We sat down with Shinichi Kameoka at BitSummit Vol. 6 and talked about his upcoming Switch project, working with Nintendo and forming his studios! The interview was conducted by Nirbion, PushDustin and MasterofBear.
Big thanks to Zedi for help with the transcription!
Nirbion: Alright. Let’s get started. Thank you for taking your time for us.
Kameoka: Thank you.
Nirbion: You worked on several big RPG projects like the Mana series and Mother 3. But after you founded Brownies you made your first steps into mobile gaming. Was it difficult to switch from home console productions to mobile productions?
Kameoka: So, making the game itself really isn’t really that much different than making it for a home console. I mean, we’re using Unity to make our games but the thing that I found to be really annoying was dealing with all the other app store rules and regulations and submitting things. It’s like a whole different world, or a set of rules to deal with. That was a challenge to get through.
Nirbion: What did you learn about mobile game production during the development of Shooting Hero and Egglia?
Kameoka: …Shooting Hero? I’m surprised that you know about that!
Kameoka: So, that game was never actually released. So I only did the artwork for it and then after I did the artwork and submitted it back to them, they said
“Uh, this isn’t really what we’re looking for” and it got cancelled. There was a build of it but it was never actually released. But the game was finished, but it was never actually released.
Nirbion: What was the reason it was cancelled?
Kameoka: GMO just changed the direction that they wanted to go in with the project and then it just ended.
Nirbion: Do you still want to produce mobile games or do you want to go back to the home console game production in the future?
Kameoka: We’re actually internally working on a Switch project right now.
Kameoka: Yeah, so we’ve got the two mobile games and we are also working on a project for the Switch.
Nirbion: Or are we going to get the announcement of that Switch project soon?
Kameoka: Yeah, hopefully, it’ll be announced sometime this summer.
Push: Can you give us some hint on what genre it would be?
Kameoka: Not an RPG. Something kind of like Egglia. It’ll be 育成ゲーム*.
*It’s a type of genre for virtual pets/ caring/simulators. It can also be games where you raise the character, team or pet.
Nirbion: Alright, recently Square Enix released the Secret of Mana remake for Playstation 4 and Playstation Vita. What are your thoughts on that remake? Do you like it?
Kameoka: So I was actually pretty interested to see how the game would be turned into a 3D game and I thought it worked out pretty well. I don’t think it needs to stay 2D and I’m happy to have people remake it and see from different people incorporating their own styles [into the game] and produce new works from that. But I’m pretty happy with how the 3D remake turned out.
Nirbion: Did Square Enix came to you or ask for suggestions for the art direction?
Push: …Were you involved?
Kameoka: I wasn’t really involved in like directing it or producing it at all. But they [Square Enix] did tell me that they were going to make a remake, So I did get an email or phone call of someone saying “Hey, by the way we’re remaking this”.
Push: “Heads up”.
Kameoka: Yeah! “Heads up, we’re remaking this”.
Nirbion: If you get an email, asking if “Hey! We’re going to do a new Mana project”. Would you be interested and participate or would you rather go your own road and produce something with your own ideas?
Kameoka: So really the point is, I would be totally happy to make that project if I had the creative freedom to make it the way I want it. I mean, I started my own company so that I have that creative freedom, I don’t really mind whether if it’s Legend of Mana or my own IP, I just want to be able to take the project in the direction I want to.
Nirbion: Ah, I see. That actually leads into my next question. A few years ago, you decided to leave Brownie Browns** and founded your own studio called Brownies. What lead you to this decision to form your own studio?
**Now known as 1 UP Studios after internal reconstructions in 2013
Kameoka: One of the reasons I originally left Squaresoft back then in the first place is because they wanted me to make Final Fantasy games and I wasn’t really interested in the 3D art style and the direction that Final Fantasy was going in back in 2000. So he went to Brownie Browns to make my own games and so they were focused on Nintendo games for Nintendo consoles. At one point, Nintendo asked Brownie Browns to help out with a Mario game. And I was like “That’s not really what I want to do. I want to do my own thing!”
And so the younger people who wanted to make a Mario game stayed on as 1-Up Studios and then the other people who were interested in doing their own projects went to Brownie. So it was two different times he was asked to work on games in as art director or about characters and series I wasn’t interested in working on.
Nirbion: What were the challenges of setting up a studio? What’s it’s like now compared to back then?
Kameoka: When I originally left Squaresoft to start my own studio Brownie Browns, I really wanted to make games for the GameBoy Advance. I went to Nintendo and I told them that I was interested in working on those games. They said, “Oh, please make a company”.
So, I had a client from the beginning and I already had an idea for a game, so there was a certain amount of stability in that.
But when Nintendo then asked me to make a Mario game and I decided to leave and make my own studio, there was a little bit more uncertainty in the fact that I don’t have a company behind me asking me to make a certain game. I’m on my own, but it’s a lot more fun, I’m much happier.
Nirbion: That’s awesome! I think we have to wrap up quickly, so we have one final question: What does it mean being “indie”?
Kameoka: I’m still not really sure how to answer that myself, I’m still kind of working on that. Egglia was originally a project I worked on by myself, unpaid, in my free time. Although I did find a sponsor for it afterwards, the fact that I was doing it on my own without anybody paying me for it. I feel like that is really an “indie” game to me. Just to make it without getting paid for it.
Nirbion: Thank you very much for having us!
Kameoka: Thank you.
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