Why tackle the racing genre right now?
TT: As I mentioned earlier, Michael Bond came up with this idea around the same time Koei was interested in making titles that would appeal more to the American and European markets, and even though it's not as popular as FPS, racing is definitely a popular genre in those areas. So there was the company's intention to try out something new, and Michael came up with this idea at the same time, so these two things matched, and that's why we decided to go for it.
How many people are working on the game right now?
TT: There are about 20 people who are dedicated to developing this title. And of course we have a lot more people involved with the CG. We have a couple of members in Lithuania, as well as people in Japan who helped out with the graphics, but there are about 20 people involved with development.
That's quite small for many next-gen games, in fact.
TT: That's true, but this has to do with the fact that it's a racing game. With next-gen platforms, CG is really where the effort needs to go to. When we have a lot of human motion and events and stories happen in that title, then it can be quite labor-intensive. But with a racing there is no complicated story, so we were able to do it with a small group of people.
Is this also an experiment in using cross-platform middleware?
TT: Yes that is true. Until recently Koei has always used its original engine, but we decided to use someone else's technology. Unreal Engine is just one of them -- there are others out there as well. But using technology not developed by ourselves was a great learning experience, and it was an experiment on our part to see what we could learn.
Do you think that you will want to do that going forward? Or is it too hard to make the middleware fit your needs?
TT: I personally think that there's still a lot that can be learned by using a third-party engine. However, Koei does have a team that is a dedicated to developing our own engine. So the long-term goal is to develop something all our own that is quite high in quality, but in the meantime, I think we could still learn from using technology developed by someone else.
Recently, a lot of Japanese creators have said that Japan is falling behind in terms of technology, because there's not as much asset and idea sharing within the industry. It seems like that is why middleware is being used. Do you think you will be able to keep up for a long time?
TT: Actually, even within Koei, we are not always able to share technical information within the company itself. And it is true that we are not as good in Japan as the U.S. at sharing information and technology, to use the latest and greatest. The United States is better at doing that I believe, and I think this is reflected in the titles, the hit titles that you see worldwide. You used to see a whole bunch of Japanese titles and products and now there are only a few that you can count very easily. So I think you're right, Japan may be falling slightly behind in that sense.