Let’s welcome the new recruits!

Platinum Games

Filed: PlatinumGames

The annual rainy season has ended, and it’s finally time for summer in Osaka!

But rain or no rain, at this time of the year, PlatinumGames always organizes a big welcoming party for all of the new talent that joined the company in April, and today we’d like to show you a glimpse of the insanity that tends to go down at these parties.

The first thing that is worth pointing out is that, despite this being a welcome party for the new employees, it’s actually the newcomers themselves who have to provide the entertainment to their seniors and superiors for the evening.

This year we had a total of 9 fresh, new recruits! Last year, it was pretty evenly distributed between men and women, but this year, for some reason, only a group of guys had made the cut.
This meant that some of the existing male employees at the company did not expect much to look at (cosplaying female employees are always popular at these events), but as it turned out, they got an eyeful.

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For some reason, the opening act involved Isao Negishi, who’s been a game designer at PG for 5 years, being summoned to the stage with veteran programmer Noriyuki Ohtani to do a bizarre (and painful-looking) stunt with a rubber band.

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But fortunately, the audience was placated with a pair of pretty legs in a school uniform when one of the guys sang a lovely AKB 48 medley.

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As you can see, it went down a storm.

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And the crowd got perhaps a bit too rowdy.

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Some acts were even more risqué and featured pretty much full frontal nudity.

Don’t worry, he was wearing underwear.

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All in all, the crowd had a blast, and it was a very successful and entertaining event. The new recruits had apparently spent weeks preparing and rehearsing their acts, but fortunately, the pay-off was proportionate.

Thanks everyone, and welcome to the club!

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The birthday event gets an upgrade!

Platinum Games

Filed: PlatinumGames

Remember Lunch with the President, where president Minami treats employees who have a birthday that month to lunch? Well, it got a big upgrade.

Responding to requests for “more time to talk” and “alcoholic beverages”, Minami decided to make it a party with wine and appetizers this year. Instead of lunchtime, it starts at 5:30, so that everyone can fully enjoy their food and drink and then head right home.

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On the day of the party, everyone who had a birthday that month gathered together, joined by the management. From veteran employees to new grads who just joined the company this April, everyone raised their glasses for a toast.

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The conversation topics flew, but as you might imagine, the discussion quickly turned to games. Minami told someone, “That pitch for a new game looked awesome! I hope we get to make it!” A veteran employee gave some heartfelt advice to a new game designer who was worrying about his game designs: “Stressed out? Well, it’s just gonna get worse from here on. Keep thinking of ideas, and don’t give up!”

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Later on, a certain individual started demanding birthday cake! Minami handed a 10,000 yen bill (approx. $80) to company executive Sato and told him to run, not walk, to a cake shop.

From what I hear, the party lasted late into the evening. :)

Tagged:

Inaba speaks at Bit-Summit

Platinum Games

Filed: Community, PlatinumGames, Uncategorized

Last weekend was the 3rd Bit-Summit, a game festival held in Kyoto where indie Japanese developers are given the opportunity to showcase their latest projects. Last year’s BitSummit saw attendance rise from 200 to 5,000, demonstrating the growing interest in the indie community of gaming in Japan.

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This year also proved to be a success for the show: attendance was high, and there were plenty of interesting titles displayed along the floor. Some were from larger indie teams such as Q-Games, and some were projects developed entirely by a team of one.

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(Even 8-4, the localization company who helped us out with Metal Gear Rising, were extending their scope to the indie scene)

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(Chance meeting with star PlatinumGames game designer Abebe)

In the midst of all of this was a special talk featuring PlatinumGames’ own Atsushi Inaba.

“Having been a producer all these years, I feel indebted to the community, and want to share what I’ve learned with smaller developers who may just be starting out,” Inaba expressed to the crowd.

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“There was a time when I was in your shoes: the original Phoenix Wright was developed with a team size of around six people. Viewtiful Joe only had about 13. Even when we started PlatinumGames, we weren’t the size we are now. We were a small developer that put everything on the line just to  cut a deal with a publisher and try to make the game we envisioned.”

“I can’t say much about the West, but while Japan’s indie market had almost no presence ten years ago, I feel that’s changed now. In Japan, there has always been a stigma towards standing out and being independent. People think joining a large company and becoming part of the system is the correct thing to do. But independent developers continue to expand and make their place in the industry.”

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“I think the most interesting games I saw here today, however, weren’t games that tried to bank off of the indie feel, but games that chased after a truly original concept and wanted to take gaming somewhere that it hasn’t been yet. At Platinum, I discuss the same kind of possibilities with Kamiya on a daily basis. He’s a bit crazy, but I think that in order to be a creator, that should be the norm.”

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It was a brief talk in the middle of a long day, but the speech no doubt made an impact on many of the start-up groups who had assembled at the event.

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 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

SQUARE ENIX ANNOUNCES NEW TITLE IN THE NIER SERIES

 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: http://youtu.be/GH26BfSo7co.

