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Postmortem: Capcom's Okamiden
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Postmortem: Capcom's Okamiden


March 25, 2011 Article Start Previous Page 2 of 3 Next
 

5. Facebook

With the release timing of Okamiden in Japan and the pan-Western territories some six to eight months apart, the challenge of marketing a game twice becomes an issue. Since internal development time and resources contribute to the marketing in both markets, the campaign needs careful planning.

Successfully tapping into and enlisting support from the 3rd (most likely 2nd by the time you read this) largest nation in the world -- Facebook -- quick became a boon for Okamiden.

With relatively small marketing budgets behind the title, engaging the Facebook community as well as the rabid global fan base built up during the Okami years was crucial to getting word about the game out to existing fans, friends of fans and the uninitiated.

Capcom used the Graffiti application and tapped into the 14 million users to create an Okamiden-themed Goblin Face contest. This was very successful at building the fan base and getting conversation about Okamiden renewed or in some cases started.

Facebook provided, and continues to provide, a platform to make people aware, get people talking and driving praise for the high quality creative assets produced using valuable R&D resources. By utilizing Facebook in this way, the Okami brand now has a global hub for any future titles in the series.

Over 20 different countries interact on a daily basis with the page (www.facebook.com/Okami) and we can continue to tell tales, share stories, and unfold the myths of the world of Okami in this location, sharing stories and ideas about Okami beyond digital borders in a very social way.

What Went Wrong

1. Character Re-Designs

Once we decided that the game would be played with two characters, Chibiterasu and a partner that rides on the wolf god's back, we began working with the designer on the Kuni character. Since Kuni is the first partner to appear in the game, we had to make sure he was really energetic.

We worked with the design team to lock down the direction we wanted to take with Kuni. The teams would disagree from time to time, but we talked through the issues, came to an agreement, and moved forward with the design. The character model looked great on the Maya 3D engine, and we began programming the basic animations. Finally, the time came to test it out on the Nintendo DS.

When we had Kuni climb onto Chibiterasu's back and run around the screen, something just did not feel right. We tried for hours and hours but simply could not make it satisfactory. We dreaded the possibility that the designers would have to toss their work out and start from the beginning. After all, we cannot force players to play something that we cannot appreciate.

We began working with all of the design teams (character, model, animation, etc.) and discussed the reasons why Kuni did not turn out as we had hoped on the Nintendo DS, not relishing the notion of going back and re-designing Kuni from the start, and how much time this whole process would take. But without a single complaint, the team came together and agreed to make an even better character model.

After discussing what worked and what did not work, we decided to come up with a character direction everyone could agree upon. This way, it was no longer something one was told to make, but rather, something that each person could visualize and contribute. While for some teams this process may have decreased morale, for us, it helped us come together and work even harder.

2. Managing Internal and External Teams

A good team leader is able to work with each department to define clear and understandable roles, and help the leaders with any on-the-spot problems and concerns. Had that been the case, even if something like the Kuni re-design were to happen again, then the team would make sure to move on quickly and do our best to fix it.

Also, by creating an environment that allows everyone to speak freely about what they think about the game, the team would be able to input their own ideas and feel as though they are contributing something to the project. Had the teams been under such management, they would have performed without a problem through simple schedule management and direction.

And while this all sounds good in theory, the schedule for Okamiden was not as such. The head of each department held their own sense of pride and responsibility for their piece of the game. Each of the department heads was striving for perfection. Be it Art, Sound, or Programming, this individual "perfection in my group" approach affected the greater whole of the project.

One by one, each of these elements began to take their toll on the schedules and eventually on the latter half of the game itself. Some of the latter half of the game had to be revised and scoped differently than initial plans. Next time, we will be sure to manage our schedules better and work in harmony as collective team for the greater good of the game instead of staying overly focused on perfection in our individual departments.

3. Split Release

Ideally, all games would be produced and sold worldwide at the same time. Since Okamiden was developed in Japan, we were asked to complete the Japanese version first. In the time between the releases of the Japanese version and the pan-Western SKUs, information about the game was posted to the internet. We understood that fact and therefore did not place many restrictions on the information or assets used for overseas PR promotions.

Without giving away any particular spoilers, stages, characters, enemies, and bosses were revealed not with teaser trailers that we posted online. This was a great way to get information about the game out there, but made it difficult to promote the title through traditional PR methods globally and created the need to make additional assets for the pan-Western marketing campaign.

This is obviously a strain on development resources and something we are more acutely aware of now. Japanese consumers and print media seem to prefer screenshots while pan-Western audiences prefer videos and trailers. Using development resources to create these assets can tax the development schedule and team resources. We all worked very hard to make sure the best possible assets were created for each specific market. We will work to improve on this in the future.


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