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.”