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vert1 Aug 2, 2011 (edited Aug 17, 2020)

This thread is dedicated to Shinji Mikami. I am gathering all the interviews and commentary by this man. Please do not post articles for me to add right now. Only post links to new articles. I am still in the process of gathering data.

Game list and interviews about said games that Mikami was involved with.

Capcom Quiz:Hatena hatena no Daibôken

-- Mr. Mikami, What kind of games had you made in Capcom before Resident Evil?
M:I had made 4 or 5 games, right after I started work in Capcom, I made a game for GameBoy. Black and white Gameboy. That was a quiz-adventure game called "HATENA's adventure". That was ma first work. My boss told me to "Make it in ONE MONTH" but it took about 3 months to finish it.
-- But it still not enough time.
M: Different time from today, That was "What is 1MB?" Like that.
I finished the game itself in 2 months but that game was "The very first of Capcom's connectable game" so it took about 1 month to check everything. It was like Capcom was torturing me, we almost canceled the development.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

-- What was the 2nd game you created?
M: 2nd was called "Roger Rabbit" this game came from the Disney movie, side scroll action adventure kind of game and for black and white Gameboy too. This game only sold overseas and inside Capcom, I didn't get much respect, because the game didn't sale in Japan. My boss said "OK, Next, You make game not sale in Japan."
I had to create everything by myself, I mean from the start to the end, EVERYTHING. It took 5 months to finish, and some of the staff moved to another project in the middle of development, so character staff had to do background job, and I had to help it. This one was hard too.

Untitled F1 game
Aladdin
Goof Troop
Resident Evil

-- When did the RE idea comes from?
M: Mr. Fujiwara called me one day and told me to make a horror game. And he wanted to use game system from the game "Sweet Home" He also told me "Create something worth seeing" and we were so excited. When he said "something worth seeing", I thought finally, the moment came!
In RE, even though the game system is the same as "Sweet Home" there are few similarities, but I got a lot of ideas from Sweet Home. Sweet Home didn't sale well but I still think that game was the masterpiece.
-- The story of RE was already build up from the beginning?
M: No, the story came after the game. No script, only a flow-chart and notes.
I wanted to make a haunted house, game concept was you can enjoy the fear in your house. A haunted house doesn't need a script or story. My thoughts on the game RE were not like another game with a story, and I tried to explain to the Management of Capcom, but every time I was called on to go to a meeting, My boss said "When are you going to finish the story and script!!!" If it had been Mr. Fujiwara, He never would have said like that.
-- It is hard to explain something to people who never understand.
M: Every time when they asked me "The story", I kept telling them "A haunted house doesn't need story." For me, story is only "Better than nothing." But I need to make an opening and ending, so I made that part, after that I put just little piece story and cut-scene, I wanted to make the story depended on how player beat the game. So, really different from RE2.
Should have create all backgrounds first and then make the game, but I didn't have that much time. I thought it is already hard enough to create a game so players feel "The FEAR", it is almost impossible to add story or dramatic situations.
-- How did you create the RE way to open the door and get into new area?
M: Came from "Sweet Home". Actually, first we made game aimed to make the player scared to open the door without door opening cut-scene. But data of the room is so heavy and when Playstation is loading, it makes the screen black, and I was thinking about what I should do and remember the Sweet Home way. I realized that opening the door cut-scene will also build the player's tension. If I didn't know about Sweet Home, I would never have came up with that idea. I'm glad Sweet Home was already there.
-- Some people said it is too scaly to play RE, but I think there is a lot of female RE fans.
M: Capcom marketing said about 15%, usually, female fan is 5 to 10%, so I think more than average.
-- Why did you use the zombie? Not ghost?
M: When I planned to make RE, I was going to use ghosts, but if some other company makes a horror game, they will use ghost too, and I didn't want to be one of them. Also I remembered the movie "Exorcist" I watched when I was in elementary school, I only remember it left me with a bad taste. If we are making the movie that is ok, but a game has to offer tension and release.
Player feels zombie getting close and taste "The FEAR", and panicking like "I don't have enough ammo!!" and finally kill, relief - continue the gamec. Kind of game flow was in my mind.
Only the zombie walks up to you creating a feeling of fear. Players know the zombie is going to bite them and the human instinct is to run away from creepy things.
-- That was the basic idea.
M: Yes, and after that, we had to make game system on top of that. We couldn't create game like only fight zombie all the time, but on the other hand, we couldn't create a game where the player is just walking, nothing happens. So, I put mystery and puzzle into the game and player can feel the fear inside of the game play.
-- Was there any trouble to create the game system?
M: We had a hard time to figure out how for the players to start the route. Some people wanted to start from the 1st floor but maybe another people starts from the 2nd floor. So we had to make the character say "Let's start from the 1st floorcc"
-- That was RE opening.
M: Yes, Player heard gun sound and get a little tension and "Let's startcc." It felt like a cheap way but I couldn't come up with any other ideas.
In RE, I didn't put so much "surprise" essence, I learn from "Psycho" about it, you don't have to make the whole game out of shocking scene, just put some important symbolic scene and inside player's mind to expand the fear.
-- Not full of the fear, you have to shape up the idea. I think this idea is special, so people love RE.
M: I realized when I create RE, "Creativity is part of reducing." I think people who understand this idea, also understand the real meaning of creativity. Always the ideas inside your head are big, and we have to put the huge idea into one game, which has a limited amount of capacity. So, we have to pick the important points of the idea and present it to the users.
In our job, we only make games that we like, the point is how many people have the same taste like I have. I think these days, a lot of young game creators start with the idea of "I can't do this." Or "The users not going to like this idea." If you start like that, you can't make unconventional things.
-- Your young staffs understand your way?
M: I always tell them create a game not to be popular, just get few die-hard fans that feel like "We live for this game." So have to make the game to not hide the week points, make people in Love is blind way.
-- Who named the game "Biohazard"?
M: One of the background staff.
-- And you thought "That is it!"?
M: No, we had 100 or 200 ideas for the game title, and I wanted to name it "Psycho" kind of short title. But it matched the story, so we decided to name the game "Biohazard".
-- You don't want to talk about it but can I ask you about RE opening movie?
M: Wellc We shoot that in at the Tama River side in Japan, In the beginning of the movie, Jill makes her face look like she is scared. But that was not. The actress for Jill was only a high school girl at that time and she had to run around out side in the middle of the night and got mosquito bites so she made that face "I wanna go home". She was just immature kid.
That cheap shot was totally my mistake. I didn't have enough time and money, also I picked these actors only by looks. Now I think I should pick by performance but c.. too late now.

