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Outspoken developer Tomonobu Itagaki, having left Tecmo in 2008, set up his own new studio, Valhalla Games Studios, in 2009. Since that time, the developer has been working on Devil's Third, a shooter for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 -- which isn't due to be released until 2013, he tells Gamasutra.
"You already know the answer," he teased Gamasutra, when asked if he was hoping to make the best shooter in the industry, when we spoke to him at E3. "I will do everything I can to achieve that, okay? And to make the best fighting game, it took a long time to do that, but I think I made it. So to make the best game in this genre now, I might take a long time, but I know I'm going to do it."
In this new interview, Itagaki goes more into the depths of his ambition, talks about his respect for and fandom of games like Modern Warfare and Battlefield 3 -- but also his plans to surpass them. "If you look at military-themed games, do you really feel like it's a battlefield you're seeing?" he asks.
We're not seeing much of Devil's Third yet.
Tomonobu Itagaki: Well, it's coming out the year after next, so... The game's actually in a pretty impressive state, but we want to keep the hype under control for the time being. So I apologize to our fans, but I hope they can wait a bit.
Last we spoke, you said you wanted to challenge the top with this game, as you did with previous genres. It took you a few iterations to get to the top in fighting games; do you think you can do it in one go this time?
TI: Well, I doubt that's possible. At the same time, though, I think you know how tenacious I can be until I reach the top. We're still in the realm of home consoles at the moment, but the definition of "top" can be nebulous; it can be about quality, or about sales, or other things. If you compared our console product with the latest top-of-the-line shooters running on the latest gaming PCs, then it's not going to win against that. There is one area we can aim for top with this game, though, and that's in playability.
One reason that Western developers have done so well with shooters is the years of experience they have in the genre. This is a new genre you're tackling; how do you feel about that?
TI: My response to that is I feel that we managed to catch up with Virtua Fighter, and we caught up with the competition when we released action games as well. Maybe we can't destroy them with the very first title, but like I said, I feel we can more than compete on the playability front. Besides, I'm not sure that every American developer or designer out there knows all that much about military stuff. What do you think about that?
I think it's more a matter of art -- getting the realism there, as opposed to really simulating the military look and feel.
TI: Right. There's one thing I want to be sure that you and the readers don't get the wrong idea about. I'm not intending to insult any game here; I'm just stating facts. In Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, there's a Russian Typhoon-class submarine that shows up; have you seen that scene?
There's a mission that shows you getting into the submarine after approaching it. There are two propellers, on the submarine, and they're rotating in the same direction. That's impossible, though, because it wouldn't work to propel the craft; that can't exist in real life. That's the truth, and I speak as a major fan of Modern Warfare who really respects what they've done.
That's why I don't think everyone who makes war games like that has a full knowledge of war technology, or the physics and weapons involved. Maybe it's all little details, but it's a big surprise to me that that incorrect detail went unnoticed by anyone -- as they put it in their E3 trailer. It's like "What is that?" Don't you think?
Do I think it's an important thing?
TI: No. What do you think about the fact they're showing off a submarine that ignores the laws of physics? It'd be like an airplane flying backwards, and it's surprising to me that something a nonsensical as that went unnoticed by anyone.
I think it's surprising. I know how it is; you've produced many demos for trade shows, trailers and stuff, and I know deadlines can be very right, but it is a surprise.
TI: Yeah, and that's why I don't want to be misunderstood about my motives in pointing this out. I bring it up to point out that even though some studios have been making war games for a long time, that doesn't mean they have knowledge of technology or weaponry or whatnot which is unassailable by anyone else.