Creating the Next Generation of PlatinumGames (Part 2)

Platinum Games

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Sharing your Vision

Funahashi: It’s my 4th year here at Platinum, and I can finally say I’ve gotten the hang of my job. Thinking back to when I just started, every day was a struggle. I had no idea what the director was trying to convey… I would make exactly what they told me to, only to have it thrown back in my face with a “This isn’t even close!” I just had no idea what was what back then.

Ohkura: Yeah, we’ve all been there. Problems like that can be solved by properly sharing your ideas regarding the overall feel of the world, but most people will have no idea how to give form to that when they’re only just starting out.

Shindo: In order to give a game’s world the proper feel, you must infer the intent behind the director’s words, and find your own answer to that somehow. That’s all much easier said than done, obviously. At first I was so preoccupied with trying to understand the game world and doing exactly what the director told me, that I couldn’t make any progress at all. I remember being surprised listening to the sounds my seniors came up with all by themselves, and thinking “Yeah, I guess that works too!” That’s how I started coming up with my own ideas as well, because I figured that it was okay to make mistakes sometimes.

Funahashi: For example, let’s say the director asks you to make a chair. You have to consider, do they want something with the shape of a chair, or something with the function of a chair, i.e. something people can sit on? If we’re talking about the function, even a simple wooden log or a guard rail could be considered a “chair.” If the vision of the game world is clearly shared between all of the staff, you will begin to understand it by nature, and you will no longer be constrained by the words you are given.

Shindo: On the other hand, there were times when, even if I asked the director what kind of sound he was looking for, I would just get a vague answer like “Hmmm, I dunno… something that sounds cool!” That’s not much to work with, haha. What sounds “cool” is obviously highly subjective, so in order to find a cool sound that fits within the world of the game, the only thing you can do is to just create a massive number of different sounds and see what sticks.

Funahashi: Yeah, I’ve also been given instructions like “Gimme something that looks nice!”, which tends to fill me with joy and terror simultaneously, haha. If you don’t have a proper grasp on the game world, nothing you propose is going to work. However, knowing that you’ve been given this chance, despite the risk of failure, can be invigorating. It makes you want to create something that will live up to expectations.

Ohkura: I often start working on projects before they even have a solid world or character details, so I begin by just getting my pen moving and seeing what takes shape. Explaining things verbally is not my strong suit, so when the director and I share our views of the game world, I make sure to bring plenty of visual aids. It makes me so happy when I finally hear, “Yes! Let’s go with this!”

Shindo: In that sense, it feels like you’re shaping the world with your own hands. There are a lot of things that you come to understand when the team shares the flow and overall direction of the game with each other, while going through a process of trial and error. It really feels like all the individual parts come together to form the whole.

Ohkura: I know what you mean. I love when I’m trusted with a task that I have full creative control over – most of the time. Based on a character’s back story, I imagine how they would react in certain situations, and over time the little details of the game’s world are formed. Of course there are times when one of my ideas doesn’t work in the established world setting, but there’s nothing stopping you from thinking up additional back story as you go. To do this, we’re always being challenged to be more creative, and I’m sure the director has this is mind when he gives us these vague directions.

Shindo: Yeah, and they always choose simple key words for you. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t still spend a lot of time having no clue what direction to take things in. And it’s times like that that the people around you often help you out by making suggestions. Instead of just banging your head against the wall alone, it’s more like a team searching for the best way to smash through the wall together. Uh… not literally of course.

Funahashi: There are certainly times when your idea ends up getting struck down, no matter how well it seems to go down during the team meeting. Those moments where everyone is excited about a certain idea are important, though – it’s a great way of reaffirming a shared vision of the game, which keeps the team going strong.

Shindo: In that sense, the development for Bayonetta was really exciting. It started out as a very serious world, but there were some funny parts as well. I would make some weird sound thinking, “Man, it’d be hilarious if we could use this,” and then the director, Kamiya, actually ended up putting it in the game. When he heard the sound he went, “Heh, this sounds so dumb… let’s use it!” I’ll never forget how happy I was that day.

