Game Market 1983 - Chapter 21
As I expected, the game ‘Never Die Soldier’ that they were developing was of the military genre; it was about a special ops soldier who swept the battle fields.
I learned a few more things while I was listening to them; the concept of this “Never Die Soldier” game was surprisingly from that assistant employee in the office corner. Unfortunately, it seemed as though Mr. Misaki came up with the crappy title…
In this era, it was commonplace for the programmer to also come up with the storyline for the game. The reason for that was because the programmer’s ability to code the narrative had to be determine.
Of course, an advantage to a game programmer writing the story themselves was that they were able to quickly remove bugs and swiftly produce the game. However, it would be hard for them to make classic creation…
I briefly glanced at the script, and I saw that the code was just a ‘person shooting’ version of an ‘airplane shooting’ game. I felt no particular enjoyment from the game’s simple gameplay that consisted of dodging the enemy bullets and overwhelming them with even more power.
“I’m actually a military maniac. That’s why, with ‘Never Die Soldier’, I wanted to bring the players a realistic feeling of being in a war, but the technicality is difficult.”
Mr. Masaki’s question was a very simple one; it was about how to make many objects appear on the screen. It seemed like he wanted to depict an image of the last soldier resolutely standing alive, surrounded by countless enemies…
Then I shall give him the simple answer.
“It’s going over the limits.”
Mr. Masaki looked at me with an awkward face as, I, a Mintendo employee, gave a very lackadaisical answer from my mouth.
“The game that Mr. Misaki is developing is impossible to operate with the current Family. If you’re a programmer, Mr. Misaki, you should also be familiar with the current boundaries of the Family. Our Family uses a custom CPU, so it’s able to support any type of game to a certain extent; however, unfortunately, since the CPU also handles the sound production, it wouldn’t be able to bear the additional output of graphics. Although the VRAM is helping out with the graphics, it’s only 2 KB; thus, there are only so many things it can do.”
“Isn’t that why we asked for help from Mintendo? To resolve this problem? Doesn’t Mr. Shigeru’s ‘The Legend of Karin’, that was released late last year, also have a map that has a variety of objects on the screen? It looks like Mintendo is hiding production techniques from us.”
“Not at all. We started the development of that game along with the making of the Family, so we’ve accumulated the know-how. We don’t remove the ‘limit’ or anything like that when we make the games ourselves.”
“Then what’s the deal with the plethora of animated objects in The Legend of Karin?”
I briefly slowed the tempo of my words for a moment, I brightly smiled, and then I replied:
“It’s a trick of the eye. You’d know if you analyze the fighting scenes of The Legend of Karin. Although it looks as if a countless number of enemies are appearing on the screen, if you look closely, there is a set number of enemies that fight with the main character. The rest of the enemies are there to fill up the space and give the player a sense of urgency, letting them know what’s coming next. Also, when the main character kills one enemy, an enemy in the surroundings immediately replace the dead one;thus , it’s creating the illusion of a constant barrage.”
Mr. Masaki was wearing a clueless expression; it was as if he hadn’t understood a thing I said. Now, now… Is this guy really a programmer? His train of thought was inflexible… In the end, I gave him another hint as I shook my head.
“A barrage of enemies isn’t a prerequisite to capture the feeling of war.”
“Mmm? Then in what way would…?”
“You should think creatively. Isn’t it the director’s job to bring the gamers entertainment by maximizing the potential of a limited resource? For example…”
“Maybe something like infiltration…”
At that moment, the assistant employee, who was chucked away in the office corner, looked at me with an incredulous pair of eyes.
This guy looked at me with the rabbit-like eyes of a child whose thoughts were found out, and he started paying attention to our conversation.
Who in the world is he? I, who was in the middle of a conversation with Mr. Misaki, turned my head and asked the assistant employee:
“What is your name, if you don’t mind me asking?”
“Ah, my name is Hojima Hideki.”
What!! You’re Hojima Hideki?! You were working at Fox Soft already after all. However, along with Mr. Kawatashi, to think that Hojima was also an assistant employee… Did all genius directors start off like this? I briefly stared at him for a moment before asking Mr. Masaki a question.
“Have you heard of the phrase ‘Brain Storming’ perhaps?”
“Brain Storming? What’s that? Is that a character development technique?”
This guy knows nothing at all… As I stared at him with a pathetic look, the answer came out of Hojima’s mouth.
“You’re talking about when everyone gives their opinion on a specific topic, and someone compiles them to select the best idea from the pile.”
“Bingo~ You’re right. It’s good to have varying opinions when developing a game. Our Mintendo is also frequently doing this with Mr. Shigeru in the inventions room. The Legend of Karin was a project that was birthed from an overflow of ideas. What does Mr. Hojima think about my ‘Infiltration’ theme?”
His eyes started to shine with light from being dull up until now. Hojima Hideki was one of the world’s top game directors in 2015, where I’ve lived.