WS: What were your goals with Resident Evil?

Mikami: I really wanted to make the game as scary as possible. When I first started developing the game concept, I considered giving it a ghost story or suspense thriller theme, but those ideas didn't go anywhere.
I wanted the game to present the player with something visible that could actually confront and threaten him. The player had to feel scared, as if something was waiting for him around the corner. I believed the player could simultaneously feel fear and enjoy playing the game.
I also wanted to let the player fight the fear in his own way. And when a critical, desperate situation arose, I wanted the player to be able to blow the enemy to pieces!

WS: How did you decide on using zombies as the enemies?

Mikami: I may have been inspired by the zombies in George Romero's Night of the Living Dead, which I used to watch when I was in junior high. In the movie, the zombies are walking human corpses that live on human flesh. It's scary because the zombies will attack you for no other reason than to eat your flesh. The gruesomeness of the deaths made one viewer involuntarily scream, "Don't come near me!"

WS: Are there any characters that got cut out?

Mikami: There are five main characters in the final game: Chris, Jill, Barry, Rebecca and Wesker. Two of the original characters are missing from the group.
One was a muscular Caucasian man who looked like a hardened war veteran. His right eye had been lost in battle, and in its place he wore an infrared scope. He was reliable, knowledgeable about all types of heavy weaponry, and far stronger than an ordinary man. Initially, this character had a scene in which he held up an entire ceiling and prevented it from crashing down. He was redesigned and now appears as Barry – with a completely different appearance. Another person who disappeared from the game was a tall, skinny African-American man. He was a very humorous character, designed to make players laugh even in the midst of horror.

WS: What's the difference between the U.S. and Japanese versions of Resident Evil?

Mikami: The title of the game is Bio Hazard in Japan and Resident Evil in the U.S. The U.S. title was created by the staff of Capcom USA after they reviewed the contents of the game. The U.S. version is more difficult than the Japanese version, so much so that even the R&D staff couldn't make it to the end of the game unless they played very carefully. The U.S. staff asked us to create this more difficult version so that the game could be rented in the U.S. If the game could be completed in a few days, fewer units of the game would sell.

WS: Why do you think the Resident Evil video games have become such huge international hits?

Mikami: I think it's because the game theme is terror. Terror can be perceived by everyone, and we have succeeded in generating an unprecedented level of terror. Players are in tense, cautious mode, fearing to move forward.

Resident Evil 2

WS: How did you decide on the storyline for Resident Evil 2?

Mikami: It was jointly decided by Capcom and Flagship. Flagship wasn't involved in Resident Evil 1, but they are responsible for the scenarios for RE2 and all future RE games.

WS: There are lots of hidden games in Resident Evil 2 (Tofu, for example). Whose idea was this?

Mikami: We combined the ideas of the whole staff, so the idea doesn't belong to a specific staff member. We created the hidden games because we wanted the players to play the game over and over. As for the Tofu character, he was used for checking while we were developing the game. We put arms and legs on Tofu, and thought it was very funny. We decided to adopt him for the game so the player could laugh at him.

WS: How did you come up with the new creatures, like the Licker, that are featured in Resident Evil 2?

Mikami: We all exchanged our opinions and ideas to create the creatures.

WS: Are there significant differences between the Japanese and U.S. versions of Resident Evil 2, as there were with RE1?

Mikami: The U.S. version of RE2 is more difficult than the Japanese version. Also, there are "dying demos" in the U.S. version that were deleted in the Japanese version. A dying demo is a CG [computer generated] scene shown when the player dies (Game Over).

WS: How were the amazingly lifelike CG scenes filmed?

Mikami: First, using motion pictures and action figures, we made image videos [shots of the figures from every angle] to get standard images. Then, we used CG tools to render each picture and convert the data for PlayStation.

WS: Will there be a Resident Evil 3? If so, when will it be available?

Mikami: We do plan to make RE3, but we don't know when.

WS: Will we be seeing Jill and Chris from Resident Evil 1 again?

Mikami: It hasn't been decided yet, but I would like to cast them in the future game.

WS: Will we ever see the European Umbrella HQ that Jill and Chris went to look for at the end of RE1?

Mikami: I'm sorry, that's classified...

WS: Will there be new creatures featured in RE3?

Mikami: That hasn't been decided.

WS: What are your influences? Movies? Books? Magazines? Music?

Mikami: I watch about 50 movies every year; I've watched most of the movies featuring zombies. I read fantasy novels, like Guin Saga. I listen to classical music, like Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 20, and jazz, like Bud Powell's "Dream of Cleopatra." I enjoy video games, too, like The Legend of Zelda.

WS: How many people work on the RE games?

Mikami: 60 people on RE1, 50 people on RE2.

-- Could you tell us your comments as a total producer about RE2 to RE CV?
M: First, the level of the fear is just getting torn down. I think the level of the fear has to be increase because players get use to the games, RE had fresh fear but 3 is getting rusty.
I think when we made RE2, the company wanted to sale 2million copies, so we had to make popular way and also Hideki Kamiya the director of the game didn't like horror, (It is hard to make thing that you don't like) these 2 points made RE goes to different way from first idea.
Those fans that love RE made RE2 to be million sales game but some of the fans were disappointed in the way RE2 is.

--This time, you are the producer of Resident Evil 2
M: Yes, I only made the decision on the basic world of Resident Evil 2 in the beginning of the development and after that, I let Kamiya do what ever he wants.
The story is only one straight way (Doesn't have branches like Original Resident Evil) and made dramatic, or wants to show character's emotions. I think Resident Evil 2 shows that kind of things very well.

