Andrew Szymanski, circa 2014
Video Game Producer, Director, Translator and Writer
Andrew Szymanski is a video game producer, director and translator working in Japan. A former member of Tecmo's Team Ninja and Capcom, Szymanski served as the lead senior producer in the 2014 Strider, a project he spearheaded since the beginning as a personal fan of the franchise/character.
Szymanski joined Tecmo in 2003 (when he was 22 years old), and he applied to the company because he was a fan of the original 1988 Ninja Gaiden titles. Upon joining he was initially assigned to translate lines and messages in Ninja Gaiden to English, as there was no other English-speaking staff on the team, and he started learning how to develop games from this. He was also told all the basics about game making from team leader Tomonobu Itagaki, and he still considers him his "master" when it comes to game development. He'd finally debut as a game designer with Ninja Gaiden Black.
He later assisted the gameplay design for Ninja Gaiden II and Ninja Gaiden Sigma, as well as assisting in the development of Dead or Alive Extreme 2 and Dead or Alive 4. He also worked on translation work and script-writing for Ninja Gaiden II, Sigma and Dead or Alive Extreme 2 together with localization company AltJapan.
He worked at Tecmo for roughly 5 years, leaving the company in September 2007. Afterwards Szymanski continued working for Microsoft as external producer for about a year and a half until the Lehman Brothers' bankrupcy put an end to that. After that he considered returning to the United States, but then he got in contact with Keiji Inafune and eventually joined Capcom instead. He joined them around 2009.
He took over as lead producer for Lost Planet 3 in 2010, seeing its development until release. The decision to take the series into a more focused, story-driven narrative was taken between Szymanski and series creative director Kenji Oguro, who considered the previous entry a great party shooter, but that it lacked grounding in the characters and world and the player never got to know or emphathize with the "faceless" characters. This personal preference led to the strong narrative in the campaign and a strong main character the player could feel for. Szymanski was also the one who chose Spark Unlimited as the developer. Although initially skeptical about them due to their less-than-stellar record, Szymanski was convinced after visiting their offices and seeing their drive, creativity and desire to learn from the past and move forward.
Szymanski started working on Strider while in the middle of developing Lost Planet 3, as one of many pet projects he wanted to get off the ground. He noted his desire to bring one of Capcom's old works into the next-generation and to "bring back some of the Capcom feel in terms of doing side-scrollers", mentioning many digital side-scrollers which combine modern graphical techniques with old-school gameplay styles, and envisioned the Strider concept as "marrying the fast-paced old-school gameplay, the jumping, the acrobatics, the Cypher, with a more of a non-linear map design". Inspired by Shadow Complex, Szymanski wanted to maintain the "golden ratio" between combat, speed and exploration, as no other game in the genre moves as fast as Hiryu. Other reasons he listed for having chosen Strider included his like of the character and that he felt it'd be a pity to not have a new game for Strider 2's 15th anniversary.
As before, Szymanski was also the one who selected Double Helix Games for the job, citing their passion for the IP as well as their expertise and engine tech to bring the concepts from Capcom's Osaka studio into a multi-platform 2.5D polygon world. He was also impressed by the pitch they provided when asked if they wanted to work on Strider, displaying a great level of research and passion for the project.
Szymanski would spent the latter half of development promoting the game in Japan, attending conventions and special events, conducting interviews and starring in a series of video blogs titled Andrew-P's Road to Special-A Class Strider! (アンドリューPの特A級ストライダーへの道！). In several of these instances he can be seen wearing a red scarf like Hiryu.
He left Capcom a few months after the release of Strider in July 2014 and went to DeNA. During his time there Szymanski created the initial concept brief and carried out management of World of Demons, a hack-n-slash samurai-themed game created in cooperation with PlatinumGames. Planned for release in the summer of 2018, the game was seemingly and silently cancelled after a brief soft launch exclusively in the Philippines, Singapore and Malaysia.
|2003||Monster Rancher 4
|Tecmo||Tecmo||PlayStation 2||International Sales|
|2003||Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly
|Tecmo||Tecmo||PlayStation 2, Xbox||English Dialogue and QA|
|2005||Ninja Gaiden Black||Tecmo||Tecmo||Xbox||Game Design|
|2005||Dead or Alive 4
|2006||Dead or Alive Xtreme 2
|Tecmo||Tecmo||Xbox 360||Game Design|
|2007||Ninja Gaiden Sigma||Tecmo||Tecmo||PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita||Associate Producer|
|2008||Ninja Gaiden II||Tecmo||Microsoft||Xbox 360||Localization Director|
|2008||Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword||Tecmo||Tecmo||Nintendo DS||Localization Producer|
|2013||Lost Planet 3
|Spark Unlimited||Capcom||PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC||Producer|
|Double Helix Games
|Capcom||PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC||Senior Producer|
|2018†||World of Demons||PlatinumGames||DeNA||iOS, Android||Manager|
- Totsuka, Kiichi (February 28, 2020). "A powerful helper for Indie game developers! What is the ideal indie scene as seen by The Irregular Corporation, whose first title "Puzzle Detective Scout" is soon to be released?" (Japanese). famitsu.com. Accessed March 01, 2020.
- LinkedIn profile: Andrew Szymanski. LinkedIn.com. Accessed November 22, 2019
- Spencer (July 26, 2013). "Strider Starts Out With All Of His Core Abilities And Has Touches For MvC Fans". siliconera.com. Accessed November 22, 2019
- Ashcraft, Brian (July 13, 2008). "The Meaning of Ninjy" (English). kotaku.com. Accessed November 22, 2019
- Various (February 22, 2014). Strider Hiryû Sound Chronicle. [CD]. Capcom, CAPE-1402SH-1/2/3. Liner Notes, pg. 6-7.
- Haley, Sebastian (April 25, 2013). Lost Planet 3 is repositioning the franchise for mainstream success (interview). Venturebeat.com. Accessed November 22, 2019
- Spencer (July 30, 2013). "Why Double Helix Was Picked For Strider And About The PS4/Xbox One Versions". siliconera.com. Accessed November 22, 2019
- Staff (February 21, 2014). (Official Blog) Andrew-P's Road to Special-A Class Strider! (Japanese). Strider official site. Accessed November 22, 2019
- Pelliccio, Meg (June 8, 2019). "Where in the World is World of Demons?". oldgameplus.co.uk. Accessed November 25, 2019