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GDCE: Takahashi Enchants GDCE Crowd With Keynote

The final keynote for Wednesday at GDC Europe was given by Namco's Keita Takahashi, the creator of the cult classic and mainstream-covered phenomenon that is Katamari ...
The final keynote for Wednesday at GDC Europe was given by Namco's Keita Takahashi, the creator of the cult classic and mainstream-covered phenomenon that is Katamari Damacy, and Takahashi, speaking through a translator, commented on his opinions of the state of the industry and his experiences in creating the sequel, We Love Katamari. A full report on Takahashi's keynote will appear on Gamasutra in the near future, but some of the highlights of his keynote were as follows: - Takahashi was a little concerned that the GDCE organizers had mistaken him for a speaker from Nintendo, not Namco, since both companies start with an 'N', but pressed on regardless, explaining that he created Katamari Damacy because there were no products that he particularly wanted to work on at Namco after joining up. - The creator noted: "Confucius and Namco both say that if you don't enjoy something, you might as well be dead" - his primary motivator. But he did note that it was a relatively long slog - it took 3 years to get Katamari Damacy published from concept to retail. - Takahashi commented that he "really, really wasn't into the idea" of making a sequel to Katamari Damacy - he worried it would be a contradiction of everything he thought and said about similar-style games. But eventually he got over these fears in ways that he said sounded "too much like excuses" to share. - Discussing the innovative Japanese packaging for sequel We Love Katamari, which shows the Namco offices with the development team and fans standing outside, Takahashi referenced his "rebellious ideas", but stressed above all, that the cover should be fun. He also showed the lavishly illustrated manual for the game, which showed animals in strange poses and is intended as an "entertaining read" in its own right, He also exhorted EA to "try harder" when making the European manual for the game. Takahashi then showed a variety of levels from We Love Katamari, including a sumo wrestler that needs rolling up to be large enough to fight another sumo, and a snowman level where you must roll a head for the snowman with no particular time limit, much as Namco demonstrated at E3. He ended with commentary on his favorite titles (the unreleased Sony game Densen, which involved a girl shimmying around on electrical wires in Japan, as well as a children's water-shooting amusement game), before asking a serious question, as much to himself as to the audience: "Is it fine to continue to create games that are totally superfluous forever?" Judging by the impassioned response to his talk, the assembled developers at GDCE are just fine with Keita Takahashi doing that for now, and his avowed intention to work on another game besides Katamari (though the game is as yet unstarted) should leave his audience wanting more, as always.

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