After taking the past two years off from game development following a messy breakup with his old employer, Tecmo, Tomonobu Itagaki is back in the game (biz) as chief creative officer of Valhalla Game Studios. But what was Itagaki up to in those two years? Speaking with Famitsu (translated by 1UP), the Dead or Alive creator explained, "I spent the days doing anything I felt like, researching whatever kind of technology struck me, playing whatever games piqued my interest ... for example, I wound up playing Dragon Quest IX for about 400 hours." That's alotta slime!

In fairness, the developer wasn't exclusively sinking hundreds of hours of his free time into a single DS game -- he also spent quite a bit of time traveling to game studios around the world and doing R&D work for Valhalla's next (read: first) project, claimed to be "way outside the scope of our company" by Itagaki. According to him, that next game "will earn Valhalla Game Studios its place in history," and he intends it to sell at least four million copies. But for now, he's got a model train set to build with some of his friends.

"I'm planning to rent out some space and build a seriously big train layout, 7 or so meters (23 feet) in length. There are some professionals in that field among my friends, so I'm thinking about building something really decent together with them and having people come over and play with the results. It'd be a business, though I'd make it free for children -- kids are pretty rough with model trains, but I'll just have to deal with that." Kids these days.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.