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 www.esrb.org for more information about ratings.

Related Links

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/NIERGame

 

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 http://www.na.square-enix.com/.

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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Individuality in Game Development (Part 3)

Platinum Games

Filed: PlatinumGames

Our Approach to Making Games

Kai: When it comes to making games, the first person who comes to mind is the director. After all, it’s their job to get the ball rolling; they have to come up with a game idea from scratch. The other staff, such as graphic designers like myself, have to try to see the vision in the Director’s head and make it a reality.

Shibata: I’ve been working under Kamiya ever since joining Platinum, but all his game ideas start out very vague, even in his own mind. I have to interpret this vague vision and do my best to give it a more concrete form. Since you’re facing a problem with no definite answer, this means a lot of trial and error, which can be a bit disconcerting for younger staff, who aren’t used to the old days of experimentation.

Kai: It’s not enough to just grit your teeth through that trial and error process; you have to enjoy it. After all, where’s the fun in just getting handed a plan and carrying it out word for word? Understand the overall theme of the project you’re working on, see how far you can push your boundaries, and have some fun with it. Of course, you can’t be the only one having fun, it also has to be an idea the player will like.

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Shibata: When I was working as a graphic designer, I would look at the design document I was given and see just how far I could deviate from it, adding my own style.

Kai: I think that when it comes to animation, nothing’s more important than the look and fluidity of movement. At the same time, however, I always try and give it that little extra touch of personality that will stick in the player’s mind.

Shibata: By the way, I feel like Kamiya is the kind of guy who can adapt to work well with anyone. Even if we were switched out and a whole new team was brought in to replace us, I feel like he’d sort everything out somehow. So the important thing for people who work here is to be able to cope with the trial and error process, and to keep up with Kamiya’s pace. When it comes to coping, Kai has known Kamiya for longer than I have; I can’t even fathom how he managed to withstand the pressure for so long. It’s a lot more exhausting than working with any other director, so I’m impressed that Kai managed to come this far.

Kai: We’re just patient. Most people, after having made a game with Kamiya, request to not be put on the same team as him for a while, haha. He’s relentless in his drive for quality. His famous line “I just thought of something…” will haunt my dreams for years to come.

Shibata: As you approach completion and the game starts to come together, the frequency of his ideas for little tweaks also goes up. In other words, if we don’t get the game to a near-complete state as soon as possible, we won’t have time to respond to Kamiya’s various requests.

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Individuality in Game Development (Part 2)

Platinum Games

Filed: PlatinumGames

(Continues from Part 1.)

An Environment in which Games Thrive

Shibata: I feel that in the early days of the video game industry, graphic designers commanded very little status. Although the players might praise our work, within the company we were treated badly by the programmers. There were times it was hard to bear…

Kai: It wasn’t like that working on console games, but I remember working on an arcade game once and getting mistreated by one of the programmers. Back then you had these three main factions on the team: character designers, programmers, and game designers. Everybody stayed within their own territory, saying, “I’ve done my job, now this is up to you.”

ks1Shibata: I come from an arcade background, so I was under the impression that that’s just how things worked.

Kai: As someone who has seen both sides, I can say that console game teams were a lot less divided.

Shibata: That’s interesting to hear. I moved over to console games to work on Resident Evil 3, and was shocked by how different the work environment was. I thought maybe that atmosphere was unique to the Resident Evil team, but it sounds like it’s true of most console development.

Kai: I wasn’t a part of the RE3 team, so I can’t say for certain, but it sounds like when this team composed of people from both console and arcade backgrounds came together, they ended up adopting the console team’s “cross-border” approach. This is the approach we’ve inherited here at Platinum. However, it’s something we came to not through an explicit rule or policy, but rather because of the number of people on the team who felt that’s how it should be.

Shibata: Without a doubt, this approach leads to better games.

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Kai: Of course, there may be some people who prefer staying within their own little niche, but when you’re in a studio working with a group of other people, this rarely leads to the best results. PlatinumGames is made up of people who understand this.

Shibata: I’m thankful that we have producers who are committed to fostering the kind of environment that leads to the creation of great games.

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INDIVIDUALITY IN GAME DEVELOPMENT (PART 1)

Platinum Games

Filed: PlatinumGames

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Individuality in Game Development

Hidetoshi Kai (Graphic Design/Animation) and Hiroshi Shibata (Game Design)

PlatinumGames is entering its 10th year, but some of our staff members have careers in the game industry that go back over two decades. Two such members are animator Hidetoshi Kai and game designer Shibata, who can trace their roots all the way back to the 4th Development Division at Capcom. These two veterans, who made the jump to Platinum together with director Hideki Kamiya and producer Atsushi Inaba, talk about their experience and thoughts on game development.

Skills gained through Trial and Error

Kai: The formative experience that led me to video games took place back in kindergarten. A little candy shop I went to had a couple of Pachinko and pinball machines that I loved to play with. My dad is a carpenter, and he would use nails and scraps of wood he found around the house to make little Pachinko boards. Even back then I loved thinking up games. My parents didn’t buy me many toys, so I got used to making them myself.

