80 Level Digest: Insights into Japanese Game Design – Interviews and Talks with Talented Developers

Today, we've collected several insightful interviews and thought-provoking talks that will help you to explore the minds of talented Japanese developers and gain a deeper understanding of their creative processes, game design philosophies, and inspirations.

Japanese video games have captured the hearts of millions worldwide with their distinctive storytelling, innovative gameplay mechanics, and unforgettable characters. From the iconic Super Mario and The Legend of Zelda series to the vibrant and brutal worlds of Yakuza and Devil May Cry, Japanese game developers have consistently pushed the boundaries of creativity, leaving an indelible mark on the gaming industry.

Without a doubt, there is a wealth of knowledge to be gained from Japanese game developers and designers, regardless of whether you are a fan of their games. That's why today, we've collected several insightful interviews and thought-provoking talks that will provide an opportunity to delve into the minds of talented Japanese developers, offering a deeper understanding of their creative processes, game design philosophies, and the inspirations that drive their work.

Let's start our today's list with a GDC talk by Nintendo's Hidemaro Fujibayashi, Satoru Takizawa, and Takuhiro Dohta. In the video, the creators of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of Wild take us behind the scenes of creating the game providing an in-depth look at its groundbreaking mechanics.

The developers share their expertise on various topics – from ideal and real development resources to the intricacies of building multiplicative gameplay – and offer valuable advice on making captivating game design. This exclusive peek into Nintendo's development process is a unique opportunity for fans and aspiring game designers to learn from the creative minds behind one of the most critically acclaimed games of all time.

In this short yet informative video, two legendary developers discuss the team's process of creating The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom revealing the secrets that make this game "even better than Breath of the Wild." Their interview sheds light on new features they implemented and explains what the team did to ensure a seamless gameplay experience where no one gets stuck on a level for too long.

In this engaging GDC talk, Capcom's Hideaki Itsuno, renowned director of the Devil May Cry series, teams up with his colleagues Michiteru Okabe and Matt Walker to explore their approach to creating standout action games, with a focus on Devil May Cry 5. 

Tailored specifically for game designers, the talk delves into Itsuno's unconventional tips on game design, providing fresh perspectives and thought-provoking insights. Itsuno also discusses the essential elements every game designer should consider and offer valuable advice on where to find inspiration for their projects.

If you're interested in delving into the creative process behind Devil May Cry 5 but find yourself short on time or prefer concise video formats, you might want to consider checking out this video by the game's team. In this 10-minute-long interview, the developers share behind-the-scenes information, shedding light on Devil May Cry 5's design philosophy.

In the 1999 GDC Keynote, legendary game designer Shigeru Miyamoto, known for creating iconic franchises like Mario and The Legend of Zelda, discusses his approach to design and the responsibilities of a game designer. Miyamoto offers crucial tips on creating games that effectively convey the designer's ideas and even provides a rare glimpse at one of his prototypes, giving viewers a unique perspective into his creative process.

If you're interested in delving deeper into Shigeru Miyamoto's game design principles, this video is a great resource to explore. Despite its brevity, it provides valuable insights into Miyamoto's design philosophy, showcasing how he sets himself apart from other game designers. Miyamoto explains the essential elements that contribute to creating a remarkable game and highlights the significance of effectively communicating the player's objectives. 

Another video we can recommend watching is by Masahiro Sakurai, the creator of Super Smash Bros. In it, the game designer reveals the untold story behind the making of the original Super Smash Bros. and, alongside his narrative, unveils never-before-seen footage of a game that had earlier remained hidden from the public eye.

Throughout the video, Sakurai provides valuable insights into the team's creative process and sheds light on the decision-making and design choices that shaped Super Smash Bros. into the iconic fighting game it is today.

Additionally, those hungry to delve deeper into game design and development may want to check out other videos on Masahiro Sakurai's YouTube channel, Masahiro Sakurai on Creating Games. It provides a wealth of informative content and offers a rare opportunity to learn from one of the industry's brightest minds.

In their GDC talk, Yoko Taro and Takahisa Taura, the minds behind NieR:Automata, reflected on the development process of the game, delving into their collaborative design approach.

During the talk, Takahisa Taura shared his game development philosophy, offering insights on how to create gameplay that is both accessible and engaging. He highlights the significance of creating mechanics that are easy to learn while ensuring that players remain deeply immersed in the gaming experience. Meanwhile, Yoko Taro speculated on the topic of freedom in games, emphasizing the need to strike a balance between an open world and a rich, content-driven experience.

In this twenty-five-minute video, Toshihiro Nagoshi, the creator of the Yakuza series, reflected on the origins and evolution of the popular SEGA franchise. Nagoshi delved into his personal experiences working at SEGA and shared insights into the tremendous effort it took to ensure the series' success in both Japan and the Western market.

Additionally, he discussed the challenge faced by Japanese games, often struggling to sell as well outside of Japan, explaining how the team was trying to create a franchise that could cultivate a devoted player base worldwide.

In their GDC presentation, Capcom's Koshi Nakanishi and Peter Fabiano spoke about the development of Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, delving into their journey of taking the Resident Evil franchise in a new direction while staying faithful to its core essence.

Throughout the presentation, Nakanishi and Fabiano shared the diverse sources of inspiration that guided their creative vision and explored the nuances of conceptualization, production, and postmortem phases, shedding light on the decision-making process behind reimagining the series.

Notably, they discussed the pivotal shift from the traditional third-person perspective to an immersive first-person camera angle, highlighting their unwavering commitment to maintaining the intense survival horror experience that fans have come to love.

These were our picks of great talks and interviews that can help you get a better understanding of the creative process of talented Japanese game developers. What would have you added to this list?

Share your thoughts in the comments below and don't forget to join our 80 Level Talent platform and our Telegram channel, follow us on Instagram and Twitter, where we share breakdowns, the latest news, awesome artworks, and more.

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