Yuji Naka On New Beginnings At His Studio, Prope
December 29, 2008 Page 3 of 3
YN: Before I left Sega, I was high enough up that I was looking at every game the company was developing.
Once I was in that position, though, I found that I wanted to get into the nitty-gritty details instead with the games, including Sonic -- the whole "it'd be better if this bit were like this instead of that" type of thing. There was a lot I wanted to do that I couldn't gauge until someone actually tried making it.
So, at the age of 40, I convinced Sega to let me build a company -- since it's Sega that's behind the company, they're the one publishing the games.
Really, if you're a game creator, no matter how high a position you have in the industry, you need to keep creating.
It's better for the industry, and it's more fun for everybody involved.
How many people are in Prope right now?
YN: Right now it's about 40 staff members.
Will the "Let's" lineup become a series of games?
YN: If it sells well enough, sure. Of course, you can't really say how well it'll sell at this point, but if it does great -- if we can get a lot of people to play it and enjoy it -- I'd love to make another one.
Is Prope focused on these types of simpler games?
YN: We're actually planning on making a game like Sonic right now. We want to keep trying to make various kinds of games.
Character games and so on?
YN: Yes, that's what we're making now.
I noticed the penguin on the promotional page [one of the slogans for this game is "The world's first game that even a penguin can play!"] -- you see them on Suica [mass transit] cards too. What is with Japanese people and their fascination with penguins?
YN: You're right! Well, I like them! I always have. And, you know, it's true that even a penguin can play this.
The stand over there, showing the visualizer -- all you do in that game is tap away, and there really isn't anything more to it.
Anyone from a one-year-old to some 80-year-old man can enjoy that mode; it's the sort of thing you can see for yourself when you try it out.
In fact, the controller's so good at detecting the tapping that you can play it with your feet, if you actually wanted to try that.
I'd like to see some penguin playtesting.
YN: I sure would too!
For that matter, this is a game that people who are missing limbs could potentially play. Did you think about that as well?
YN: I can't say I was thinking about that in particular, but it always makes me happy to see a large variety of people enjoying our work.
There's a site called AbleGamers, a site written for disabled video game fans. This is certainly a project they would find interesting.
YN: I can definitely see that, because they wouldn't have any problem playing this, certainly. You can play the game with a single finger, even.
Have you ever considered giving a talk about your ideas at GDC?
YN: I'd certainly like to go again, but if I do, I definitely want to get the First Penguin Award. (laughs) That's part of the reason why I'm making new games like this one.
It's really a shame that they changed the name of it to the Pioneer Award. If I had the choice, I'd much rather have the "First Penguin" one someday! Even if it takes me another 10 or 20 years!
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