Metal Gear Solid V designer says Japanese industry has not gotten worse

Jordan Amaro responds to Mega Man creator Keiji Inafune's comments about downtrodden state of development in island nation, believes "discretion, humility, and hard work" should be emphasized.

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Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain designer Jordan Amaro does not agree with Mega Man creator Keiji Inafune's recent assertion that the Japanese development scene has "gotten worse."

"It's not gotten worse. 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 told GameSpot today.

Amaro previously worked at 2K Czech on an unannounced title, as well as Crytek on Homefront 2. He joined Kojima Productions in March.

Some of the "tough" decisions, Amaro explained, are investments in better technology and development processes.

"No one wants to take forever to ship a game and Japanese companies are no different. They now know how Western devs go about making a game and are updating their own processes by making incremental changes," Amaro said. "Contrary to what many may think, not everything in western productions is good, productive, or even adaptable to a Japanese work environment."

Another investment Japanese game companies are making is in the hiring of talent from outside of the island nation, Amaro said. The impact is "already positive," he argued, referencing Mark Cerny's positions as lead system architect on the PlayStation 4 and game director for Japan Studio's Knack.

"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.

His advice? "Stop dramatizing and start working on it like we are [at Kojima Productions in Tokyo, Japan]."

"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," he added.

Amaro said Inafune's comments have only discouraged developers from helping rejuvenate the Japanese gaming scene. "The reality, while not easy (not worse than the West) is altogether different than what filters out of his interviews."

"Discretion, humility, and hard work are the way to go about this."

Inafune last week launched a Kickstarter campaign for a Mega Man-inspired game called Mighty No. 9. The project has been a runaway success, reaching its $900,000 funding target in under two days. Inafune said the Japanese development community is largely in the dark regarding how Kickstarter works, and hopes that his own campaign will help shine a light on crowd-funding as a viable option for game development in Japan.

"I would agree with Inafune-san that Japanese [developers] still ignore how Kickstarter works precisely. But they know, many of them, that it has effectively funded games," Amaro said. "They're not cut from the world. I laud his success and that's going to trigger a wave of Japanese Kickstarters just like Double Fine did in the West. It will be interesting to see how publishers respond to that and to witness the birth of a new indie scene, largely dormant today."

If the Japanese game development community can return to prominence, Amaro said, then gamers worldwide can expect better games from the region released on a more regular basis.

"There's no question we need a Japanese regain in the game market, especially in AAAs. I'm personally suffocating from the lack of creativity and subtlety exhibited during the last few years in Western AAAs," Amaro said.

"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," he added. "But hey, they sell millions right, so who's to blame?"

Overall, Amaro said the Japanese game design mentality is "largely altogether different" from that of the West. Some games that are considered "great" in the West are "nothing special" in Japan, he said, noting Kojima Productions is addressing that with Metal Gear Solid V.

"I also grew up on Japanese games and it's been painful to watch the slow descent into irrelevancy of Japanese games," Amaro said. "But as with any cycle, it eventually gets better, and we're past that. Japanese companies are tackling ambitious and exciting projects, and I don't know about you, but do I need fresh air!"

For more on Inafune's recent comments, check out GameSpot's interview with the industry veteran and outspoken critic of the Japanese development scene.

Discussion

393 comments
OurSin-360
OurSin-360

I guess it's only sexist when it's a female character?  Remember Snakes skin tight sneak suit with the wedgie close ups?  Naked raiden?  I guess not

Ryuuken27
Ryuuken27

MGS4 is a mess. The gameplay is solid, visuals are great, story is a polished turd. MGS2 suffered the same issue.

BradBurns
BradBurns

Japan is very important.


Westerners are good at creating giant experiences like the Elder Scrolls series, but their art direction is terrible. Westerners seem unable to animate characters beautifully and believably.

Also, western character models are poor to put it lightly. 

Japan, I need you.

Ajensen87
Ajensen87

YES! Expand, be creative, show us (western people) full load of AAA titles. And for Gods sake, BRING MONSTER HUNTER TO THE WEST!!!

GreggD
GreggD

I want that crazy Japanese games to come back. And I don't mean Suda style crazy, I mean Mister Mosquito kinda crazy.

Scarab83
Scarab83

"Metal Gear Solid V designer says Japanese industry has not gotten worse."

"Kojima says MGSV characters will be "more erotic" to encourage cosplay."

Right..

komuchen
komuchen

Not enough bewbs for cosplay of course

Ovirew
Ovirew

I think Sony's Japan Studio and Nintendo, among others, are proof that the Japanese are producing some of the most original and unique games of our time.

Maybe the Japanese still have a lot of improvements to make in some respects, but in others they are the pioneers.  I'd have to agree with Amaro.