Ohkura: While developing Bayonetta, there were a couple of times when the sounds Shindo created directly inspired my designs, actually.

Shindo: For example, I thought it would be cool if two of the characters could communicate with each other during a shooting stage. However, this wasn’t originally part of the game, so after I made the sounds, Ohkura actually came up with designs for communication devices they could use. As a sound designer I never thought I would be able to have that kind of influence on a game’s design.

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Office Closed for a Company Event! (Off we go flower-viewing!)

Platinum Games

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Our yearly flower-viewing party got postponed due to rain, so we didn’t get to enjoy the cherry blossoms in full bloom, but we had a great time under the beautiful new green leaves at Osaka Castle Park!

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As always, our venue was Nishinomaru Garden, located west of Osaka Castle. The mansion of Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s wife, Kita no Mandokoro, was said to be located here. Approximately 300 cherry trees are planted on these spacious grounds. Needless to say, this is one of the biggest cherry blossom spots in Osaka! (Next year it would be nice if we actually got to see some flowers. Haha.)

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Including our outsourcing partners and the new grads who joined the company on April 1st, this was a massive party of about 200 people in all!

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It had been rainy since the beginning of April, but on the day of the party, we were blessed by good weather. It was so sunny it was almost hot!

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Sitting around a delicious meal with friends while relishing the change of the seasons is one of the true pleasures of Japanese party culture. You get the chance to talk to people you don’t usually converse with, which could be helpful at work too!

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Here, a new programmer (left) and the lead programmer Kazunori Morita (center) are greeting CEO Tatsuya Minami (right). At PlatinumGames, no one ever needs to worry whether their senpai is noticing them.

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As a groundbreaking new initiative, we have decided to hire a pigeon this year. We thought it would be coo’. (Sorry.)

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A generous employee donated sake for our own little sake tasting corner. This was lovely.

Ever since the founding of PlatinumGames, we’ve held three big yearly events: the flower-viewing party, the new employee welcome party, and the end-of-the-year party. But the flower viewing party is the only one that we close the office and make a huge occasion for! (Sorry for closing the office on a weekday afternoon…)

Today was our biggest festivity of the year, and we enjoyed it to the max!

Extras:

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Creating the Next Generation of PlatinumGames (Part 1)

Platinum Games

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Creating the Next Generation of PlatinumGames

Mai Ohkura (concept artist) x Eiji Funahashi (character modeler) x Masato Shindo (sound designer)

We’d like to introduce three employees who are shouldering the next generation of game creation. Meet Ohkura, who designs characters as a concept artist, Funahashi, who models characters in 3D, and Shindo, who creates sound effects. All of them are young employees who entered the company four to six years ago, but they’ve been entrusted with key positions in their projects and have lived up to their roles. Each of them is in charge of a different aspect of game production and has a different mindset. Here, they discuss creating as part of a team and their thoughts on the future of game creation.

What making games means to us

Funahashi: I’d always liked drawing, and I remember that in around fifth grade, I was already writing in my diary that I wanted to be a character designer. Now I work as a modeler, creating characters using 3D tools and setting their shapes and textures. When I was in elementary school, I would often draw my favorite movie heroes, make up the guns or weapons they would use, and use them in my own original card game. Pokemon cards were popular at the time, but my parents wouldn’t let me buy any. So at first I started this kind of game because I was forced to, but then I learned the joy of creating a game for others. So even when I was young, I decided that this was the path I wanted to follow. That’s all I did throughout middle school, high school, and college.

OhkuraOhkura: I work in the concept art team, where we work with the director to determine the look and feel of the game’s world. I’m mainly in charge of character design, and I draw in 2D. In my case, I was constantly doing sports when I was young, and my parents didn’t let me look at any games, manga, or anime. I was even thinking of going to a physical education university for college. But I ended up going to art school on the recommendation of my dad, who is a designer. That’s when I awakened to the joy of creating things. I entered PlatinumGames as a web designer, but I got the chance to be involved in game creation by helping out with the user interface of a game that was in production at the time. Originally my contract was supposed to be for three months, but I’ve already been here for six years (laughs). Now I’m in charge of character design, but recently I’ve been thinking that I want to do more than just draw images – I want to do anything I can to be involved in game creation. I think at the root of it, I just want to create things that the people around me can enjoy.

