Metal Gear Solid V designer stands up for Japanese industry

Kojima Productions' Jordan Amaro takes exception to Keiji Inafune's view of a still-declining development scene

It's been a difficult generation for Japanese developers, but Metal Gear Solid V designer believes a rebound is at hand. Amaro said as much to GameSpot today, responding to recent comments from Comcept founder Keiji Inafune about what he saw as a Japanese development scene in continued decline.

"It's not gotten worse," Amaro said. "That kind of comment used to be relevant a couple of years ago but many companies are recovering, and have made tough strategic decisions that will pay off soon."

Amaro said Japanese developers have been investing in better technology and processes, having spent years studying how Western developers have succeeded and adapting their own methods accordingly. One such change has been the increased hiring of Western developers into Japanese teams. Amaro himself is an example, having worked at 2K Czech and Crytek before joining Kojima Productions earlier this year. Development in Japan is still hard, he acknowledged, but no more so than it is in the West.

"I'm personally suffocating from the lack of creativity and subtlety exhibited during the last few years in Western AAAs."

Jordan Amaro

"I can assure you that everyone here is aware of how painful the current gen has been to Japan, but I see the Renaissance around the corner," Amaro said.

He added that Inafune's continued questioning of the Japanese industry's health has done more to discourage developers than help the situation. Instead, Amaro suggested that Inafune should, "Stop dramatizing and start working on it like we are [at Kojima Productions]... Sure it's not easy, but do you hear us complain to journalists every few months? Discretion, humility, and hard work are the way to go about this."

As for the Western market, Amaro seemed unimpressed with its efforts of late.

"I'm personally suffocating from the lack of creativity and subtlety exhibited during the last few years in Western AAAs," Amaro said, adding, "A lot of them have become recipes, where a spreadsheet game design is bluntly applied to the environment with little consideration to the actual experience, removing any sense of discovery and magic. But hey, they sell millions right, so who's to blame?"

Finally, Amaro suggested this aspect of the industry is cyclical in nature, and Japan is on its way back up from irrelevancy.

"Japanese companies are tackling ambitious and exciting projects," Amaro said, "and I don't know about you, but do I need fresh air!"

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Latest comments (2)

Shehzaan Abdulla Translator/QA 4 years ago
It used to be conventional wisdom that a Japanese developer would make a new engine, do all the animations and lip-syncing by hand and so on. Now most Japanese publishers are looking long term; Square-enix's Luminous Engine, Capcom's Deep Down Engine and Konami's Fox Engine are all examples of, what I think, are more progressive long-term strategies that would allow flexibility and savings in development costs. Are we on the cusp of seeing a minor-major revival of Japanese development? I'm not so sure, but I am excited all the same.
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Adam Campbell Game Production Manager, Azoomee4 years ago

That is true. I'd suggest however that Capcom's previous generation middle-ware "MT Framework" and its success in helping push cost-effective, fast to market games on three platforms was one of the trend setters in this drive.

Many Japanese studios would have wished they had such a strong technical direction and strategy for the 7th generation. Out of all of the big Japanese studios, Capcom were the only ones that really got it right and I have always seen why guys like Kojima and Inafune have been strongly critical about Japanese development from this perspective.

Things do change however and as mentioned, a new generation of technology for Japanese studios wishing to overcome the pains of modern development is arriving. I might add, it really helps that modern consoles are either PCs or mobiles in terms of architecture :p
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