Kenji Eno Broke New Ground for Video Games

A new generation of game developers was born thanks to the technology of the 1990s. This included innovations in 3D graphics, affordable storage, and CD-ROMs. Kenji Eno was one of them.
Enos games were known for their unique creativity, but they didn't achieve commercial success. However, Eno's passion for work and his indie-first mentality were what kept him going.

John Andersen, a writer, videogame historian, believes Eno's work is a lesson in how to overcome hardship. Eno's view was that society norms are not what should be limiting you. Get your creativity out from the shadows and into this world.

It is fascinating to me that people can be "ahead" of their time. Eno has proven to be a great gamer over his 20-year career. Nowadays, it is common to find walking simulators like Firewatch and What Remains of Edith Finch that position the narrative firstcinematic-driven experiences that zero in on oddity rather than rogue-like difficulty. This game design style was pioneered by Eno. His most well-known game, D is still a distant memory in videogame history. His work and the game might have been more widely accepted if he were still producing D today.

Humble Beginnings

Eno created Warp on March 1, 1994. This game studio would produce some of his most recognizable work. With a small staff and limited resources, the studio was a startup. This would have an impact on which platforms it developed for. Tripp Hawkins was the founder of Electronic Arts. The original PlayStation was launched in 2001. It quickly became the market leader. The 3DO Interactive Multiplayer 32-bit gaming console was a landmark with its cutting-edge use of CD technology as well as 3D polygon graphics. Eno was drawn to the low cost of developing for the console. Eno aimed to create a filmic experience using the 3DO's technical capabilities. This would be 1995's D.

Warp published Resident Evils in a year, at a time when survival horror was still months away. Laura Harris is a journalist who investigates a hospital where her father suffered a psychotic breakdown. This leads to a mass murder spree with a controversial side that includes cannibalism.

It plays somewhat like Myst. Each move is matched with dramatic cinematic sequences on the screen. D, a combination of a dark and ominous soundtrack by Eno, was a commercial success in Japan. It sold a million copies and became a 3DO system seller. It became a cult favorite in the USA, and pushed Eno's name into the top of the gaming world.

Rock Stars are Game Developers

Andersen said that Eno's desire for a better environment for Japanese game designers was what I most respected about him. He was familiar with the way American game developers worked in the 1990s and he wanted the same for Japanese game developers.

American game developers John Romero and John Carmack from id Software stepped out in the spotlight and spoke openly about their games with clear charisma. However, Japanese game companies were structured and culturally disconnected from their audience. Japanese developers rarely looked beyond their current projects. They treated every game as work and moved on without participating in marketing or publicity. Eno wanted Japanese developers be more like rockstars. Eno was an outspoken man, so he decided to go it alone.

His next game, Enemy Zero, took players into deep space. The AKI spacecraft, once a hub for biological research, is hit by a disaster. Eno chose Ds Laura, a recognizable likeness, to be the protagonist. However, instead of keeping the previous storyline, she was used as a digital actress. This was something Eno did with several of his characters across the games, possibly inspired by the way film auteurs favor a recurring cast.