The father of Mega Man popped into Bungie Studios recently, partly because he made Mega Man and therefore can do what he likes and partly because he is a Bungie fan (who knew). Inafune-san is so much of a fan of Bungie that he wanted to drop by to see how things are done at Bungie and to see if the two companies were compatible for a collaboration (OMG!).
Bungie were kind enough to document the event on their website and to ask Inafune-san a few questions about his trip. What is so interesting about this, other than a possible Capcom-Bungie team up (well, OK, that is awesome), is the fact that developers seem to be very insular organisations. They are very secretive of their work and not usually prone to openly inviting members from other companies through their doors. Sure this sort of thing goes on within the industry, but not usually so publicly as this and it’s nice to see everyone play nice for once.
I’ve taken the liberty of copying the interview verbatim, not because I don’t want you to check out Bungie’s post. But simply because there is no way of directly linking to the article and given another couple of days finding the entry will be quite difficult.
Q. So what brings you by the studio today and what do you think of our setup?
A. Bungie is an amazing studio that has made incredible games. So I was always curious about how they made their games in hopes of being up to add some of the flavor into Capcom games. Also, I wanted to come down to Bungie in order to see just how well our philosophies on game design matched up. If things clicked, I know it would be interesting to collaborate together on a title in the future.
Q. You came into the gaming industry back when the console space was first becoming popular, bringing iconic franchises like Mega Man and Street Fighter out of the arcades and into living rooms. What are some of the biggest industry changes you’ve witnessed over that twenty year span?
A. In the 80s, when games were just becoming established, it was pretty easy to create a game based on a flash idea that occurred to you. Of course, production costs and dev cycles made it very easy to take chances on risky concepts. On the other hand, because of these short production cycles and small teams, you knew you had to drill down on a single “big” concept and that helped you to maintain your focus.
As the years have gone by, games have become more and more complex so that a single “big” concept isn’t enough. You need to tie in different moves, characters, online, etc for a game to really catch fire. It’s due to this shear planning complexity that makes me think that the number of true “creators” out there, capable of designing and executing an original IP have decreased significantly. From a personal level, I’d like to think that I am one of those people who still have enough creativity to continue to design original games. So it’s great to get a chance to discuss basic game design and trends with other creators because each time I do it helps me to expand my own personal creative ability.
Q. What are some lessons modern day developers could learn from those older titles to help expand their creativity?
A. To be honest, the games of yesteryear may be smaller than their current gen counterparts, but usually the creative core of a game is something that stands the test of time. Whether a game is big or small, new or old, if there is an interesting base concept there, then you can be sure that concept can still be used in today’s games because usually what made it fun before will still hold true today. Of course trends change and you need to swap in some features and swap out older controls but in general that base can still be used as the key component of a new game.
Q. So you still see influences from that era persisting and shaping the games of today?
A. Yes, I think that people are always influenced by the games they played in the past. But it’s not just games. For example, creators around my age that have been in the gaming industry for twenty or so years often base their ideas on the Anime and Manga they knew and loved as kids. By the same rationale, young designers nowadays often look at the old games they played as children for hints on what would make a good game. Mostly this comes from the respect they have for those games.
To answer the question in an even broader manner, recently we have seen a lot of “Super-hero based themes” in games, books, movies, and TV. Whether it’s the X-men, Hancock, Heroes, or the like, all of them are borrowing off of the concept of “Superman”. So most of the games created today are influenced in some way shape or form by different kinds of entertainment that left an impression on the creators. Sometimes these base concepts are remixed and fit into current trends so that they are relevant but whether it’s a TV show, movie, or game, usually that original idea (or a Superhero) is the starting point.
Q. You’ve watched gaming grow over the last two decades, what do you think it’ll be like twenty years in the future?
A. The last twenty years have been incredible. When you think of NES games as compared to PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 games, the difference in scale is incredible. Team sizes, money, creative skill… all have increased exponentially. However, I think whereas the last twenty years have been a period of rapid growth for the game industry the next 20 years won’t have as much “vertical growth” but instead will feature “horizontal growth.”
That is to say, the same basic things you see now probably won’t change as much but they will begin to hit more people and saturate a larger audience. At some point I think the lines between games, TV, and movies will blur and we will all be using some kind of device that is capable of providing “interactive experiences” or “games” if you will.
For example, a concept like the internet and online games may expand more and more to the point that thousands of people are playing socially together and how you interact with these “games” may not even be via a console. I think you will see less and less gaming purists and more people “gaming” on a wide variety of devices in a wide variety of ways. This is the horizontal growth that I envision.
Creators that are able to make not only games but rather interactive experiences on a wide variety of devices will be the ones that stay around. So only people who aren’t locked into “consoles = games” and who are flexible enough to branch out will be the new creative blood pushing the envelope.
Q. What do you hope it will be?
A. In twenty years I’ll be 64. I hope that even at that age, I’ll have the flexibility to create games that people interact in a wide variety of ways.
Q. Did you get a chance to drop by our lobby arcade and throw down with some Street Fighter? Some of our guys claim to be pretty proficient players.
A. Actually I didn’t realize you guys had Street Fighter Although, I’m sure even if I did play I wouldn’t be much of a challenge for the Bungie staffers. As you know I’m a big fan of Halo and I think playing against the staff would be a lot of fun but at my currently skill level, they’d probably wipe the floor with me in Halo as well.
Final Message to Bungie-net fans:
Visiting Bungie was a great experience because I got to see just how passionate everyone even the Marketing staff and high level execs were toward designing high-quality games. I’m not just blowing smoke, I really got that vibe from almost every creator I met when I visited. It’s was a great visit because it helped motivate me to push Capcom to that same quality bar so that we make games that can compete with Bungie. It’s a good thing to see the friendly competition because it helps you set high goals and that is exactly what I have for Capcom. Of course, as I mentioned before a Bungie-Capcom collaboration would certainly create something amazing as well… but I guess we’ll have to see if the next twenty years holds something that special or not.
Source Bungie (Via Capcom!)