How Resident Evil 2 helped Keiji Inafune become the indie dev he is today

Back in the mid-90s, now acclaimed Japanese developer Shinji Mikami was passionately toiling away on the first game in a soon-to-be hit franchise: Resident Evil. It was to be published by Capcom, but the company had reservations about the new intellectual property -- so much so that it nearly canned the project outright. Ex-Capcom global head of production Keiji Inafune recalled his side of the story during an impassioned GDC 2012 speech yesterday.

Inafune claims he watched from the outside as Capcom's support for Resident Evil faded, and while he worked on other titles within the same company. Mikami fought for the fledgling game, eventually getting it published for Sony's PlayStation. The rest, of course, is zombie-ridden history.

When Capcom began work on a sequel, Inafune says he got himself involved in a production role. "While Mikami focused on the game, as the producer, it was my mission to sell this title to as many people around the world," he said to a room full of attendees. But with the massive success of the first RE title, Inafune's role as salesman was relegated to a cake walk. "With my previous title Mega Man Legends, it was pretty challenging to even book a round of press appointments. No one was interested in hearing about a new Mega Man title," Inafune said. "However, the scenario was completely different with RE2. Once we announced the project, the requests poured in."

Like most folks, Inafune was happy to have his job made easier for him. But as a passionate creator, Inafune quickly realized he had just "jumped on the bandwagon" without truly earning his cushy position. "If you don't get your hands dirty, you'll never be able to understand the nitty gritty details," he said. "If it weren't for my previous experience and lessons that I learned through Mega Man Legends, I could've seemed to come off as pretentious having just joined the Resident Evil 2 team. This is why I say that thanks to RE2, this is who I am today."

So, who is Keiji Inafune today? He's the guy who, after 23 years with Capcom, suddenly struck out on his own and formed two new companies: Comcept and Intercept. "A year ago, I chose the hard road. I could've stayed at Capcom and taken the easy route. And I'm sure it would've been fairly easy, at least temporarily," Inafune said. "If I told myself that work is work and my situation was good enough, I could've easily continued on this path. But I realized that's not what I wanted. I said goodbye to 900 of my staff, left the building at Capcom, and formed a new company with a very small group of people (just 20). I knew it was the right thing to do. I'm confident."

This article was originally published on Joystiq.