GR: Is it difficult to bring together play styles? Because Japanese games seem to be very tight and focused and western games are getting looser. How do you reconcile those two styles together when making a game?
S5: Dead Rising is a good example where games could be heading. It's a very tightly packed game - it's very Japanese in a way that, you know, they've figured out things to a tight degree, a very detailed degree. But it also allows a lot of freedom, too, so I think that's a really good example of where game development in Japan is heading.
GR: So obviously it's a balance, finding the kind of games that will appeal all over the world...
S5: I actually think that making a game that both westerners and Japanese will both love is almost impossible. There are some exceptions, of course. There are few people in Japan that can do it. And I think that [Metal Gear Solid creator] Mr. Kojima is one and [Resident Evil creator] Mr. Mikami from Capcom is another.
GR: You think it's because of the gameplay? Or is it because those creators use very Hollywood-style presentation and they also happen to use Caucasian main characters? What are the elements that make those games appeal globally?
S5: I think that you're right on that. I think that another thing they're doing right is that it's easy to get into the gameplay - that it's fun. They're also putting a lot of effort in promoting their game and making sure they sell well - they're putting their faces out there.
GR: Obviously, games like RE4 or MGS4 have astronomically huge budgets, and not every game has the luxury of having that much money. So what can you do when you're working on a tighter budget, to make a game that really stands out?
S5: With a small budget, it forces you to think of something very compact - something that's very tight. In reality, if I had a huge budget, it might be a big problem since I wouldn't know what to do. I'm so used to thinking effectively and efficiently about how to make a game that with a huge budget, I might just go crazy. There might be too much to do in a way. So one thing that you think about... it's not always about having a big budget, it's not always a blessing.
For example, Mikami-san - he worked on God Hand. That was one of his babies and it was a fun project for him. He wanted to do something fun, and the budget for God Hand is not anywhere near where Resident Evil 5 would be. But as far as personal enjoyment and creative freedom, you could argue that he had more fun, or it was more enjoyable to make God Hand than Resident Evil games. So it's not always about having a big budget.
Another interesting point is that if you have a huge budget, it means you have a lot of different investors, a lot of people who are weighing in on your game. They have millions of dollars invested. But if you have a smaller budget, it's your own money. It's your own independent project so you can do whatever you want. But the more money that comes in, the more responsibility that you have to use this studio, or that you have to use this kind of CG or something like that.