In the latest “Iwata Asks“, Game Freak producer Junichi Masuda explained a new development process the company has introduced, with the rhythm-action platformer HarmoKnight being the system’s first creation.
“We are absolutely committed to meeting our fans’ expectations. We can’t exactly leave Pokémon to one side while we work on other games. This is why we decided to change the internal structure of the company so that we could initiate new projects while still being able to give our all on Pokémon titles,” Masuda explained.
In this new structure, should any Game Freak staff member have an idea for a title, they can write up and submit a proposal. If the proposal gets at least two other staffers interested in joining the project, the team will be granted three months to work on it. Management will then review the project, and could grant the team an additional three months of development time, followed by a second review. Depending on said second review goes, the project could then move into full production. This system allows Game Freak staff to try out their ideas, at the same time not taking away substantial resources from the Pokémon production team.
“Due to the sheer scale of the Pokémon projects we are working on now, there is a tendency for members of the dev team to focus solely on the area they are responsible for. This is something that’s difficult to avoid. But back in the old days, teams would be small and people would work on all sorts of different aspects of the project,” Masuda detailed. “I think when you actually come to work on a game, you get a renewed appreciation for how good the old development style was”.
Nintendo president Satoru Iwata said the original Pokémon was actually developed in a similar fashion, with only 9 staff working on the game. He likens Game Freak’s new process to Google’s “20 percent time”, in which employees of the corporation spend twenty percent of their on-the-clock hours on their own prototypes. The system as a whole also shares similarities with Double Fine’s “Amnesia Fortnight”, in which staff can present original concepts and select other members of the team to create prototypes for possible retail releases.
HarmoKnight is a rhythm action platformer due out March 28th, on the North American 3DS eShop for $15.
Report filed by Thomas Coutts