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What do you think are the problems in the Japanese industry right now?
RY: I really feel like creating a good video game requires sound leadership skills. It's creative work, but it's also like building a house in a way. But lately... well, you could say that there were too many companies involved in the Japanese industry in more recent times, but a bigger problem is that you have directors and producers who take a "Let's all think about this together" approach and use that to get out of their job duties.
In an environment like that, the staff stops thinking about what would be best for the game and start thinking about how to please the audience, how to please their bosses, that kind of thing.
If you want to make something good, you can't think that way -- in fact, I'd almost say that the audience doesn't matter in that respect. For example, if you're building a house on top of a mountain, there's a certain style of house that works best in that environment.
If you're building near the sea, then there's a style of house that's best for that, too. Lately, though, you've got a lot of creators who don't have a concrete plan in mind at the start of the project and sort of wing it along the way instead.
Not everyone's like that -- I think Nintendo's titles are really thought out well from the ground up; they're all really wonderful games. If you're building a waterfront property, for example, it makes sense to place a deck up high outside so you can get a good view of the water.
But what I see with Japanese companies these days, it's like they're putting up a tall building at the top of a mountain and forgetting the elevator. It's hard enough to walk up the mountain, but now they're expecting visitors to climb up all the stairs, too. There's no point in having a tall building up there in the first place. It's plain that the creators aren't thinking, or that they went astray midway.
A lot of other companies see Nintendo's initial spark of creativity and want to make games like that, but they're imitations; they don't have any individual creativity to them.
RY: That's certainly true, but I'm not saying that all companies should be like Nintendo. Instead, they need more of a sense of direction. For example, if we made a game that did nothing but perfectly simulate this room we're in, it'd be pretty boring, right? But if we took out this glass table and used the space for some kind of game, that'd be more fun.
If everything was totally realistic, it'd be no fun at all. I think Nintendo's creators understand that; they pinpoint what makes a game fun from the beginning, or else they abandon the project.
You know Demon's Souls? I love that game, and I really think it was made well. And if you look into the process behind it, the producer of it is a really big fan of King's Field and the original idea was to create a modern edition of King's Field. That pretty strictly defines the game right there, and I think that's just what the game needed -- a sound, valid sense of direction. I really think Sony had the right idea there.
If a less talented director was on that job, he'd take that idea and be like "Well, I don't really get this, but I guess we'll make a really hard game where you die a lot, and it'll be sort of fantasy or sci-fi or something; I'll have the designer come up with a document and take what I like from that." And it would just be a waste of time.
I don't necessarily think that leadership means everyone should be able to make what they want to make. Like you saw a bit with the Aero stuff, Yudo got its start because Nagumo wanted to do stuff related to health and neighborhood directories and things like that, but then after that they made a music game, and then after that, they made a synthesizer.
Right now, the synth is probably Yudo's most well-known product; it's certainly its top-selling one, making it to the top of the App Store rankings and all. But even that only took about six months to make.
RN: About that, yeah.
RY: So it only took six months to completely change this company's image in Japan. And once our new thing comes out, then I think we'll be the coolest game company in Japan when it comes to media art. No other company is doing stuff like this. Why can we do this? It's not because of dj nagureo the artist; it's because of the leadership of our president, Reo Nagumo.