-- It seems like the quality of the game is improved but at the same time, the level of the fear is changed too.
M: In the original Resident Evil, I wanted to create "THE FEAR" inside of the game flow. I think people feel fear until they actually see the enemy, It feels like "Enemy is coming? already there??". And people amplify the fear inside of their feelings. That was what I planned. Resident Evil 2 is different, it is concentrate on more showy.
--So, this is the difference in the way of thinking between Mr. Mikami and Mr. Kamiya.
M: Yes, for example, do you remember the cut scene where Tyrant is dropped from the helicopter? In the game, you can see the 6 Tyrant capsules attached to the helicopter, I feel like "Why 6?? Just put one is enough." I don't show like that, but that is Kamiya's taste. If I'm the director of the game, I don't show a lot of Tyrant, I show only one. And I don't let them drop Tyrant from the helicopter. I will make character suddenly make contact with Tyrant and the users thinks "Who are you??" and Tyrant starts to attack character with no explanation, users get panic, this situation is realistic plus make the use to feel the fear of absurdity. Maybe my direction is not showy like Kamiya......
One idea I pushed so hard to put it in the game was for Tyrant to come in to the room by breaking the wall, but a lot of things didn't came up like I wanted it to. If I tell development team A to Z to create the game, then Resident Evil 2 is going to be no creators taste game. I think game should have creator's taste and that is to make every game different and fun to play.

--Didn't you feel left out? to not be in the center of the development team?
M: Yes... A LOT. In my opinion, producer's main job is calculate money. Not game development. I'm the kind of person to tell the producer "leave the game development to us and just count money." So, I didn't tell them a lot.
-- How much did you get involved in geme development?
M: There was a another version of Resident Evil 2, now people called the game Resident Evil 1.5, actually, in those days I nagged them a lot. and caused problem on development team to which one, me or Kamiya to listen. Then I told them just show me ROM once a month, but still my way and Kamiya's way is different. So, I told them to completely leave the development to them. I thought they had good material, after all just put those material in the pan and cook it, even if it taste a little bad, we can fix it in 3 months. Then, when I taste it, I was shocked by bad, BAD taste. I realized it tastes bad because not only the seasoning, something drastic making this bad taste. I had to tell them to start all over again, but still I didn't go inside of development team, I watched them from a little far away.

-- How do you feel about Resident Evil 2 becoming double million game?
M: Hummm... I feel like Resident Evil went to different world. Maybe if I let my daughter marry to somebody, I'll feel like this too. Still my daughter, but my part is done.
-- You think your daughter, Resident Evil Series is happy?
M: I think so, but sometimes, I wonder if this is right thing to do? Someday, I want to go back to development team and create a game from scratch.
-- You don't think you'll make Resident Evil 3?
M: I don't know. If I do, I will make the series finish on Resident Evil 3, if I made Resident Evil 2, I think I would have made it finished. The fear is a stimulation, when people get use to it, it is not scary anymore. A horror movie is the same way, first, people scared of everything but after that, everybody got use to orthodox horror and comedy horror started, finally horror movie went to "Brain dead" kind of brutal movie. I thought it is the end of horror movie history.
-- I know, that was not horror anymore.
M: Yes, people get use to the fears. But if you create the series every once in a while, after 4 or 5 years, new generation will start play. So, you shouldn't make a lot of series in a short time.

-- You think game creator is not like a artist?
M: We are entertainer, we have to entertain the users. It is important how many different ideas you have and change the mind quick "OK, people don't like this. How about that?"
A game creator needs to put all their strength in to the game, it is not money that counts, if they don't put everything in the game, they can't make a good game.
I didn't want to tell Resident Evil 2 development team a lot because of those reason, I didn't want to let younger creators to get spoiled by old idea. Resident Evil's presupposition is "THE FEAR" and Kamiya understood that, and tried to show his way of fear. The game is not good, if there is no taste of the creator in it.

Dino Crisis
Resident Evil 3: Nemesis
Resident Evil Code:Veronica
Dino Crisis 2
Onimusha: Warlords
Resident Evil Gaiden
Devil May Cry
Gyakuten Saiban (Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney)
Resident Evil Survivor 2 Code: Veronica
REmake

EGM: It seems harder to blow zombies' heads off with the shotgun now--do you have some advice for doing it every time?

HK: This time it happens randomly. We decided to do it that way because...when the game becomes as realistic as it has, and you blow their heads off continuously, the game looks too gory. In Mikami's mind, RE is not a splatter-film kind of game. He doesn't want it to be that way. So there's no special technique to always blow their heads off.

From an interview with Hiroyuki Kobayashi "This is a horror game. [RE Director and creator Shinji] Mikami is always saying that Resident Evil is about enjoying the atmosphere. If you materialize 'enjoying the atmosphere,' you can do it better in 2D."

Resident Evil Zero
Gyakuten Saiban 2 (Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Justice for All)
PN03
Viewtiful Joe
Dino Crisis 3
Resident Evil Outbreak
Resident Evil Outbreak File #2
Gyakuten Saiban 3 (Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Trials and Tribulations)
Resident Evil 4

If Biohazard 4 ever shows up on the PS2 I'll cut off my head.

Hamamura-Tsushin (Famitsu employee):
I just finished playing Bio-4.

Mikami:
How was it?

Famitsu:
I was honestly suprised that the enemies were not zombies! It was very interesting. Very scary actually.

Mikami:
Oh thats good...

Famitsu:
While I was playing I was thinking, the terror has changed, the tempo of the game has also changed. This time, the quaility of fear has changed has it not?

Mikami:
That was what I naturally intented but, as for the degree of fear has been lowered somewhat.
From now on, the "type of horror" [flavor of horror] has been taken into serious consideration and...

Famitsu:
Yes, it seems...

Mikami:
Concepts like survival horror games usually begin first with the type of horror, and after that the game style. I havent completly seperated the two, but the priority this time is reversed.

Famitsu:
The fun of playing has been placed ahead of the horror this time, right?

Mikami:
Yes. This time I put the interesting aspects of "gameplay" ahead of everything else. The feeling of horror is gradually brought out by playing this way. So...um...Which is more important the noodles or soup?

Famitsu:
"Hahahaha". Soup and noodles. Ah, I understand the sense of what you are saying.

Mikami:
If we throw them both together, we cant really understand. Which is the flavour of the soup, which is the flavour of the noodles. After all is said and done, the you cant seperate them and have it taste good. The gameplay is the soup, while the horror is the noodles.

