an interesting Interview with Yakuza team lead

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This has nothing to do with the Dreamcast. rather, it has to do with, In my opinion, one of Sega's last visionaries...

Interview copied from SEGABits

GC: Why do you think Japanese audiences and developers have stopped being interested in shoot 'em-ups? In earlier times Japanese developers made these sorts of games just as much as Westerners and they were amongst the best that were available. But in the modern era they just kind of gave up, why is that?

TN: The shooter genre?

GC: Yes, shooters in general but also first person shooters specifically? We still don't understand why Japanese people don't like them.

TN: The absolute honest truth is that the Western created first person shooters are too good, so pretty much all the developers in Japan have given up on creating something better.

GC: Well they gave up pretty quickly, it's hard to think of any examples of them even trying.

TN: I believe that accepting that we are way behind is an important step in taking on the challenge.

GC: But why do Japanese gamers not like first person shooters? Even if the West makes better games they still don't like those. Is it just because Japanese companies aren't making them or is it the story and linearity issue you mentioned?

TN: There's probably two main reasons, the first is about marketing and how they are advertised. They are not really marketed very well in Japan and they're not made to seem very appealing to Japanese users. And the second reason is the story-telling and drama. it's funny because the successful movie makers in Hollywood, they do a really good job in making their stories universal. But compared to their success game creators in the West, they don't seem to do the same.

So it's really hard for Japanese or Asian users to feel related to those stories and drama. Probably the main reason is that there's probably just too much violence to our taste.

GC: What else do you feel Japanese developers do better than Western teams, in general and in this genre? We're always complaining about the terrible quality of Western boss battles and Japanese art design remains very distinctive. Are these elements you are intending to leverage to in Binary Domain?

TN: Yes, I hope so. The level of detail and attention to detail, that's probably one of the things that Japanese people excel at.

On the other hand the advantage of Western developers is that they have such a business-minded approach and strong leadership. If they see an opportunity and they believe that there's a title that will sell in the millions they have the willingness to take the risk and put some millions of dollars into investment.

GC: A general point we worry about - and Binary Domain looks to be in an interesting middle ground here - is the balance between realism and abstract design. Do you worry that the current obsession with realism, or the illusion of realism, is so prevalent now that it's becoming restrictive in terms of gameplay design? How would you feel if it became absolutely dominant and every game had to have that level or realism, making more fantastical landscapes or enemies impossible.

TN: I agree with your concerns. If every game was just concerned with being realistic then it would be quite boring and there would be a lack of creativity. This extreme sort of obsession with the realistic image of guns and military is probably one of the main reasons why these games do not sell in Japan. Because in Japan having a gun or just the idea of owning a gun is just not encouraged.

So it's probably not a good idea to make it just realistic. Because we are starting to become a little bit weary about the trend of video games becoming more and more realistic. I actually see that, paradoxically, as giving some advantage again to Japanese developers in the near future.

So if you use the analogy of the Oscars, Japanese developers might not be able to get 'Best Movie', but we should be able to get 'Best Foreign Movie'.

GC: We know we're only supposed to be talking about Binary Domain, but can we also just ask quickly about Yakuza Studio? Yakuza and Binary Domain are both Japanese takes on Western genres and concepts. Is that always going to be the case with all the other games coming from this new studio? And do you have other games that are already planned, that are not in either of those two franchises?

TN: Hai! [Hai is Japanese for 'yes']

GC: (laughs) Thank you, that's a very short answer but very revealing.
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