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Yoshiki Okamoto: Japan's Game Maverick Speaks


May 2, 2008 Article Start Previous Page 4 of 8 Next
 

CN: Game Republic has made a lot of interesting games, but it hasn't been quite as successful a company as I'd thought it would be.

YO: From the beginning, we planned for these first three years to be a time to focus mainly on growing the company -- to increase the number of people working for us, and the scale of the company in general. This has meant having to hire a lot of young employees, many of whom lacked experience in the industry.

They might not be ready to form development teams, but we needed them nonetheless. Like, we might lack scenario planners, but have an opportunity to hire programmers, and we have to go for it. Our goal was to try and hire anybody we thought could be of use in the future, and that's really taken these first three years.

During the next three, the aim is to really improve the quality of the products we turn out -- to really succeed in this regard. Like, if we can get people to invest in our company now, and if we work hard at this, then by years four, five, and six we'll start being able to make quality games. In the seventh, eighth, and ninth years, the goal will be maintaining that quality.

The human resources we've gathered by that point will allow us to start cutting our operating costs. It's generally understood in the [Japanese] market today that a company can start producing interesting games in its fourth, fifth, and sixth years, but still not turn much of a profit. The company is supposed to start making money in years seven through nine, and then those profits can be shared by all the employees. So it's sort of a nine year plan we're on.

Yuki: How old is the company now?

YO: This is our fourth year. We're about four and a half years old now.

CN: Do you think you can give an honest estimation on the quality of the games you've made so far?

YO: As unfortunate as it is, I haven't been happy with them at all. I feel like in each case something's prevented us from putting what I'd consider to be the final touches on the games. A lot of the games we've made so far have been launch titles.

Whenever you're trying to get a game finished to coincide with a console launch, you're bound to run into a few development snags, and you'll always wish you had a little more time. These companies we were indebted to needed someone to be part of that first bloody charge though, so I was like "okay, we'll do it." As a developer though, it's a little...

YMG: It's sort of like being part of a suicide mission?

(laughter from all)

YO: Yeah, our "strike force" hasn't stood much of a chance, so far. Still, this is sort of the way things work for younger companies, so we accept it and do the best we can with what's available to us. I can't really ask anything more than that from our employees. Not when we're being asked to have the highest quality games ready for sale on launch day.

Game Republic's Genji: Days of the Blade

CN: I think Genji 1 was actually better than Genji 2, which was sort of a sad situation for your company.

YO: I agree with you. With Genji 2, not only were we asked to have the game ready for launch, but also to make it a sort of tech demo for the PS3 hardware. The camera ended up being way too close to the character, though I feel the graphics turned out pretty well. It was also difficult to control.

CN: I actually thought the game played all right, but that the level design was a little lackluster.

YO: Again, I think the problem was not having enough time. We were working with a pretty tight schedule, so the time for level design and game balance may have...

YMG: Like polishing the game's graphics became more of a priority.

YO: Right. That's what we chose to focus on. Which is what we were asked to do, really. And we couldn't do it all without sacrificing something. Unfortunately, what ended up getting cut this time were the things that would've made the game more fun to play.


Article Start Previous Page 4 of 8 Next

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