Famitsu:
true. true.

Mikami:
After saying that, the noodles/(horror) in Bio-4 is "al dente"!!

Famitsu:
Hahahahaha!

Mikami:
Funny how my conversation changed from gaming to Ramen, this is not a normal dialouge.

*Bio-4 producer Kobayashi*:
Mikami, please keep the topic in mind.

Mikami:
Yes. Right, the boss is here!

Kobayashi:
Talk about whatever, its ok. I will edit/correct you later, so...

Mikami:
You guys are the supervisors right? Cut out whatever im saying because you run the camp.
hahahaha

Famitsu:
Hahahaha

-The reason for the contents of the change-

Famitsu:
Gamesystems also are changing too, right? Lets compare it to the former games in the series. You have changed the whole model, huh?

Mikami:
Yes

Famitsu:
Also, the fundamentals where changed from the beggining right?

Mikami:
With Bio-4 we have recovered some freshness, because we changed so much. But, the important element of Biohazard (the series) has been carried along I think, dont you agree?

Famitsu:
What would you say is the word(s) that describes the core component?

Mikami:
The core component is fear and destruction. This is a component of games from very long ago, tension and release/nervousness and calmness. Striking this balance... right?
This time, we took the essense of the Biohazard serious and broke it completely apart. Then reconstructed it.

Famitsu:
I see... Biohazard-4 plays like a completely different game, but the feeling Biohazard`s origins are still done. From playing the very first Biohazard I felt something near a new type of excitement [heart beating]

Mikami:
Yes, because you felt that I am very happy. Now from the change of the base state of the game, I want you to enjoy playing the series again.

- The reason behind the change to WideScreen Mode-

Mikami:
In Bio-4 the camera changes to a WideScreen view when the action gets intense. Some of my inside staff complained about this. They even went so far as to call me "Stingy!"

Famitsu:
Why was that?

Mikami:
"The camera cuts off the gaming screen, you are being greedy" they said

Famitsu:
hahaha. Your inside staff had that reaction.

Mikami:
Yes they did. However, there was another affect to the view besides WideScreen cinematics. A normal TV has a view of 4:3, the action is centered in the middle. When the character takes up the middle of the screen the balance and view of the game is not so good. It makes you dizzy. When we tried it with the normal screen view we quickly realized this.

Famitsu:
So you say...

Mikami:
Yes. The placement of the player in Widescreen view to the side balances better this way.

Famitsu:
Oh, it doesnt make you so dizzy this way?

Mikami:
Less dizzy, a little bit but better than the normal screen option.

Famitsu:
I...yes. I get dizzy easily. But, when I played your game I did not have this feeling.

- Survival Horror Games-

Mikami:
The tempo in Bio-4 is very fast. This is not the same system as the former Bios right?

Famitsu:
You mean the jerky movements and gunfire right (of the former titles)?

Mikami:
Yes. But now the tempo is moved up.

Famitsu:
I also have that feeling. The standard Bio tactics dont work. The enemies AI is better so they avoid shots more easily. I was thinking when lookin at it, the the change in speed of the game throws me off. But, after actually playing I got used to it really quickly. The controls are good, I have to say.

Mikami:
Maybe , (this control sceme) it is more enjoyable for Japanese than for foreigners, huh...This change of ways.

Famitsu:
I also not sure...( if they will like it)

Mikami:
The rules for finishing Japanese games has always been the same in the past... But as for the latest foreign games, this rule does not always apply.

Famitsu:
Yes. Yes. There are alot of "Free roaming" game products coming out, right?

Mikami:
Right. Gamers are requesting a change now.

Famitsu:
From now on, we have to exploit this rapidly new pioneering force.

Mikami:
That rule is also used in modern music. From the past to present , Japanese peoples rate of change has become a problem.

Famitsu:
Yes, you are right.

Mikami:
Foreign game creators are not trapped by our archaic gaming rules, and approach the user in a way that is more sensitive to their satisfaction.

Famitsu:
Understood. Understood. But in Japan after you have decided on the genre, game work begins immediately for most games.

Mikami:
That is a bad way to go about it. We didnt think about the genre deeply when we made Bio-1.

Famitsu:
ic...

Mikami:
But, if we didnt place that game in a specific genre "survival horror" right away it would not have sold. Wonder what would have happened if we didnt "fit" in...

Famitsu:
This is going in one ear and out the other. After all, Weekly Famitsu will have to call this genre "Action Adventure".

Mikami:
If gamers dont buy and then play it thent they wont understand.
Its essential that we have a genre they can fit it into , when we make new games because of this (unfortunately). "Sangokumusou" falls into the action game genre but its rythm is one of a RPG.

"The rhythm and tempo when playing, rather than a genre, are important for a game."

Famitsu:
Yes. Yes. that is right.

Mikami:
That RPG has an exhilarating feel, so playing for 3 hours or 5 hours doesnt make tired. It really is pleasurable, dont you agree? When Bio-1 was out, it wasnt an action game, more like a simulation. Now viewing it from the production side I think we need to match the tempo and rhythm of the game more closely to the users feelings.

Killer 7
God Hand

"I've released a lot of titles before," he said, "and I feel that, perhaps specifically with regard to God Hand, I was given too much freedom to make that game just as I liked. It didn't sell too well."

Mikami opens the conference by saying "Is there anyone from IGN here? Thanks for that God Hand review".

"I'd like to make a sequel to God Hand sometime." When we suggested he could make a spiritual "sequel" to get around the Capcom-owned IP, Mikami laughed again and said "Someday, I'll do it."

Vanquish

Mikami explained the decision to stick to single-player gameplay.

"Vanquish is very intense, full of action. There are just so many things going on," he said.

"When you take that into a multiplayer environment, then you have to realistically consider shaving a lot of things off and putting them into your multiplayer environment."

According to Mikami, it's a question of balance - and of delivering the best single-player experience possible.

"It kind of boils down to whether you have the multiplayer but you don't have that much impact, and end up being like everyone else. Or even below par," he said.

"So that's the main reason we're keeping Vanquish as a single-player experience - to deliver the level of impact, the level of detail and the visuals we want to offer."

