GS: I forgot that Capcom was originally supposed to publish Red Dead Revolver.
RN: We were funding it, so we then canceled the project and sold it to Rockstar. It was later published by Rockstar. There were also a couple of projects from the French, and a couple of projects in England, although they didn't make it. There was also Chaos Legion, Settlers of Catan, based on the boardgame, and Onimusha Tactics for GBA. That's what I was doing, and bringing American games to Japan as well.
The biggest success on that side was Grand Theft Auto. Capcom was the exclusive publisher of Grand Theft Auto III, Vice City, and San Andreas in Japan. That was a hard thing. Rockstar was a little hard to deal with, but the more difficult thing was with Sony of Japan. We had to convince them to give their permission to release the GTA games in Japan.
So with Capcom, it was online games, bringing games to Japan from overseas, as well as some original games that were being done outside Japan. I joined Microsoft when they were getting ready for the Xbox 360. That was recently, in 2004. We started six projects at Microsoft Game Studios Japan. The first one we finished and released was called Every Party, with Yoshiki Okamoto at Game Republic. The second one was Ninety-Nine Nights, with Tetsuya Mizuguchi. I was actually in Korea for about a year to fix this project.
GS: What was wrong with it?
RN: It was just going so wrong. So I was there, Mizuguchi was there, to kind of sort it out. But it slipped by about three months, and we were shooting for launch. It came out a little later. Then one project that we were doing with Mr. Okamoto (and Game Republic) was canned.
GS: What was that project, if you can say?
RN: It was a third-person shooter game with a Japanese samurai. Kind of half historical, half sci-fi. Then came three RPGs: one was Blue Dragon, another was Lost Odyssey, and Infinite Undiscovery. I started those six, but Ninety-Nine Nights was going so bad, I had to spent 80% of my time on that until it was done.
Now we have three projects left. Out of those three, Lost Odyssey was our biggest, and wasn't going that well, so my boss asked me to take over the project and fix the problems. I had to physically relocate to Feelplus Studio.
GS: Did you start Feelplus?
RN: No...well Microsoft and Hayao Nakayama, who founded AQ Interactive (also ex Sega boss), discussed it. Lost Odyssey was once an internal (Microsoft) project that was done by my staff anyway, but it wasn't going well. One of the reasons it wasn't going well was because it was an internal project, and Microsoft’s culture and systems made it harder – we couldn’t go smoothly.
That's when we decided to make our team an independent studio, and I asked Mr. Nakayama to found the company. I then moved in several Microsoft people into that studio, and also hired a good number of people into that studio. Mr. Nakayama and I, on behalf of Microsoft Japan, discussed starting up a company, but it was originally managed by one of Mr. Nakayama's people. I joined that company a little later, after I finished Ninety-Nine Nights.
GS: Was Lost Odyssey spearheaded by (Final Fantasy creator) Hironobu Sakaguchi to begin with?
RN: Yeah. Discussion for the project started in 2003 or 2004.