There was a game about the cold war, called Full Metal Gear, with the main character “Snake” who infiltrated countries with nuclear development capabilities, and he completed missions by going past a countless number of security. Needless to say, it was tremendously popular in Japan as well as America.
“The theme is not about defeating the enemies, and moving forward, but it is hiding and not being discovered by the enemies, reaching the goal?”
“That’s exactly right. Rather, reaching the destination without killing any enemies would be the unique point of the game. I thought of this while seeing the number of security cameras on my way here; what do you think about inducing excitement from dodging the security cameras and guards in the enemy base?”
“That sounds like an incredibly unique gameplay method. Going through the game by not being discovered by the enemy~ Actually, I was also thinking about a similar game to this. That’s why I was shocked when you said the word infiltration. To think that there was another person who was thinking of the same things as me…”
However, Mr. Masaki seemingly had other thoughts.
“Hah~ Stop being funny. There’s no way gameplay like that would be entertaining. A man should be directly battling the enemies; the main character’s image would plummet if he hid from everyone like a bullied kid.”
Ah… Is that right? Trying to act cool when you’d be the first one to run in a bad situation…
In the end, after discussing about this military game until nightfall, we came down to two opposing viewpoints.
During this time period, creating a game that utilized 2D graphics was so simple that it could be completed with 4~5 people voraciously working on it for three months, so it was possible to start both ideas at the same time.
It wasn’t like there was a cut scene or any 3D graphics…
Making objects was easy as you can just make them with dots~
On top of that, Mr. Hojima had come up with a basic direction for Full Metal Gear while he was sitting in the corner, up until now; thus, he was able to provide significant contributions with his outburst of creative ideas.
A blueprint could be analogized with building a model figurine. The blueprint that he came up with was comparable to a complete instruction on building the figurine.
In the end, Team Manager Yorimoto nodded his head towards the suggestion from Hojima and I, and he gave permission to produce the demo for the new spy genre, infiltration.
Consequently, Masaki, who was the main programmer, was placed in an awkward situation. He was probably not enjoying the fact that the military game that he was a main part of took on a completely new direction. However, it was a somewhat completed game with a finished dot work, so it’s a bit wasteful to leave it like this…
“I’m not saying your game is bad, Mr. Masaki. After the release of Rambo 2, it stirred the masculinity of the male players, so I think a macho-like military game would definitely work well.”
Mr. Masaki stared at me with trembling pupils as I showed support to his side. A memory of a particular game surfaced from my childhood memories as I saw his blueprint, and I offered a piece of advice to him.
“However, Mr. Masaki’s game is on a large scale, so let’s aim for the arcade market with it. If you agree with one proposition of mine, I will help with the development of Mr. Hojima and Mr. Masaki’s games here.
“What… proposition do you have?”
“Please let us change the title… The title ‘Never Die Soldier’… The name is too blunt.”
“Then what else do you have in mind?”
“Mr. Masaki, you’re fascinated with the burning spirit of a man. Hmm, how about “Undying Spirit”? Let’s try to grow this game in the arcade market, a market that currently has no innovations, before we move it to the Family.”
“Undying Spirit… Undying Spirit… Uh? That sounds good?”
The year 2015.
It was a masterpiece that anyone would remember if they’ve played video games as a child. The plan was to add Undying Spirit to the list of legendary games that contained Rambo and Komando, started like this.
The late night meeting finally came to an end, and, as I packed my belongings to head back to the headquarters dormitory, the employees who were in the invention room, with me, all stood up from their seats.
“Then I’ll be leaving soon. If you have any questions, contact me any time. There has been an influx of requests for technical help recently; however, we have Mr. Shigeru in the office and Mr. Kawata also became a part of Mintendo, so they should be able to answer most of your questions through the phone.”
“We’re very thankful. We’ve killed two birds with one stone by discovering a new genre of games and taking the military game one step further, thanks to your help, Mr. Kang.”
Team Manager Yorimoto showered his gratitude towards me. A moment later, the employees came out of the building to send me off, a show of behavior that was completely different from their initial denial of my existence, and I left the Fox Soft building.
I had an incredibly busy work schedule during the approach of the autumn of 1986. On that day, I was running out of the company with a toast in my mouth, stamped the going-out-of-the-company stand, and I was hurriedly running out the door as usual.
“Hey~!! Kang-kun. Where are you going today?! Are you going to Fox Soft again?”
I was done with my work in Fox Soft since last month. First, I had given various know-hows to Hojima, that was also used in The Legend of Karin, such as Top View, to help with the theme of the spy genre. As he insisted on perfecting the game, I also imparted the Side Scrolling stage, the Scroll View, and the shooting stage, and I compiled them together to be able to do a ton of actions. However, the development period would probably be extended because of the slow-witted Masaki holding everything up.
“I’m going to Phoenix Soft today.”