A Look Back
Shortly after wrapping up my first game, Konami decided to relocate the entire console division to San Francisco. This ended up being not only a change in location, but a change in the team as we brought on several other artists and programmers, doubling in size. While most of my job remained the same, modeling, texturing, and some animated sequences, I was also offered an opportunity to expand my role.
During the pre-production phase I was comparing our game against other sports games and noticed that our front end wasn’t staying current and asked if I could redevelop it. I was told I could, but that the timeline could not be adjusted. This meant I had to be very selective in what elements I changed. One of the biggest challenges I faced was the fact that this game only had the MLBPA licence and not the MLB licence, which meant we had the players, but not the teams. I had to be creative in ways we could cheat this fact, such as we could still use the colors and the city names for banners. In the previous games, there was two leagues, Neptune and Apollo, as we could use National and American. For this game I dropped this in favor of League A and League N, which helped make it feel a bit more based in reality. The biggest change I made was getting rid of the 3D front end and replacing it with a slideshow background of player portraits which maximized our licencing.
Working on the front end changed the course of my career for many reasons. It was the first time that I worked directly with a programmer to implement my ideas and I had to learn to communicate very effectively and in detail. I discovered how the hardware actually worked and how design must be constrained by it by having to manually place all of the front end artwork into memory. Most of all, I learned that even little ideas can take a lot of development time to implement. Very important lessons indeed!