"For something so action-packed, I felt it wasn't very fitting for Japan to be the main setting," said Mikami, speaking in an interview with Eurogamer. "Personally, I don't feel that Japan is action-packed or very cool.

"I compare it to a herbivore and carnivore situation," he continued. "America's a real carnivore and Japan is a bit more of a herbivore... Yes, like a vegetarian. So I feel that if it's going to be action-packed, America is the most fitting stage."

"We're definitely going for something a little more massmarket that will appeal to a wide audience," producer Shinji Mikami told Edge.

Mikami specifically contrasted Vanquish with God Hand, a PS2 brawler he created at Clover Studio. "I've released a lot of titles before," he said, "and I feel that, perhaps specifically with regard to God Hand, I was given too much freedom to make that game just as I liked. It didn't sell too well."

Vanquish saw its video debut back in January, but Sega forgot to provide details on the game. Thanks to Famitsu and an interview with the game's director, we now have a few of the missing details.

First, the basics, as listed in the magazine. Vanquish is an Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 multiplatform title that's in development at Platinum Games, the studio behind Bayonetta. Shinji Mikami, known for his work on the Resident Evil series, is the director, with Platinum's Atsushi Inaba serving as producer. Sega will be releasing the game to Japan this Winter.

Famitsu first asked Mikami for his feelings on announcing his first new game in four years. His response was that he's happy to announce a new title, but he didn't put much thought into it being the first new one in four years.

Asked to describe Vanquish, Mikami answered with "Shooter." One of the big reasons for going with this genre, he explained, is that it's being developed not just for Japan, but with overseas markets in its sights.

"Making a normal shooter wouldn't be interesting," continued Mikami, "so it has the concept of the feeling of speed and good tempo, and something flashy. There are lots of games where you shoot and kill people, so this time we wanted to try and see how we could convey the good feeling of shooting robots."

Famitsu pointed out that Mikami has the image of making action games rather than shooters, to which he responded: "It will be a shooter that places importance on the good tempo and feeling of rhythm you get from playing an action game." The boss battles in particular will approach action games, he said.

Outside of the main interview, the magazine mentioned a few more specific areas for the game. One major feature is the use of "boosts," which can be used to close the distance to your enemy quickly. The game also has a large variety of close-range attacks along with a "Bullet Time" feature which lets you slow time down.

In addition to the speed being fast, you'll find that lots of enemies come out and attack. "Compared to a normal shooter, there's more information," said Mikami. One area of concern, he said, has been to keep there from being too much information, which would leave players not knowing what to do.

The magazine also offered preliminary details on the game's setting. The game takes place in the near future and has a story based off an American and Russian standoff. The future setting, explained Mikami, allowed them to make the enemies into robots, make the cinematic scenes flashy, and make the world large. The character you control sports a slim, flexible armor suit.

Mikami shared one little development secret for the game (yes, already!). Your character doesn't have a bunch of weapons in his possession. Instead, his weapon changes shape in real time depending on use. Originally, Mikami revealed, your character had a partner dog character who'd merge with your suit and take the form of various weapons. This wasn't received too favorably by the staff, so they switched to the idea of the weapons transforming.

Current development on Vanquish is at 80%, Mikami told the magazine. They're putting together the fundamental areas of the game, but detailed areas like enemy and ally AI remain. "The work from here on out gets annoying," he joked.

Shadows of the Damned

"Grasshopper is making all these great games, with really a nice visual style," Mikami told us at an EA event during last week's GDC. "I'm there to make sure the gameplay is right -- make sure it's tight, make sure it's fun. That's why I'm there." He denied the assertion that Shadows of the Damned would feel strongly Mikami-like." "When you look at it, you're going to say this is a Grasshopper game," he said. "When you play it, especially if you've played a Resident Evil, you can kind of sense 'ah, there's a little bit of Resident Evil here.' But I don't think it's from the start it's a Mikami game. It's definitely a Grasshopper game."

There's two sides to it: there's that aspect of a love story, but it's not the romantic type of love," Mikami explained, cryptically. "It's a very adult type of love. And you'll see that when you play through the game -- it's definitely conveyed in certain aspects."

--------

But the creative director of the game, Shinji Mikami, who was also behind Capcom’s Resident Evil games, cited a culture clash between the Japanese design house and its partners at Electronic Arts.

“Japanese developers tend to work on inspiration, not so much on a set time schedule like the Americans,” Mr. Mikami said in an interview. “So when EA asked about the game month after month, we felt like loan sharks were coming after us.”

source: https://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/20/tech … .html?_r=2

Miscellaneous:

On Resident Evil 5

Speaking in a recent interview with Official PlayStation magazine, Mikami, who's now working on games with ex-Capcom studio Platinum Games, said that playing Resi 5 would "just cause me stress".

"I probably won't play it. I won't like it, because it's not going to be the game I would have made," he said. "It'll just cause me stress if I play it. I think it could be fun for gamers to play it, but not for someone who has developed Resident Evil games.

"If I see anything in Resident Evil 5 that isn't done well, I'll be angry!"

On PS2

1. He mentioned that Sony makes their consoles to break to increase their installed base. He said the PS2 is selling so well because many people are buying a second one for replacement.

2. Other than PS2, he mentioned the current PC systems, walkman and Docomo cellphones are also easy to break, he said manufacturers purposely make the systems easier to break, so that customers have to purchase a new one every one or two years.

3. He said he has bought two PlayStation in the past, because the CD lens wore out quickly. When he played Super Robot Taisen on PS, it took one minute to load up each battle, he was so pissed off that he had to get a new PlayStation to play the game.

On Square's Kingdom Hearts

4. He expressed that Square's Kingdom Hearts is selling so well because of "Aura Purchase", i.e. people buy this game because his/her friends are playing the same game, dispute whether he/she likes the game or not. He said Kingdom Hearts does not deserve the 780,000+ sales, it doesn't worth the 7800 yen price tag.

5. At last he said "Square please forgive me", because he was so angry that Kingdom Hearts has sold a whole lot more than Biohazard on GameCube (both games released at the same time), he thinks Biohazard is a much better quality game, although Kingdom Hearts is not a bad game either.

On Mikami himself

WS: What is your career background?

