Fumito Ueda's games are loved, warts and all. Ico and Shadow of the Colossus have flaws -- Ico's shaky combat, Shadow of the Colossus' frame rate -- but most gamers will tell you such criticisms are irrelevant. Ueda himself, however, cannot think of his games like that. He's always thinking about what could be changed in his past work, what could have happened with a little more time.
I asked Ueda about this perfectionist quality during a Tokyo Game Show interview. I told him about Hideo Kojima's development philosophy of always looking forward.
"I wish I could be like him, but myself, I reflect on the past games a lot," admitted Ueda.
"Even right now," he continued, "if I look at this game [a The Last Guardian trailer runs behind Ueda during the interview], I'll still notice some things to be improved and should be done this way or that way and so I don't want to look back, even though the picture is on the screen right now."
Nit-picking an unreleased personal creation is understandable, though. Maybe Ueda could subscribe to Too Human creator Denis Dyack's theory about only showing video games to the public and press once development has finished.
"Yes, I would like to show the completed version as much as possible," he said, "but if I stick with [that] idea, I would never complete the game. I need to set up sort of deadlines at some point so that I think I can release that game -- with some ideas that I still have to implement, but still it can [be] released to a certain level. And that would be the normal way of releasing a game, I think. That would be the only way to be able to release a game."
Some development teams, like Valve (Ueda is a fan of Half-Life 2, after all), do seem to wait and wait, preferring to let development organically play out. Given Ueda's status amongst game fans -- even if such dedication hasn't translated yet into blockbuster sales -- he must hold enough clout within Sony to dictate the release date of his games. Though Ueda wouldn't admit to such an option...
"I think I can keep working on it," he laughed.
"Even for the past two games, there's still a lot more to be improved," he said. "It's almost like I keep playing the same game continually for that three years. That kind of feeling."
In an interview with Kotaku, Ueda revealed an upcoming meeting to discuss bringing Ico and Shadow of the Colossus to PlayStation 3 in some form. It's unclear whether these would be ports, updates or something else entirely. When I asked him about returning to his previous games, Ueda seemed to imply any PS3 version would be left alone.
"At this point, I have no intention to making any changes to those past games," he said. "Once it's released, they are done."