ShindoShindo: I used to be in a band, and I wanted to satisfy the audience that used their precious time and money to see our shows, so I could never let myself do a lukewarm performance. Now I work as a sound designer, creating sound effects for games. Just like during my band days, I want the users who buy our games to enjoy them and not to be disappointed. Reactions from customers are my biggest motivation.

Funahashi: What originally made you interested in creating sound?

Shindo: My body had always been small ever since I was born. To toughen me up, I had to do judo, kendo, karate, swimming, and other sports before I even entered elementary school. I continued soccer until I entered high school, but then I contracted a serious illness and had to live in a wheelchair. With surgery, I was able to return to my regular life, but I still couldn’t do the kind of exercise I had before. I anguished about what I should do next. For a change of pace, I decided to buy a synthesizer with earnings from my part-time job, and from then on, I was immersed in my band and composing music.

Ohkura: It’s hard when you have to give up something that you want to do. I had always liked drawing ever since I was little, but in middle school I almost gave up because I couldn’t draw the way I wanted. Because of that, I focused on doing physical activities, and I plunged into martial arts like karate and naginata until I entered art school.

Shindo: They may sound completely unrelated, but the passion I experienced when I was young has created my current self. The other day, when I was working really hard, I thought to myself, “how am I able to keep on going?” Then I realized that it was because of sports. The mental and physical training I experienced in soccer and judo were foundational for me. When you think of it that way, maybe perseverance is needed in creative industries like ours.

FunahashiFunahashi: Yes, being able to power through when it really counts is important. Your ability to do that affects the final quality of the game. It all depends on whether you can be persistent and create something that satisfies you under a very tight schedule. But fundamentally, it’s important that you want to create something that people enjoy.

Shindo: In my case, I used to work at a musical instrument store, and it made me happy to hear words of gratitude from customers or see their pleased reactions right in front of me. While I was working there, I began interacting with creators and artists, and they had an impact on me. I set my mind to doing something creative, and I decided to aim for the game industry, which I had always been interested in. First of all, to polish my skills, I lived on my savings and spent an entire year concentrating on composing music. A year later, I brought the work I was satisfied with and applied to PlatinumGames as a music composer. However, the bar was higher than I thought, and I didn’t get hired. After that, PG was recruiting for sound designers, so I tried again and was luckily able to enter the company.

Ohkura: Within the company, people were gossiping about you – like, “a famous composer online is joining the company!” I remember that you brought some music with you to introduce yourself.

Shindo: Come to think of it, I did (laughs). But in the beginning, I couldn’t create what was required of me as a sound designer, and I agonized for the first six months. At the time, I hoped that with any luck, I would be able to move to the music team. But when I discovered the interest of creating sound effects, I stopped having any regrets about not working as a music composer.

Ohkura: I’ve gone through a series of frustrations with myself, but I am driven by my never-give-up attitude and my wish to create things that myself and everyone around me is satisfied with, and let them out into the world for users to enjoy.

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Looking at Things from a Programmer’s Perspective (Part 3)

Platinum Games

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Debugging the Company

Since the olden days, different hardware has always had different programming rules, meaning that programmers have had to familiarize themselves with completely new sets of rules every time they started working on new hardware, so they needed to have a flexible mind. So I started thinking: maybe we can focus on the creative aspect in order to reduce this kind of burden. I’ve actually always wanted to create my own game engine at home, and back when PlatinumGames was still in the preliminary stage of starting its business, I would work hard on creating an engine by myself whenever I had some time to spare.
There’s a system called “DirectX,” and I used it to create a system capable of forgetting what kind of hardware it’s running on. I did that just as a hobby.
Then, when we started working on Bayonetta and we had to reduce the startup time, I brought out this engine I’d made, and used it to create pretty much everything we needed. This actually made me realize how large an influence the production environment itself has on the production process.

