Nakazato Talks Lost Odyssey, Western Success In Japan

In an extremely honest interview with Gamasutra, Feelplus president Ray Nakazato, himself a Capcom and Microsoft veteran, discusses everything from the state of the Japanese indus
In an extremely honest interview with Gamasutra, Feelplus president Ray Nakazato, himself a Capcom and Microsoft veteran, discusses everything from the state of the Japanese industry to work on Lost Odyssey, the Xbox 360 game his developer is making with Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi. In this excerpt, Nakazato, who was also previously at Electronic Arts, talks about the publisher's reception in Japan and why Western companies have trouble breaking into the market: "EA is the only Western company that's surviving in Japan, so you could maybe say that EA is successful in Japan. But it's very hard for Western companies to succeed in Japan. I think it's all about perception, really. In the early days of the games market, Japanese games were pretty interesting back then, while many games from overseas were seen as being bad. Now, you'll find a lot of interesting and fun games coming from North America and Europe, but because of that experience that we have from the early 1990s, people tend to stay away from Western games." [State of Lost Odyssey] On the state and structure of Feelplus' Sakaguchi co-developed exclusive Xbox 360 RPG, Lost Odyssey, Nakazato reveals the intricacies of the game's structure: "Basically, it's turn-based, but we put some real-time flavor to it. It's more strategic than real-time action. The basic structure is turn-based - you walk around in the adventure portion, then you encounter monsters, and it comes to a battle scene. It’s not seamless – it’s adventure, then battle, then adventure, then battle. As you progress, there will be a lot of things you have to concentrate on in the battle scenes, and also you'll need to focus on timing. It's turn-based, strategic combat with some real-time features." Nakazato also talks at length about recent trends with Japan turning more to Western middleware and engines, and the problems Japanese developers face in doing so, and mentions his own struggles with earlier versions of Unreal Engine 3: "It was hard, because it was a new platform, and Unreal Engine 3 itself was in development, so we had to deal with incomplete middleware. We actually released a Lost Odyssey demo in Japan in November, though we finished it in June of last year. Back then, the Unreal Engine was still incomplete, so we had to release something on incomplete middleware. That was hard. I think that demo was actually the first thing that was released using Unreal Engine 3; it was before Gears of War! We had to do a lot of workaround for that. Now that they've done Gears of War, the engine itself is much more stable." You can read the complete interview here, with much more from Nakazato on the state and people of the Japanese game industry, and why creative talent are leaving development houses like Capcom and Sega (no registration required, please feel free to link to this column from external websites).

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