Mega Man creator Keiji Inafune is known for his thorough, reasoned criticism of the state of Japanese games. Having founded twin companies Comcept and Intercept, and recently having joined hands with Tecmo Koei in developing Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z, Inafune's stated goal is to revitalize Japanese game design--hopefully through his trademark brand of gameplay-first titles.
In an interview with gaming business site Gamasutra, Inafune gave his opinions on everything from working with Western developers to being okay with giving away your secrets.
Regarding Western developers, Inafune feels they "still really love and respect Japanese games," and want to work with Japanese creators. In his past experiences working with Western developers, Inafune said they were always willing to take in his ideas. He also said that Western developers are the best at appealing to a Western audience (for obvious reasons), and has always enjoyed the times he's worked with them.
Designers often set out to make "a shooter," or "a platformer," but Inafune's company Comcept (which focuses on ideas and vision), tries to focus on "free thinking." Inafune feels that "you have to have the core, then the details come afterwards, after you have this strong concept... and try not to be preoccupied by game concept stereotypes."
There's something of a stigma against handheld and mobile games, but Inafune feels they should all be approached with an appropriate mindset. "There's a tendency to say that mobile gaming is separate from console gaming. I don't see it that way... I don't think of them separately. ...If I want to create something that'll fit for 3DS, I'll make it for [3DS]. If it's suited for smartphone, I'll create for that."
Sharing knowledge is actually a cornerstone of Western game development--just think of how many games are made every year that use Epic's Unreal Engine, or Havok's proprietary physics engine. It's a different story in Japan, where Inafune believes that secrecy among developers "did corrupt the Japanese game industry over the years."
Not naming any names, Inafune then said that "there hasn't been that individualism for the creators. It's been all about the company and the business. And when you're strong and stand as an individual, as a creator, in the Japanese game industry, [your company] rips you apart."
I wonder who he's talking about there?
In any case, it's always good to hear Inafune's thoughts on the industry. What do you think? Is Inafune's assessment of Japanese designers and the industry pretty spot-on, or is he missing something?