I don’t usually do current events, but I’m giving it an editorial crack today…
First things first. That Legends 3 New Heroine Design Contest? Shisuke Komaki’s design won! With over a quarter of the votes, too. When you think about how there’s 9 entrants total, the crowd has really spoken. A hard choice indeed. Still, I think she’ll transition well into the new Legends character’s role. Once the official “Development Room” site is open (yes, apparently there’s going to be much more than just the blog and message board system we’ve seen so far), they promise to show off the finalized design that we can expect to see in the game. And so the first steps into an interactive collaboration between developers and fans of Mega Man has gone off to an excellent start. Pretty good day for Mega Man, right?
Oh, and credited Mega Man creator Keiji Inafune leaves Capcom as of today.
His resignation isn’t much of a surprise to some, since word has spread about his desire to retire… but he’s not retiring. Having climbed the ladder at Capcom to literally as far as he feels there is to go, he finds himself determined to pioneer into a new way of cross-managing and developing that focuses on what the concepts of a game itself–something he calls being a “Conceptor” (a game conceptualizer). After 23 years at Capcom, he wants to stand on his own, push the envelope, and see where that gets him–win or lose, he’s putting himself all in.
From his Daletto Blog and in a sprawling 6 page interview with 4Gamer.net, Inafune maintains that he loves Capcom and thinks this separation will be of benefit to both. He also reiterated a bit of what he sees as the collapsing mythos of the Japanese gaming industry. Modern game production in the style of Capcom has gotten to be a massive undertaking, raking up costs in development which as time goes on, will become less and less likely to ever be made up by sales. Big profit requires even larger risk, which Japanese business directors aren’t willing to extend in such tremulous times. They’ve also lost touch in that the only way to reach these numbers to to create a universal appeal in several regions, to think beyond the Japan-centric gaming market of the past. Meanwhile, he feels some famous big-name developers sit in ivory towers, without the thrill of the fear of their latest work being a success, because either way they’ll have the same salary, the same job. They are not really creating anymore, because it’s that much easier to just rely on an already famous franchise to do the selling.
Long gone are the days Inafune recalls from his youth, a tight-knit group banding together to make the greatest game they could possibly make–because their jobs and their company could well depend on it. In those early stages of his career, there was passion, there was experimenting, there was reward, and there were always new challenges ahead. Now 45 years old and having explored every aspect of game development at Capcom, Inafune is determined not to rest on his laurels.
Not content with simply relaxing in a big chair while the industry he sits atop slowly goes sinks into dismay, Inafune has decided to remove himself from being a part of the problem as he sees it. He’ll do this by going off in his own direction and experimenting with a new way for things to be done. He’s going to put his business theories, his concept ideas, and all his experience to the test by taking away that salary paycheck and forcing himself to sink or swim in the waters of the gaming industry. In this way, he hopes that he may someday save Capcom from going under, not by screaming from his soapbox unto the deaf ears of corporate businessmen, but by example and showing the Japanese industry how it can adapt and thrive again. Time will tell how well his ideas will fare.
Standing outside Capcom’s umbrella, he’s now more excited, scared, and alive than he’s been in years. And, the man has ideas. Not willing to limit himself to just console game, mobile game, social networking game creation, he’s also open to move in directions like movies, novels, or wherever the creative vision takes him. He’s ready to create.
What does all this mean for Mega Man? He did mention that with Rockman DASH 3 finally underway, with his dream team assembled, it really is a regrettable time to be leaving. But he believes that it is nonetheless the time, and for the sake of his creative energy and the team’s, the parting is for the best. As he’s often said, Mega Man has taught him so much, Mega Man is almost his creative father as much as he is Mega Man’s. Now is the time that both Mega Man and Inafune will step out into their own. Who is Inafune without Capcom, without Mega Man? And who is Mega Man without Inafune? We are going to find out, and that’s not something that is to be feared, but be embraced. To know that Mega Man is in good hands in the future, it is important that Mega Man stand tall by himself, here and now. With Mega Man Universe and Mega Man Legends 3, Mega Man has never been in a better position to move forward on his own two metallic feet. As Inafune’s parting gift to the fans and to his fellow developers, he bequeaths this legacy to all of us.
I’d like to thank Mr. Inafune for 23 incredible years of Mega Man, and thanks again for this final present. Best of luck on your journey to creative freedom and personal fulfillment. May you and Rockman both continue down your separate roads with luck and prosperity.
It’s a new dawn ahead.