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TOYBOX meets… Act1HEADLINE

                                                               

GUEST                  

        Game Director/Writer from ACCESS GAMES

     ☆Hidetaka“Swery”Suehiro☆


The first in the series of "Toybox Meets" is with the popular Swery-san, the director of Deadly Premonition.

Japanese Page

Wada     Swery-san, we thought you would be the ideal guest for the first in the series of ToyboxMeets series.

Swery    Thanks. So the readers know, we've known each other since the development of the original Deadly Premonition game, but never had too many opportunities to talk properly, so today should be quite interesting!

Wada     We first met less than 10 years ago, I think it was around 2004

Swery    Yeah, it was May 2004. Some of my staff showed a design concept of mine to you.

Wada     Ah yes, that's right. It was a concept about solving murder cases using profiling techniques.

Swery    That’s right. It was called "Murder in the Rain".

Wada     I thought the profiling concept sounded interesting so I showed the concept to Kanazawa-san (now of Toybox). Kanazawa-san had spent some time planning a mystery adventure game where the people of a town moved around in real time and what is now referred to as real world mystery adventure games. It seemed like a good match so I told him what do you think about this game? (referring to your concept) I remember he then took a look at your previous game Spy Fiction and was really impressed with the quality, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Swery    I wanted to have an occult story set in a country town, which as it turns out was always what Kanazawa-san had in mind so we swapped ideas to develop the concept further.

Wada     I'm probably a bit selfish! (laughs) so when I get involved in the development of a game I tend to say what I think, so this time I decided to leave it up to you and Kanazawa-san. I took a step back and was quietly anxious to see what the result would be.

Swery    There was a lot of hurdles that we had to overcome throughout the development and I honestly think that without you and Kanazawa-san’s support the game never would be come out.

Wada     Thanks, but yeah, there’s was a lot that went on that we can’t say on here! Re-doing parts of the game etc.

Swery    At first we were considering a female FBI agent as the main role, but after receiving some input from overseas we changed it to the male character that’s in the game now.  We listened to a lot of advice from overseas and since I play a lot of non-Japanese games I wasn’t so opposed to much of the  comments. However, what I am picky about is the story and the gameplay so when we heard that we should add some gun shooting aspects to the game (probably marketing advice), I wasn’t so sure. With hindsight, I guess the game was seen as a kind of twist on the survival horror theme so perhaps they  weren’t completely wrong to suggest it.

 Wada     I’m happy to hear that.

 Swery    If I think about it now, the biggest surprise was being asked to take out the more grotesque scenes. I never want to hold back to get the absolute most out of my games so this was a bit of a shock.

Wada     Japan is quite lenient when it comes to nudity but is tough on grotesque images. (laughs)

 Editor's Note: Talk edited for content.

Swery    But in the end I thought that even if you change a few things the essence of the game won’t change. What was more important was to release the game and have people experience it.

Wada     I heard you got quite a lot of response from outside of Japan.

Swery   I wanted to make something new. I hate the idea of making another version of something that already exists. I would have been more against someone telling me to copy another game. So when Kanazawa-san started talking about taking elements of a horror and mixing it with fear from a mystery I was quite intrigued. I gave it a lot of thought and the system that I came up with was agreed, so in the end I didn’t have any objections. I also think that it really helped that you and Kanazawa-san understood the creative process so you were able to communicate clearly what you had in mind.

Wada    I’m like that too, always striving to create new things, there’s no point otherwise. With Deadly Premonition, the original point is the player character York and the voice inside his head Zach, who is actually the player.

Swery    The idea of Zack came about late one evening, drinking coffee at a family restaurant with the co-scenario writer Goda-san. Unlike movie scripts in games you need a hint feature to drive the player, so we discussed how to best achieve this and it ended up taking a lot of time. I scribbled down various things down on the back of the menu such as Talk to me, Talk to Characters etc, and then it occurred to me that this might be the solution. Everything grew from there and the idea of Zack was born,thanks to the power of the night! (laughs)

Wada     (laughs)

Swery    I learned a lot about how to properly develop characters and it actually changed the way I thoughta little, starting to re-asses ideas once I’d thought of them. For example, even if there was a request to fix something I’d think if there was a way to overcome this and think of a new idea. With the grotesque scenes for example we learnt what was the limit and how to create the right balance.

Wada     Balance!? But the idea for the new game you showed me the other day was crazy. The character I mean…

 Editors Note: Talk edited for content!

