An interview with Capcom's Jun Takeuchi

With that in mind, how would you describe the character design in Lost Planet 2? A fusion between Western and Eastern?

Yes, that’s absolutely the direction we were aiming for. I think our designers did a good job.

Dead Rising, a hugely successful game, was developed in Japan. Its sequel has been farmed out to a Canadian developer Blue Castle – being assisted by certain members of Capcom Japan, including Keiji Inafune. Can you explain a little of how this works? Are there any difficulties?

It’s a unique experience. We have the original game’s director and the planning team speaking with Blue Castle on almost a daily basis – this is very much an equal collaboration between the two teams. What we wanted to achieve was to meld Capcom’s DNA with a foreign studio, while at the same time taking advantage of their strong points as well.

Your last collaboration was Bionic Commando, a bold and pioneering development project between Europe and Japan. Unfortunately the game didn’t score or sell very well, and you’ve since admitted that development collaborations sometimes haven’t gone smoothly because cultural differences tend to get in the way of harmony...

Unfortunately, that was an experience we learned several hard lessons from. Bionic Commando was slightly different from Dead Rising 2; it was essentially commissioned and farmed out to Grin, with Ben Judd producing the game from Capcom Japan. As far as Dead Rising 2 is concerned, we have daily video conferences with Blue Castle, and studio visits every few weeks. The lines of communication on this project have been greatly expanded.

You admitted at DICE 09 that Japan is an island nation close to being homogenous. What’s it like having a Westerner like Ben Judd in your ranks? Does he have to work extra hard to impress or does the fact he’s American mean he’s a handy point of reference for Western culture?

(Pauses for a moment and giggles with translator.) Sorry, we’re just thinking about Ben! We were laughing because he’s such an easy-going, typical American guy. Coming to Japan and learning the language, the different business practices, understanding our mentality – that takes a massive effort and is not to be under-estimated. Having said that, Capcom is a laid back company – the atmosphere in our Osaka base is totally different from Tokyo. We’re probably the most comfortable Japanese games company for a Westerner like Ben to work for.

So what’s Ben up to at the moment then?

He’s busy reflecting upon himself and his mistakes! (More giggles.) Seriously though, Capcom’s culture is not simply to fire a person for their errors; Bionic Commando was a chance for Ben to grow, and hopefully he’ll have learned valuable lessons for a future project.

Are you following the bust-up between Modern Warfare devs Infinity Ward and their publisher Activision? What’s your take on the relationship between a publisher and a developer – can it often be fractious, or does this not happen as much in Japan since developers are usually integrated into a publisher?

I think larger companies have their own special responsibility in comparison to smaller studios. I’m unaware as to the exact cause of their argument, but falling-outs usually stem from both sides failing to understand or appreciate one another’s position. Maybe they simply need to communicate more.

Are independent developers hired by publishers the way forward in Japan, as they seem to be in the West?

It’s an interesting point. Some famous Japanese creators went on to open up their own studios. However, I would like to use the analogy of a hospital to explain my stance. In a large hospital, a doctor might become famous and decide to open his own clinic. He’s going make an awful lot of money there, but perhaps the patients he’ll treat will only be limited. However, if he’d stayed in the hospital he may only have received an average salary, but he’d also have gotten to participate in a wide range of research, and treat a lot of different patients. You have to think long and hard about stuff like this if you’re going to make your own move.

If Lost Planet 2 becomes an enormous success and you’re suddenly given carte blanche to create your own dream project at Capcom, what would it be?

I’d rather take a very long holiday!

Good answer! But after that?

You know, I like being at Capcom and I especially love my team, so I’d engage in a deep discussion with them and – rather than impose my own ideas per se – I’d gather opinions from the floor...

You sound like a great boss. Okay, if you did get to go on your belated holiday, what one game would you bring to play?

(A very, very long pause.) Super Mario World on the SNES.

May 14, 2010

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  • Clovin64 - May 16, 2010 2:23 p.m.

    @JosefMotley You're perfectly right when you say that Resi 5 co op is fun. I've played it several times with a mate and when played in this way its one of the most fun and enjoyable game experiences I've had in recent times. However, I dont always have a mate to play co op with, and when you play Resi 5 in single player, it feels strangley theres something missing. Its a good game, make no mistake about that, but in my opinion Resident evil belongs in Single player.
  • JosefMotley - May 15, 2010 4:13 p.m.

