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Yoshiki Okamoto is a luminary of the Japanese gaming industry. He got his start in the '80s at Konami, producing arcade classics Gyruss and Time Pilot, before moving to Capcom to work on such hits as 1942, Street Fighter II and Resident Evil.
In 2004, Okamoto left Capcom and founded his own development studio, Game Republic, which has since produced a number of games, principally on behalf of Sony -- the Genji series for PS2 and PS3, Brave Story: New Traveler for PSP and Folklore for PS3 comprising the lion's share of the company's output.
Okamoto was joined in this discussion by Shinichiro Kajitani, executive vice president of Game Republic. The two confirmed to Gamasutra that the company is working on its own, internal engine, but was hesitant to give any details.
For even more insights into this iconoclastic developer and his views on the state of the industry in 2008, keep reading.
Christian Nutt: It's been a few years since Game Republic formed. Could you tell us how things have been going with the company?
Yoshiki Okamoto: I'd say that from the beginning, there's been a definite direction we've wanted the company to grow in, and we've pursued that. We've been trying to grow in a variety of ways, from the people we've got working for us, to the sorts of games we make, and the quality of our finished products.
But rather than focus on these elements individually, we've always tried to make them serve the bigger picture. So, for example, just talking about personnel, we currently have 280 employees and should have over 300 after April. When we got started, we considered scenarios where we'd have 300 people working for us by this point, but we also imagined what the situation would be like with as many as 500 or as few as 100 employees.
In the big picture then, I'd say we're a little below where I'd like us to be. This is true both for the quality of the games we're making, and for the size of the company. Considering the three scenarios I mentioned above, we're really close to what I'd call my average expectations, but still coming up a bit short on the whole. Still, we're definitely well within the range of where I feel we should be.
CN: You've had the chance to work with Microsoft and Sony on different titles. Do you think working with first-party companies is the best situation for your company, or are you looking for lots of different opportunities?
YO: Heh. Do you want the honest answer, or the polite one?
CN: Well, honesty's always the best policy.
YO: Being totally honest here isn't easy. I don't really want to bad mouth Capcom, or anything. (Laughing) I went independent right around the time the new hardware started appearing. In times like that, first party companies are eager to get good software for their systems, and are also willing to pay the most.
Now though, when the consoles are really starting to become established, people can see what's worked and what hasn't, what console is on top and how likely that situation is to change. In this sort of environment, it's the third-party companies who most want to get in on the action.
So, it basically follows the demands of the gaming market. Being independent means that at a given time, we're hoping to work with the companies most eager to get good games on the market, and that have the funding to back that desire up.