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Yamaoka Talks  Silent Hill 5 , Japanese Game Development 'In Trouble'

Yamaoka Talks Silent Hill 5, Japanese Game Development 'In Trouble'

December 26, 2007 | By Brandon Sheffield, Staff

December 26, 2007 | By Brandon Sheffield, Staff
More: Console/PC

As part of an extended interview published today on Gamasutra, Konami sound director Akira Yamaoka has been discussing both progress on the Western-developed Silent Hill 5 and the state of Japanese development, suggesting "Japan is in trouble" when it comes to game development sophistication.

The interview, originally printed in the December 2007 issue of Game Developer magazine, has been expanded for its appearance on Gamasutra, and includes Yamaoka answering why Konami chose California-based developer The Collective for the currently in-development Silent Hill 5: "Basically, their graphical skill... and also they really understand the world and concept of Silent Hill."

In addition, when asked: 'What is it like working with an American team for Silent Hill 5? Is it different from having a team in-house with you?', Yamaoka commented:

"It's completely different working with an American team. There are of course advantages and disadvantages, but overall, I'm really impressed with the American staff and their technology. Their graphical and technical ability is amazing.

There's a huge gap, actually. They're very advanced. I'm Japanese, and I think this is not just with Silent Hill but with the whole of the industry -- I look at what American developers are doing and I think wow... Japan is in trouble."

Later in the interview, Yamaoka elaborates in-depth on the issues he currently sees in Japanese game creator, explaining why he feels Japan has some issues when it comes to creating cutting-edge titles:

"There are two reasons I think. One is that the development environment in Japan is divided into developers and publishers. Publishers have to create a game in a short amount of time at low cost, and it's a lot of pressure on them in that respect, and they pass that on to the developers. So basically it has to be done as quickly and cheaply as possible. And the people doing this are getting old like me. And tired! And the salary isn't that great.

So you've got pressure on these people to perform like they did when they were 20, and it's just not possible. I look at a game magazine, and I see interviews with the "important creators," like Mr. Sakaguchi. He's a great game creator, but he's not young. And I don't see many young game creators in Japan. Then I look at the west, and I see all these young guys coming up so fast, it's just amazing.

The second reason is that... well for example, on another project [we] were in development for a while, and we realized that we needed a new driver for some graphics program. That happens of course. So we looked around for it, and we found it, OK. Same maker, same everything, should be fine right? But the problem is they're all in English. So we get this thing and we have to localize it into Japanese.

So we don't have a lot of people who can understand English deeply enough for something like that, so that reduces speed. And while we're waiting for that, we're already a step behind everyone else who can understand it intuitively. This sort of thing builds up, and we just fall further behind. I mean of course we can understand it once we know what it says, but this falling behind really affects the quality of what we can do. So that's the second big problem."

The full interview with Konami's Yamaoka is now available at Gamasutra, including plenty more in-depth information on his history in the business, his work on the Silent Hill movie and his new CD, iFuturelist.

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