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Pac-Man CE Creators: Small Team Iteration Key To Success

As part of an in-depth new interview, Pac-Man Championship Edition producer Nobutaka Nakajima and director Tadashi Iguchi have been explaining how "focus o
As part of an in-depth new interview, Pac-Man Championship Edition producer Nobutaka Nakajima and director Tadashi Iguchi have been explaining how "focus on the core fun and polish" with a small team -- and help from Pac-Man creator Toru Iwatani -- birthed the critically acclaimed remake. The rare interview with the Bandai Namco duo, whose teams were also responsible for Galaga Legions, explained the creation of the Xbox Live Arcade hit Pac-Man remake as follows: Tadashi Iguchi: "It was a very interesting, trying time. We had about 20 ideas for games, and out of those 20 ideas, one was approved by Iwatani-san as, 'This is something we want to do,' as opposed to the others that we don't want to do. So one of the things that Iwatani-san wanted to do was focus on the core fundamentals of the gameplay, and what makes Pac-Man successful and a fun experience. When you put that filter on all of the ideas and brainstorming we did, only one of the ideas really fit that bill. So what we wanted to do was to make an HD game based on the core fundamentals of what Pac-Man is and why it succeeds, and after looking at that, we realized that really, the only things we should be changing are the game tempo and the map design. We needed to really brainstorm on making fresh new ways of polishing those two aspects of the game in order to fit all of the requirements of the core Pac-Man experience. We did have a small team, and we wanted to make it a simple game using a small team to get the core fundamentals down. We just did a trial-and-error kind of thing every day. We could change all of the parameters, and what we would do is we would sit down every day for a month, play the game, put all the tweaks on the parameters, and then test it out to see, "Is this fun? Is this not fun? If it's not fun, reset everything back to zero and start over again." That was every day for a month, and we finally started getting things where we wanted to." Adding to these comments, producer Nakajima explained the difference between this title and many others produced at large developers or publishers: "Nobutaka Nakajima: Small teams, even within our company -- and I'm sure probably at other publishers and developers -- having small teams creating games doesn't happen very often. With what people want to do and the scope of the game that everyone seems to be wanting to create, it gets bigger and bigger, and the next thing you know, you have these huge teams. It's very rare that I was able to get a small team of good guys just working on the core aspects of the game. Because I had a small team, I was able to go through this trial and error, tweak the core aspects of the game, and not have to worry about all the other things going on within game development. We could really focus on the core fun and polish that as much as we could. Because we had such a small, tight team, we were able to do that. It's kind of sad that it doesn't really happen in many other projects, even internally here. Teams are just too large, and you can't go through trial and error. It's just too costly." You can now read the full Gamasutra interview with the duo, examining how this particular update particularly caught the attention of critics and gamers, and the developers' thoughts on the modern development process.

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