The Untold History of Japanese Game Developers: Volume 1 (Anglais) Broché – 11 août 2014
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Biographie de l'auteur
He frequently contributes to Hardcore Gaming 101, where he helped put together The Guide to Classic Graphic Adventures book, and was managing editor on the Sega Arcade Classics Volume 1 book.
John has been doing this for over 10 years, and has interviewed over 200 people. He also enjoyed a six month stint as Staff Writer on Retro Gamer and three years as sub-editor at Time Warner. He’s licensed by the UK’s Royal Yachting Association as a naval skipper, and also holds a Marine Radio Operator’s license. MENSA certified, speaks Japanese, programs indie games, and brews wine.
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Some individuals John mentioned as close contacts from the start of the Kickstarter campaign don't feature in this first volume of three. Naosuke Arai, as the author puts it, "prayed for the success of my book project", but his interview's in the pile for another book, digital or print. This upsets me greatly. I don't feel that inserting a tangential chat with Google's Tatsuo Nomura at the expense of a potentially detailed Japanese Game Developer interview benefits the book's mission. I pledged for a Platinum copy with the intention of reading comments from Arai and others who originally had a spot in this volume; still I don't know how Szczepaniak is going to distribute Volumes 2 & 3 so I can read them. Having to pay two times for the Arai and Yuichi Toyama interviews would be nickel and dime-ing, at least for my tier. Nothing wrong with varied content per volume, but, Yoneda's interview aside, I could do without Inafune, who's had his soapbox well before this book came along. The author himself should not have made a spectacle of the Kaku fiasco during development, even if it did put him through dire straits to produce what I have in my hand. It feels as though this book isn't yet complete without the other two released, which leads me to knock it down a star.
I say these points out of love and a specific interest in, as the book headlines, the obscure annals of Japanese game history. Most of the interviews here deal with subject matter rarely covered in such detail and candid discussion. Toru Hidaka, for example, tell of a development community predicated on false hopes. Japanese PC gaming was merely a flash of activity before console gaming and advances in programming drove off small developers from ever reaching commercial success. Reading up on how Enix somewhat rigged their fabled programmers' contests, and how a novice like Hidaka struggled day and night to learn assembly from scratch, is both depressing and inspiring. The Japanese PC developer interviews in this book are a highlight, ranging from contemporary visual novels and doujin games to the first elaborately published game packages from ASCII and Game Arts. ZUN of Touhou and Hiroshi Suzuki of The Cockpit are both on level in this tome, something both amusing and befitting the lineage Japanese games and their creators have generated.
This theme of Japanese developers as glass knights extends to console-bound visionaries like Yoshiro Kimura, who helped create one groundbreaking game after another to little fanfare at home. Some interview subjects, like Roy Ozaki and Yasuhito Saito, have trouble speaking their mind on the past, either due to frustration and impediment in business or due to the passage of memory. Preservation of memory's a theme for the book, as established when Joseph Redon of the Game Preservation Society lays clear how limited their resources are to backup original, untouched copies of game media. One interview might lead to several more for John, in a few cases documented; the enigma around the disappearances of Hashimoto and Miyazaki, responsible for Falcom's legendary Ys games, gets brought up a few times to little news. This book works best when expounding on the need to preserve these accounts and the games around which they center.
Szczepaniak's interviewer capabilities are rarely in doubt. He's able to coax long-forgotten stories out of the interviewees simply as a fan of their work. One way of displaying the way he hits it off with contacts is to have interviews in different environments. First he's talking with former dB-SOFT staff in a formal setting, then I flip the page and they're goofing off at dinner! It's great that, despite the strain of the project and how grand it expanded, both the author and the subjects can see past this rigor and reflect on days passed. Asking for office layouts circa the times developers produced games was another good move to break the ice and wring more out for the readers. Though there aren't appendices for viewers less acquainted with the most obscure trivia and games featured, John's included footnotes unobtrusively located at the bottom page header. Overall, I feel more comfortable reading the book than watching the DVD, which comes across as a home movie, or a vacation album, rather than a polished, economic presentation.
The author may not be an ideal model for the kind of person who can connect with this distant group and simultaneously deliver what was promised, but the content here is well-written and interpreted by game journalism's standards. What few typos persist in the copy I received don't matter. Reading the clean page layouts is easy and I received the book in excellent condition. I wanted to rub his mouth out with soap every time he posted another crazed tirade against his mortal enemies the Kakus, but he hasn't forgotten to deliver mind-blowing reading material for someone like me. It gives me hope that future projects can be coordinated to interview some of the most fascinating Japanese game developers, like Yoichi Yamaguchi or Mark Flint.
*"Mr. Hidaka bends his arm and shows off a chiseled bicep that could break rocks"
*The science behind Namco's NeGcon controller, as told by Yutaka Isokawa
*An overview of the Nihon Telenet office if it were a swords-and-sorcery dungeon!
*Rumination on the concept of "sekaikan"
*Yuzo Koshiro's impossibly hard doujin shooting game
*One whole chapter dedicated to Suikoden!
*The world's greatest collection of Japanese game books