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Overseeing A Gaming Empire: The Keiji Inafune Interview

hile Keiji Inafune’s name might not immediately ring a bell for some gamers, he’s worked on some of the most recognizable and beloved titles in the business. As character designer of Mega Man, he created an icon. His work on Dead Rising and Lost Planet helped bring Capcom to next-gen. We sat down and talked to the famed producer, who’s now taken on a new temporary role at the company, and talked about the future of Capcom, its download strategies, his dream projects and much more.

Game Informer: I was at the spring gamer’s day in San Francisco, and it seemed like you were in a new position at Capcom. Could you explain your new role within the company?

Keiji Inafune: As you surmised, I’m not directly producing games anymore. I’m not making games myself now. Basically, I’ve taken on the responsibility of overseeing all production at Capcom, making sure the good games get made and get approved by the business side and protecting everybody and trying to take Capcom and Capcom games in a good direction that can keep us alive and still in the industry so we can continue to make games years and years in the future. That being said, if I someday get the chance, I would someday like to get my hands dirty and work on a game myself again.

GI: So what’s it like having other people developing games, for example, the Mega Man titles? That’s kind of your baby, and now you have some young guy making those games?

Inafune: Sometimes, looking at the games or people making the games at the company there are times I wish I could go in and say, “What if you did this?” or get more involved, but I don’t have time to play that role anymore. And also, on the other hand, if I was checking in and giving them advice on this and that for every Mega Man game or every other game, then that would take away their ability to grow as game creators and develop into better game creators so they can make better games. I try to leave it up to them, and usually they make pretty good games. I’m also teaching Ben Judd a lot of things and hoping he’ll turn out to be one of the great game producers.

GI: That’s got to make you nervous. [laughs]

Inafune: I yell at him. [laughs]

GI: There were a lot of departures within the company in the past year, like Clover moving on. Have there been a lot of new people brought in to fulfill those roles?

Inafune: Although we have lost different people from the company, we don’t look at that as a bad thing for our overall operation. Because, when you have an imbalance in a company, you may have certain people unbalancing things, they’re either behind schedule or over budget, it puts pressure on everybody else to do better to make up for that. With certain things that have changed in the past year, it’s sort of reduced the pressure and taken a load off the other peoples’ shoulders and may have in fact improved things for everybody else.

GI: With Clover’s departure, they had some critically acclaimed hits, with Okami and the Viewtiful Joe series. Are you planning on continuing those series? Capcom still owns the IPs, is that correct?

Inafune: Yes, those are Capcom IPs.

GI: So there’s still potential that we’ll see sequels to those titles?

Inafune: If we wanted to, we could, yes. That being said, we don’t have any plans to make those sequels. Something like Okami, you can’t really have another company make a sequel or other people make a sequel—that’s something that only the people who made Okami, it’s so unique to them, it wouldn’t be a sequel, it would be something else.

GI: You’ve been known to remake games for new platforms, like with the Resident Evil Wii edition. The brush technique seems like it would be perfectly suitable for the Wii. Is that something that you’ve thought about?

Inafune: Of course that’s something that I’ve personally thought about, but it’s easier said than done. It’s a cliché, but it’s not just saying, “Okay, let’s port it over here.” There’s technology, controls and then people to make the game, whether it’s scheduling or knowing the hardware you want to take it to. It’s not out of the realm of possibility, but we don’t have any plans for it right now, and nothing to comment on.

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