Interview: Capcom video game director, Hideaki Itsuno

We had the rare opportunity to have a chat with the Capcom veteran about the upcoming Dragon’s Dogma, life at the developer, and a sequel to Rival Schools

Capcom's Hideaki Itsuno

Capcom's Hideaki Itsuno

It is not many people that actively make the decision to get into game development, but that is exactly what Capcom video game director, Hideaki Itsuno (whose full title is “Capcom development strategy and support senior manager, and director of creative direction and execution”), did. While Itsuno was studying at university, his first job following graduation would be at renowned Osaka-based developer and publisher, Capcom. He decided at that time that that if he was going to work in the same job for more than 35 years, it should be a job he enjoyed, and that is why he chose to be a game designer. Itsuno would quickly work his way up the company ladder and hold key development roles on renowned titles such as Rival Schools: United by Fate, Auto Modellista and Devil May Cry 4.

What is it like to work at a company like Capcom?

Capcom video game director, Hideaki Itsuno (HI): When I was university I didn’t think I would ever become a game designer, so I was really happy that I was able to become one at Capcom. Maybe I would feel differently if it was a different company that only operated in Japan, but working for a company like Capcom that operates on a global scale has been a real honour. The experience so far has been very enjoyable and fun for me, but it has also been a lot of work.

You have worked of some famous Capcom properties in your time at the company, but what is your favourite?

HI: I always approach each project with the aim of making it my best work, so whenever I start on a new project, I aim to make that one my best. Since my newest work is Dragon’s Dogma, I currently consider it my favourite, but before that I considered Devil May Cry 4 as my favourite work, and before that it was Devil May Cry 3.

Capcom has been working hard at globalisation in the last few years, so how different is it now compared to when you started?

HI: Something that we have always strived for at Capcom is to create games that always manage to surprise players in ways that they can not imagine, so the way games are created also had to change. The way it’s been up to now has been to rely on making direct numbered sequels to a property, such as 2 or 3 or 4, and if you stop making them, the property has a tendency to then die. As such, Capcom now is working with overseas developers to find new and exciting things to include in our games, which is something we really didn’t do in the past.

Dragon’s Dogma is not exactly Capcom’s first epic RPG, since the company has found significant success with Monster Hunter, especially on its home turf of Japan. How do you see these two games fitting alongside each other?

HI: I’ve actually been told about the similarities between Dragon’s Dogma and Monster Hunter many times, but I feel that they are unrelated. I actually assisted with the development of Monster Hunter, and during that time we talked about creating a “real fantasy” game and the result was Monster Hunter, but after that I continued to think about creating a “proper real fantasy” game using today’s gaming technology. Also, Monster Hunter initially was about hunting, but Dragon’s Dogma is about melding adventure and action together. It is true that it is similar to Monster Hunter, but I feel the overall concept is different.

What aspect of Dragon’s Dogma are you the most proud of?

HI: That we were able to convey to the user the feeling of excitement that is connected to adventuring through every aspect of the game design.

There has been a lot of speculation that Dragon’s Dogma is Capcom’s biggest and most expensive game produced. Can you confirm of deny this?

HI: I’m not sure if it is the most expensive, but I do know it is one of the most expensive projects at Capcom, and that it also has the most staff working on it. Within the company, we have 150 people currently working on it. If we include outsourced staff, that adds another 150 people for a total of 300. As for why it costs so much money and needs so many people, the game has a lot of content and there also numerous technical challenges, which should become evident once you play the game. For example, we used between fifty to sixty people to do the voice acting for the game.

Since it’s such a big project for Capcom, do you feel more pressure compared to the previous games you worked on?

HI: More than feeling pressure, I am glad and grateful that I am able to create a game that I want. There is pressure, but I don’t really feel it and instead I have nothing but gratitude towards Capcom.

One Capcom property that you worked on in the past that seems to have been neglected in recent years is the 3D fighting game, Rival Schools. Is there any chance for a sequel for the current generation of consoles?

HI: You know that I worked on Rival Schools? [laughs] I really want to create a sequel, which would the third and final installment in the series, and let [main protagonist] Batsu and the other characters properly graduate, but whether Capcom lets me do it depends on whether a lot of gamers request it. It’s not that I don’t want to create it, but we need more requests for it, and if we don’t get those requests, Capcom won’t go ahead with it. Last month, the original Rivals Schools was released on the PlayStation Network in Japan and it was in the top three of the sales chart. So it is popular, but Capcom still somehow still hasn’t given the go ahead for the sequel.

Want to read other video game interviews with key figures from Sony, Microsoft and more? Then check out PC World's complete interview archive.

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Patrick Budmar

Patrick Budmar

PC World

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