Since there have obviously been a lot of shifts in the team, how do you maintain not only the company culture but also the Team Ninja game style?
YH: There were already around a hundred people at Team Ninja before the changes. Even if several of the people left, it's like soil. The soil is still there. So even if the grass that comes up dies away, there will be new grass that comes up. And even after that, the new grass is coming from the same soil, the same base. It will still be similar and maintain that base and that feel.
There are still people that have been there longer than I have. So, that soil is there. When the new people come in, even without specifically teaching them the Team Ninja way of doing things, they just become part of that soil, it becomes part of them, and they become part of the team.
This may also be an opportunity to do new, original things. I'm not surprised that there will be a new Ninja Gaiden or a new Dead or Alive, but somehow I also thought that with a slightly new direction, there might be some other new stuff that we would see. Maybe that's still to come...
YH: The idea of a new franchise, a new IP, actually came up, but when we're looking at a new Team Ninja making a new game as a new team, we have fans out there already for Ninja Gaiden and Dead or Alive, and we thought it would be best to reach out to those fans and show them, yes, it's a new team, but we still can make a damn good Ninja Gaiden and a damn good Dead or Alive, and prove ourselves through the game and move on from there.
We knew that we would be asked about the past Team Ninja and the Team Ninja moving forward and what's that going to mean. We know that in making a new Dead or Alive and a new Ninja Gaiden, we're going to be compared to the past works, and we're prepared to be judged by our work.
We want people to take an honest look and judge us by the work we do. If we were to make a new franchise, that would be the easy way out, because no one would have anything to compare it to.
But for us, going back and saying, "We're going to make a new Ninja Gaiden, we're going to make a new Dead or Alive, and we're actually daring to do that," that's a statement for us. We're prepared to back that up with the games themselves.
You've announced Dead or Alive for Nintendo 3DS. How have you found the 3DS to work on?
YH: The 3DS is, you know, itself easy to develop for. It is a handheld platform, so it is relatively easy from a development perspective. But being 3D, other than just the technical specifications, we have to figure out how to use 3D well, use that effect well, and that's something we're playing with -- literally playing with, having fun trying to figure that out.
Is it difficult to figure out just in what areas to use it? We're still in the early days of 3D film actually, where everything is all about novelty -- spears flying out the screen at you and that kind of stuff. How do you know when and where you really want to showcase the 3D?
YH: So, up until now, 3D has been in the realm of not an everyday experience. We think that with the 3DS, this will be the first time that anybody can get a 3D experience just about anywhere, and it will be a part of everyday life.
So, we're trying to put out a 3D fighting game and see how that goes, and learn from that experience and go from there to see where 3D should go and how to make 3D fun and how to use that for the whole experience.
Speaking of Team Ninja doing DOA in 3D, like DOA always has this sexy element to it, and putting that in 3D is amusing to me, like the potential possibilities, that is really funny.
YH: We haven't really talked about that, but we figured that people would be thinking in that direction.
We kind of think of it as up until now, you've had an actress that's on TV, they're just on that side of the screen, but now with the 3DS, you have that person right there with you, so that should be fun and a different experience.
Previously, you had the screen, and the only real like link in actual space between you and that screen before had been sound. Sound fills all the space regardless of the image. The image is just on the screen, but now you also have the screen reaching out to you as well and bringing you even closer. Do you think that actually changes the dynamic of games at all? Intrinsically?
YH: The sense of depth, being able to really feel and understand depth, I think, is going to be really big. Figuring out how to use that well in the game, to design a game around that, will still take a little bit of time. You know, we're obviously playing with that on our end as well, but to potentially make something fun and put that in the game right, that will take a little bit of time.
It seems the best way to start is with some kind of known quantity and figure out how you can make that fun in 3D, and then after that figure out, "Okay. What can this 3D space properly do?" Like the next generation of 3D.
YH: I don't think everything will be revolutionized, but we do think that will allow a different kind of gameplay and more gameplay. So, right now, game designers are looking at how to use that and how to implement that aspect of gameplay into a whole game.