Last week, Japanese game designer Kenji Eno passed away at the age of 42. Eno was well known for his survival horror games, D, Enemy Zero and D2, as well as his unique and sometimes eccentric opinions and behaviour, like the development of the Sega Saturn game, Real Sound, a video game that features no video.
In February of 2010, Kotaku’s sister site Kotaku Japan and Jin115 of the Japanese video game website Oreteki Ge-mu Sokuhou @JIN held an interview with Eno. Afterwards, Eno agreed to a second interview that was conducted, but never published. Now, with the blessing of the CEO of From Yellow to Orange, the details of this second interview have been revealed, in which Eno talked about his thoughts on game creators and the trends of gaming itself.
Eno has always been very steadfast and often unyielding in his opinions. Once, he famously criticised Super Mario 64 straight to Shigeru Miyamoto’s face. While he was later flamed by Mario fans, after the confrontation, Miyamoto thanked Eno profusely for his honesty and constructive criticism. “If all you say is positive things, people will think you’re a ‘nice guy.’ That’s easy. But, that feels cheap and I dislike it.” Eno remarked. “I trust people who say what’s on their mind. Because it’s harder to state your opinion in the face of complaints and opposition.”
“Anything that will allow you to access what you want 10 seconds after you think of it will win.” Eno said about the changing trends. “People have their individual values, but, instant gratification, quick and easy accessibility, things you can use to kill time in an instant… These sorts of things are what are winning now. I don’t really like these kinds of games, but everyone makes their own choices, for better or worse.”
“I apologise if I say that and end up dying.”
Eno’s games, Enemy Zero and D2, were definitely not games with lots of “instant gratification” in them. Especially Enemy Zero, a game he wanted to develop with all its non-user-friendly features, despite opposition. His sound-only game, Real Sound was a rather unorthodox game that, shortly after it was released, landed Eno in a serious debate with then Weekly Famitsu editor in chief Hirokazu Hamamura on the game rating system. In the interview, Eno expressed his desire to still develop another Real Sound game (A second Real Sound game was originally announced, but never released). “Yes, I’ll make one. Some time, I promise.” Eno said with a laugh. “I apologise if I say that and end up dying.” Little did he realise the weight his words would have years later…
Eno was never one with cutting-edge tech in mind when it came to his video game development. While he did comment that he had recently gotten the urge to try his hand at making a high spec video game, when asked what sort of game he’d like to develop, Eno remarked that he thought making an adventure game would be good. “I think adventure games are ‘displaced’ compared to modern day games.” Eno explained. “If that’s the case, then I’d want to make something even more displaced. It’s because people make half-baked games that users think ‘In this day and age, why do I have to sit in front of the TV for 2 hours?’… It’s better to make a something that’ll make people think, ‘I’ve got to take time this weekend to play this game!’ If you keep trying to make something ‘quick and easy,’ you’ll never beat the mobile market.”
Asked about his thoughts on game development itself, Eno answered with a laugh, “Simply put, it’s hard! Game development is hard. And it’s long… Even when you’re done, you still have days of endless testing and adjusting… I never want to do that again.”
But we wanted him to do it again. He will be sorely missed.
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Picture: Kotaku Japan