We are located at the 52nd floor of the Roppongi Hills Mori Tower in Roppongi Hills, Tokyo. This floor is called »Tokyo City View« for a reason: The view is breathtaking, you can see pretty much of Tokyo in all directions. But nonetheless we are focused on a giant screen that shows the world premiere of live gameplay of Shinji Mikamis newest game - Vanquish. After the presentation Mikami-san had some time for a 20 minute Q&A.
4Players: The last years must have been pretty intense for you: You've been working with Capcom, you left Capcom, you worked with Clover Studios, Clover Studios got shut down, you joined Platinum Games - that's a lot of action. So my first question would be: How are you?
Shinji Mikami: I am fine now, thank you very much. It's been a bit troublesome in
Shinji Mikami, father of the Resident Evil series and Vanquish's game director.
my private life, but on the company side everything is great.
4Players: When you went on stage some hours ago you said Vanquish was your first game in four years. What have you been doing in that time?
Shinji Mikami: For about two years I took a break. And the two years after that I dedicated to Vanquish, so that has been the four years up until now.
4Players: Do you have a certain source of inspiration or do you just develop the game and see where it leads? Do you have a greater plan of design?
Shinji Mikami: At the start I always think about what would make a great and fun game. And that's where it all kicks off, that's where ideas start to come into play. If these ideas seem to be fun and work in a game they get narrowed down and put in the game. For example that's how we settled on the scenario: For something as action-packed I feel that Japan to be the main setting isn't very fitting. Personally I don't feel that Japan is action-packed or really cool. I like to compare that with Herbivores and Carnivores: In my opinion America is really Carnivore, and Japan is a bit more Herbivore - and so America is a really more fitting stage for that.
4Players: When you decide on the direction of the game do you strictly follow your plan or is the design mostly created by the team? And how strongly are you influenced by other games? After seeing the teaser some of our readers reckoned that Vanquish is going to be some sort of Japanese Halo.
Shinji Mikami: In my style of developing games generally I do gather a lot of input from my team. I set the directions, but creating the game is something we make as a team. And of course we do take reference from other games. Especially for Vanquish the reference points were taken from games like Gears of War and Call of Duty. We didn't really consider Halo too much but in turn when I heard that Sam, the main character, is similar to Master Chief and Halo I wasn't really expecting that because I wasn't considering it from the beginning at all. Another example is the smoking of Sam. This habit came about when we wanted to give a bit more characteristic to Sam. Sam is a grown man, of course he can smoke - I myself enjoy smoking. It's basically just to add a bit of flavor to the character. Of course we didn't think about setting bad examples. If you take cinema for example, it has much more history than video games. There's a lot of things that's accepted in movies, but when it comes to games, many people raise their voice against it. There's still a long way to go, but as long as we're able to do things that we think are all right, we get closer to the acceptance that movies have.
4Players: Some of your last games like God Hand or Killer 7, not to mention Platinum games like Bayonetta, were very much over the top, with an unusual art design and generally very crazy. Vanquish on the other hand looks like you've been working your way down a checklist of modern shooters: So you have 3rd person view, giant boss monsters with glowing weak points, quick time reactions and so on. Is there any fun in the game or are you trying a more serious approach?
Shinji Mikami: In terms of what you can gather from just looking at the game, Vanquish might not be too unique compared to the games out there. But I feel the uniqueness of the title
Shinji Mikami and Sam, Vanquish's main character. Mikami-san's been working on Vanquish now for two years.
lies in the intuitivity of the controls and how it feels when you actually get to play the game, which is the most standout point of the game in my opinion. The main difference from other games is that, and you're probably gonna feel that when you get the chance to get your hands on Vanquish eventually, it is a shooter but it also feels a lot like playing an action game rather than just a shooter.
4Players: I have one more personal question: When did you realize that you wanted to be a game designer? What do you think you would do today if you hadn't chosen that way?
Shinji Mikami: Actually I got into creating games before I got into what you would call really working - I was around 20. When I was around 23 I decided that creating games was what I wanted to do to make a living. I think if I hadn't chosen that way I'd still be in a job that involved creating thing, do something creative. Being a game designer comes with a lot of stress and compromises, but I'm fine with that. A good example for the difficulties of the job is God Hand, which I made very freely but it didn't sell very well. Resident Evil was based more towards the commercial side of things; God Hand was at the other end of the scale. With Vanquish, I'm drawing up the ideas, then they get put on the table, and it's considered whether they will be successful in the market or not. There are a lot of points where I kind of have to bear that as a reality. So I feel that it's kind of between God Hand and Resident Evil, that's where Vanquish is.
4Players: Why did you decide against a multiplayer part?
Shinji Mikami: In Vanquish there's a lot of things going on at the same time, it's very intense and full of action. When you take that in a multiplayer environment you have to cut out a lot of that. We were thinking a lot about it: Do we want to have a multiplayer without the impact of the singleplayer? That way we would just do the same thing that other games do, maybe even less than that. That's the main reason we kept Vanquish a singleplayer-only experience.
feine sache, dass ihr das interview auch im orginal publiziert! die begründung für die multiplayer-entscheidung empfinde ich als nachvollziehbar & richtig... nicht jedes "action"-spiel benötigt unbedingt einen multiplayer - bsp. uncharted 2: so genial ich das spiel empfand - der multiplayer hat mich in etwa 10 minuten beschäftigt... wenn ich einen ordentlichen multiplayer möchte spiele ich killzone2... auf "vanquish" bin ich schon wirklich sehr gespannt - ende 2010 ist leider noch eine recht lange zeit...