Sega’s New Hope: Interview with Rising Star Programmer Naoya Kugita on ‘PSO2 New Genesis ver.2’

Game*Spark and 4Gamer will hold a job hunting event at the Akihabara UDX Event Hall in Tokyo on June 30, 2024.“Career Quest: From Adventurer to Professional”It will be held.

This event was a job hunting event for university and vocational school students who are graduating in 2014 and 2015, aiming to work in the game industry. In conjunction with this, we conducted an “interview for students aiming to work in the game industry” with current employees who are actually working in the field.

Advertisement

This timeSega CoI joined the company as a new graduate.programmerI am now in my fourth year of work asNaoya KugitaWe asked them about why they chose the game industry, their mindset going into the job hunt, and stories about the actual work environment.

This article is a serialized article jointly produced by Game*Spark and 4Gamer.

“Career Quest: From Adventurer to Professional” Official Website

“SEGA as a challenging global company” based on his experiences living in America and on Yakushima

4Gamer:Thank you for joining us today. First, please introduce yourself and tell us about your career history, such as the year you joined the company and your department.

Advertisement

Naoya Kugita (hereinafter, Kugita):My name is Naoya Kugita and I work in the System Development Section of the 3rd Business Division, 3rd Online Research and Development Program Division 1 of SEGA. I joined SEGA in 2021 and this is my fourth year.

4Gamer: What kind of work are you currently in charge of? Please tell us about the game titles you are involved in.

Kugita-san: I'm currently in charge of graphics programming in the system team for the online RPG “PSO2 New Genesis ver.2” (hereinafter referred to as “NGS ver.2”). I've been in charge of “NGS ver.2” ever since I joined the company, and I've been working in the same team without any changes.

4Gamer:Did you join SEGA because you like past SEGA titles, the “Phantasy Star” series, or the “PSO2” series?

Kugita:To be honest, I didn't play many games before joining the company. The reason I wanted to work for Sega was because I often saw their logo and products when I was a child living in the United States. I had the impression that it was a globally active company, so I started to aspire to join the company after entering university.

4Gamer:So you weren't particularly conscious of the fact that it was a game company. I had the impression that people who wanted to join Sega were fans of Sega games, or rather, had a deep love for Sega itself, so this is surprising (laughs). What was your impression of Sega as a child?

Kugita:I lived in Los Angeles, California for about five years, and Sonic-related game titles were popular among my friends there, so I could really feel how well-known Sega was internationally even back then.

4Gamer:Did you like the Sonic series?

Kugita:I knew about it, but I didn't play it… I think I played casual games that I could enjoy with other people. I think I played a lot of Nintendo titles.

4Gamer:Is that so? (laughs) Did you play the so-called Sega hardware such as the Sega Saturn or Dreamcast?

Kugita:I only learned about it after I came back to Japan, but I only just heard the name. When I was in America, I remember the Mega Drive being popular.

4Gamer:Do you have any other memories related to games you experienced in America?

Kugita:When I first moved, I didn't understand English and it was difficult to communicate with others. However, I was able to make friends through playing games. Games are often something you can enjoy together even if you don't speak the same language.

4Gamer:Please tell us about your impressions before joining Sega and immediately after joining the company.

Kugita:Before I joined the company, I had heard that SEGA was an environment where you could take on new challenges. Those words were not false, and even now that I'm here, I'm still able to take on new challenges.

4Gamer:Did your desire to take on a challenge stem from your time as a student?

Kugita:I first became interested in computer graphics when I was in junior high school. The scenery of Yakushima that I visited at that time left a deep impression on me, and I had the desire to create expressions that would catch people's attention. In graduate school, I studied computer graphics, and my desire to create games that would catch people's attention began to grow.

4Gamer:If you want to express yourself in a way that catches people's attention, there are other ways to do it besides games, such as drawing pictures or taking photos. Why did you choose games?

Kugita:The scenery of Yakushima was something you could see after climbing a mountain. After the process of climbing a mountain, your field of vision suddenly opens up, and you can see things you couldn't see before all at once. I think that experience is similar to a game.

Also, the game presentation videos shown at the “Electronic Entertainment Expo” (hereinafter “E3”) and other events were one of the reasons I started aiming to work in games and computer graphics. It was a foreign title, but the beauty of the graphics and the wonderful presentation made me very emotional just by watching it.

4Gamer:He said that he had experienced a similar sensation from watching the game as he had on Yakushima.

Kugita:That's right. However, for a while after I joined the company, I was in charge of action programming, partly to learn how to make games. This work was interesting, but I really wanted to be in charge of graphics. I kept saying that I wanted to be involved in graphics, and then around my third year I started to be involved in related work (laughs).

4Gamer:Apart from direct development work, is there anything you'd like to try or challenge yourself with?

Kugita:Recently, I have been participating in a subcommittee that deals with CG called the “Special Interest Group on Computer Graphics,” commonly known as “SIGGRAPH.” Also, during the development of “NGS ver.2,” I contributed to the “SEGA TECH Blog” about the graphics I was in charge of for the housing content “Creative Space.”

About the snowy field trace expression in “PSO2 New Genesis” – SEGA TECH Blog

I've always wanted to express myself, and when I told my company about it, they gave me the opportunity to participate in these events.

4Gamer:Even if it takes a little time, you are basically achieving what you want.

Kugita:If you communicate with passion and determination, I believe that you will be able to get into the department of your choice someday, and I believe that it is a place where your dreams can come true someday.

New perspectives on game development by developers who are not Sega fanatics and the corporate culture of Sega that supports this

4Gamer:After joining Sega, did you receive any kind of basic training?

