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SE devs discuss what they've learned from Western devs at CEDEC

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1UP: Square Enix Devs Discuss Secret AAA Title and What They've Learned From the West

At the conference, Yosuke Shiokawa and Yuki Matsuzawa addressed these queries in a presentation titled, "First Time Japanese American Joint Development: Observations on our experience of taking direction from both countries." While both developers live in Japan, they are currently working on an as yet unannounced title that is being jointly developed in Japan and America. They claimed that this title will be a AAA title with a 90% plus metacritic score. Despite this, Shiokawa and Matsuzawa said they looked down on Western games. This attitude is still not uncommon in Japan, where until recently, the phrase "Western games are crap games" was taken as a self-evident truth by both fans and game makers.

Shiokawa began the presentation discussing the concept of "realism" in Western games. He said that in Square's experience, the Western developers don't strive so much for realism as believability. Players need to "suspend disbelief." Using various protagonists as an example, he said that saving the world is dangerous, so it's a man's job. He needs wisdom and experience, so he's older, and of course he has to be strong and macho. However, he went on to say that an unrealistic but believable character that allows players to suspend their disbelief is also OK.

The two presenters continued on to Japanese top-down decisionmaking versus American the bottom-up style. They claimed that the speed of decisionmaking in America is the result of everyone discussing issues until a consensus is met. They contrasted this method with the traditional Japanese process of waiting for top management to decide on something and order it. The presenters concluded that the latter management style helps maintain consistency and believability.

Another Western practice that Shiokawa and Matsuzawa stressed was keeping a game-universe "bible." The two stated that such documentation allows for the entire design team, and all the artists, to share in their creation of the world. It allows for something as simple as the shape of building corners to be detailed and consistent throughout the entire game.

The presentation ended by Shiokawa and Matsuzawa saying that even though America is a country of many different races, religions and creeds, they beat Japan in terms of project efficiency. Shiokawa stressed that if Japanese game makers want to sell copies of their products in America, they are going to have to learn how to make their worlds believable in the same way.

It seems that they are beginning to see some of the benefits of western game design.

If they can take some of what they've learned and bring it back to Japan, it could go a long way towards fixing the weak points in many modern Japanese games while making their strong points even more notable and worthy of praise.

I generally enjoy Japanese games for their art style and gameplay systems, but the tendency for such games to have convoluted and overly emotional narratives as well as inconsistencies in the overarching game world often weakens the experience for me.  Making their game worlds more believable (as in more consistent and with more believable personalities - by all means continue giving me my gunblades and other craziness) would make the artistry and imagination within these worlds all the more interesting.



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how is a little boy saving the world realistic?



bRoKeN said:

how is a little boy saving the world realistic?


huh



makingmusic476 said:
bRoKeN said:

how is a little boy saving the world realistic?


huh

bRoKeN clearly thinks Harry Potter is the epitome of Western Narrative

hence how is a little boy saving the world realistic comment.



All hail the KING, Andrespetmonkey

darthdevidem01 said:
makingmusic476 said:
bRoKeN said:

how is a little boy saving the world realistic?


huh

bRoKeN clearly thinks Harry Potter is the epitome of Western Narrative

hence how is a little boy saving the world realistic comment.

At first I thought it was a knock against Japanese narratives (FFXII, stuff like that), but then I realized it could also be applied to numerous Western storylines too, so I was pretty lost.

I didn't even think about Harry Potter though lol.



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makingmusic476 said:
darthdevidem01 said:
makingmusic476 said:
bRoKeN said:

how is a little boy saving the world realistic?


huh

bRoKeN clearly thinks Harry Potter is the epitome of Western Narrative

hence how is a little boy saving the world realistic comment.

At first I thought it was a knock against Japanese narratives (FFXII, stuff like that), but then I realized it could also be applied to numerous Western storylines too, so I was pretty lost.

I didn't even think about Harry Potter though lol.

Oh I know he was knocking on JRPG's

I purposefully twisted it

Neither side is innocent to things like that.



All hail the KING, Andrespetmonkey

darthdevidem01 said:
makingmusic476 said:
darthdevidem01 said:
makingmusic476 said:
bRoKeN said:

how is a little boy saving the world realistic?


huh

bRoKeN clearly thinks Harry Potter is the epitome of Western Narrative

hence how is a little boy saving the world realistic comment.

At first I thought it was a knock against Japanese narratives (FFXII, stuff like that), but then I realized it could also be applied to numerous Western storylines too, so I was pretty lost.

I didn't even think about Harry Potter though lol.

Oh I know he was knocking on JRPG's

I purposefully twisted it

Neither side is innocent to things like that.

I'm not so sure he was knocking JRPGs.  The context of the article is the interest of Japanese developers in the West's preference for realism.  Given this context, I think one would only be able to insult Western ideas of realism.



makingmusic476 said:
darthdevidem01 said:
makingmusic476 said:
darthdevidem01 said:
makingmusic476 said:
bRoKeN said:

how is a little boy saving the world realistic?


huh

bRoKeN clearly thinks Harry Potter is the epitome of Western Narrative

hence how is a little boy saving the world realistic comment.

At first I thought it was a knock against Japanese narratives (FFXII, stuff like that), but then I realized it could also be applied to numerous Western storylines too, so I was pretty lost.

I didn't even think about Harry Potter though lol.

Oh I know he was knocking on JRPG's

I purposefully twisted it

Neither side is innocent to things like that.

I'm not so sure he was knocking JRPGs.  The context of the article is the interest of Japanese developers in the West's preference for realism.  Given this context, I think one would only be able to insult Western ideas of realism.

Either way I hope to hell this game isn't a FPS or a TPS

I hope it is an RPG!!!!!!



All hail the KING, Andrespetmonkey

nothing wrong with younger characters. As mentioned Harry Potter, but there is also Luke Sky Walker, Frodo the Ring Bearer also fall into the position as world savior without lot's of wisdom or experience. The focus of these young characters is growth over a period of time. Start with a character like us(normal) then have the audience grow through the experiences. That works. It works really well. Then there is "Western" fiction where character are already prepared to save the world. More along Bond style. What's jarring to American audiences is the savant fighting kid.

I found the article weird and confusing if they were giving props or being negative.



Squilliam: On Vgcharts its a commonly accepted practice to twist the bounds of plausibility in order to support your argument or agenda so I think its pretty cool that this gives me the precedent to say whatever I damn well please.

 "Despite this, Shiokawa and Matsuzawa said they looked down on Western games. This attitude is still not uncommon in Japan, where until recently, the phrase "Western games are crap games" was taken as a self-evident truth by both fans and game makers."

 

Hahahahahahaaaa!

If they do indeed believe that, then they deserve the slip into irrelevance that they are now lamenting.

While everyone has their tastes, that amount of bigotry is not appreciated.  Oh well, I enjoy both types, it's just a shame that some people are so close-minded that they miss out on hours of fun.