Named after a big fish, yet still one of the coolest cats in games development, Shingo 'Seabass' Yakatsuka is the mastermind behind the Pro Evolution Soccer series. So attached to his game that he's rumoured to sleep underneath his desk, he's an official PES hero.
Our good friends over at PC Zone managed to catch up with the legendary Seabass during this year's Pro Evo 5 launch event in Sardinia and here's what they learned from the man who put the pro into Pro Evo.
There are a lot more physical challenges in PES5 - is this a direction in which you want to continue in PES6?
Seabass: Probably not in our next game. We obviously won't stop pursuing that realness, capturing a true simulation of football, but in terms of control we'd like to find the perfect balance of arcade and simulation - we don't want to pursue it as a simple simulation too much.
Will the new Pro Evolution Soccer management game come out on the PC?
Seabass: At the moment it's a PS2 exclusive, because it's the leading platform and because we want to bring the game out in Europe first; but if we're successful and if PC gamers request it, then we'll look into it.
You've said the next-gen PES will concentrate on AI rather than graphics. What are you working on for it?
Seabass: The graphics side of things is quite simple to upgrade, but AI is really, really difficult - and for next-gen even more so. To give you a hint of what we're planning, we want the AI smart but not in a way that the players will always pinpoint where the ball will come. We want to represent human error - what players will actually do when they make a mistake.
Is the online dream still 11 vs 11 players?
Seabass: Our goal hasn't changed - we could probably do it for the next PES, but it's very difficult, as we'd have to change the system completely in order to do it. So we'll probably bring you 5 vs 5 online, and have a kind of halfway version. If we actually gave you the chance to play 11 vs 11, we'd definitely see a lot of that human error!
PES is all about those human mistakes and the way the ball moves - while other games concentrate on making the perfect game or the perfect overhead kick. Is this random element a real philosophy behind your game?
Seabass: Yes that is actually one of our philosophies - it's kind of a Japanese thing actually! We think that the most fun you have with PES is with your friends. We're plunging into the creation of new systems and AI - but we also feel that the AI shouldn't really be there anyway. We want to make the users play and not necessarily just support it with AI - that's our basic thinking. We do want to help the player control fluidly in the game, but the AI shouldn't control the users.
Do you have any plans to enhance the Master League in the next version of PES?
Seabass: Every year we make changes - in PES5 we've made the training more simple, cut the boring stuff and strengthened the management side. For the next one we want to do an online Master league, so that many players can play it at once. There is a problem in that the strongest players will always buy up all the best players, so we're working out a way to handle money allocation. But I promise that we will have an online Master League in the next PES.