiya: I honestly had no idea what kind of game it would turn into.


Inaba: I still occasionally reflect on the project. It wasn’t a logical game from the very outset. Whereas with Okami it started with you saying “I want to draw nature,” and I was just like, “Wow, that`s cool.”

Kamiya: I put a large emphasis on the quality of graphics in my games; I want the player to feel like they can almost taste the air around them when they are moving through the game world. Unlike the horror games I had worked on in the past, I wanted players to feel good when they saw the vast and beautiful landscape. That was the thought process that gave birth to the idea for Okami.

Inaba: However, the original concept you pitched back then was impossible to realize on consoles at the time. It would probably still be impossible today. About 2 months into the project we realized this and changed the art style accordingly. Originally “Okami” was supposed to be a game in which players could create realistic drawings through gameplay. It became clear this was just not feasible. However, through this process the concept of drawing a 3-dimensional ink painting was born, so I can`t say we were just wasting our time. That said, even though we had the art style in place from quite early on, the all-important game system itself took much longer to come together. I remember getting pretty angry, not just at Kamiya, but at the rest of the team as well.

Kamiya: Unfortunately, no matter how much I get yelled at I can`t come up with ideas I don`t have; I mean, it`s not like I was just fooling around all day. That said, the work we did at Clover Studio felt like the beginning of a large swell of creativity that continues to this day.

Inaba: The title was already announced and was being held up as the first big original game from Clover Studio. The only thing we had at that point was the promotional footage, but man, did it ever look pretty, haha. I`ve mellowed out quite a bit so I can no longer bring myself to get mad at people who are at least in their seat each day trying their best, but back then I didn’t show much compassion, and I was basically just yelling at people all the time.inside_4

Kamiya: At the time the team got together and we were all wondering if Okami would end up a failure. There was even some talk of it being cancelled. I responded saying that it would be a tragedy to release the game out into the wild in the state it was in; that`s how rough a state it was in for a while. I would start to shudder just imagining the users trying the game and feeling disappointed…if it was going to come to that I`d rather the game be cancelled.

Inaba: Yeah, and just forget the whole project ever happened. The time and love you put into it won’t be returned; those scars remain. But at least the users are spared. In that sense it can sometimes be better to cancel a game.

Kamiya: It`s true that both Inaba and I have a ton of treasured memories about games, but on the other hand we`ve suffered our share of disappointment at the hands of ill-fated projects. Back when we were kids, games were even more expensive than they are now. If you could get even one game per year you were lucky. Make a mistake and you wanted to scream, “I spent my hard-earned cash on this!?”

Inaba: We still face challenges as a small-staffed studio working on high-spec hardware. There are certainly times when we have to cut various features due to limitations on our end. However, I refuse to let challenges on our side dictate the entire course of production; it is not fair to the player. Instead of using these difficulties as excuses for compromising on quality, we just need to be that much more creative.

Kamiya: I`m not the type to organize all the individual moving parts of a game beforehand, so there are often times when I haven`t worked everything into the schedule. I often come up with good ideas in the middle of production, and the finished product ends up even better than I expected. I know it is a bit risky; I often think, “Man, I really came up with that in the nick of time.” But if that idea will make the game better, you have to do what it takes to get it in there.”

inside_5Inaba: Kamiya`s experience combined with a certain logical backbone are what allow him to see how the parts of a game fit together, but he comes out with the wildest ideas at the 11th hour. “Oh hey, I just came up with something!”
We have all come to dread those words. But when it turns out to be a great idea – and as gamers ourselves we all know a good idea when we see one – we just have to pull up our bootstraps and get it done.

Kamiya: It just so happens I was talking about this with a second-year programmer named Hirate today. If we as creators start deciding right off the bat that something is impossible, we will never be able to make anything. Imagine a game designer who is told by his artists and programmers that what he`s asking is impossible. It`s not like he can do those things himself; he`s finished. Good designers and programmers don`t let it end with “impossible.” The type of staff I trust the most are the people who will offer suggestions: “I can`t do that…but what about this?”
I believe that there are many people like that at Platinum. The thing that gets me most annoyed is when people come to me asking for me to okay some decision. I think I`ve broken everyone`s bad habits, but in the past it was rampant. I`d ask them to do something for me, and they`d come back saying “Is this okay?” I`d reply: “Don’t ask me what’s okay, show me what you think is okay!”

Inaba: On the other hand, you’re putting a lot of responsibility on their shoulders like that. But I have to admit that I too, as a producer, most enjoy the moments when someone reports back to me with an idea that exceeds my expectations.

