Murayama Yoshitaka (2020)
Murayama Yoshitaka (村山 吉隆) is a game designer, director, and producer. He is the creator of the Suikoden series of JRPGs, which he produced and directed for Konami until his departure in 2002. He is now the producer, writer, and director for the upcoming Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes.
After finishing his computer programming studies at University of Tokyo in the summer of 1992, Murayama visited Konami's newly opened Tokyo headquarters to submit his first job application whereupon he was hired. Initially hired for QA and menial tasks, he was handpicked six months later along with a few others to create his own launch game for an internally developed video game console, where he began collaborating with fellow-newcomer designer Kawano Junko. This game was scrapped in the early stages of development.
Murayama, Kawano and ten other employees were instead assigned with developing Konami's first games for Sony's upcoming console, the PlayStation. With the pick of making a baseball game, a racing game or an RPG, Murayama and Kawano decided to reopen their RPG project, although Murayama has stated that given the opportunity, he would have preferred to make a shoot 'em up.
Committed from the start to make a franchise to rival series such as Dragon Quest or Final Fantasy, Murayama wrote the scenario of the first Suikoden. Unimpressed with their early 3D modeling tests, he opted to make a traditional 2D RPG using sprite graphics. In the winter of 1993, when pitching his idea of an RPG with a great gallery of supporting characters, inspired by Murayama's preference for manga such as Fist of the North Star and Captain Tsubasa he instead decided to use the classic Chinese novel Shui Hu Zhuan in order to better illustrate his point. The pitch was a success, and in this short meeting the game was given the name Suikoden, the Japanese reading of Shui Hu Zhuan, and Murayama was tasked with making 108 characters mirroring the 108 outlaws in the Chinese classic.
Suikoden was released in Japan in December 1995 to positive reviews and soon garnered a dedicated cult following. Murayama personally responded to each and every fan letter that was sent. Konami was also intent on making Suikoden into a franchise, and he was asked to develop its sequel, bringing back most of the team from the first game. Deciding what aspects to focus on for Suikoden II, response from the fans prompted them to concentrate on further developing the world and its characters over the graphics and mechanics. The game was released in December 1998, like its predecessor to positive reviews and slow but steady sales.
A third game in the series was developed, but a month before the release of Suikoden III in July 2002, Murayama left Konami. In compliance with Konami company policy, his name was taken out of the credits for the game. The reason for his sudden departure has been long theorized on by fans, many believing corporate meddling to be the reason, in part because of the omitted credit for Suikoden III. However, in an interview with Swedish gaming magazine LEVEL in August 2009, Murayama clarified that this was only because it had been exactly ten years since he was first hired by Konami, and his personal goal had always been to stay no longer than ten years before turning freelance.
After leaving Konami, he immediately set up his own company, Blue Moon Studio, that later released the game 10,000 Bullets. He also worked on a manga adaptation of Laura Resnick's Magic: The Gathering novel The Purifying Fire with artwork by Himori Yoshino. Murayama also continued to work in games, writing for Japanese visual novel Tensho Gakuen Gekkoroku as well as be credited for the scenario in the 2017 JRPG, The Alliance Alive.
He has since gone on to reunite with Junko Kawano and other contributors to the Suikoden franchise for a new project which echoes its legacy: Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes. The game was announced on July 27, 2020, and launched a successful Kickstarter campaign, making its base funding requirements in just over 3 hours. It has since exceeded all of its original stretch goals and is due for release in October 2022.
|Suikoden||Producer, writer, director||1995||PlayStation|
|Suikoden II||Producer, writer, director||1998||PlayStation|
|Genso Suikogaiden Vol.1||Writer||2000||PlayStation|
|Genso Suikogaiden Vol.2||Writer||2001||PlayStation|
|Genso Suikoden Card Stories||System programmer||2001||Game Boy Advance|
|Suikoden III||Producer, writer, director||2002||PlayStation 2|
|10,000 Bullets||Producer, writer, director||2005||PlayStation 2|
|Tensho Gakuen Gekkoroku||Writer||2006||PlayStation 2|
|The Alliance Alive||Scenario||2017||Nintendo 3DS|
|Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes||Producer, writer, director||2022||Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, PlayStation 5|
- @BmsMurayama on Twitter