The Difference Between East And West, According To DmC Devil May Cry’s Producer

By Ishaan . September 7, 2012 . 2:00pm

Speaking with Gamasutra, DmC Devil May Cry producers, Motohide Eshiro and Alex Jones—both of Capcom—discuss the differences between Japanese and western game developers, and what Cambridge-based Ninja Theory bring to the latest Devil May Cry game.


Eshiro feels that the primary difference comes down to realism in animation.


“The main difference, if we were to really simplify things,” Eshiro says, “is it seems that Western games tend to focus a lot on realism in animation, so that, if you’re walking along and you stop, you should go through a natural and proper stop animation, which tends to look very good.”


“But,” he continues “when we’re talking about something like Devil May Cry, the concept has always been letting the user do what they want when they want—cancel things in mid-motion and suddenly turn on a dime, this sort of thing. We had to spend a lot of time getting this concept across, and bringing their way of thinking over to the mind space that we were in, and finding that balance between realism and ease of use.”


Another difference between Eastern and Western developers is the idea of flexibility among members of the development teams. Eshiro says he’s noticed that in western development studios, someone who’s a designer could also have programming skills. Having this broader skill set allows for members from different areas of the development team to bounce ideas off one another.


“Whereas in Japan, you tend to be much more compartmentalized; if you’re a programmer, you’re a programmer,” Eshiro explains. “You sit with the programmers. You don’t talk to the designers so much unless you need to, etcetera.”


(It should be noted that Capcom are attempting to change this, internally.)


Given these differences, the key to a successful East-West collaboration, Eshiro feels, is to allow your contracted developer the freedom to explore their own ideas. Instead of forcing them to do things your way, it’s often a better idea to get your general concept across and allow them to find their own solution to the puzzle. This was a lesson he learnt working on Bionic Commando, in collaboration with the now-defunct GRIN.


“Obviously—and it seems simple in hindsight now—that’s the much better path to take,” Eshiro says. “That was a lesson we learned. That and, obviously, communication itself—the importance of that and the frequency of communication becomes a key component in it, as well.”

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  • Herok♞

    I think that this is wonderful insight into breaking down the walls between east and west in the game industry, The game does look nice even if it is getting a ton of hate and I hope this leads to more good looking collabs in the future. I also hope that everyone can stay civilized when discussing this topic because its a double controversial topic(Both East and West and DmC).

  • SirRichard

    I do like these insights into the differences between the different sides of the industry, though you’d think (even when simplifying it) the main difference would be, well, the different cultures. Which then lends itself to all the other little differences.

    Still, good to see companies experimenting with new development procedures as they learn from each other.

  • Godmars

    How come there wasn’t this massive rift between east and west gaming until the 360 and PS3?

    The revival of western gaming after the fall of Atari, arcades didn’t really come into being, until Mario and the like started showing up.  

  • Spirit Macardi

    I may not like how that game is turning out, but I’ll admit this was insightful.

  • ronin4life

    Sometimes having an office full of jacks of all trades leads to a lack of focus and sloppy bottom line execution.

    Neither are perfect, it’s how each system is utilized an managed that truly makes a difference.

  • MrKappa

    Wasn’t this article already posted?

    Communication being key is common sense though. I don’t know how they ever operated if all they did was sit their guys down and told them to do what they do and no one ever talks it out or ask how someone wants it done.

  • ZBaksh386

    nice article.

  • OatMatadoQuatro

    The Difference Between East And West is the hour. 

    • Bentan

       good one hahaha!

  • gomas

    funny, It all sounds as If jap dev teams are doing things the “WRONG” way… I say funny cause we are talking about the country were marios, zeldas, mega man, metroids, DMC, R.E, silent hills, F.F, street fighters, king of fighters, beat em ups, action games, tekkens, Schmups, fighting games, etc were born… so, really?… japanese devs were/are DOING IT WORNG?!?!? … Isn`t “DMC” an actual example of a bland and uninspired hack and slash?, isn`t DMC a clear example that the genre, capcom and the v.g industry in general are going straight to hell? … have these guys played bayonetta and then tell people with a straight face that jap devs are doing it wrong?…

    • I don’t see a single comment where Eshiro said anything right or wrong.

      Isn`t “DMC” an actual example of a bland and uninspired hack and slash?, isn`t DMC a clear example that the genre, capcom and the v.g industry in general are going straight to hell?

