Note: In some parts of this article, I express my own opinion which should not be mistaken as an official statement/ endorsement by Vitei Games.
Last Monday (June 19th, 2017), I had the chance to visit the Vitei Backroom located in Kyoto. The visit was organized by Pauline Machabert of Vitei Backroom after I had met her and the Vitei team at BitSummit. I’m incredibly thankful for the Vitei Backroom team for allowing me to visit their offices and interview them.
These interviews will be coming over the next few days. The interviews will provide valuable insight into the history and philosophy of Gilles Goddard, the founder of Vitei Games and an ex-Nintendo employee, as well as the history of the Vitei Backroom and its future.
Giles has not done that many interviews in the past. It’s not that he’s particularly shy — he just appears to be adverse to self-promotion, despite his numerous accomplishments within the video game industry. Giles has worked on such games as 1080 Snowboarding (N64), Super Mario 64 and Stunt Racer FX (SNES). He also worked on the original Star Fox, and ported Doshin the Giant to the GameCube. All of these were before he founded his own company, Vitei Games. Vitei Games has gone on to make several games with Nintendo, including Steel Diver and recently Tank Troopers. Within Vitei Games, Giles aims to create an atmosphere where talent can thrive. Highlighting that is his work with the Vitei Backroom.
The Vitei Backroom is a small sub-studio of Vitei Games. While the Frontroom acts as a de-facto 2nd party developer for Nintendo, the Backroom is much more experimental in nature. The Backroom began as way to quickly develop new prototypes, pushing games to their limits. Eventually, the team began developing VR games, and has released The Modern Zombie Taxi Co. for Playstation VR and Ghost Attackers VR for Gree. Giles and his team seem to believe that the Backroom is the future of the company — they may have a point as their VR experiences are incredibly immersive. With a relaxed company culture, the team seems ready to work together to create unique VR experiences. Recently, Paper Garden, a demo that was made for BitSummit, won the Media Highlight Aware from Famitsu Magazine.
My visit to the Vitei Backroom almost entirely comprised of conducting these two sets of interviews. The interviews last over 2 hours total, with 34 pages of text transcribed. Before ending this article, I’d like to briefly provide my personal opinion of the Vitei Backroom office itself (similar to when I toured Platinum Games).
The office was extremely accessible, and once inside everyone was incredibly friendly. I really got a sense of how relaxed the employees were. Everyone at the office was extremely approachable, which contrasted heavily in my mind with the stereotypical Japanese game studio. The interviews were conducted on the bottom floor, in the “lobby” / “game area” of the studio. The lobby is also equipped with a full bar, and a kitchen (which isn’t currently being used). Upstairs is where the staff was working, and the layout is incredibly open — most staff were sharing tables for their workstations or at least had no barrier between them. Reflecting on the layout and what was said in the interview, this layout probably helps foster cooperation among the team.
I’m extremely excited to present these in-depth interviews with you over the course of the next few days. Stay subscribed to Source Gaming to ensure you receive information straight from the source. You can also follow me or the site on Twitter to get tweets from all Source Gaming staff members. We also have a Facebook page which we have been working on revitalizing, so check us out there.
Mains: Yoshi (64), Game and Watch (Melee), Wario (Brawl), Wario/Pac-Man (Smash for 3DS/Wii U)