Shibata: My family moved to Tokyo around the time the Famicom (the Japanese equivalent of the Nintendo Enterainment System) came out, but we were very poor so I didn’t get a chance to play games much as a kid. In fact, I didn’t buy a Famicom until I started working at a game company. I was making do with nothing more than a TV, refrigerator, and rice cooker back then; I didn’t have the money to buy a lot of electrical appliances, let alone to buy any for recreational purposes.

Kai: I was a little late to the video game party, too. I didn’t even consider working at a game company until after I had entered a vocational school. There, I studied film and other visual media. I worked with cameras a lot, and I specifically studied animation as a form of expression.

Shibata: I studied animation at a vocational school, just like Kai. I wanted to make a living in animation, but it was just not a viable way to pay the bills. The first job I started out of school was in the printing industry, but the pay was bad, so my life of poverty continued… A friend of mine worked at a game company though, and he told me the money was good, so I decided to get into the game industry. In other words, I wasn’t trying to fulfill a romantic dream of making games, as much as I saw the game industry as a solution to my financial woes.

Kai: Yeah, I hear the animation industry can be pretty rough. We have a couple of people who decided to quit their jobs at an animation company in order to join us.

Shibata: Although, in a way, your current job actually still involves animation.

Kai: That’s right. I’m in charge of creating the animations that dictate how the characters move. I sometimes animate environments as well.

Shibata: My job is to think of ideas that make the game more interesting – I get to say whatever pops up in my head, haha. Officially, I’m responsible for writing up game proposals and design documents to coordinate the direction of the team with each section, but working under Kamiya means I often don’t prepare any documents. Why is that you ask? Because with Kamiya at the helm, the game changes so frequently that by the time you get everything on paper, the document will already be obsolete, haha.

Kai: Maybe so, but I still think you make more documents than most other people.

Shibata: I guess so, haha. Anyway, I originally entered this industry as a graphic designer just like you, Kai, and I remember that I used to have a lot of fun creating sprites using pixel graphics. This meant having to line up every little square of color that would be displayed on the player’s screen, but we could only use 16 colors back then, so I would spend hours obsessively trying to figure out how to line up all of the dots to create the image I wanted.

Kai: Yeah, it was a neat way to make graphics. I still feel like doing work like that sometimes, haha.

Shibata: It has a certain addictiveness different from regular drawing. Capcom’s pixel art from that era was incredible, but it had a strange quirk: although pixels are usually square, Capcom was unique in that they used vertically rectangular pixels. This meant that even rotating the sprite on its side required you to replace all the pixels. It was highly inefficient, but they still managed to put out many uniquely beautiful sprite-based games. I decided that, “If I’m going to be a sprite artist, it’s Capcom or nothing”, so I moved to the Kansai area where Capcom’s headquarters are located.

Kai: You came all the way to the Kansai area for sprites?!

Shibata: Oh yeah, it was great! Soon after I entered the company I was assigned to a team developing arcade games and I got to ram out rectangular sprites to my heart’s content.

Kai: I started out in Capcom’s console game department. In many cases, the pixels for console games were horizontally rectangular, so this made porting arcade games to consoles an absolute nightmare.

Shibata: But you know, thinking back to it now, I realize that when we first got into development, in the days when the images on screen contained nothing but the most rudimentary information, games ended up being extremely refined. There is a lot of fluff in modern games, so making games now ends up being a lot harder than the days of yore. There are so many more rules you have to learn nowadays.

Kai: Yeah, things are still tough, just in a different way now. How about you, though? How did you end up making the jump from a pixel-laying graphic designer to a game designer?

Shibata: Well, one thing I realized while working at Capcom was that beautiful graphics alone aren’t enough to sell a game. The art in Capcom’s games was among the best in the entire industry, but this never guaranteed that their titles would be successful. It became painfully clear to me that art isn’t the most important aspect of a game, so I decided to focus on thinking up original ideas.

Kai: Although I entered the company as a graphic designer, I actually wanted to make games more than I wanted to work on their graphic design. I always had my eyes open for opportunities to try different aspects of development. I’ve even done stuff like making up questions for quiz games and burning ROMs. Leaving behind the pixel painting lifestyle, I manipulate polygons now. Although the job title has remained the same, the knowledge and skills required have changed quite a bit.

Shibata: You can say that again. The stuff I learned about at vocational school was very different from what the game industry required, so I had to learn about things as I was making them. When 3D polygon models came onto the scene, it was an entirely new experience altogether. Capcom as a whole was slow to get onto the polygon bandwagon, and everyone working there was a beginner when it came to making 3D games. We couldn’t fight progress, however, so we just had to do our best to keep up.

Kai: The youngsters entering the company right out of college nowadays are better prepared than we were. Hardware back then was changing so hectically all the time that we had to just try out all kinds of different things and see what worked. As a result, though, I think we learned a lot about perseverance and determination.

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