Mikami: I graduated from Doshinsha University (one of the traditional private universities located in Kyoto), Department of Commercial Science. I majored in the study of merchandise. As a club activity, I participated in kendo and karate. I joined Capcom eight years ago. I was involved in the development of Aladdin and Goof Troop for Super Famicom, and Roger Rabbit for Game Boy.

WS: Did you play video games when you were growing up?

Mikami: I didn't play video games when I was little; I played outside instead. The first game I played was Space Invaders, when I was in junior high school. I played it four or five times at a coffee shop. When I was 20, I started playing video games.

To the readers:
I will be making other games in addition to Resident Evil, so please give us support!

On Working at Tango, Project Zwei and Resident Evil 6

Impressively, he's had similar success both in his home country and the west, first at Capcom and then with Platinum Games. Then in 2010 he founded his own studio, Tango Gameworks, which was quickly acquired by ZeniMax, home to Bethesda Game Studios and Id Software.
As he works on what he says could be his final game as a director and prepares to unleash his young protégée on the gaming public, Mikami sits us down in his swanky Tokyo office to talk Tango.

Why did you leave Capcom to form your own studio?

When we were first forming Tango we thought we'd be able to make smaller artistic games in addition to big-budget titles. As the company grew and we became part of ZeniMax, our focus turned to triple-A titles that will appeal to gamers all over the world. We also intend to nurture young creators and develop their talents for the future. This is a very important part of our studio culture.

Tango is ZeniMax's only Japanese studio. Does that affect how you work?

I have a little bit of contact with Id Software, which is really fun. We can exchange technical know-how. But as a Japanese studio,we have a language barrier, so we can't exchange emails and communicate as much as I'd like. Japan used to have the lead in the game industry, but now it's quite clearly America. I hope Japanese developers can take this hobby that we originally propagated and once more offer something special to the world.

Did you hear about Phil Fish from Polytron's comments at GDC? He said at a seminar that all Japanese games suck.

[Raucous laughter] I hadn't heard that! To be told that Japanese games suck is a bit harsh, but personally, 80% of the games I play at the moment are not Japanese. Skyrim, Batman... games like that are more interesting to me right now. Japan needs to make more good games if it wants people to think otherwise.

When I was making Resident Evil 4, Capcom's non-Japanese staff noticed that people overseas were writing that Japanese games suck, and they got upset. But the game we were making didn't suck at all, so it didn't bother me.

And Japan has recently produced many wonderful games with unique character - Gravity Daze, Yakuza, Monster Hunter, Catherine, Super Mario 3D Land...

Yes, there are amazing games - just not enough of them. So many are based on anime or fantasy - games that only appeal to Japanese people. Most gamers overseas aren't interested in anime. We made Okami at Clover. It was such a breathtaking game, yet it didn't sell. If that's the case, westerners obviously don't like that sort of game. Maybe they prefer something a little more straightforward.

Do you think Japan's fortunes will change with the next generation?

It's possible, but it will take a lot of effort. Hollywood spends like 200 million dollars producing a movie, and you can make an incredible movie with that sort of money. But Japanese movie studios don't spend anything like that. The difference in [the] scale of the budgets [is] the same in games. Japan needs to make games like Hollywood makes movies. Ithink Capcom and Hideo Kojima's team are trying hard on that front.

Is it true that you intend to direct only Tango's first game and then step aside after you've done that?

Wow, you've done your research! Well, I want to keep the company down to no more than 100 staff, and that means I've had to take on some of the management duties. It's very hard to focus on directing a game when you're also doing that stuff. I decided that if I was going to start a company I should direct at least one game. But it's bloody hard work to wear both hats, and I'm not getting any younger. I started Tango to make great games and I'm committed to that goal. But my role might change over time - my role might be that of a director, nurturing young, talented creators.

When will your first game with Tango, Zwei, be released?

We have Zwei in development now,but have yet to announce any details... or a release date.

If it's a triple-A title after 2013, you must be thinking next generation...

Next-gen? I can't say anything - but if it leads to better games I'd consider it.

Is it closer to the triple-A budget of a Japanese studio or the triple-A budget of an American studio?

It's closer to the American budget.

You also have this apprentice director, Ikumi Nakamura, who you are grooming for future success.

Oh yes, our future director. My game style and hers are completely different, but she's extremely talented, so I want her to make her own original games. She understands the modern era of games and she can see what's coming next, so I think she can create something for the future. She's also crazier than I am.

I can tell that from the manga strips she draws on Tango's website...

Ha ha, yes, she writes those in secret - I don't check what she's writing about beforehand. But she always complains about me in those manga. What's that about?! And over such trivial things, like when we didn't invite her for dinner! But when she has something major to complain about, she says it to my face.

Tango's swanky office has spaces for staff to play games and sports. How important is fun in the workplace?

That was deliberate. If you're always being serious it's hard to create something fun. In a quiet office where all you can hear is the clacking of keyboards, no one wants to raise their voice. When you're relaxed you're more likely to come up with good ideas and to be able to discuss them. Communication is so important. Tomake a great game, you need people to express themselves without worrying that they might get in trouble.

Was there not such a playful atmosphere at Capcom?

The Capcom of old was great fun, but as it grew the management became stricter and my responsibilities also grew, so it was hard to feel free. In a smaller company you don't need such a rigid structure, which I think is great.

You said in a Q&A on Tango's website, "If you mess up, you can sleep it off and come back the next day."

When you have an idea or you create something, you're definitely going to make mistakes. If you're worried about messing up, you won't come out with any good ideas; it's not a creative way to work. People who succeed without making mistakes are simply lucky - and luck doesn't last forever. You're heading for a fall, so it's best to make lots of mistakes while you're young to help you grow.

Have you made any major blunders in your career?

Oh, many. When I was at Capcom I was making an F1 game that got cancelled. Everyone knows Devil May Cry was supposed to be a Resident Evil game - that's why they gave me the funding. So when it ended up as a new IP I thought I was sure to get sacked. I've made many mistakes. Most Japanese people are afraid of failure, but that just opens you up to more failure. You know, no one sets out to fail - you set out to succeed, but failure sometimes occurs. But if you decide not to bother, that's a terrible waste. It's OK to mess up.

