Game development is a collaborative effort between designers, programmers and writers, who in large productions can count on hundreds. It can take years to get a specific mechanic or a right-wing scene right, and even then it can still fall flat on players. But in the case of Yakuza: Som a dragon, some of the best ideas can come from a simple Twitter joke.
Yakuza: Som a dragon, the upcoming eighth part of the popular Yakuza series, spend tradition using a turn-based combat system rather than the noisy fisticuffs seen in previous posts. As such, role-playing-style menus have replaced well-tuned combinations as the main method of combat, with obvious labels such as Attack, Skills, and Guard. Notice that something is missing? John Ricciardi, co-founder of Tokyo-based location company 8-4, did just that.
Back in June, Ricciardi a huge missed opportunities in Yakuza: Som a dragon menus. The game, which is on its way to North America in November, had all the pieces for a nod to the series creator and publisher Sega, except that the fourth option in the battle menu read More instead of something like Etc. or Extra. Ricciardi’s tweet on the matter received moderate attention, most importantly from Sega location producer Scott Strichart, who offered two words in response: “Dammit John.”
Fast forward to last week. Sega published one new behind the scenes video with Yakuza: Som a dragon voice artist Elizabeth Maxwell who, although great in her own right, included some new feature films. A very brief insight into the battle menu showed that the “More” option had become “Etc.” and completed the spelling “SEGA.” A day later, Ricciardi shared a screenshot from the video on Twitter with the message “Mission complete.”
Focused, I reached out to Sega about the situation, and Strichart confirmed through a company representative that, yes, Ricciardi’s proposal had led to the change.
“I’m just glad they liked the idea enough to try to work it out!” Ricciardi told me Kotaku via instant message. “I know what it’s like to make last minute inquiries – sometimes it’s fine and sometimes it’s not, but when you have a [localization] teams that really care about a game and a developer who is gracious enough to listen (especially so late in the dev cycle), are good things that will happen. I love Sega and I love Yakuza series, so on a personal level, I’m just stoked to have been able to leave a small mark on the game. Kudos to Scott and his crew for making this happen! “
Being online is a blessing and a curse. Most of us just scream into the void and hope that someone likes our jokes enough to get our attention. However, one person can proudly say that something stupid they published online affected the development of the next Yakuza game.