Keiichi Matsunami has worked for Sega for over 20 years and is credited on several Hatsune Miku titles. He's been talking on social media about his first assignment for the company, 18 Wheeler: American Pro Trucker, and has revealed some interesting facts about its development.
He credits "his mentor" Kazuhiro Goji, who did the concept design and overall direction for the game, while Matsunami was in charge of software direction. He also explains that he actually drove the legendary Route 66 in North America as research for the game. "We drove from New York to Key West for about 5 days straight, shooting the background with a video camera," he says. This calls to mind a similar trip made by Yu Suzuki during the development of Out Run in the '80s.
Matsunami also talks about the voice samples used by rival truckers:
I used to make the enemy voice say "Stupid Jerk!" and numerous other invectives, but it was pointed out that it was too vulgar, so I went with a milder version. I think it was a crazy driving game, blowing up police cars and destroying buildings.
Perhaps the most amusing aspect of Matsunami's recollections relates to the fact that, prior to working on the game, he didn't have a driver's license. "I was not comfortable producing a driving game without a driver's license, so I went to get a driver's license to produce 18W," he says. "The trailer programmer went to get a towing license for 18W."
18 Wheeler launched on Sega's Naomi arcade system in 2000 before being ported to the Sega Dreamcast, PlayStation 2 and GameCube. A sequel, The King of Route 66, followed in 2002, which Matsunami also directed.