      If these are the kinds of comments you intend to post around here, I would recommend you read our posting guidelines before you say anything else:

    •  thats right gomez, the kitty with the ridiculous anime wig has already warned you, we dont like your kind in this town, dont make me ban you….what? that you dont know who i am? well, im going to tell you who i am not……ur mom.
      but yes, you are pretty much right.DMC was made to be pandering, not to be a great videogame, but who cares, you have the new metal gear if what you want is a good hack’n slash…………..god, a devil may cry being a worse action game than a metal gear, whats this world coming to.

  • Developers NEED to STOP talking about East and Western differences….

    … it promotes a lot of repetitive debates.

    (However, kudos to Mr Jones for doing it with the least amount of groaning)

  • santiago diaz

    funny how japanese have a method of developing that is more in line of ford’s in the 30s (don’t know the name in english) and western developers do it in the model that toyota spread in the 60s and 70s.

  • Freud_Hater

    …Realism in animatio-WHAT?! That has nothing to do with a-anything!! O_O Holy crap… Difference between West and East… How about just a completely different culture altogether, therefore leaving a massive cultural gap between the two? Realism in animation… wow… I don’t say this often, but this is REALLY stupid Oo

    • Alexander Marquis Starkey

      Their talking about how the game is designed dude. Culture doesn’t come into play here, outside of maybe what techniques development teams choose use to build the game.

  • Göran Isacson

    Yeah, not too sure about them just NOW learning that you have to communicate in order to have a good collaboration. Kinda feels like they learned something SPECIFIC that they can’t really talk about out of fear it won’t reflect well on some party, but whatevs- interesting to hear them talk about the differences in animation though. I think that’s something that really applies to Ninja Theory, they’ve ALWAYS gone for really realistic and well-polished animations, and sometimes that lead to some pretty sluggish moments in their games. Them learning to play more fast and loose was probably necessary to do a Devil May Cry game.

    Also interesting- that Japanese developers really focus on getting each piece done one at a time while Westerns spread their focus out more. Wonder if there’s any way to notice which method the developers have used when you actually play their games.

  • the most cheesy line about this game is my name name is dante

    • Is…. is there something wrong with that? Dante has always been pretty cheesy. DMC3 especially.

    • Grenalie

      I would think it’s all the “F*CK YOU” sprinkled in the script, along with his insufferable personality and the games edgy “Fox News sucks and is run by demons oh don’t forget Vergil runs Anonymous” storyline.  All could be forgiven if the gameplay was up to snuff but too bad it’s not.

    • OatMatadoQuatro

      I like how he repeats it taunting a raging demon in another trailer “Hey by the way, my name, is Dante!!”

  • xAKUM3TSUx

    I’ll give Capcom points for at least trying to be a little more innovative.

  • Mnstrzero00

    I gotta disagree with the guy. I’m thinking about the very western Dark Souls and Demon’s Souls games where your character is constantly turning on a dime. And a typical FPS is 100% un realistic -as in prioritizing gameplay over visual finesse- as far as animations go.

    • popyea

      Dark/Demon’s Souls were developed by a Japanese developer. The setting is very western, but they’re talking about design sensibilities. The Souls games are very Japanese as far as design goes. But not in the way that animation is unrealistic, I think that’s one way that the games set themselves apart from other Japanese action games. Once you’re committed to a move you can’t just cancel out.

  • Tom_Phoenix

    While I understand that this is a discussion about development methods, I think people tend to focus way too much on the differences between the East and the West. Frankly, such discussions make developers only see the gaps between various cultures, thus making them feel like that they need to forget everything they know and blindly accept everything that foreign developers do in order to appeal to another audience. 

    Instead, I think the debate should be focused on what are the SIMILARITIES between the East and the West. If they focused on things that people of various cultures find appealing across the board, I think that would help Japanese developers in creating games that are appealing to an international audience.

    • enorka miho

      I agree… Lets stop that and look at our similarities then form there create something new where everyone can enjoy!

    • Happy Gamer

      Yeah you are 100% correct. I have worked over there, and although I am a U.S. citizen, I ethnically Asian and they expect you to follow their norm and I have experienced many new thing and ideas that I did not expect during my time there.

      I used to think that they should really try to incorporate some of the work ethics here in order to alleviate stress, flow of ideas in the company. I used to think that they were just closed to new ideas or cultures.What most people don’t realize is that the work ethics there is not just a “company policy” but what actually holds people together. There has been many times when the govt. enforced western methods to an organization and have turned out to be a disaster because people simply did not know what to do.

      In our perception, it may seem “oh poor guys” but actually they are happy when they can “fit” into the norm well, and most strive to do so.

      Of course there are some “Americanized” people, but overall, the ideals in Japan are still very concrete. 

