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Konami's Shingo Mukaitoge is a rising star within the Japanese-headquartered developer -- having spearheaded the company's development of original Wii titles with original IP titles Elebits and, more recently, Dewy's Adventure.
Gamasutra recently had a chance to sit down with Mukaitoge for an exclusive in-depth interview about how he got his start in the video game business, the development of Dewy, how the ideas for those two original Wii games formed, and what the future has in store for his team.
How did you get into Konami from the start, and start working on games?
Shingo Mukaitoge: That's a deep question, somehow! I studied architecture in college. I used 3D CAD in architecture, maybe because I loved games, and I think maybe that's why I became interested in 3D games, and the way they moved. I started with a small company for video games.
SM: It's small, so I don't want to say the company's name.
But it's always fun to know!
SM: I couldn't do what I wanted to do at that company, which is why I moved to Konami.
When you were studying architecture, did you actually complete any projects in architecture, or did you leave before that? Did you work at an architecture company?
SM: I only studied, I didn't get to design anything real.
What games have you worked on at Konami?
SM: When I first entered, I did Puzzle Dama [Ed. note: Konami's long-running puzzle series in Japan, which borrowed themes from its other series, such as Twinbee or Tokimeki Memorial.] This one was Pop'n Music Puzzle Dama. I was a director. Then I did an anime title.
Then I went onto Bemani production as a software producer, for Beatmania, Guitar Freaks, and Drummania, all the console versions. Then I did some proper Pop'n Music games. I don't really remember which ones exactly, but I think it was Pop'n Music 11, 12, and 13 for PlayStation 2? Then there was Elebits and Dewy's Adventure.
What was the thing in college at that small company that you wanted to do, and have you done it yet?
SM: I wanted to make my own original game, but at small companies like the one I started in, the publisher says, "Hey, make this game." So I had to follow that order. I left the company because I wanted to make my game. But of course I couldn't make my own game right away at Konami either. Elebits was my first original game.
That was my guess. So it took like ten years to get your wish?
SM: More like five or six years.
That's not too bad, I suppose. One thing that I think is interesting is that you haven't really worked on a game yet that has huge buildings, even though you were an architectural student. Though Elebits comes close.
SM: While I studied it in college, it's not reflected in my video games! I was actually really not well suited for architecture! (laughs)
That makes sense, then! How did you go about creating your own IP?
SM: Instead of ordering a team, "Hey, make this game," what I did was to make every team member think about games and ideas, so that they can incorporate their own ideas.