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The Biggest Game Dev You've Never Heard Of 85

Posted by Zonk
from the busy-little-ninjas dept.
simoniker writes "Japan-based game developer Tose has 1,000 employees, and has created 1,100 game SKUs since 1979 (including Final Fantasy GBA versions, though they can't mention it in this interview!), but they're basically unknown, because they're 'game development ninjas', and 'refuse to put [their] names on the game'. Odd stuff."
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The Biggest Game Dev You've Never Heard Of

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  • by flooey (695860) on Friday May 19, 2006 @11:37AM (#15366416)
    From the article:
    GS: So how do you teach publishers that outsourcing is potentially beneficial? It seems like a lot of companies really want to keep things in-house.

    KS: We just beg them.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      KS: We just beg them.

      Prease, prease, we velly good deveroper.

    • Not that unusual (Score:3, Interesting)

      by nuggz (69912)
      It sounds like a funny answer, but really it isn't that unusual.

      It's surprising how much is available when you just ask the right way.

      Being at the right place at the right time and simply asking "can I help out" can really get you places.
    • GS: And you work across all tools?

      SC: Pretty much. And everything we use is legally licensed, even in China.

  • by GroeFaZ (850443) on Friday May 19, 2006 @11:40AM (#15366447)
    Like, they can TOTALLY FLIP OUT and WRITE GAMES?

    I for one dig that.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    It's interesting to see the difference between Japanese and American attitudes here. Whereas Activision was founded primarily so that individual devs could get credit for their games, the biggest game development company, which is Japanese, doesn't even put it's name on games.
  • Interesting but... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by GundamFan (848341) on Friday May 19, 2006 @11:42AM (#15366464)
    This isn't that surprising, large cooperations contract smaller companies to do work under there name all the time. That said, I do find these kind of "How stuff gets made" and "Who makes that?" articles fascinating, thanks for the link.
    • Microsoft does that too, kinda, but they just wait for a good product to come along and then buy the company to milk the hell of it until it dies.

      Oh, and there != their. \\grammar nazi

    • Except that this is about an ENORMOUS company that other companies are contracting out. They have 1000 employees making games. That's enormous. And no one has ever heard of them.
  • Am I wrong here (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rolfwind (528248) on Friday May 19, 2006 @11:45AM (#15366505)
    But from the interview, it sounds more like they act as subcontractors than actual game developers.

    They don't design the house (architect), don't pay for it (home owner), but 9-5 mondays to fridays, look at the specs and build it.

    Otherwise, all of their moves, like not insisting on retaining the IP, make no sense.
    • Re:Am I wrong here (Score:4, Insightful)

      by chrismcdirty (677039) on Friday May 19, 2006 @12:16PM (#15366800) Homepage
      But would you say that the subcontractors didn't build the house because they weren't involved in the design or purchase? They're still developing the game, but they're given a set of requirements and develop the game according to those requirements. It seems like what every other software developer does.
      • That is exactly what he did say... look at the specs and build it.

        You said:

        They're still developing the game, but they're given a set of requirements and develop the game according to those requirements.

        he said

        look at the specs and build it.

        What fucking world of trinary logic do you hail from?

        I swear I want to flip out right now, and that wouldbe awesome. And by awesome I mean, fuck it, you know. Sweet.
    • If you really want to make games it makes sense, also without IP you don't get series-itis.

      They don't want to spend massive time negotiating and dealing with legal squables so they can be working full time at a constant rate.

      I bet another aspect of their business is not trying to have everyone put in their ideas all the time, if people just do what they're told the management can realize their vision really fast.

      An interesting concept of development.
    • Otherwise, all of their moves, like not insisting on retaining the IP, make no sense.

      Yes, you are wrong here. :) For a company that does not publish games retaining related intellectual property rights would be silly. What would they do with the IP if they are not in the game publishing business? Not retaining IP means they can charge more money.

      Also, I'd say 1100 games in 27 years proves that they do know how to operate a business.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 19, 2006 @11:46AM (#15366517)
    Do we really want somebody with this kind of power [realultimatepower.net] making our games?
  • Scary (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Perseid (660451) on Friday May 19, 2006 @11:46AM (#15366519)
    From the article:
    We try to act behind the scenes, and we follow our clients' desires, instructions and everything, so our policy is not to have a vision. In our company, we follow the customer's vision.

    Programming for these guys must be loads of fun. Yikes.
    • Re:Scary (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gEvil (beta) (945888)
      You see, that's the thing. They program for you! ; )
    • Re:Scary (Score:3, Insightful)

      by I8TheWorm (645702) *
      Maybe it's better to have no vision than a completely distorted one? Not that I speak from experience or anything...
    • At the beginning of the first programming class I took in college, the professor asked "Who wants to spend the rest of their life in a cubicle?"