      The grass is always greener I always say.

    • Random Man

      Your comment reminded me of this: xD.

  • dotzeno

    Specialization at the cost of flexibility? Sounds like a very eastern mindset doesn’t it? On that note, I went to Japan a couple years back and tried to order some hot water at a restaurant. The restaurant was really high tech and advanced (probably one of the first restaurants where i’ve seen the waiters carry PDAs to make orders and what not) but because ‘hot water’ wasn’t an item on the menu, they couldn’t get it for me. True story (seriously).

    Regardless, I’m more concerned about the number of western games dominating the market against the number of eastern games. Pretty sure I played more ‘Japanese’ games on the ps2… god I miss those days… (and i hope those times make a return sooner than later.)

    In general though, it seems like the games that came before this generation of games were more, if not the same level of, fun.

    I do have to admit that I agree with and think that most western games are designed to look and feel more ‘realistic’ than their eastern, (IMO) more fantasy or seemingly borderline delusional, counterparts – as always, there are exceptions.

    • heartless141

      most restaurant have those PDAs things, the one i’m working at is pretty cheap and we have them too.
      there are also those that have a touch pad for you to order by yourself.

      but err no hot water is pretty weird. can’t explain that.

      • Not over here though. Its pretty rare to see them carrying such devices. IIRC I only saw one food court uses such device.

    • Happy Gamer

      I don’t mind certain aspects of Eastern mindsets, but when it comes to innovation, art and such, it inhibits it extremely.
      knowing your role is very important there and being a part in it and being diligent is the social norm.
      The whole concept of “I am who I am and I love me the way I was born” is actually pretty scarce there. It’s more on the lines of “How come you are “not.”

      This transitions to gaming due to work atmosphere. 
      I don’t think Japan is doing bad in the game industry than before because western devs are particularly good or have become better, but rather the nature of making games have change tremendously.

      You need to really cooperate with each other and share ideas these days over a short span of time and tons of money.

  • enorka miho

    I do support capcom for their change..its not to increase workload but to interact more and brainstorm more ideas.. Hope capcom use this concept wisely though and turn over the gaming industries, becasue the innovation has been quite stagnant these days… Everyone is copying each other off.. No one dares to create something new..

  • TrevHead

    Remember Me is been made in house right?

    If so I would put this article down to western fans reactions to the animation in that game.

    Although tbh I kinda like how she runs, it goes well with the tongue in cheek cheesy dialog and the fact she is wearing heels. (infact the whole game reminds me of Enslaved()

    I think charming would be for a better word, which is how I like some Japanese games, I would hope these qualities won’t be lost as Japanese devs look to emulate the more po faced western style

  • Kitestwinblades

    “Eshiro feels that the primary difference comes down to realism in animation.”

    Exactly what I was thinking for quite a while and it grew even more apparent with every trailer. Call me crazy but I kinda felt like I was watching a Resident Evil 6 Trailer when I saw the last Vergil one(because it looks a bit real, and the pacing of the footage they showed). The animation definitely isn’t something you expect from Devil May Cry at all XD but it is a reboot done by someone else.

    Despite this new HEAVY coat of paint to what I’m used to seeing, I still cant wait to give this a shot. The action seems to still be there and I love me some combos.

    I this this reporter guy disturbs me more than the new Dante personally. I think Grenalie below said Fox News. The very epitome my friend lol

  • Jirin

    That’s the biggest difference in graphics, though kind of obvious.  IMO the differences in approach to story and gameplay are even bigger.

    Both approaches have their occasional annoyances. Japanese games with their anime-kiddiness, Western games with their unlikable NPCs and over the top and sometimes cheesy dystopias. Japanese games with their lack of freedom, Western games that try to give you so much freedom you have no investment in the outcome of your choices because they’re all functionally pretty much the same.

    Why can’t games have the best from both columns? Grownup characters who are still likeable, friendly and hopeful instead of obnoxiously cynical. Freedom to make decisions, but binding consequences to those decisions. Realistic animation that is still beautiful to look at.

    • theoriginaled

      Like in politics: both sides are too busy arguing the merits of their own sides to give any thought to the views of the other, and a public that is too busy eating up the safe choice of one side or the other to give a thought to something new and different.

  • shion16

    Japan = Framerate
    USA = Graphics

    Thats why the transition between DMC and dmc is so radical but so interesting at the same time.
    Its like trying to take the best of both worlds (NOT THE SONG!).

    Some people may dont like CAPCOM choices but theyre doing right trying to expand  the japanese game development.

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