Though its name is not on the tip of most people's tongues, Koei is an important force in game development. Its Dynasty Warriors series -- which has split off in a multitude of different directions across a nearly uncountable number of SKUs -- is one of the most popular in Japan, and a massive sleeper success in the rest of the world.
The company has also opened up a new studio in Canada, with its first Unreal Engine 3 title, Fatal Inertia
, recently released on the Xbox 360. The company also has its first Wii title, Samurai Warriors Katana
, coming in December. We talked to three senior staff at the publisher to learn more about its fortunes in the next-gen wars, how multi-title, multiplatform Japanese studios function, and about opening a new studio in Canada with an international team.
Noting that some Japanese game creators have expressed concern that Japan may be falling behind in technology, due to the policy of not sharing assets and ideas within the industry, leading to widespread middleware use. Takazumi Tomoike, managing executive officer and deputy general manager of Koei's software division, shares that worry:
"Actually, even within Koei, we are not always able to share technical information within the company itself. And it is true that we are not as good in Japan as the U.S. at sharing information and technology, to use the latest and greatest. The United States is better at doing that I believe, and I think this is reflected in the titles, the hit titles that you see worldwide. You used to see a whole bunch of Japanese titles and products and now there are only a few that you can count very easily. So I think you're right, Japan may be falling slightly behind in that sense.
Gamasutra also spoke with Hisashi Koinuma about Dynasty Warriors: Gundam
and the company's first Wii effort. How was the ease of development on that system?
"You can say this about any hardware platform, but unless you're trying to squeeze out the maximum potential from the platform, it's not all that difficult to develop a title for a new platform, a next-gen platform. But when you really try to take it to the max, then that's when the real big challenge comes in. And I believe it usually takes a couple of years before we reach that state, and I think we've yet to see the best titles come out for each platform. In terms of learning the platform, it wasn't that much more challenging than any other platform. Rather, the real challenge had to do with figuring out how to use the Wiimote.
You can now read the full feature
, which contains details on Fatal Inertia
, more on Dynasty Warriors
, and an interesting look at a few of the challenges facing the Japanese game market (no reg. required, please feel free to link to this feature from other websites).