Tomonobu Itagaki, the game designer behind Dead or Alive and Ninja Gaiden, has left Tecmo in 2008 to start his own development studio, but the inspiration behind this move dates back to 2000 when he has fallen victim to one of the publisher's "dirty tricks."
Speaking at the 2012 D.I.C.E. Summit in Las Vegas, Itagaki told the whole story which started when he was developing Dead or Alive 2 for Tecmo in 2000. "There was one important problem; there was only two and a half months to develop a launch title," he explained.
"All of the staff, including me, fought for victory with all their energy. But unfortunately the result wasn't what we expected. One day, the sales general manager came to me and said 'can I borrow a copy of this so I can play it?' I said 'sure, go on' and I handed him the disc which was still under development. But the disc was never played by him, instead it was taken into a factory for production on that day without me knowing."
"To be sure the company made a huge profit and of course the IPO was a success too. But I thought I would quit making games because the incomplete game was released. There were some staff who were relieved, but some of the staff, including me, were so depressed. So after I stayed at home for three or four months and there was nothing for me to do so I just kept drinking. How much did I drink? From morning until night. But no matter how much I drank I never got drunk."
Itagaki recovered eventually with the help of his family and returned to work and released Dead or Alive 2: Hardcore soon afterwards. The famous game designer continued to work for Tecmo for 8 more years but he never forgot that incident until he left off and started his own development studio, Valhalla, in 2008.