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MGS5 designer refutes Inafune’s Japanese industry criticisms

Wednesday, 4th September 2013 23:44 GMT By Brenna Hillier

Kojima Productions’ Jordan Amaro has said the Japanese games industry has not “gotten worse”, as Mega Man and Mighty No. 9 creator Keiji Inafune claimed this week, and suggested detractors might do better to stop ‘complaining to journalists’ and get to work making it better.

In a chat with Gamespot, Amaro disagreed with Inafune’s position.

“It’s not gotten worse. That kind of comment used to be relevant a couple of years ago but many companies are recovering, and have made tough strategic decisions that will pay off soon,” he said.

“I can assure you that everyone here is aware of how painful the current gen has been to Japan, but I see the Renaissance around the corner. Stop dramatizing and start working on it like we are,” he added.

“Sure it’s not easy, but do you hear us complain to journalists every few months? Discretion, humility, and hard work are the way to go about this.”

Amaro said Inafune’s complaints are demoralising, and paint an inaccurate picture of the Japanese development scene. He said that although not every western production habit is “good, productive, or even adaptable to a Japanese work environment”, Japanese developers are aware of international processes and are incrementally updating their own. Japanese companies are also hiring from other countries, Amaro added; PS4 lead system architect Mark Cerny, for example.

It’s not like the western games industry is perfect, he went on.

“There’s no question we need a Japanese regain in the game market, especially in AAAs. I’m personally suffocating from the lack of creativity and subtlety exhibited during the last few years in Western AAAs,” Amaro said.

“A lot of them have become recipes, where a spreadsheet game design is bluntly applied to the environment with little consideration to the actual experience, removing any sense of discovery and magic. But hey, they sell millions right, so who’s to blame?”

The full interview includes some interesting comments on the difference in how games are perceived on both sides of the international divide, among other observations.

Amaro worked at Crytek and 2K Czech before landing a designer role at Kojima Productions.

Thanks, GamesIndustry.

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17 Comments

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  1. salarta

    Pfft, the way both Japanese and Western developers treat their old IPs increasingly worse as time goes on out of greed and egotistical fantasies proves Amaro wrong.

    Amaro may be accurate in what he’s working on, with Kojima Productions, but he’s one man on one project with one of the mere handful of development teams that actually care about what they’re making AND don’t have higher-ups that screw things up. He’s speaking as someone in a place of luxury. He’s in a fortunate situation. Other people are not.

    Inafune knows this much better than Amaro can even begin to imagine. Inafune’s the one that actually had to deal with the problems that led to his criticisms. Amaro has not. He might think differently if Konami was a lot more aggressive in trying to control what Kojima Productions does, which would match what most other well known companies do with their development teams (Capcom, Squeenix, Nintendo, to name a few).

    #1 8 months ago
  2. pcbros

    It’s no secret the Japanese games industry has gotten worse. Companies like Capcom, Square, and Konami were kings in their day. Now a days, you have to think twice before buying one of their games.

    In some ways, Nintendo is one of the few Japanese companies that has kept true to themselves (by not being influenced by the latest trends) and continues to release successful games.

    I really hope the Japanese games industry returns to their glory days :D

    #2 8 months ago
  3. salarta

    @2: That’s not really accurate, concerning Nintendo. They’re better than some other companies, but they’ve also told developers being financially backed by them to change content as far in as the tone of their games (The Last Story). Nintendo of America also originally refused to bring over any of the Operation Rainfall games more or less because they thought JRPGs weren’t as profitable as other genres. It was only after a huge internet campaign that Nintendo actually listened.

    In both cases, Nintendo made decisions and pushed changes based on what they saw of the latest trends.

    #3 8 months ago
  4. hitnrun

    Part of it is their fault – the tremendous mechanical and narrative conservatism of Japanese game designers can literally cause nausea in a person.

    Part of it was inevitable, though. The early days of game tech brought together East and West under a common culture in a way that could never have survived the transition to increasingly realistic 3D and more storage space.

    An explanation of this could go on for paragraphs, but the simplest way to explain it is this: I loathe anime, but Chrono Trigger is one of my top 5 games of all time. If CT were a AAA title today, it would be a quasi-anime game. It was in 1995, in fact: look at the concept art.

    Sprites and simple polygons approach a universal language in the same way that instrumental music does. The technological limitations bridged a cultural gap in our minds.

    #4 8 months ago
  5. Clupula

    I’m glad to see someone call Inafune out, for once.

    #5 8 months ago
  6. GregSolidus

    Is he wrong?

    #6 8 months ago
  7. darthroseman

    He called him out, but Inafune has been TRYING to makegames, but CCap com wouldn’t let him. And he also didn’t give examples as to why it isn’t worse, instead saying, “it will be better,” thus negating his own comment. Though, don’t know if this was Japanese being translated, which, who knows what he really said/meant.

    Side-note: the biggest thing to hurt the gaming industry in Japan is the same thing that hurt all of Japan: the tsunami disaster. Want to know why Metal Gear: Rising came out so late, and was made by Platinum? Konami cancelled it after the tsunami because they didn’t have time or resources for it. Then Platinum took on the job. Same thing happened to FF13 Versus (I’m speculating this one though.)

    #7 8 months ago
  8. salarta

    @4: This is very accurate, and also gets at the biggest problem the industry faces, companies obsessed with trying to be more like Hollywood. Everything’s about trying to be as realistic and like movies as possible, but there’s that loss in how video games can be when treated truly like their own medium.