EnelSama
EnelSama

What ????? the Japanese industry is the best out there in my opinion , look at FF , Dark souls , tales , mgs , Dragon's dogma... the list would go on and on .

jenovaschilld
jenovaschilld

I enjoyed this article and found Amaro to be earnest and informative. I am not in total agreement with him of course as recognizing a problem is the first step to fixing it. But I believe his passion toward Japanese game development will bring it out of its funk. 

ChrisJ2004
ChrisJ2004

Japan is dead. The fact that the only counter to the statement is for everyone to mention the same couple of games proves this.

Bellum_Sacrum
Bellum_Sacrum

They're talking about the industry kids, not the games. The western industry is way worse than it used to be in the 90s, it's just that there are practically no western game designers left to criticize it. Well except for Molyneux...who is growing senile, and Cerny, who is on Sony's payroll.

tightwad34
tightwad34

They sure could have pulled one over on me. The 3DS says Japanese games are not even close to being in the shitter. And Dark Souls and Ni No Kuni say otherwise also.

SEEDman_X
SEEDman_X

For sure it hasn't gotten worse.  However, in my humble opinion, it's just that the industry is, for better or worse, going through some major transformations and the JPN developers happen to be lagging behind while the changes take place.

Opayk
Opayk

This is kinda funny, having just read the other article about Kojima turning his characters erotic. You truly are revitalizing the industry, well done.

4love10
4love10

i wonder how much the Japanese like the ElderScrolls Skyrim?may not be much..but they just a small Island "they should have starting to colonize earlier",the western world i just too big,if a game developer want to achieve success they have to invest in the west heavily..and try not too piss us off

Chico86_basic
Chico86_basic

Xenoblade Chronicles is a prime example of good products coming out from the east. You can only achieve such masterpieces with a great development environment, of that I'm sure.

uncle5555
uncle5555

Hmmm should I listen to the almost 30 year veteran games industry veteran (who managed to get almost $2 million in support for a new game in two days) or some guy I've never heard of before today who worked for 2K Czech and is now at Koji Pro....lemme think about that for a minute.... >_<;

Vozlov
Vozlov

It's the terrible writing and complete lack of any form of progress in regard to gameplay. The western market lacks innovation in comparison? Damn.

This coming from a guy I'll add who's just spent years working in the Western market and is now going back to work for one of the very few companies that keep a strong Western audience.

Wonder how many Resident Evils, Final Fantasys or street fighters, he actually plays.

arqe
arqe

People were buying at least 10 - 15 japanese games a year now its down to 2-3.

Now if this isnt the "Definition of Getting Worse" i dont know how Japanese peoples brains work.

goggles123456
goggles123456

This was an interesting article, because it presented a couple of conflicting ideas.  Kinda harsh, too.  "Quit complaining to journalists and do something about it..."  Inafune DID do something about it.  He basically earned a million bucks over night to do so.  On the other hand, I appreciate a developer acknowledging the lack of quality in AAA games.  I've been telling my friends for years that the games that are released these days are mainly just eye candy and always have the feeling of "watching a game" rather than "playing a game."  I recently experienced this while playing Deus Ex, whatever the most recent one was called for PC.  While the world they made was believable and fully realized, I became bored with it within 2 hours, because it was so bland in terms of gameplay.  I've been playing games for 26 years, and since the NES I've only been interested in great gameplay experiences that deliver on the fun department.  Deus Ex felt like I was watching pretty paint dry.  God, everytime I hit a quicktime event I wanted to throw my controller.  Throughout the unskippable opening cinematic I kept going, "just let me play."  I love a good story and all, but those are few and far between these days.

B-boy
B-boy

japanes games  when down hill afther 2005 like crapcom making so many bad games

Bowser05
Bowser05

While they may be picking up, that's not what Inafune's last experienced and had seen in his VERY LONG time of developing (longer than Jordan I'm sure...also considering Inafune has been a Japanese developer for almost as long as Jordan has been alive I'm sure). The games that have come out of Japan lately are not supporting what Jordan is saying. Obviously there are always exceptions, and I always felt like Kojima Studios was an exception....but Inafune's views are about the norm, not the exceptions. He has every right to complain...and if people have a problem with his complaining than fix it!

ziqi92
ziqi92

True...ultimately, cultural differences play a large role on a game's international success...

StonerDemon
StonerDemon

That thumbnail... Red Snake Redemption?

