The Secret Behind Platinum’s Quality?

If you ever get to the new TMNT game by Platinum, what’s your opinion on it?

I played it briefly.

It’s kinda boring. It doesn’t tell you the sequences for the combos for some reason. I checked all the menus. The sequences are the same on all the turtles, but each one has slightly different attack animations at a difference cadence and range and all. All of them can mash light attack in the air to do an air sequence, and press heavy attack for a diving attack. Then they each have slightly different sets of special attacks that do slightly different things. The game has a unique block/dodge/parry system. You can press R1 to dodge, hold it to block while spinning in shell form, then release right as you’re hit to parry an attack. Dodging perfectly lets you circle behind enemies and jump on their back to deal damage by mashing buttons. Speaking of that, there’s a fuckton of mashing in this game. You gotta mash to interact with things, and mash to revive when you get knocked out.

Each stage is a big cityscape with ninjas all over it. Occasionally objectives pop up that you can complete. You can use see-through-walls-vision to find where shit is going on. Beat up ninjas and eventually you get access to the boss.

So, kind of a disappointment overall. It’s a really simple combat system, and meh enemies, with plenty of filler content all over.

What’s interesting is the director. It was directed by Eiro Shirahama, who you might notice was also the director of Legend of Korra. Legend of Korra was probably Platinum’s biggest miss up to this point, which lead to a surprise when Transformers Devastation was amazing. So why was Transformers Devastation good among these three licensed cartoon games? The director of Devastation was actually Kenji Saito, who you might also know as the director of Metal Gear Rising.

So this makes me wonder, what other recurring directors have we had at Platinum Games? The answer is almost none. Almost every Platinum game has a different director. Even ones you’d think would have the same director like Mad World to Anarchy Reigns, and Bayonetta to Bayonetta 2 have different directors (perhaps this explains the difference in quality between Bayo 1 and 2). I’m only really looking at directors here because I know that a lot of the corporate attitude of Platinum is inherited from what Shinji Mikami established back at Capcom, where it’s all about the director’s vision. You’ll notice there are few repeating people in other roles as well though.

Of the recurring directors we have Hideki Kamiya (Bayo 1, W101, Scalebound), Yusuke Hashimoto (Bayo 2, Star Fox Zero), Eiro Shirahama (Legend of Korra, TMNT), and Kenji Saito (MGR, TD). This leads me to think that Kenji Saito is something really special to the company, he may be an even better director than Kamiya. I’d keep an eye on him in particular in the future. It also leads me to think that Hashimoto and Eiro Shirahama aren’t very good directors.

4 thoughts on “The Secret Behind Platinum’s Quality?

  1. Plat February 5, 2017 / 6:40 am

    Have you ever thought of analyzing/discussing Platinum’s GDC video where they talk about “High Level Design” and the “Strength” of levels? Do you think it’s relevant to their quality as developers?

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    • Chris Wagar February 5, 2017 / 6:49 am

      I commented on that on ask.fm briefly, I didn’t have a lot to say about it. It didn’t sound like a very formalized structure or had much basis on anything. That and they didn’t have much to say in that talk beyond their method of pacing. They said action games are based on forcing a reaction out of the player, but I don’t think that’s totally accurate either, it’s about the back and forth interactions between player and enemy, where the player is forced to react, and given the chance to take the initiative at different times.

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      • Plat February 5, 2017 / 7:13 pm

        You responded to the Gamasutra article, but I was wondering if you saw the part of the talk where they discussed “high level design?” It’s on Youtube if you’re interested.

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        • Chris Wagar February 5, 2017 / 9:19 pm

          Yes, I was addressing that, but my wording probably wasn’t clear enough.

          The high level design refers to when they talked about pacing, like each part has a certain intensity, and they vary that intensity up and down.

          I think they have some decent inferences like that constant action and constant ramping up can be tiring. You want to add chances to cool off and not keep everything intense all the time.

          However I think their numbers are kind of just made up. I don’t think they have a solid principle behind it, or a lot of backing for why they allot the numbers the way they do. It’s a heuristic based on experience that they don’t have a clear formalized structure for. It makes a degree of sense, but they don’t provide a framework to extrapolate or understand their example.

          I don’t have a reasonable alternative to their pacing concept, I honestly haven’t done much thought or investigation into pacing, I just think their presentation on high level design isn’t enough to really start with. It identifies a few simple rules of thumb, basic instinctual ideas about pacing, but it doesn’t connect them into a real actionable theory.

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