At that time, what was your role on the original titles? Because obviously it was only 10 people, so I'm sure you had a lot to do, but what did you personally contribute?
HM: Graphic designer -- 90% of Tail Concerto and Silent Bomber's background graphics, as well as the level design, was done by me alone. There were only 10 of us, and I did 90% of the level design and background graphic CGs.
You're well aware that I really liked both of those games, because we've talked many times about them, but at that time the company was struggling a little bit, because they didn't sell particularly well, and that must have been sad -- so if you could talk a bit about the company's early years. I remember way back when .hack was first announced, there was a joke that it was the last chance for the company.
HM: As written [in our brochure], only 150,000 units sold, worldwide, of Tail Concerto. Although you can't really say that that's a high sales figure, it did generate a lot of fandom, and enough fandom to essentially create cries for a sequel at this point. People had been demanding a sequel. So despite the number, it has generated quite a fandom on its own.
At that time, though, CyberConnect, as well as Bandai Games, had figured that they'd be able to sell more than that. So the desire with Silent Bomber was: let's create a game that would be accepted worldwide, would have lots of action, would generate a lot of fans across the world, and would sell well.
Bandai/CyberConnect2's Silent Bomber
So that was the desire that went into the creation of Silent Bomber -- the problem is that it sold even worse than Tail Concerto. And at that time, I knew the reason, you know -- I knew the reason why the game didn't sell. Despite the fact that it was the second title that we were putting out, it did not even reach half the sales figure of our first title.
The problem was with the method of creating the software: with the 10 people that were there, the development was approached from a democratic perspective. The nine people that were from Taito had had a rotten experience with the whole top-down chain of command.
Based on that background, everybody decided, "Alright, well, let's avoid that development approach." Rather than have somebody be the center of focus for proceeding with development, let's all pitch in; let's all have our opinion; let's all have our voices be heard, and we'll all work together cooperatively and create a video game together.
There were 10 people that founded CyberConnect, and more or less all 10 of them operated as equals, on an equal level -- but, in title, my friend from university, from the manga club, who worked at Taito, operated as president of the company, the CEO.
And at that point, I had already had experience with the real world -- I had been an experienced professional for some time, working for a company that has nothing to do with the video game industry -- so I had seen how business is done, and I looked at the business model that we had.
I went up to my friend who is president, and said, "There's something wrong with this model. We can't fight battles that we can win, and win, with this method. There are winnable battles that can't be won because of this method. We need to do something to change this business model, because it's wrong. Nobody is taking responsibility, there is no leadership, there is no direction, so we need to change it."
The problem was, based on everyone's sour experience with Taito, it was very difficult to proceed with changing the direction to anything other than an "everyone is equal" type of approach.