    @7: Exactly. Amaro is newer and better off in the industry compared to Inafune’s decades of experience and what he was dealing with out of Capcom. It’s extremely easy to think “Oh it’s not as bad as it used to be” when you’re immersed in an environment that’s positive. As for FF13 Versus, I think that was just Squeenix kicking it back constantly because of their obsession with giving Toriyama a huge push he didn’t deserve. The Versus team members kept getting hijacked off the game to work on other projects, including FF13 and 3rd Birthday.

    Though if the tsunami caused the change from Versus 13 to FF15, then I can say that at least one good thing came out of the tsunami. Though of course, it would’ve been much better if the tsunami never happened. I had been saying ever since “FF13″ came out that Versus 13 may as well be a main entry because it had far more right to being called a Final Fantasy game than what they tried to pull with FF13, so the change to FF15 was one of only two things Squeenix has done in the past ten years that blew me away with delight. The other was the announcement and eventual release of FF4DS, as at the time I thought there was no way in hell of a 3D remake happening for FF4.

    #8 8 months ago
  9. ayman03

    I am with Inafune on this one

    #9 8 months ago
  10. OlderGamer

    “An explanation of this could go on for paragraphs, but the simplest way to explain it is this: I loathe anime, but Chrono Trigger is one of my top 5 games of all time. If CT were a AAA title today, it would be a quasi-anime game. It was in 1995, in fact: look at the concept art.”

    Spot on +1

    As tech continues to make games more advanced(graphics) many JPN games continue to alienate western gamers. I used to love JRPGs, buying everything I could, even importing. Now I won’t touch them. The voice overs, the arts styles, that one or two extremely irritating character/s. Also, something todays game world has that they didn’t in the 80s/90s…western choices. I would rather play Skyrim, Torchlight, or Diablo III then Fairy Fencer.

    I think the same is true for a lot of the JPN games.

    #10 7 months ago
  11. Clupula

    @10 – And every single thing you said is a matter of opinion. I have no interest in Skyrim, Torchlight, or Diablo III, but Fairy Fencer looks really interesting to me.

    It’s all a matter of personal tastes, that you are bringing up.

    As for Chrono Trigger, if Chrono Trigger were being done today, I suspect it’d resemble Ni No Kuni.

    #11 7 months ago
  12. Clupula

    @7 – I also got the impression that Metal Gear Solid: Rising kinda sucked before Platinum was involved with it, as Kojima had canceled it, due to it not meeting their expectations.

    #12 7 months ago
  13. Clupula

    The point is, though, that Western AAA gaming has just as many predictable troupes and cliches as Japanese AAA gaming. The only difference is which ones you personally prefer. And if it’s a choice between a Call of Duty title every year, or a Yakuza title every year, I’d personally choose a Yakuza title.

    But that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with either style of development.

    #13 7 months ago
  14. salarta

    @10: “that one or two extremely irritating character/s” That reminds me of what happened with me concerning Blazblue. I loved the first game, Kokonoe became my favorite character despite being an NPC. The second game, they introduced the first character I ever truly hated for the character herself, Platinum. And what do they decide to do? Make Platinum, the absolutely atrociously annoying and awful little girl character, into a playable character with her own full-fledged story portion. And Kokonoe still isn’t playable; they decided that rather than make Kokonoe playable like so many people want to see, they’d suddenly come up with three completely brand new characters never even hinted at for the third game.

    I’m not saying they have to cater to my personal whims, they’re the creators, it’s their IP, they have more than a right to do what they want with it. But what I’m saying is that this utterly annoying character completely killed the interest I had in the Blazblue franchise. I absolutely hated every single scene where I had to suffer through Platinum’s awfulness, and that was BEFORE she became a playable characters. There’s no way I’m going to pay for something that puts a lot of emphasis on things that make me hate playing the game and almost none on the things that I like about it.

    #14 7 months ago
  15. Clupula

    @14 – Good. I don’t have to worry about playing against you online then.

    However, it does deprive me of humiliating you as Platinum, since she’s one of my favorite characters in the series.

    Kokonoe should never be playable. She’s not a fighter. She’s a scientist.

    #15 7 months ago
  16. Resident gamer

    I have been playing games long enough to notice a large decline in general quality of both Japanese and Western games. It’s easy to say things aren’t that bad when you are working in a creative and positive workplace (I mean working on the next MGS) but when you have been trying to make good games and all you see coming from companies is a ton of bad games you can clearly see that things are really bad for the game industry. Also Inafune has been around longer and would know more about how things have degraded.

    Inafune is right on this one.

    Amaro is working with some of the very best, so it’s very hard for me to believe him when he says that things aren’t so bad. Things are really bad, just because he is working on something great doesn’t mean that the whole industry is getting better.

    I really don’t like how Amaro really digs after Inafune like he should keep his mouth shut, Inafune is a old game developer and we care what he has to say, and from his experience I would trust what he says. Without people acknowledging that the gaming industry is a really bad mess how are we gonna fix it, keeping our mouths shut about how bad it is is not gonna fix the problem.

    #16 7 months ago
  17. Clupula

    @16 – Please, Inafune’s just old and bitter and has some weird hate-on for his country. Let us not forget some of the absolute shit ideas he’s had over the last few years. DmC, anyone? That was Inafune’s doing. Or how about Ninja Gaiden Z? Yes, the man made Megaman a thousand years ago and that was fun, and I look forward to that other game that looks exactly like Megaman he just designed.

    But really, what has he done lately that was worth a shit? He’s just talking up now because there’s a resergence of Japanese gaming and it makes him butthurt that people are starting to buy things again that go against his flawed logic.

    This guy is 100% right that Inafune should just shut his mouth and either make something that blows everybody else away or go away. All he’s doing is poisoning morale with his bullshit right now.

    #17 7 months ago