Kamiya: Exactly. As a game fan myself, that joy even rivals that of trying a brand new game. That feeling of excitement takes me back to my experiences as a kid. The games I`ve worked on are filled with ideas that I didn`t come up with, ideas I couldn`t have come up with… in a way that`s what allows me to keep making games I truly enjoy.

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PG Inside: Atsushi Inaba & Hideki Kamiya (Pt. 1)

Platinum Games

Filed: Community, Games, PlatinumGames

Carrying Forward Gaming Culture

Atsushi Inaba (Executive Producer): Atsushi Inaba has helped produce almost every game Platinum has released to date. His role is to support and manage each project’s team.

Hideki Kamiya (Director): Hideki Kamiya has been a director of such games as Resident Evil 2, Devil May Cry, Viewtiful Joe, Okami, Bayonetta, the Wonderful 101, and now Scalebound. His job is to create a vision for the project and act upon it.

Remember the times when almost every day you’d go to some friend’s house in the neighborhood and spend the whole afternoon playing video games? I’m sure there are a lot of us who can answer yes to that question. Out of the ones who can are two of the founders of PlatinumGames, Atsushi Inaba and Hideki Kamiya. Now working as an Executive Producer and a Director, this interview delves into why they chose to work in the game industry.

Why I Make Games

Inaba: The first time I thought I wanted to make games was when I was 12 years old. The PC-8801 was at its peak, and I played games all the time. Back then, hardware and software were fairly simple, to the point that the art, sound, and even programming were often handled by a single person. If you wanted to make games, the easiest way in was to learn how to program, and that’s exactly what I did.

Kamiya: I got into making games in almost the same way Inaba did. I said I wanted to study programming and my parents bought me a computer. Ultimately I played a lot more than I programmed though (laughs).

Inaba: It used to be that you had to go to an arcade to play anything, so it was amazing to actually be able to play games in your own home.

Kamiya: Back then, hardware had limited capabilities, but their limitations made them very logical in design. They were almost like paper, rock, scissors in a way. You would pick from a small number of options, and what you chose determined whether you would win or lose. They were simple with easy to comprehend rules. I entered the industry during the Playstation era, so these kind of games were already long out of production. The first game I worked on would be Resident Evil (which used polygons to make 3-D characters and environments), so I never got to work on a 2-D game.


Inaba: The PlayStation really ushered in a time of change for video games. I think that’s what first brought us together.

Kamiya: My approach to making games is mostly spontaneous so there’s some doubt as to how well my style would have fit with the logical design methods of the 8-bit era. Maybe that’s why I’m drawn to them so much.

Inaba: They definitely have a unique appeal. What I find so amazing about 8-bit games is how I can remember the smallest of details about them, even now. I can still remember buying certain games, how excited I was.

Kamiya: It’s too bad but I don’t feel like the games of today can inspire memories as vivid as the ones back then did. Maybe it’s just because I’m older now. It was different when I was a kid. Back when I was most impressionable, back when I would absorb anything like a sponge, I chose games over school, and that’s what really defined who I am. Ummm, I’m not saying you shouldn’t go to school, kids.

Inaba: When you’re a kid, you have no income, so you put an unbelievable amount of concentration into that one quarter you have to spend at the arcade. You would grip the quarter tight in your hand and think, “I’ve got one shot. I can’t let it go to waste.” So much weight was placed on each attempt, it’s no wonder I remember them all so well.

Kamiya: When my parents brought me to a big department store I would think extremely carefully about the most effective way to spend the little cash my parents gave me. I’d take a good look at everything there and make sure I chose whatever gave me the most for my money. That’s probably how those dot graphics and bleeping sounds became so deeply etched into my identity. They still really mean a lot to me.

Inaba: When I was in middle school I’d frequently drop by the arcade near my house. Getting a new machine in was a big deal. My friends and I would all try to guess what it might be. Also, games didn’t get soundtracks released back then, so you’d have to hold a tape recorder next to the cabinet and record the BGM live. Usually you’d do it while you or somebody else was playing so you’d get a lot of sound effects thrown in—enemies blowing your ship up and the like.

Kamiya: Everyone was engrossed in countdown music shows and pop radio and whatever. I couldn’t care about any of that in the least. Back in 1985, I was all about Gradius. I was still in my first or second year of middle school, but I don’t think I’ve ever felt anything that can top how I felt then. I would go home and strategize endlessly about how to clear that one part I couldn’t get past yet (laughs). Before I knew it, I couldn’t take it anymore and I would jump on my bike, going as fast as I could to the arcade, wearing pretty much pajamas.