Why do you think the Japanese developers who are highly regarded abroad are the ones with a strong personality or extreme character?

I think it's a cultural thing. Japan is an island country. In Europe, almost every country is attached to another, and you can meet all sorts of people very easily. America was originally made up of people from other countries around the world, right? But Japan is an island, and it's nearest neighbours are a long way away. So the culture that has bred here is bound to be unique. To westerners, the facets of Japanese culture that are most interesting, whether good or bad, are the extremes.

Is it harder to do collaborations now you're already wearing two hats at Tango?

Yes, I can't do that anymore. I don't feel too sad about that. Collaborations have their good and bad points.

Did Shadows Of The Damned, your collaboration with Suda51, turn out as you'd initially intended?

No, it became a completely different game. That was a bit disappointing. I think Suda was unable to create the scenario he'd originally had in his head,and he rewrote the scenario several times. I think his heart was broken. He's such a unique creator, so it seems to me that he was not quite comfortable with making this game.

It did get good reviews in the end.

Yes, pretty good, but it's not a case of whether it was good or bad. The game was nothing like Suda had planned, which is rather sad. Mind you, if we'd made it as he originally planned, it probably would have sold even less, but it would have been very unique.

With Resident Evil 6 just announced, are you pleased that the series you created is continuing without you?

I'm not especially happy or sad about it. I think they're working very hard on it. The guys at Capcom are working hard.

Will you play it?

I don't know until it comes out. I didn't play Resident Evil 5 until a year ago, which was long after it came out. They sent me a copy, but I didn't open it for a long time. Whether the game was good or bad, I knew that someone other than me had made it so it would be different to my style. I didn't like the idea of that.

Some people are sick of all the zombie games and movies anyway.

Yes, that's right. That's the problem. When I saw the trailer for 6, it looks as though it's more like a Hollywood action film than a zombie game. Well, that's just the trailer mind you.

Did you know that God Hand recently came out on PSN?

I had no idea... ha ha. No idea at all. I'd love to make a sequel, but Capcom own the IP, so I can't... ha ha.

Sega's Binary Domain seemed to take a lot of cues from Vanquish. Do you feel flattered?

Actually, the director of Binary Domain was one of my juniors at Capcom - Daisuke Sato. He sent me a copy of the game, but I've been so busy I've yet to play it. That's bad, isn't it? He's coming to visit next week, so I'd better play it before then, in case he asks me about it. I don't even know what kind of game it is.

It says on Tango's website that your hobby is collecting watches.

Yes, that's true. I collect everything from expensive watches to junk watches, and especially mechanical watches. I used to try to wear a different watch every day. But I had to wear several each day - it exhausted me! If you wear an expensive watch, you have to wear suitable clothes too, but these days I dress down at work. A good watch doesn't suit casual clothes, so I rarely wear those watches now. Today I'm wearing a Seiko, a Japanese brand. This cost about 6,500 yen (£50)... a very cheap watch.

What do you hope Tango will be like in five or ten years?

My wish is to have a maximum of 100 staff. I hope that I feel satisfied with our games, and that players feel satisfied too. I hope we have a constant flow of games, but I'm not driven by quantity. I hope to release games that will sell and games that are unique, with a high level of quality. That's the sort of studio I want to build. More than anything, I want for our young creators to make great games that become hits so that they become as well known around the world as I am.

source: http://www.computerandvideogames.com/35 … bit-harsh/

vert1 Aug 2, 2011 (edited Sep 2, 2014)

The ones that got away

Christmas 2000, a year from launch. Most western publishers had jumped on board and were developing for Xbox, but Microsoft was still enduring friction in Japan. Executives struggled to work out what was going on. Was the team in Japan working hard enough? Was it made up of the right people? Was the challenge simply too great? It was decided - a quick trip to Japan would sort everything out.

Microsoft had heard on the grapevine that Shinji Mikami, famed creator of Resident Evil, had grown tired and frustrated with developing for the PlayStation 2, which hadn't even been out a year. There were whispers that Mikami was thinking about moving Resident Evil away from PlayStation. He was looking at Microsoft, preparing to launch the Xbox, and Nintendo, preparing to launch the GameCube. Microsoft saw its chance, and set up a meeting.

Bachus remembers Mikami looking every bit the Japanese rockstar, all mirrored sunglasses and leather jackets. An entourage of hangers on followed him into the Microsoft Japan meeting room.

What is your philosophy?
Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami asks Microsoft during a Christmas 2000 meeting

Kevin Bachus, perhaps looking pale after losing out on Resident Evil 4.
The meeting was conducted by a member of Microsoft Japan's staff who could speak both English and Japanese. Things began cordially, but soon started to deteriorate. Bachus shifted uneasily in his seat. He could tell from Mikami's body language and tone that he wasn't happy with the answers he was getting. The entire meeting was conducted in Japanese. Notes were passed to Bachus explaining what was going on but all he could do was watch in horror, helpless, as it fell apart. The meeting ended abruptly. Mikami stood, bowed, and left.

Bachus was furious. The translator explained: Mikami had confirmed what Microsoft had heard, that he was frustrated developing for PlayStation 2, which was tough to work with. But his team's bonuses were tied to game sales. He needed a reason, a way to explain the shift away from the wildly successful PlayStation 2, the dominant platform of the time, to the Xbox, which had yet to launch, and which in most Japanese eyes was doomed to failure. “What do you guys have to offer?” he asked, bluntly.

Eventually an exasperated Mikami boiled it down: 'what is your philosophy? Sony says games are entertainment, something larger, fuelled by the Emotion Engine. Nintendo says games are toys, created by the legendary Shigeru Miyamoto, perhaps the greatest game developer of all time. What do you feel?' Microsoft had no answer.

“I almost jumped out the window because we had said repeatedly over and over and over that we aspire to enable games that could be considered to be art, much like film,” Bachus says, “that because of the maturity of the development tools and the APIs and the power of the technology, game developers on Xbox would be able to concentrate on the finesse features that elevated games to being something more than they were otherwise.

“So the guy who reported to me said, 'oh that's so great! I wish that I had known that.' But unfortunately it was too late.”