There are a lot of programmers at PlatinumGames that are very strongly inclined towards the creative side of things. These types of people are the ones who take the company forward, so the last thing you want to do is to obstruct other people with technological problems. Creating video games is a craft, so personnel expenses are obviously the highest. If you’re going to spend a set amount of time and a set amount of money, you’ll want to make the best product you possibly can. So the question becomes: what can we do to increase the efficiency of the production process? When I was part of a project, I always thought to myself: “If I do my best, the quality of the parts that I’m involved in will increase.” However, this is actually not enough when you look at the whole picture. So if there are any employees doing something that they think is really bothersome, it’s our department that offers to come up with an appropriate solution. In a certain sense, I think we’re the department that “debugs” the company, so to speak.

Right now, I’m super busy, and I can hardly get around to all of the tasks I need to handle, but I’m getting by because other staff members are helping me out. Personally, however, I want to extend my area of expertise even further. Compared to the days of yore, there are so many more elements to the production process nowadays, be it music, video, or whatever, it isn’t even funny. Video games have become unbelievably complicated over the past 20 years. This means that you have to reconsider the game creation process pretty much every 2 or 3 years, in order not to fall behind. We’re entering our 10th year since the establishment of the company, and the 6th year since the establishment of the Technology Strategic Planning Team, so it’s about time we started reconsidering the process again. We have to look at both the management of the company and the way we make games, and tie our game creation process in with the technological side of things, in order to decide what kind of technology we can use next, what kind of structures our games will run on, and what we should be doing from here on out.

PlatinumGames is like a child caught between playing field and a laboratory. By playing field, I mean a location where we can use the skills we’ve cultivated and test their potential. The playing field is where you get your first chance at showing the results of what you’ve learned. By laboratory, on the other hand, I mean something like our own small castle. A place where we can do whatever we want, mess around a bit, and be pleased with the things we pull off. It’s an important place for finding out where your capabilities lie, for trying out many different things, and for generally going “I wonder what happens when I do this…?”

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PlatinumGames enters its tenth year!

Platinum Games

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Today was April 1st, the first day of a new term at PlatinumGames. Every year on this day, we have a company-wide meeting where the leaders of each section reflect on our successes of the past year, and on areas that can still use improvement.

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The meeting starts off introducing the new graduates that have joined our staff.

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A look at the new staff up close. One of them proudly mentioned that he comes from a small fishing community in the North of Japan, but this may just have been a load of codswallop.

1-151Next, our president Tatsuya Minami talked about layout changes within the company, staff with newly appointed positions, and approaches to improving product quality even further this year.

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Following the president, the head of development, Kiyohiko Sakata, talked about his plans for strengthening our development staff. He ended his speech with this year’s slogan: “Surpass this generation.” Make way into a new generation the world has yet to see.

1-111At the end of the meeting, the president awarded a plaque to each staff member entering their fifth year at the company.

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On February 2, 2016, PlatinumGames will celebrate its ten-year existence in the industry. Today, we discussed how we will improve our infrastructure and educate our younger staff to secure a place in the industry for the decades to come as well.

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Thank you for your support as always!

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Looking at Things from a Programmer’s Perspective (Part 2)

Platinum Games

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Pursuing a Creative Ideal

I programmed by myself for the first time when I was in around the fourth grade of elementary school. It all began when I started playing around with the educational programming software called “Family BASIC”. But of course, being an elementary schooler, I couldn’t comprehend programming. At the time, I bought a monthly programming magazine and just typed in whatever was written in it. Of course, sometimes it didn’t work even when I typed it in, so I checked every character one-by-one to fix my mistakes. Re-typing that over and over again, I naturally learned how to program. Later on, for example, when I learned about one-point perspective in a high school class, I went home and made a 3D dungeon. I applied the rules I had learned and drew lines on the screen, and made it so that I could move around using the keyboard. I really enjoyed this type of amusement, because I just created things to satisfy myself. I didn’t have any grand goals in mind.

