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Nakamura's chief hope is for Unseen to maintain a "friendly vibe" that also allows its staff to do its best work.

Justin Carter, Contributing Editor

February 21, 2024

2 Min Read
Yokai hunters vs. Yokai in the reveal trailer for Unseen's Kemuri.
Image via Unseen.

At a Glance

  • Unseen's staff aren't family, but Nakamura wants to make sure everyone is at their best and collaborating with each other.

For Unseen founder Ikumi Nakamura, it's important the company remains a good one with "friendly vibes." That includes ensuring its debut project, Kemuri, is made sans crunch.

Speaking with IGN, she revealed she nearly worked at Sony Santa Monica after leaving Tango Gameworks. While those plans fell through, Unseen was formed as a way for her to recreate that warm environment.

Crunch is a large contributor to developer strife, particularly at larger studios. Nakamura is no stranger to crunch, and openly admitted she's never made a game without it.

But while she lacks a "precise vision" for a crunchless development, she's looking to Supergiant for inspiration. The studio's 2020 hit Hades benefitted from a studio culture that rejected crunch, and she hopes Kemuri will have the same luck.

"A studio that can actually ship a very high quality game without the crunch is our goal," she commented.

Like other developers, Unseen bills itself as a "people-first" studio. Nakamura was direct in stating this culture prioritizes staff health, and "maintains a creative and collaborative atmosphere."

As part of that commitment, she added Unseen's physical office (and artists' at-home offices) are "Layoff-Proof Zones." While layoffs are harder to do in Tokyo than the US, it doesn't take away from the larger intent.

"Our talented crew is our most valuable power-up," she explained. "We're committed to ensuring their well-being on this epic quest."

That said, she's very pragmatic and doesn't consider them family. Even as Unseen endeavors to be great place to work, everyone there is a skilled professional doing a job.

Unseen wants to let the good vibes roll

Unseen's newest development video highlights its non-Nakamura staff, which includes staff who are not Japanese. Its global diversity is most apparent in how there's "constant" translation among staff.

As seen in the video, Unseen devs hail from Japan, France, the US, and Mexico, prompting Nakamura to liken the company to an "international school," adding that work on Kemuri has slowed due to language barriers.

She frames it, however, more like a feature than a bug, phrasing the development stalls as a "healthy delay."

According to Nakamura, it's all in service of Unseen "pushing artistic boundaries and meticulously considering how to translate [our] passion into an unparalleled user experience.”

IGN's full report on Unseen can be read here, which also delves into Nakamura's time at Tango Gameworks (and Clover Studios), along with being a mother and leading a studio.

About the Author(s)

Justin Carter

Contributing Editor, GameDeveloper.com

A Kansas City, MO native, Justin Carter has written for numerous sites including IGN, Polygon, and SyFy Wire. In addition to Game Developer, his writing can be found at io9 over on Gizmodo. Don't ask him about how much gum he's had, because the answer will be more than he's willing to admit.

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