On his deathbed, the one time-CEO of SEGA wavered a loan repayment worth millions of dollars of his own money that he’d once given to the company to keep it afloat. Isao Okawa had a deep passion for SEGA, and in his final moments did the company a second favor to ensure it would pass into good hands.
Isao Okawa put up that initial loan to keep the Dreamcast afloat for SEGA. Okawa was deeply passionate about the console being a part of SEGA’s future and truly believed that it would be a good thing for the most important people to the company: people that buy and play videogames. Some of SEGA’s best software came out on this system, games that you get a strong vibe of artistic accomplishment from when you play.
Two paragraphs in and we’re talking about the Dreamcast. It goes without saying that Jet Grind Radio is one of the games I’m thinking of. I could tell you more about it if you haven’t played it, but everybody interested in videogames should do themselves a favor and see it in motion.
Yasushi Adachi was the director of SNK’s fighting game legend Samurai Shodown. Originally released in 1993, basically every thing about it was both a fluke of luck and a stroke of genius. The market was in the right place at the right time for another fighting game to follow up Capcom’s Street Fighter II and give more diversity to the early fighting game scene.
You can read more about the development of Samurai Shodown.
The biggest takeaway from reading that now year old article is that very little of Samurai Shodown was focused on the market. All of it was focused on bringing together the development teams passions and making something that displayed those for the world to see. It goes as far as the development operating with no budget. SNK just kept throwing money at the developers until they had a finished product.
I might dress up like a skeleton just so I can write words about videogames, but that’s insane. That is high on a list of things companies would not get away with today, up to and including murdering a teenager in my living room with an actual Samurai sword. Similar to SNK, I also don’t have a budget in place for that either.
Those anecdotes form my opinion on how game development has changed. There are dozens of figureheads and developers now passed or relegated to assembly line work or god-knows what that had real passion for delivering something interesting to players.