Keita Takahashi brings emotion to Tiny Speck’s Glitch
Stewart Butterfield raised some eyebrows when he hired Keita Takahashi to join Tiny Speck. As Butterfield admits, Takahashi doesn’t have a game-design background. And the Japanese sculptor, best known for creating the remarkable game Katamari Damacy, quit the video-game industry in 2010, suggesting that he might be done with games.
A mutual friend, game designer Robin Hunicke, connected the two after the 2010 Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. The two played Glitch together online and talked over Skype. “It might have helped that they’d just had the earthquake and nuclear meltdown there,” Butterfield told the Straight. Takahashi, his wife, and infant son moved to Vancouver at the end of June.
Butterfield said that Takahashi brings a unique perspective to the creative team developing Glitch. “He notices totally different things,” he said. When Takahashi makes suggestions, Butterfield added, “it’s always about the emotion that it would provoke. Or the laugh it would give you.”
Takahashi puts together annotated storyboards bearing loose ideas for Glitch. One concept shows a crying tree and suggests a quest that would involve numerous players working together to alleviate the plant’s loneliness. The actual task is left undefined; what is important to Takahashi is the feeling. Another proposes that the meaning of inanimate objects could be gleaned by letting players metamorphose into things like rocks. They would have to convince another player to mine them before returning to humanoid form.
Correction: An earlier version of this story mistakenly reported that Stewart Butterfield travelled to Tokyo to meet with Keita Takahashi. The two actually talked over Skype.