Bachus flagged down Pat Ohura, the head of Xbox Japan at the time, and told him to jump on the next train to Osaka to salvage the deal. But he was too late. Mikami had already met with Nintendo and pledged Resident Evil to its consoles. “That's why Resident Evil 4 was a Nintendo exclusive and it took a while for it to come to Xbox. That was very frustrating.”

source: http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2012- … d-in-japan

vert1 Aug 2, 2011 (edited Jun 6, 2017)

ITAGAKI DATABASE ENTRIES
On Dead or Alive: Xtreme Beach Volleyball

Creating now with quantity but with a first-class objective

First of all, what was the reason for producing this sports game? The most demanding requests obtained from past "Dead or Alive" (DOA) series questionnaires were to develop a supplementary game. However, producer, Tomonobu Itagaki is not the type of man who would sell a game by fawning in such a manner, so it was a tall order.
     "If you go to a steak house, you don't want to eat sashimi (Japanese raw fish)—even if it's on the house. If I would do it, I would make the sashimi bar serve me the very best kind that they had available. Similarly, I planned the project this way," Itagaki said laughing, but with a completely serious look. Itagaki asserts that he has been producing videos by establishing what he wants to express as a game. He handles everything from programming to direction, and he is the kind of person who indulges in object creation.
     In fact, he planned the sports game out of the field in a certain sense, but on the other hand, it helped to clear up something he had been wondering about. "In regular sports games, every character is uniform in size and motion. To make up for that, the characters are subliminally and differently embedded in the user's memory by bringing each of their faces close up. Since we are Team NINJA and have confidence in interactive CG, we wanted to overhaul the project," Itagaki remarked.

True significance of choosing beach volleyball

Then, what does the title have to do with beach volleyball? "It's because [as of August 2002] there has been no interesting beach volleyball game," Itagaki explained. But apart from that, various thoughts were involved. For example, if one sees this change as relatively easy, one thinks the title is characterized as a girly stimulation game that features the female CG characters' sex appeal, like breasts shaking and sexy swimsuits. When in fact, the swimsuits are hidden while swimming, but can be seen from various angles when they are playing beach volleyball. However, thinking of this title as a product does not only involve those elements. In a volleyball game, one needs to control six characters for one team, but for beach volleyball, one can only control two.
     This does not imply that the easy course was taken. Itagaki said that ultimately he desired to make maximum use of the hardware by mobilizing the characters without diminishing the expression of the women's charms as the interactive CG.
     "I've been saying for a long time that software technology has been progressing more rapidly than hardware," Itagaki explained. "Hardware technology is supposed to be parallel with it but its performance has not improved. Xbox finally came out and helped us to express the female charm as an interactive CG. We couldn't have done with project with the other consoles."
      It is not as though he was flattering Microsoft. Perhaps his real intention as a creator is to be oppressed by the slow pace of hardware evolution while he pursues the quality he desires.

Female charm represented as interactive CG

    Why does Itagaki strive to express female charms as an interactive CG? "Part of the reason is because I like it," he explained, "but I also think that the expression of attractive female characters is necessary for entertainment, such as movies, novels, comics and everything else. This is common sense. However, the real question is why video games do not respond to that. It's because people are afraid to end up with a farce when the product is not accomplished by both technology and quality." [Laughs]
    The main focus of this game is beach volleyball, as stated in the title. However, the purpose of the game is to enjoy two weeks of vacation, whether one plays beach volleyball or not is up to the user. That signifies in a certain sense that one is expected to experience the charm of one's favorite character by hanging out with her.
     Naturally, careful attention was paid to expressing women's charms during a beach volleyball game. For example, before performing a program, the team figured out what kind of picture would look appealing in a certain situation, such as brilliantly shining sun or a sunset, and which angles to use to make this possible. Therefore, the time spent creating character motion and detail patterns was able to be increased dramatically. As a result, the proportion of character and data, which was two to one in "DOA3," was reversed to one to two in this title. As for the characters' movements, they were developed by trying different methods, including motion capture, until a satisfactory level was reached.

Producing a simple system with creative picture and sound

     In conclusion, Itagaki was asked what he thought of the game system. "A simple system is the best," he responded. "People jump to say the word 'profound,' but is there any existing video game in this world that goes beyond the 'profundity' of old games like backgammon, chess and mahjong? What is needed now is impartial profundity and easiness that everyone can play with. Therefore, a picture and sound representation can be considered as creative work, but a game system is just intellectual work that can be carried out by anyone who has a certain intellectual capability." He also stated that this is the necessary condition for developing a project that can be accepted by people of different cultural backgrounds.
    Moreover, there are some swimsuits that were designed by a user, but that is not what public participation on a large scale was invited for. Designs were adopted and sent to Tecmo as candidates. This professes Itagaki's belief of game production—it is a form of passion that drives him to actualize what he wants to create without profit and loss calculations.

Taken from Japanese Game Graphics: Behind the Scenes of Your Favorite Games

Jodo Kast Aug 2, 2011

vert1 wrote:

Post reserved.

A blog is more sensible in this case, although not required. (More control.)

Amazingu Aug 2, 2011

the_miker wrote:

Post reserved?  Flashback to overly complicated Bernhardt sale threads.

Hey guys, does anyone know of a good way to reserve posts?
Hey?
Anyone?

Cedille Aug 3, 2011

I for one think it's understandable to keep the earlier posts reserved in case it digresses in the way as it is. We could just edit and add the OP though.

Razakin Aug 3, 2011

Massive wall of text attack makes me wish that this board would have spoiler boxes, so this thread would look bit better in the future.

Jay Aug 3, 2011

Oh, I'm pretty sure this thread will look great in the future anyway - probably in silver with 3D holographic text and some glowing green alien characters or something. And dry ice. Plenty of dry ice. And we'll all wear shiny jumpsuits and goggles while reading it.

Razakin Aug 3, 2011

Jay wrote:

Oh, I'm pretty sure this thread will look great in the future anyway - probably in silver with 3D holographic text and some glowing green alien characters or something. And dry ice. Plenty of dry ice. And we'll all wear shiny jumpsuits and goggles while reading it.

The future I'm seeing doesn't even require text to be seen, we just think this topic in our own little Shinji Mikami circle.

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