There are two pieces of shared understanding among programmers, and the first one is that the computer is never wrong. Unless it’s actually broken, the reason the computer isn’t doing what you want is within yourself. Programmers don’t just think this way about computers – it forms the basis of the way we think about life. When a problem happens, we make sure to question ourselves before looking for the cause in the outside world. The second one is that programmers are basically patient. By that I mean that programmers can’t create anything just by ourselves. For example, we can’t work without game designers to come up with the game design, or graphic designers to create graphics. The position of a programmer is to receive requests from all the different groups and respond to them in the best way possible. If that doesn’t go well, it’s our fault. While handling a large workload, we need to continually respond to requests, add our own flavor to the content, and finally remove bugs.

omori_1This isn’t just about programmers, but I think it’s extremely important to be aware of your own deficiencies. If you know your ideals, and the things you’re aiming for, you can make the effort to approach them. If you want to become a decent programmer, you need to go through the disciplined training of polishing the programming into a final form, as well as reflecting that in the actual product. This is something you acquire through tens of thousands of repetitions of putting together a program and then testing it. Because of this, if you want to live on your programming skills, if you want to make games fun, you need to cultivate your sensibilities and be interested in everything. It’s meaningless if you can’t maintain your interest. Especially at PlatinumGames, everyone is expected to be like this. That sounds like a high bar, but I believe that’s why we are able to create high-quality, deep games.

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Looking at Things from a Programmer’s Perspective (Part 1)

Platinum Games

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Wataru Ohmori, CTO & Head of the Technology Strategic Planning Team

Looking at Things from a Programmer’s Perspective

Including announced but not yet released games, PlatinumGames has worked on 10 titles to date. The skills our employees have cultivated during these projects are our greatest asset. To preserve this knowledge, and to stay relevant in an ever changing market, we created what we call the Technology Strategic Planning Team. Programmer Ohmori, the founder and current leader of the TSPT, talks about what it’s like behind the scenes.

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Supporting Game Development from Behind the Scenes

I’m the head of the Technology Strategic Planning Team, a department that single-handedly bears responsibility for the core technologies that make our games tick. We don’t work on the design of individual games, but rather over-arching technologies, such as developing a system to archive data from each development line, or improving the general resources shared between all projects. It’s kind of similar to what other companies call an engine or a library. Sometimes this means developing a whole system based on the needs of each project, and sometimes we approach the heads of each project with suggestions on how we think things can be improved. We’re in charge of a very important part of development that the player will never get to see directly and would probably be bored by if they did.

For example, a sound designer may come to me and say “When I’m checking the game, I want to be able to see what kind of sound is being played where; can you have that displayed in real time?” These are the type of requests we take. We add these functions based on the needs of a particular project, but if they work well, we adopt them in some or all of the other projects too.

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It wasn’t just me who pushed for this department; the support of Executive Producer Atsushi Inaba was invaluable. If you’re going to make several games at one company, you’ll need corresponding development teams in place for each title. While the demands of each project are different, there are always certain technologies that can be shared between multiple projects. Before the TSPT, every time we’d start a project, a new person would be in charge of system development and would rebuild everything. It goes without saying that this is terribly inefficient. If you are going to be using a lot of the same functions between projects, it makes sense to coordinate everything under one unit. We’d been discussing creating such a unit for a long time, but to actually make it a reality meant taking a number of our most experienced staff off other projects. This would be easy to do if we were a huge company, but PlatinumGames is still relatively small, so we were bit nervous about realizing this plan. At first I was a bit unsure myself, but after seeing the burden the old method was putting on the teams, and with Inaba-san’s support, I decided to go all out to make the TSPT a reality.

