Respected Japanese developer Tomonobu Itagaki has revealed that a dirty trick by publishing company Tecmo caused so much doubt in his ability to make games that he drank solidly for three months and considered giving up game design for good.
Speaking at the 2012 D.I.C.E. Summit in Las Vegas, Itagaki revealed that an already over-worked development team were pushed over the edge by a publisher rushing to get Dead or Alive 2 ready for the launch of the PlayStation 2 in 2000.
"I developed this game to accomplish the IPO which was the long term strategy of my ex-company's founder," Itagaki said, speaking through an interpreter. "There was one important problem, there's was only two and a half months to develop a launch title.
I thought I would quit making games because the incomplete game was released. I stayed at home for three or four months and there was nothing for me to do so I just kept drinking.
"All of the staff, including me, fought for victory with all their energy. But unfortunately the result wasn't what we expected. One day, the sales general manager came to me and said 'can I borrow a copy of this so I can play it?' I said 'sure, go on' and I handed him the disc which was still under development. But the disc was never played by him, instead it was taken into a factory for production on that day without me knowing.
"To be sure the company made a huge profit and of course the IPO was a success too. But I thought I would quit making games because the incomplete game was released. There were some staff who were relieved, but some of the staff, including me, were so depressed. So after I stayed at home for three or four months and there was nothing for me to do so I just kept drinking. How much did I drink? From morning until night. But no matter how much I drank I never got drunk."
After being re-inspired by his family, Itagaki said he would return to development to release Dead or Alive 2: Hardcore. He remained at Tecmo, switching focus to the original Xbox, but he eventually left the company in 2008 amidst multiple legal issues.
But it was the underhand dealings of the publisher that inspired Itagaki to start his own studio, Valhalla, which is currently at work on a new project for THQ.
"So I became independent and created my own company and became a stock holder myself."
"Do whatever you want to do and follow your passion," he told the audience. "Not just for self-satisfaction and not just for earning money, make something that change audiences lives. I believe video games have such power."