Square Enix's Shinji Hashimoto speaks on East/West Development Collaboration [7/3]

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Gingerbread Lesbian

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Whilst waiting between appointments at E3 2010 [RPGSite] bumped into Shinji Hashimoto, a high-ranking Producer of games at Square Enix Japan and grabbed him for an impromptu interview.

In recent years he's produced a variety of titles including The World Ends with You, The Kingdom Hearts series, the DS version of Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, and he's currently got his hands full producing Final Fantasy Versus and Front Mission Evolved.

We'd just come out of our Front Mission appointment at E3, and so when we bumped into Hashimoto we had Front Mission - and East/West collaborations - on the brain. Check out what he said.

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RPG Site: The guys at Capcom recently tried Western-Japanese collaborations with titles like Bionic Commando. It wasn’t much of a success, and they’ve now said they’re not partnering with Western developers anymore. As a company that’s still actively doing this and has just bought a huge Western company, how do you feel about their statements?
Shinji Hashimoto: So, Eidos titles are obviously already very popular throughout the world, and through our collaboration with them we feel that Square Enix games will become more accepted throughout the world as well.

Despite that we understand that it’s not going to be an immediate change, but we do hope that eventually we will have success in the West. We feel we are partnering with the right developers and talent for our collaborations, and this strengthens our products.

RPG Site: You’re taking Eastern franchises to Western developers with titles like Front Mission Evolved. Would you ever consider bringing a Western franchise – say, Tomb Raider – East and handing it to a Japanese development studio?
Shinji Hashimoto: That’s a good question! We aren’t doing anything like that at the moment, but to give you an example of how that could happen look at Deus Ex. The trailer which is running outside was created by Visual Works, our CGI team in Japan, so there is that kind of collaboration that will happen, and we’ll share ideas in the future.

RPG Site: But that is quite separate from one-another – cinematics and games. You have this huge influx of Western talent now with the acquisition of Eidos, and everyone is wondering exactly how you’re going to integrate it into Square Enix. You’ve done a lot already with staff reshuffles, but are the two going to remain a separate entity – one making Western games and one making Eastern games – or is there going to be a some sort of real crossover?
Shinji Hashimoto: Again, to give you an example I was just taking some time out from the show to speak to the guys at Tomb Raider, and there’s always constant communication going on between the Japanese and Western side of the company.

Many games were already a long way along by the time the takeover happened, but going forward there will be a larger exchange of ideas going on.

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Square are hoping the East/West Collab Front Mission Evolved will be a success.

RPG Site: One of the most interesting East/West collaborations going on right now that isn’t Square Enix is the new Castlevania game at Konami, where Kojima has his hand in it. All that seems to happen there is every couple of months Kojima reviews elements of the game and either approves it or orders it changed rather than having an active day-to-day role in development. How much does the Japanese side of Square Enix involve themselves in the development of an East/West collaboration like Front Mission Evolved?
Shinji Hashimoto: It’s our first time working together with Double Helix but we meet up in person around once a month to discuss the direction of the game and how it is going. It’s very beneficial to meet in person – the more you meet, the better it is – and I also spend a great deal of time on the phone to the developers – sometimes daily.

In the case of Kojima-san and the Castlevania game, that is that team’s game and not his game, so my understanding is that he helps to guide them rather than direct them. We take a more active role, especially in the case of a franchise like Front Mission, which has a large fanbase in Japan.

RPG Site: Speaking of Kojima, can you tell us how you reached the agreement with Konami and Mr. Kojima for the Metal Gear elements in Front Mission Evolved? Is he a fan of the series?
Shinji Hashimoto: Actually, I'm a good friend of Kojima-san. Also, the Square Enix Figures line and brand is very respected and Kojima-san wanted to release Metal Gear figures so from that the partnership came about.

RPG Site: Thanks for your time! We'll let you get back to your appointments!
Shinji Hashimoto: Thank you!

Source: RPGSite
 

Hatifnatten

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If they'll give atleast one pixel of any Final Fntasy to be touched by americans - I'll torch their fucking HQ. OR whole Japan/
 

RioDragon

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If they'll give atleast one pixel of any Final Fntasy to be touched by americans - I'll torch their fucking HQ. OR whole Japan/
Already happened. Project Fortress. An improvement to FF XII and the crappy way they handle their FF franchise themselves, though, IMHO. The studio originally developing it fell under, but a new one is working on it. It's a Action-RPG set in the Ivalice Universe.

So, you better get to torching those Square-Enix headquarters. :P Personally, I think the world will be better with them gone.
 

ANGRYWOLF

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Square needs to bring in western developers to correct the deficiencies in the recent games.
Improvements seem to be beyond the abilties of the current rpg staff at Square.

That guy who said he would burn down their headquarters can burn away...
Certainly the recent FF games haven't been anything to write home about.
 

Gingerbread Lesbian

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Square-Enix just need to realise that whilst to them only sale figures matter the fans actually care about quality. All top companies will start with fairly small sale figures but increase game on game because of reputation&quality. Quality just seems a redundant word in Square-Enix HQ nowadays and they need to prove something drastically with the release of FFXIV and FFXIII Versus.

Collab with Naughty Dog, Bethesda, Bioware, Insomniac, Team ICO etc and they're sorted.
 
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