Topic: Work Stuff
It's my experience that most people outside the game industry don't recognize the names of even the biggest game developers/publishers, even if they've played their games. So, when I tell people I work for Namco, they have no idea what that company is or what it's made...until I make a munching motion with my hand and go "wacka wacka".
I've been working on a number of PAC-MAN related games for mobile phones at Namco (www.namcogames.com), and one of my jobs is to make sure that our PAC-MAN and Ms. PAC-MAN games are as arcade accurate as possible. This isn't always easy, because there's very little actual documentation on the games, so I have to rely on my familiarity with them and what information I've gleaned from playing.
So, imagine my glee when Kenji-san told me I;d be meeting and having dinner with Mr. Toru Iwatani, the creator of PAC-MAN!
The only challenge: Iwantani-san speaks only slightly more English than I speak Japanese...which means a few words at best. Luckily, Kenji and Scott were there to translate.
I asked Iwatani-san a lot of questions about how the original game works. Most of this would bore the average person to death, but it was pretty illuminating to me. I mean, how many people wonder about the differences in the seek behavior of the ghosts in the game. What's the difference between Inky and Pinky, aside from the obvious color? Let me raise my hand here.
Scott Rubin, Iwatani-san, Maurice and "The Man"
We discussed some ideas I have for future games. Iwatani-san suggested we do back and forth discussions, rather than him just accepting or rejecting my ideas outright. Oh, twist my arm...ow...ow...
Dinner was very nice, Scott, Kenji, Mr. Iwanti and I were joined by Hideki from our licensing dept. at a nice Japanese restaurant in Mountain View. The bill, with tip, was over $700, and something like 3/4s of a gallon of sake was consumed. Scott and I went our separate ways at that point, but the Japanese contingent then went into San Francisco and partied and Karaoked until 2:30 a.m. Yikes!