Game Developer Wears Clothes While Working, Makes DS RPG Inspired By Arthur C. Clarke

Why is it a headline item that Hifumi Kouno wears clothes while making video games?

Because the man's development studio is called Nude Maker.

Last week at Sega's San Francisco party to commemorate a partnership with Platinum Games, I talked to Kouno about his contribution to the partnership and the strange name of his game studio.

Kouno is working with Platinum and Sega to create "Infinite Line" a 2009 DS role-playing game that was teased via some concept art. The designer had previously worked with Platinum's Atsushi Inaba on the Capcom mech game "Steel Battalion" and told me he was impressed with Inaba and wanted to collaborate again.

Our brief interview was conducted through a translator, though Kouno mustered three words of English when I asked him where he keeps his "Steel Battalion" controller: "my private room."

So why is his development studio called Nude Maker? And what's "Infinite Line" all about?

The game is inspired by the hard science fiction of authors Arthur C. Clarke and Greg Egan, Kouno told me: "If you look at [their work] there's an idea that perhaps humanity is the only intellectual force in the universe and maybe their intellect is driving the formation and physical laws of the universe." It's a philosophical idea, Kouno acknowledged and one that, didn't make it in the official press release that emphasized "the ability to control, build, outfit and customize more than 150 spaceships" as well as the game's more than 200 characters.

"I wanted to explore the idea in science fiction of what happens if the intellect is driving the formation of space." Kouno told me. "In the game, there are different humanoids in space and they are sort of aware of each other and start to observe each other." Some of these ideas will be explored through the interactions of characters on the various spaceships. He hopes those ideas and the role-playing game design of "Infinite Line" can have far-reaching appeal. "Just like with 'Steel Battalion,' I'm not making just this for Japan but making this for geeks who are into this stuff all over the world.

There was no smooth transition from talking about that kind of material to asking about nude game-making, so I didn't try to make one. I asked Kouno what the Nude Maker name was all about.

"Can he give a very serious answer to that?" his translator asked.

"Whatever answer he'd like," I said."

Kouno's reply: "I feel that game designers should not make games just with the mindset of 'I want to become famous' or 'I want to be well-known.' So we want to kind of throw away these worldly concerns. And in Japanese, the saying that 'we can become naked' means 'to show your true heart.' So that's where it's coming from. We want to be very honest."

I had to ask: "It doesn't mean that when you're making games you're not wearing any clothes, does it?"

Kouno laughed. "Of course, everyone is nude. It's called Nude Maker. Men and women both."

I asked the translator if we were all joking at this point. The translator confirmed that we were.

"Infinite Line," which is just a working title, is set for 2009 release on the Nintendo DS.