    I totally disagree with the chap below / before me. Co-op saved resident evil 5 in my book. I hope they don't get rid of it in the next one because of the bad reaction from so many gamers... but then again I have ONLY played RE5 two player, and have heard horrible things about the AI. saying the single player doesn't work is fair enough, AI is a bitch to get right... but co-op certainly worked for me, I had more fun with that than I have with a new game in ages... and frankly fun is more important than all these vague terms like "atmosphere" or "scaryness". I was still scared several times in co-op. It was sillier in places, sure, but plenty of horror films can manage to be both funny and scary. You get what you put in. Try playing co-op in the dark next time or something perhaps?
  • Clovin64 - May 15, 2010 11:53 a.m.

    I got a little worried when he said that the popularity of co-op games is going to increase in the future (he's probably right about that). Seriously, I hope single player games dont get overlooked in favour of co-op. Look at Resi 5: It was a good game, but it had the potential to be just as brilliant as Resi 4, but it was ruined somewhat by dodgy partner AI. But look at something like Bayonetta or God of War III! Single player games CAN be brilliant... please don't forget that developers.
  • Gahmah - May 15, 2010 6:42 a.m.

    If it all possible I'd like to see more articles like this from games radar! This was neat and very interesting to read. It was presented well and actually offers some depth into Tekeuchi and Capcom in addition to a light into the feel people have for the japanese game market. Really cool article.
  • crumbdunky - May 15, 2010 6:24 a.m.

    Well, a whole lot about nothing as far as I can see! Why not ask him straight out "why did you attempt to kill RE as a series when co-op can never work for a story based survival horror game?"? He'd have had to give you more than the fluff he did there about people liking co-op! I LIKE co-op, I LOVE L4D on the PC, LOVE playing Halo with mates but for RE it doesn't work and a five year old could tell you exactly why-and they can't even play the damn games yet! It idn't work AS A RE game because playing with mate makes anything "scary" silly/amusing, kills any atmosphere you try to set up with narrative and so on-not to mention that when translated to SP the AI is nowhere near good enough(seriously, Sheva was pants and in LP2 you better be ready for serious boredom when unable to play with a full human squad as your NPC mates are dim as all hell-to a game ruining degree when a lot of the bigger Akrid are designed for tactical, coordinated attacks!)meaning it gets in your way/you end up babysitting it(like the WORST/Ashley bits of RE4)and immersion is a distant, sick joke. No, there were HARD questions to be asked and it didn't happen which is always the way in the cosy, offend nobody world of games journalism. Sure, you couldn't hammer JT about all the crap Capcom have pulled this gen(from DMC4 being pants, CTYD insulting and the constant shilling of the RE name on the Wii without EVER releasing a new, proper one even when promised or even the DLC Vs key/SF4 costume fiascos)but you should really have managed to say that co-op should NEVER be the king in RE. Not that it shouldn't EXIST in RE-no, playing with a mate was fun, it just wasn't much like RE in feel and resultantly the classic controls didn't feel right either. wWhat they need to understand is that co-op is about the interaction and action and in a RE game that doesn't allow for the right atmosphere to be brought along. So have co-op but don't put it in charge so the core SP where the art is possible gets mangled. It's like they forgot that we liked all the previous RE games built on brilliant SP with story and scares and atmosphere! So why not bloody ask the guy about it til he says something worth hearing! He made the WORST RE ever with the biggest budget and now he's managed to make LP2 WORSE than the first and not got rid of any of the first games problems either! I thought it was a bit rich of JT taking the mick out of his mate Ben for BC when his own work isn't very good! When is games journalism going to find some damn teeth? Was Gerstmanngate the start of a reign of fear where no one asks anything we gamers need to hear answers to? No wonder Acti and their ilk get away with what they do when our voice, teeth and check on the industry are AWOL. The world's full of nice pieces that speak loud and say nothing. We need a gaming Paxman, we need someone to ask the hard questions and we need someone prepared to say "this was shit. What do you plan to do about it?". We need someone to remind these people just who pays their fekkin' wages when it comes down to it so they start making more quality products rather than worrying about preowned game sales(which they don't seem to understand happens because the games aren't often good enough to keep these days or that people sell a game so they can buy a new one!)and DRM. Surely to God, though, someone needs to tell Capcom that co-op need not mean they kill the SP campaigns in their story based games. If we don't tell them I'm scared we'll see the SP of DMC5 only playable with us as Dante with a team of NPC Neros! You've been warned-now ask the questions and tell 'em what we think! BTW-not an attack on GR but the whole games media. Specialist press usually holds a little sway within it's sphere but we gamers are so downtrodden today as a direct result of the gaming media being too in thrall to publishers who place big ads that we're getting no kind of real presence in interviews like this one. You'd never guess bad games were made by reading interviews, honestly, even BC as glossed over here. We need the games media to be our way of getting our views to devs/publishers etc and need it to ask the right people the right questions and I don't see it happening. It's all WAY too nice. Teeth please. .