Inaba: I feel where you’re coming from. The smallest amount of money and time used to have so much value to me back then. All of those “unfair” games really honed our gaming skills. The NES especially—so many games spared absolutely no mercy for the player. For the survivors of that era like you and me, a lot of the games today feel like a complete pushover. They’re too easy.

Kamiya: Exactly—way too much hand-holding. I don’t know if people these days remember that sometimes you’d have to sit 10-20 minutes in front of a screen waiting for a game to load before you could even determine if it sucked or not.


Inaba: I remember this one time I was playing this game and waited 20 minutes for it to load up. After it finally did, the first thing it did was ask you to choose armor for your character before you started playing. I chose what I wanted, pressed confirm, and finally thought things were going to get underway, when I got the following message: “Your armor is too heavy for your character. GAME OVER.” I just looked at the screen and thought, “You’ve got to be kidding me!” (laughs). But that’s just how games were back then.

Kamiya: Back in middle school, I went over to my friend’s house after I heard he got a computer. Playing games at your own house was like a dream to me, so I was elated to just sit in front of the screen while the game loaded. After everything finally finished processing, I remember the picture appearing on the screen piece by piece.

Inaba: Right. It would take time for the processor to draw something, but what you have to understand is, that didn’t make us bored or frustrated. Every minute we waited just made the excitement build that much greater. It’s probably those memories that inspired us to choose a career in making games.

Conceptual Design in Bayonetta 2


Filed: Bayonetta 2

Hello, my name is Mai Okura, I was the conceptual designer for Bayonetta 2. For the previous game, I was in my first year working at Platinum and in charge of its user interface (maps, menus, gauges, etc.). I remember giving then-producer now-director Hashimoto a lot of stress, so it was a bit of a surprise he let me back on his team. Those two games really mean a lot to me.

But anyway. You’re probably still stuck on the title “conceptual designer”, wondering what it means. Yeah, it’s a bit of a toughie. Games and movies as well often have several smaller parts that come together to form that game’s overall look and feel. This can include characters, enemies, environments, and UI too. It’s my job to create a style guide for all of these individual pieces and make sure they make sense when placed together.

This wasn’t my job in the first game, but I worked on UI under the conceptual designer and learned a lot about how important it is to have each of the game’s concepts working together to construct overall world design. I’m still pretty new at concept design and not doing anything that jaw-dropping at the moment, but I thought I’d try to take this blog as an opportunity to talk about what I think is really fascinating about Bayonetta 2.

There are two topics I’d like to touch on. The first one deals with the image below.


As you can see, the base tones for the original Bayonetta were red and black, whereas in Bayonetta 2 they’re blue (representing Bayonetta) and gold (representing the game’s enemies). Compared to the image above it, you can tell the bottom screen gives off a much brighter, vivid impression.

What was so difficult about this was that while Bayonetta’s key color was blue, the key color for Aesir’s power was blue as well. Ultimately we resolved this issue by changing this mysterious power of Aesir’s to an emerald green, but it’s still kind of hard for players to discern, so I gave Aesir his own unique line patterns in his design to draw distinction from Bayonetta.

The second point I wanted to talk about was how much contrast changed between the two games. The first game has relatively low contrast, whereas colors in Bayonetta 2 are much brighter stand out a lot more. In the original Bayonetta, a lot of our inspiration was drawn from the classical architecture and landscape of Europe: you could see a lot of the curved lines in the works of Mucha and Gaudi, and things had an elegant Art Nouveau tone.


(Top: Bayonetta/Bottom: Bayonetta 2)
In Bayonetta 2, however, there is a much stronger theme of straight lines and geometric shapes, as you can see looking at Aesir. There are also a lot more colors in this game in total; in Bayonetta and the other characters, the effects, and the UI as well. This might just be because Bayonetta 2 has more characters than the previous game. Looking at the two games side by side, I think you can admit that Bayonetta 2 has a more modern feel, whereas the first game feel’s more classic.

There’s a lot more I realize I could write… but I think I’ll stop here.

They may be the same series featuring the same main character, but there’s a lot in the world design of Bayonetta 2 that you won’t find in the original, and vice versa.

Take care!

*The official art book for Bayonetta 2, “The Eyes of Bayonetta 2”, goes on sale in Japan tomorrow! It includes concept art, 3D character models, the Hierarchy of Laguna, Lemegeton’s Guidebook, comments from the staff, and art from me! Be sure to take check it out!

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