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Yoshiki Okamoto: Japan's Game Maverick Speaks
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Yoshiki Okamoto: Japan's Game Maverick Speaks

May 2, 2008 Article Start Previous Page 5 of 8 Next

CN: I've talked to a number of Japanese developers about technology, and they don't seem to have as good next generation technology as some of the western developers. Do you think that's a problem right now, and how are you addressing that at your company?

YO: I actually have that sense myself. But from a technological standpoint, I think we can catch up. Once something is released, we can see what sort of technology it uses. The real test will be once we've learned to use that technology ourselves. Being the first to make something is always incredibly difficult, while following in those footsteps is never quite as hard.

We're definitely lagging behind at the moment -- that's clear. And for a company like ours, without much history, this is especially true. But we'll catch up. And when we do, we'll add our own unique innovations to what's already been done. I want attention to detail to be the thing that sets our games apart.

CN: I think Capcom, which is sort of ironic when talking to you, is the only Japanese developer that's really got a functioning next-generation engine right now. One that's been developed internally, that is.

YO: On the subject of engines, Capcom is the last name we want to be hearing right now. (laughs) I mean, I don't want to think that we're copying them, because I'm supposed to have graduated from there, right? But I also can't deny we want to develop an internal engine like they have. I wonder if I've still got Capcom blood flowing in my veins.

Personally, I'm hoping I've been able to move on, but... Our way of thinking is probably similar, but again, from a personal standpoint, I don't want to feel I'm being influenced by them. It's actually kind of weird. I went independent because I thought I was different, after all. Maybe I haven't changed as much as I'd thought.

CN: It's interesting, because while Capcom is very successful right now, they've also lost their big developers. They lost you for example, and shortly after, Inaba-san, Mikami-san, and Kamiya-san, so it's like... what's going on there?

YO: Seriously, they really have lost a lot of people. They're still all right, though. People are going to keep leaving. And by that I mean they still have some room to breathe. If they really didn't want to keep losing people, they'd do something to convince them to stay, you know? I think it means the core of the company is still strong.

You'd think they'd do everything they could to hold on to the people they have, but the fact that they aren't has got to mean they're okay with how things are going on some level. I mean, it's only been five years since I left them myself, so I can't be certain.

Some of the younger employees who are thinking of quitting come to see me, and I try to give them advice. This usually amounts to me complaining about how hard being independent is, and how we don't have any money, but I want to help them if I can. (laughs) I also say that if they can bear staying with Capcom, they probably should. Everybody has dreams, though, I guess.

YMG: So then, dreams don't come true for people working at Capcom?

YO: Not as easily, that's for sure. As a creator in a big company, there's never any guarantee that what you want to do will match with what the company wants you to do. But going independent doesn't mean you get to have everything your own way, either. Like I mentioned earlier, we naturally want to return the favor to companies that helped us out when we were getting started.

So, they may ask us to make game A. Even though we know it might be better to make game B, they need someone to make A for them, and we're obligated to do it. We've had situations like that. So I guess it's never easy.

All I can do for these younger developers, is to explain these sorts of things to them, and then tell them to go for it if they haven't changed their minds. So in the end, I think Capcom is probably doing fine. They don't seem to be in a panic to stop people from leaving.

Article Start Previous Page 5 of 8 Next

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