OurSin-360
OurSin-360

I'll take the word of the japanese developer over the foreigner on this subject

hippiesanta
hippiesanta

Jordan Amaro will get salary raise and promotion for this statement .... well done

Claudu
Claudu

I agree that this was a very weak generation for japanese games. But you know what? Most of my favorite titles of this gen are still japanese - Demon's/Dark Souls, Deadly Premonition, Bayonetta, Nier, Metal Gear Solid 4, Ninja Gaiden II, Ni No Kuni, Tekken 6 & Tag 2, Xenoblade Chronicles. Sure there were also awesome western games, but the ones that were most popular (AssCreed, CoD, etc.) are crap compared to any of the aforementioned titles.

wilhelmalexis
wilhelmalexis

Capcom shouldn't have cancelled the Megaman FPS game. They could have had a best seller there. Example: Metroid Prime.

bouchart
bouchart

Here in the west, first person shooters are the big seller, which Japan doesn't make too often.  What Japan needs to do is make a gray and brown shooter featuring space marines or super soldiers, with regenerating health.  That would be innovative!


Seriously though, a Japanese company would do well to make a shooter something like Shogo: Mobile Armor Division.

kreegan64
kreegan64

 @Ajensen87 MH is in the west.

BradBurns
BradBurns

@Scarab83 

I don't understand why people find what he said offensive. 

There's nothing wrong with making characters more "sexy" or "erotic" as he put it. It' s meant to make the characters more appealing. 

All of the characters in Japanese games have a sexual element to them (both male and female), that is why they are memorable unlike western character designs, which range from uninspired and forgettable to absolutely terrible.

jenovaschilld
jenovaschilld

@EnelSama No denying. But, during gen 5 and 6th almost every game that came out was made by Japanese developers or at least major parts of it were designed and produced. 

Like any one on top complacency is its own worst enemies. Why make a triple AAA title when you can 'slide' by on poorly made card games, sequels, or niche games. 

Take Final Fantasy 7 - easily one of the best games of its time- winner of almost all awards, brought in millions of new gamers to the industry, created lifelong fans to its IP and genre. Not to mention selling consoles hand over fist and making tons of money just on the game. So what is the lesson to be learned here- make a great game and get great rewards.... NO .

You see ff7 also was one of the most expensive games to make for its time, and the time, talent, and tools required was a huge gamble made not only by love but courage. 

Instead Japan found niche games like card battle, or dating sims could be made for a mere fraction of the cost but sold for the same price as any other game, including ff7. That is when making a cheap product that sold decently was suddenly the gold standard.  Yes not every company in Japan did that - but enough did and many adopted it to some degree to even their best IPs. 

It is why Saw and Scary movies keep getting made. Its the dumbass over money related to the 'believe anything' over inbreedness of family formula. 

 But the problem is - that making those kind of game does nothing to endear the gamer to the industry long term. After a while the games become so niche that their core audience is sick of it and they no longer have the future capital to take risk in making something new and bold. The future goes to the risk taker and ass kicker - and that is what western devs- have done. Bioware, Bethesda, Blizzard, Ubisoft, Valve, 2kgames, warner, guys that did uncharted and mlb the show. 

Well at least this next gen 8th - holds a promising future for not only japanese developers but also all gamers.   


BradBurns
BradBurns

@Ian-Cognito 

That proves him wrong?

If you think sexuality is evil and doesn't belong anywhere near a game, that's fine.

But don't assume that everyone agrees with that view. 

I don't understand why people are trying to turn this into some sort of "Holy Cause".

Vu2010
Vu2010

@arqe much better than your brain that for sure

Raziel831991
Raziel831991

@arqe sales doesnt equal quailty. If it did Twilight would be the best piece of literature written in the last few years and pretty much everyone would agree thats is false.

freedom01
freedom01 moderator

@B-boy There are tons of great Japanese games, they just dont make it out to the US, if you import then you'll find a lot.

RPG_Fan_I_Am
RPG_Fan_I_Am

@bouchart Armored core... Gundam Games... watch Dogs... Tomb Raider... Theres a good few Jap. dev. shooters now.

arqe
arqe

@Raziel831991 Im not talking about how many games they sell. How many japanese games make to the quality market.

It was around 15 games a year. Now how many Japanese can you see in markets these days ? 

arqe
arqe

@Vu2010 What defines the Quality of games ? 

1. Story

2.Art Style ( not graphics )

3. Your connection to the game ( can game move your emotions )

and the list goes on with preferences of the many if its logical.

RPG_Fan_I_Am
RPG_Fan_I_Am

@wilhelmalexis @RPG_Fan_I_Am @Moegitto @bouchart Thats it, I stand corrected. Theres also Deus ex, and hitman.

RPG_Fan_I_Am
RPG_Fan_I_Am

@Moegitto @RPG_Fan_I_Am @bouchart Developed by Square Enix.... A Japanese developer.


Edit: Or was it another game I'm thinking of, maybe not watch dogs, I need to check.