Japanese developers speak out

Gamespot has some reports on TIGRAF, the Tokyo International Computer Graphics Festival, held in Tokyo last week.

Here you can read what some top Japanese developers have to say about computer graphics and game development. As the Japanese development scene remains pretty opaque for Western developers, this makes for interesting reading. They talk about how higher budgets influence the game development process, and reduce the willingness to take risks. Not a new topic in the industry.

The other developers seemed to agree that budgets are becoming a real hurdle. Former United Game Artists president Mizuguchi followed up on Sugiura’s comments, saying that larger companies also have issues when giving the green light on projects because even though expenditures might be high, the companies just don’t know if a game will succeed until it is released.

Mizuguchi contrasted the current game development scene to what regularly takes place in the U.S.-based movie industry, which can green light films with huge development budgets due to numerous ways of testing the movie prior to release (and prior to commencing production). However, the gaming industry, he said, is still lacking these methods as the game industry doesn’t have scripts or storyboards to consult.

There was also some discussion on borrowing management methods and structures from Hollywood:

Minami’s focus on the bottom line set him apart from the other speakers. He pointed out that game development in Japan is not always organized, and does not always follow a logical path. Development time and budgets tend to swell beyond original projections, and this can threaten a company’s future, as a company that sinks all its funds into projects that run behind schedule will have difficulty funding its next round of development. Minami suggested that the project management techniques used in Hollywood studios might have a place in the game industry as well.

Space Channel 5 and Rez creator Tetsuya Mizuguchi had his own presentation, where he talked about his evolution as a game developer, going from Sega Rally Championship to Space Channel 5 and Rez.

Mizuguchi’s first project was Space Channel 5, which he says didn’t turn out the way he wanted–at first. Showing a clip of the game’s prototype, Mizuguchi commented that the main character Ulala’s fighting style was too cool and stylish. What he wanted was a game that was fun to watch, and played a bit like a musical. The developers on his team responded that the game just wasn’t going in that direction.

In order to have his developers understand what kind of game he wanted Space Channel 5 to be, Mizuguchi created a six-month comedy workshop at the Sega offices and had everyone on his team attend it. The workshop consisted of a number of clasees and excercises. In one session, he had the team hop around the floor in a group while looking and pointing a finger in different directions. In another, he had the team pretending to break through a glass wall and then say something funny.

One of the main objectives, according to Mizuguchi, was for his staff to acquire some understanding of the psychology behind making people laugh. He said he believes there are systematic ways to get people to feel different kinds of emotions.

(From Slashdot Games.)

Comments 10

  1. Ro wrote:

    Weird – I’ve heard Mizuguchi three years ago at GDCG talking about exactly the same thing. :)

    Posted 12 Nov 2003 at 1:20
  2. St├ęphane Bura wrote:

    At last, I’ve found a way to make people laugh!
    If only the article said which finger should be used to point…

    Posted 12 Nov 2003 at 9:29
  3. Jurie wrote:

    You make them read Mizuguchi’s lecture? You make one team do a six month comedy workshop, and the other team gets to laugh?

    I just want to know how to finish Rez.

    Posted 12 Nov 2003 at 11:58
  4. jvm wrote:

    What do you mean finish Rez?

    Posted 12 Nov 2003 at 15:52
  5. Jurie wrote:

    You get to the end of the fifth level, then you fight all the bosses from the previous levels again, then there’s something you have to do with the cyberwoman (which involves shooting). Apparently someone asked what this was at Mizuguchi’s presentation at GDC one or two years ago, and all he did was smile mysteriously.

    Posted 12 Nov 2003 at 17:01
  6. jvm wrote:

    Whoa. Never heard that. I suppose we should check gamefaqs or something to see if someone’s figured it out.

    Posted 12 Nov 2003 at 21:02
  7. Jurie wrote:

    Actually, the person who asked him was a friend of mine who’s a pretty good player. And Mizuguchi didn’t smile mysteriously, he turned red.

    Aapparently, you have to get to embryo stage (which is the ultimate stage of development, and one hit will knock you back down) and then… well… Mizuguchi didn’t say, but I wouldn’t be surprised if you would have to get back in the womb.

    Posted 18 Nov 2003 at 23:55
  8. Aubrey wrote:

    I have managed this, not realizing that a different ending occured. It’s nothing special, and testiment to that is the fact that I almost forgot what happened.

    Basically the polygonal lady holds your avatar’s fetusy goodness in her arms. I think that’s about it. In Rez 2, the Polygon woman becomes an encroaching mother who you must rebel against… BY SHOOTING IN TIME TO THE MUSIC!

    Posted 20 Nov 2003 at 14:48
  9. Jurie wrote:

    Different ending? I just die at that last stage, I see no real ending. I see Game Over.

    (The real ending makes my hypothesis look kind of… odd… oh well.)

    You were kidding about Rez 2, yes?

    Posted 20 Nov 2003 at 15:03
  10. Aubrey wrote:

    Yep, I am kidding. But even art gets sequels… the “landscape” series for instance, only stopped at around #47!

    And 2001 is one of the last few episodes in a series that included Se7en.

    Posted 25 Nov 2003 at 20:48