Kugita:There was a training session for about a month for all new employees in the group. After receiving training as a working adult, they were assigned to each department and received new employee training. During the new employee training, we experienced team development of a mini-game using the game engine “Unity”.

4Gamer:What kind of games did you create?

Kugita:Nine of us made a billiards-style mini-game where you pull the ball and shoot it. We reproduced the behavior of the ball and implemented skills like special moves and special abilities that are unique to the game. It also supports online battles. This is because we were given such a task, as we are a department that requires online research and development.

4Gamer:It's amazing that you were able to complete a game so soon after joining the company.

Kugita:There were times when we were on a tight schedule, but thanks to my team members, we were able to make it in time. This training lasted for three months, and we were supposed to make one piece of work per month.

4Gamer:Are you able to use your training experience in your current job?

Kugita:I'm glad I was able to learn what is necessary when working in a team. In graphic-related development, I often communicate with designers, but sometimes when I try to communicate something from a programmer's perspective, it doesn't get through to them. Even during the training, it was important to speak in a way that the other person could understand, so even now I remember the training and try to explain things by choosing my words carefully and incorporating visual information.

4Gamer:Do you still work with the people you were in training with?

Kugita:We are on different teams, so we don't work together. However, I think the training session helped us to deepen our bond. We went out for drinks yesterday (laughs).

4Gamer:You said that you didn't play many games when you were a student, but did you start playing more after joining the company?

Kugita:I have grown very attached to the title I'm in charge of, “NGS ver.2,” and I'm enjoying it as a player too.

4Gamer:Do you have a favorite class (job) in “NGS ver.2”?

Kugita:The first game I was in charge of was “Slayer,” which was the implementation part of the program. When I was in charge of the action, I also created techniques for “Techter” and “Force.” After joining the graphics team, I was in charge of expressing snow traces in the creative space, so I have a special attachment to that.

4Gamer:Q: Are you playing any games other than “NGS ver.2”?

Kugita:I recently played “Persona 3 Reload” by Atlus, a group company. As for games by other companies, I play a lot of the “Horizon” series. Recently, I've been playing “Street Fighter 6”. There is a game booth in the office, so I play against my colleagues every day during my lunch break.

4Gamer:It seems like you've been spending more time playing games since you started working.

Kugita:That's right (laughs). As I said earlier, I've always played party games with friends, but it was only after I joined the company that I started playing games that you can immerse yourself in alone.

4Gamer:What did you find difficult about joining Sega and actually starting to create games?

Kugita:“NGS ver.2” has been in operation for a very long time, and the amount of programming code is huge. At first, I was in a state where I didn't know where or what to start with, and I was in a lot of trouble.

However, my seniors told me, “You'll understand if you just do the things in front of you one by one.” If there was something I didn't understand, they would immediately teach me, so I got used to the job pretty quickly. Even now, I try to ask them anything I don't understand.

4Gamer:Have you ever found it difficult to ask for advice on something you didn't understand?

Kugita:Sega has a coaching system, and for the first year after I joined the company, my coach would ask me, “Is there anything I can help you with?” Because of that, it wasn't difficult to ask, and it was very easy to consult with him.

4Gamer:It's reassuring for newcomers to know that there is someone they can talk to at any time.

His experience at Sega and his future as a game developer

4Gamer:What is your impression of your current work environment?

Kugita:I think it's an easy environment to work in, and the people around me are very kind and easy to talk to. I also like the fact that I can try all kinds of different things. Perhaps because it's a game company and an entertainment company, many people decorate their desks with figurines and other things, and it has a lively atmosphere. I can play games during my lunch break, and there are many common topics to talk about within the company, so I can have lively conversations with a variety of people.

4Gamer:The company cafeteria is also excellent.

Kugita:That's a good thing. Recently the menu has been changing and there are special dishes prepared every week. I look forward to that too (laughs).

4Gamer:How does it compare to other workplaces you have had in the past, such as part-time jobs?

Kugita:When I was a student, I worked part-time at a convenience store and as a bouldering gym instructor because it was a hobby of mine. Since the jobs are different, it's hard to compare them simply, but I think SEGA is a great place to work.

4Gamer:Developer jobs seem to be busy jobs, but do you have time for hobbies?

Kugita:I still do bouldering as a hobby. I'm currently obsessed with “Street Fighter 6,” which has some similarities to bouldering, so I'm even more into it. I think the way you overcome things you can't do is similar.

4Gamer:Games have become a hobby for you. How do you feel about doing what you love as a job?

Kugita:I feel very lucky. I can directly connect what I want to create and express to my work, and I can see the reaction directly when I put it out there, so that's what makes me really happy.

Kugita:First of all, I want to improve my skills as a graphics programmer. I also want to create new forms of expression. I also want to continue to communicate both inside and outside the company. In addition to contributing to the “SEGA TECH Blog” and other sites, I would like to give a talk at the “CEDEC (Computer Entertainment Developers Conference)” and, as a personal life goal, I would like to be able to speak English and give a presentation on an overseas stage.

4Gamer:So you want to gain experience as a member of Sega?

Kugita:I think programming is the most fun, so I would like to work towards my goal as an engineer at Sega.

4Gamer:Finally, what advice would you give to students aspiring to work in the games industry?

Kugita:I want you to challenge yourself without compromising on the things you are interested in. I think there are bonds that can only be cultivated when you are a student, and there may be things that can be utilized in production, so I think it is better to value not only studying, but also various play and experiences. And with the feelings you gained there in your heart, please challenge yourself to jump out into society.

4Gamer:Thank you for today.

“Career Quest: From Adventurer to Professional” Official Website

Advertisement