To be honest, there are times when we can be a bit of a burden to the other departments. We do process a lot of requests from the various projects, but there are some that are still on our to-do list… Overall, when I see how the tools we provide are being used throughout the company, it’s clear that our quality is getting better and better. As our tools are used, people will start having extra demands, which in turn also leads to extra bugs that need to be sorted, but as long as there’s a use for those tools, we’ll keep squashing those bugs and making the tools more resilient. To create a better development space demands a continuous process of improvement upon improvement.

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What it Takes to Make Games (Part 3)

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(Continues from Part Two)

Inoue: To be completely honest, I`m not exactly sure what leads to a particular game`s success of failure. No matter how fun we think a game is, we can never know how the player will react when they get their hands on it. You can`t expect a game to be interesting just by throwing sophisticated tech at it, nor can you say a project was a success just because you sold a lot of copies.

Yamaguchi: Sales certainly are one metric you can use, but they should not be the sole factor you use to determine success or failure.

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Inoue: The way I think about making games has changed over time, so I also try to achieve my goals at that time; though I can`t say I have some kind of grand vision. Every time we set out to make a game, I just endeavor to make it something different, and better, than what we’ve made in the past.

Yamaguchi: I hope that in the future, PlatinumGames can continue to develop the action game genre where it excels. That said, if we keep on making the same style of game over and over I’m sure I’ll get bored. Overall, I believe that each section of the company does its part coming up with new ways to keep things fresh. For me personally, however, while I appreciate the importance of the pace of action games, I’d like to try something that’s a bit more of a departure from that style. Even if it’s just through animations, I’d like to try a new way of expressing myself.

Inoue: Of all the games I’ve worked on so far, there isn’t a single one I feel completely satisfied with. Even projects I am quite happy with, if I sit down and really think about it, there are always a handful of things I wish I could have done differently. There are an endless supply of things you want to do, but the schedule doesn’t always allow for them. Sometimes you have to know when to let go and call a game finished. At the end of a project I always feel like I can take all the things that left me unsatisfied and fix them next time. But when that next project rolls around, there are still some problems I’m unable to solve…It’s a never-ending cycle. That process is also a source of motivation; a carrot just out of reach.

Yamaguchi: I also have times when I feel creatively frustrated. But thinking about how to approach the problem next time, and trying out various solutions, is the driving force that keeps me going each day. One’s job ends up making up a large part of each day; I’m happy to be devoting this time to the challenge that is game production. I enjoy my job so much that I wouldn’t want to quit even if I stopped getting paid. Despite my creative challenges, as I job I have no complaints whatsoever.

Inoue: I agree that it’s an ideal job. There are days that are so fun it doesn’t feel like work at all. That said, I do have bills to pay… Nothing would make me happier than to keep doing what I’m doing. Of course, the actual process of making games can be tough, and there is a certain weight of responsibility to ensure the players enjoy themselves. After all, in today`s society spare time is precious; the last thing we want to do is put that to waste.

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Yamaguchi: I never felt this way during school, but recently I find myself really enjoying studying. For example, if we were working on a game starring animals, I’d start looking at research about biology and dissection. After that, I’d get everyone’s feedback on what I’ve made using that information. In a way, PlatinumGames is a bit like a research lab where you can experiment with the things you’ve learned.

Inoue: Studying specific things for your job is fun, right? Back in grade school I just couldn’t get excited about what I was studying, but once I got to my specialty college I realized how fun studying can be when you have a goal to apply it to a specific career.

Yamaguchi: Yes, because you are able to see the direct application of what you are studying. Part of the appeal of game development is the fact that the field is always evolving; there’s always more to learn. Being proactive in keeping your skills up to date is another necessity of being a game creator.

 

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What It Takes To Make Games (Part 2)

Platinum Games

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(Continues from Part One.)

Creation through trial and error

Inoue: One of the games we worked on during our days at Capcom, Devil May Cry, began as a sequel to Resident Evil. The original design document I got included all kinds of acrobatic action. It was totally different from what people associate with the RE series. We figured that if that’s the style of game we were going for, it would make sense for the player character to be more active. We continued to adjust the animations to fit this style, and eventually the game had morphed into something else entirely.

