You have a desire to work with Western studios -- why is that? Because of their expertise, or because they can create games that can't be made in Japan?
KI: I think it's because Western studios have such a different way of thinking about projects that it becomes a huge learning experience for me. To give one example, something that I can very easily and succinctly explain to a Japanese game maker winds up being something I have to go into all of this extraneous detail to get across to Western developers. And in the midst of all this explanation, I start to realize that I don't have any particularly compelling reason why I'm doing it the way I'm trying to explain it.
It's made me realize that if I want to come up with something that will satisfy Western gamers, I'll have to do something that satisfies Western developers first. That, in turn, will make Westerners want to learn more behind the Japanese process, and it winds up becoming a learning experience for both sides. I think that's very important, and also the most interesting part of working with them.
I know you can't talk 100 percent about Capcom stuff, but was it your idea to acquire the studio in Vancouver that made Dead Rising?
KI: (laughs) Well, Capcom will get angry so I can't talk about that, but I guess I can say that I had some influence, at least. (laughs)
What I can say, though, that purchasing an outfit, in of itself, doesn't mean much. What does is the stuff that happens after the purchase -- whether the two entities can really work together afterwards. If that doesn't work, there's no point in buying; if it does, then there very much was a point to it.
We've seen examples of Japanese developers working with Western studios, and it hasn't been super great. You talked about how communication is often not that simple. Do you feel that you can surmount that, given your experience so far. Do you think it's cultural, or just a matter of understanding the way Western developers work?
KI: Well, for example, the way I do it -- and how it was on Dead Rising -- I try to establish communication every week, or at least that much. The number of contacts itself isn't all that important, though. What is is that we're communicating while having a full understanding of what's going on culture-wise between the two sides. Otherwise it won't work. We had to understand what works best with Japan development and what works best over in Canada.
I think you often see the case in Japanese companies of people seeing communication as important, but not really doing anything of value in the midst of that communication. Oftentimes, that kind of talk isn't really about communication or culture; it's about figuring out how to get the other side to do what you want. Like, "We gave them all this money and left them to it, so why isn't it working?"
It may be a matter of relying too much on the abilities of the other side, but either way, it often works less than optimally from the Japanese side. I wonder if the fact that we're largely a homogenous island nation makes it hard for us to really get what's going on when there are all of these other cultures we're dealing with.
Has it been more or less challenging to sign projects with other publishers than you imagined, now that you're an independent?
KI: I wouldn't call it difficult to make ties with publishers and arrive at common ground with them, but I think with Japan, it's just become harder in general to push projects forward. That goes for whether you're working with an outside dev, or you're internal in Capcom trying to get something going. So I don't think it's harder for me, but I do think it's harder for everyone now. Compared to my time at Capcom, being able to talk with a great variety of publishers opens up a lot of new opportunities. In that way, it's gotten easier.