Interview with Nippon Ichi Software of America
This first chapter of the interview focuses on NIS and NISA as companies–what games they develop/publish and what the process is like. It’s a chapter of getting to know the gang personally.

RPG Land(3-parter here) How many people founded Nippon Ichi? Are they all still with the company? How much has the company increased in size since then?
NIS AmericaAll the guys who started the company are still there. Company size hasn’t changed much, but it has become big enough to have a separate building for the development team and the sales/marketing team in Gifu, Japan.
RPG LandWith the way the battle systems in NIS games are done, the player can almost tell you had a lot of fun making these games. Is that the right impression?
NIS AmericaAhhhh yes. We always try to have a lot of fun making our games. I mean if we cannot enjoy what we make, how could the gamers? Often times we would come up with the wildest ideas and try to implement it into the game. Sometimes it works beautifully; sometimes we fail miserably. But even if we fail, as long as we had a great time working on it, it is all good.

RPG LandSo let’s get inside your head a minute. Where do your ideas come from? Do you just show up to work one day, sit down and say, “Well, time to think of an idea for a game,” or some such process? What’s the strangest place/way you’ve gotten an idea for something in a game?
NIS AmericaWe sit down and contemplate on what we think would be great to see in a game. Then we try to figure out how to fit the best ideas into the game.

RPG LandDang. That’s way less fantastical than we had hoped. But moving on:
Of all the games you’ve made, which one was the hardest to develop and why?
NIS AmericaMakai Kingdom was the hardest to develop because of the time constraints on the project.

RPG LandIn the majority opinion of the company’s employees, what are the games your staff is most proud of and why? Or is it too close to call?
NIS AmericaWe are very proud of every game we have made, yet we are still striving to create even better games than the ones that we have made before.

RPG LandThe titles Disgaea: Hour of Darkness, La Pucelle: Tactics, Phantom Brave, and Makai Kingdom seem to have a common theme relating to the relationship between the Netherworld in which demons and such reside, and the ‘Living’ world, where humans live. Has this been intentional, or is it the work of unseen forces upon the minds of the developers?
NIS AmericaOur developers like to have a lot of fun. They figured it would be more interesting to have demons and overlords as the main characters then an ordinary human.

RPG LandWhen Disgaea did well in America, Mastiff backtracked and gave us La Pucelle Tactics, which was actually made before Disgaea but not localized. Did any other games came close to getting released, but never quite took the trip?
NIS AmericaNone. After Disgaea, all of our games have been released in America.

RPG LandHow long was the idea of an American studio being kicked around before it came to pass?
NIS AmericaThe idea of opening an American office had not been around very long; maybe a year at the longest. With the success of Disgaea and the growing SRPG/Anime market, we felt it was the perfect time to open NISA at the beginning of 2004. The process of opening our office here in the states zoomed by so quickly, it was quite surprising.

RPG LandWhat should members of our audience do if they want to pursue a career in game design?
NIS AmericaThat is actually a difficult question to answer. It really depends on which division of the game design team you want to be. For instance, if you wish to be a programmer you would have to learn multiple computer languages. On the other hand, perhaps you wish to be a game artist. In such case, you would take various art courses and build your portfolio. The best advice is to go to the finest school you could possibly get into. Sadly, the “name” of the school really helps in the real world, whether you like it or not.

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