      I started to laugh.

      More than half the class raised their hand.

      They would probably love this place. I switched to pscyhology.
      • Re:Scary (Score:4, Interesting)

        by hal2814 (725639) on Friday May 19, 2006 @12:58PM (#15367228)
        It's all a matter of perspective. I used to work construction and I can tell you that I'd much rather spend my day in a cubicle than framing houses or pouring concrete. Fortunately, I have an office now but there are far worse fates than getting a cubicle for a workspace.
        • by eison (56778)
          I suspect your average cube dweller believes he would rather be outside framing houses.

          Fair chance he's wrong if he were to try it, but on the other hand, difficult to underestimate the soul-sucking ability of cubes, especially given the permanent lack of tangible accomplishment associated with them. It's pretty much impossible to create anything real (non-virtual) in a cube farm.
      • Re:Scary (Score:4, Interesting)

        by LooseIsNotLose (917231) on Friday May 19, 2006 @01:59PM (#15367781)
        Not a very forward thinking professor, then. I am a programmer by trade, and my Oracle cubicle is about to be given away because I'm never there. With my (company) laptop, I can do my job anywhere--at home in my PJs, in the local coffee shop, or while visiting relatives in Alaska. How many jobs give you this level of freedom for a decent wage and benefits?

        To be fair, the first time I was a CS major in the early 90s, I didn't really see where the Internet wave was going to take us, myself. Sure, I'd been online since 1983, but somehow it never seemed real to me that I would truly be able to telecommute like this. When I went back to school in the late 90s, I had missed the crest of the wave, when many were able to get rich for doing almost nothing, but I now had the attainable goal in mind of finding a non-geographically-fixed job.

        I recently re-watched James Burke's The Day the Universe Changed, made in 1985, and found it a little eerie how well he described my current working conditions in the first episode.

      • I switched to pscyhology.

        So you're probably self employed and work out of a tiny office, maybe attached to the side of your house. And you probably don't make much money. Or you don't work as a psychologist.

        Personally, I like working out of a nice air-conditioned office and being well-paid. And if I'm ambitious, I can work for a startup company or start my own or become a specialist in something and work as a consultant (though that would generally require a lot of travel).
  • Back in college there was this really TALL and FAT guy, I mean he was BIG!

    He's actually the biggest game dev I know, but nobody's heard of him...
  • I've written loads of games too but of course if I told you which I'd have to kill you.
  • As they said in the interview, they have a good portfolio. It'd be kinda nice to see WHAT is in their portfolio though. For all I know, they're the ones behind all those godawful Mary Kate & Ashley games, or Barbie Horse Adventure or some such. Might explain why they don't put their names on games :P
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Friday May 19, 2006 @11:58AM (#15366628)
    I mean, I know a few games that would make me understand why someone refuses to put his name on the "I did it" list...
  • It makes sense now... Game Dev. Ninjas are at war with Software Pirates, YARRRRRRRR!!!
  • Credits (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Hangeron (314487)
    I saw a quote related to this recently. I don't remember the exact words but the gist of it was that a team gets much more done when they don't have to care about who gets the credit.

    I really think it can help a lot in making the team feel more like a unit and reduce work related stress.
    • I suppose it also helps with variety. "Aw, man, I'm sick of animating WW2 soldiers, do you have any hentai babes that need animating?"
    • I used to work on a team that was full of units and we didn't get a thing done.
    • There are varying theories about this. On the one hand, not having the fear of blame is nice, but on the other, anonymity can do to development what it does to spelling, grammar, and politeness...
  • by wideBlueSkies (618979) * on Friday May 19, 2006 @12:52PM (#15367175) Journal
    In a related story, the biggest game we've never played is described here [3drealms.com].

  • by Phat_Tony (661117) on Friday May 19, 2006 @05:25PM (#15369370)
    So who would win, Game Developer Ninjas, Game Developer Pirates, Game Developer Robots, or Game Developer Monkeys?
  • by dstone (191334) on Friday May 19, 2006 @09:37PM (#15370389) Homepage
    That's a pretty funny, blunt interview. A few snippets, for those too lazy to RTF...

    GS: How come we've never heard of you until right now?
    KS: Well we're based in Kyoto, right? So we're ninja. You can't find us!

    KS: Our policy is not to have a vision.

    KS: We just beg them.
    GS: Seems like when you've made 1,100 games you shouldn't have to beg.

    GS: What's your stock value?
    SC: It's about 16 dollars now. We've had better days.

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