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Heaven's Night: An Interview With Akira Yamaoka
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Heaven's Night: An Interview With Akira Yamaoka

December 24, 2007 Article Start Previous Page 3 of 4 Next

That's interesting, because I've been noticing this for a while. Technology in games in Japan is falling very far behind. Usually I have to ask people if they think so, but you said it without prompting. Why do you think it is? Is there just not enough communication between companies, and sharing of technical know-how?

AY: 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.

To that point, it seems like in Japan, every company has the same problem, but they're all working on it separately by themselves. Here, we have people using the same engine, and if they're using the same engine, they'll compare ideas and problems and fixes and things like that. That's my perception of one of the problems.

AY: Definitely, that's a big one. Like back in the Famicom days, people didn't want other companies to see what they were doing to maximize the console. And it's not even company to company, even the same company with two different projects, those two teams won't share driver research or resources like I was talking about before.

That's funny, because that's another one of the things that I thought was true. I've heard of other companies where two teams are working on the same type of game, but they didn't share an engine or assets or anything. Same company, two similar games, totally different tools. I've been feeling as though that is the reason why next-gen games are not taking off in Japan, because Japanese technology has not made it easy for Japanese game creators to make games for their own market.

AY: Yes, that's absolutely true. There really aren't people who can use the tools. The people who are starting to learn this stuff in Japan are still rather green too, so they can't even meet the levels we need to get to.

Will Silent Hill be with American teams going forward?

AY: I really don't know yet.

Depends on the result, maybe?

AY: It depends on results, and how platforms perform. We don't know what's going to become of them. There are different patterns that could result, I guess.


Article Start Previous Page 3 of 4 Next

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