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Yeah, Iwai is a pretty good fellow. I'm sold on him. I interviewed with him my first time at TGS; I think he must not have been working there very long, at that point.
DR: No, no. He is literally one of those guys who's young enough and just, I think, listens, you know what I'm saying? He doesn't have to be right, he doesn't have to know everything, but he's the boss, and he's like really intuitive with people around him, and he's certainly not shy about telling you you suck.
And you can't get away from him, you know what I'm saying? He's like one of those coaches that's grabbin' you by the mask, and he's lookin' at you in the mask, and you've got spittle all over your face, and you're really fuckin' afraid of him but you go out there and you don't want to disappoint him. That's the kind of boss I want.
So you're saying Gonzo was on its last legs itself?
RD: I don't know anything about [them] -- I didn't know they existed until I met Eric, and Eric did an amazing job selling the series. He was instrumental in selling the series, and I think when I saw-- I actually-- The series was brought to me by my assistant at the time, Mark Brown, my assistant producer on another game, and I refused to see the trailer for almost two months.
He started trying to show me in, like, '05, and it's like December, and I didn't look at it until February. And he was right over the cube wall, and I just heard the word "afro" and I'm like "Ugh, I've got things to do, I don't need this drama," And he's like, "You've gotta to see this!" And man, when I saw it? It changed everything. Oh my god, it was awesome.
Yeah, it definitely had the potential, as a concept, to go down the wrong path -- but once you get Samuel L. Jackson voicing it...
RD: Yes. Well I think that enough people who were cool enough decided to take a risk on this one, you know? It's like a real magical thing, because it's like tumblers, right? You've got these thousands of tumblers, and everybody has to agree to do one thing, and boom, the spark goes through, and pshew, you've got The Matrix. The first one, at least. And Afro.
You mentioned that Yasuhara has a build at his desk; has he given you any suggestions?
RD: He's asking for a lot of suggestions. He's kinda got this aura of greatness around him, so we tiptoe around there. And there's like a five foot space between him and the rest of the designers; there's a lot of respect for him, in the studio. And a lot of mutual friends -- the guys at Naughty Dog, and everyone, kind of grew up, kind-of in parallel houses, so there's always been a free exchange of ideas and trouble and...
When he went there, from Sega, it was huge; it was like he had joined the family. And then when he came to us, through Mr. Hector -- Roger Hector -- in getting Mr. Hector in the studio, was another one of those things that changed Namco permanently for the better. Because he had an institutionally overqualified understanding of how games are made, and how process is important to predictability, and what you can expect, as a parent, making a game.
I call him Obi Wan, because he just literally is the calmest, coolest guy, and he just has the friggin' answer, and he's an amazing artist, and there's all this finished art that that he did; and when your boss is the freakin' Sith Lord, it's easier to understand it. But he was an artist on Battlezone... I mean, he's just got mad props. So, I mean, that sealed it.
He designed a car.
RD: I remember, when we first heard he was coming on, we were all sitting in the media room, and we were going through his website, just shaking our heads. You can usually say, "I've done more than my boss," but this guy had us beat by a hundred years! We could be seventy, and still not accomplish as much as him. And he's so absolutely humble about it, that it's absolutely cool.
I can imagine from his perspective, he's this gigantic lion with all this knowledge, and we're just little puppies running around, poopin' everywhere. It's great. So it's great, it's great. Him and Iwai make a great team. Really, when a team is falling on its face, they were literally picking up the baby out of the mud, dusting him off, and keep pushing him forward. You know? Like, they're not holding us back, and trying to make things safe; it's just, like, "Go! Go!"
Iwai kinda looks like a lion, or a general, possibly.
RD: He is a very cool dude. He has very "general" qualities; very forward thinking. "March. Get it done."