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Yamaguchi: We stayed true to the director’s vision, and that’s how it turned out. In the end, the game was fun the way it was, and the company decided to release it as a new series. Quite a rare case in the game industry.

Inoue: That’s true. That may have been an exceptional case, but I find that when all the team members consider the direction they’ve been given and arrange all the parts of a game to the best of their ability, they end up creating something better than just going by the numbers. Of course, if you are told your idea just won’t work, you have to accept that too. In recent years motion capture technology has become predominant, increasing productivity and allowing us to experiment with all different types of animations.

Yamaguchi: I see what you mean. Technology like that gives a huge boost to efficiency, and it also lets us devote our resources to other areas. For example, even for a single animation, we start by creating a temporary animation and implementing it into the game at an early stage. That way, the team can take a look at it and discuss what works best in the game. Of course animation quality is important for its own sake, but at a company like ours, where we focus on how things move and feel within the actual game, this kind of testing is essential.

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Inoue: If the animation you spend a week working on ends up getting thrown out, the programmer has nothing to work with and can’t do his job. Even if it means just making a quick asset swap, a temp animation is better for the sake of efficiency. At the same time, when it comes to animations, the more the better. The player will be happier seeing a hundred animations than just ten, no matter how beautiful those ten are. Even if your action system is great, if that’s all you have the player will soon get bored.

Yamaguchi: When it comes to action games the questions you have to ask are “How does it feel to play?”, “How much variation is there?” Since this is something players will spent hours playing, it may seem obvious, but I think this attention to detail is something essential for anyone who hopes to make games.

Inoue: I start by asking “Do I enjoy this?” From there I ask the people around me, and eventually I’m convinced that “players are going to like this too.” Though frequently I end up making things that I enjoy personally, but I doubt would be much fun to anyone else! Before games are released there are user tests and all that, but at the end of the day these are just a subset of the players who will end up trying the game, so you can never say for certain if the results of testing are representative.

Yamaguchi: When creating a new game, some people aim to make it the new standard for that genre. For us, however, it’s more about just making a quality action game, one we can enjoy ourselves. Of course if it’s recognized as a quality title, that makes me happy as well.

Inoue: That way of thinking is thanks to the development environment we have here at PlatinumGames. As opposed to a vertical line of command with orders coming down from on high, it’s a flat organization centered around the director. You get instant feedback on everything you make, which helps get you closer to making something fun. The physical distance between people is important for this kind of process. If your group is too spread out, it becomes hard to achieve meaningful communication.

Yamaguchi: It would be nice if you could just have everyone sitting beside you at all times, though sadly that’s physically impossible.

Inoue: When you have to discuss something with someone from a different section, that distance becomes apparent. In order to overcome this, instead of using my phone or email, I get up and go over to the seat of the person I need to talk to, you know, make use of some of that non-verbal communication. Also, if I ever hear someone say my name I always respond, no matter how far away they’re standing. When someone says your name it means they’re talking about something you’re involved with, so I make sure I get involved in that conversation.

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Yamaguchi: There are no partitions between sections in PlatinumGames, so mini-meetings often pop up all over the place. A lot of progress is made while standing and chatting, or while watching someone play a demo at their desk. These talks start all of a sudden, so sometimes we realize too late that there is someone missing who really needs to be there.

Inoue: I’m aware that at other companies they have schedules that are absolute, and design documents laying out every stage of production; what we use are more like flexible indicators. This makes sense considering how much the original design seems to be missing by the time our games approach completion. If you are able to follow your original plan and reach the bar you set for yourself that’s fine from a work perspective, but unless you go through those heated discussions with other people on the team, I don’t think you’ll ever realize a game’s true potential.

Yamaguchi: After all, players couldn’t care less about your design documents. Without them it’s hard to make a strategy guide though, so the person in charge of that might get upset if I say that! Personally, though, I’d rather make something fun than something faithful to a document any day.

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Metal Gear Rising 2nd Anniversary!

METAL GEAR RISING

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

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

Nishii: The Only Thing I Know For Real

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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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