Swery    Good idea eh!? (laughs)

 Wada     Yeah, it was a really good idea! (laughs) It’s surely going to sell loads. There’s nothing else like it! (laughs)

Swery    You mentioned there’s no point unless you create something different, but actually I think the fact that you’ve kept this philosophy throughout your career is pretty amazing.

Wada     Thanks. If I think about it, I’m not sure I would describe it as having a complex, but more of a strong desire to make the best games possible. And even though I’ve long had such hunger to create compelling games, I don’t feel anywhere near satisfied yet.

Swery    Even though your Harvest Moon games have been hugely popular all over the world?

Wada    Yeah, but I always have some small regret, wishing that I had done something different. I guess I’m never completely satisfied with my projects. I don’t think I’ve made something that I’ve been completely satisfied with.

Swery    I know what you mean. There are always places where you have to compromise or you can’t finish as you wanted.

Wada     During the Famicom (NES) days we always faced hardware limitations and had to compromise, so it’s not really anything out of the ordinary for me. With today’s hardware virtually anything is possible. It’s now more of a battle financially, to make sure the game makes a profit. Making games as a business is what it is, but making choices during the development is still about the creator’s sense. I think that independent studios that are making apps these days are faced with making similar tough choices.

Swery    There are many creative guys that going independent to make the games they want to make, but more often than not it turns out to be a short lived exercise. I guess that proves that there is still a lot of creativity.

 

Something that Swery is currently into.

Swery    I know you asked me to bring something that had currently caught my attention so I gave it some and then a few days ago I realised it was Nicolas Cage. (laughs)

 Wada     Nicholas Cage!?

Swery    OK, admittedly this probably doesn’t really fit into the definition of what I am into, but bear with me… If I was asked who is my favourite actor I probably wouldn’t say Nicolas Cage, but if I was asked to name some of the movies that have left a lasting impression then I would say Night Cries and World at Heart etc. When I thought about this I realised that they both star Nicolas Cage! Then I realised that I’d seen virtually all of his films. So, for today’s theme I picked “the unnoticed Nicolas Cage”.

Wada     My impression is that Nicolas Cage is kind of a B class actor.

Swery    He won the Academy Award for Best Actor but it doesn’t seem to of changed him.

Wada     Aha, for Leaving Las Vegas, right?

Swery    Then his next movie after getting that Oscar was Con Air! (laughs)

Wada     Hahaha

Swery    …and then The Rock! Seems like he likes playing the hero! Did you know he took his stage name Cage from the superhero Powerman? On his first movie he used his real name Nicolas Coppola.

Wada     Right’s right…! The Coppola family.

Swery    Then I realised that I’m actually focusing a lot of attention on Nicolas Cage. His use of wigs is amazing.

Wada     Hahaha

Swery    His wigs in Con Air, The Sorcerer's Apprentice, Next etc, are pretty amazing and became parts of the films.

Wada     His choices of wigs is great. Perhaps he doesn’t notice his own hair! (laughs)

Swery    His best movie of late has been Kick Ass. Everyone was focusing on Chloë Grace Moretz, but this was a Nicolas Cage film!

Wada     Right!

Swery    This is going a bit off topic, but perhaps I like actors that wear wigs! Bruce Willis is another, in films like Day of the Jackal and Surrogate I realised that I was paying a lot of attention to Bruce’s wig with a side parting.

Wada     You’re obsessed! (laughs)

Swery    More recently, Jason Statham wore a wig in Revolver.

Wada     Hahaha

Swery    I learnt a lot about wigs from the Con Air! (laughs)

Wada     Seems like you like movies in general (not just films that have actors with wigs!) so you watch a lot. So what I mean is that you didn’t just watch Nicolas Cage films by chance, but you’ve probably seen every movie!

Swery    Hahaha… and as a result actually York in Deadly Premonition also talks about movies quite a lot!

 

Something that Wada is currently into.

Wada    I have long read books or played games, and recently I’m really into a book called Millennium.

Swery    Aha, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo? I’ve not read the book but I’ve seen the film.

Wada     I really enjoyed the film so I bought the book and well, the translation is amazing! It’s kind of like Haruki Murakami style, and well adapted to Japanese… but more than that, it’s just really interesting to read. Plus I love the character Lisbeth Salander!

Swery    I know what you mean!

Wada     Character and place names aren’t normally that memorable but Hans Erik Wennerstrom etc were really well thought out and so easy to remember.

Swery    Yeah, that is good. One thing that I noticed when writing my own material is that if too many characters appear you can’t remember all of the names, right? So I consciously think up another way to think of them. For example “the strange FBI agent” or “the middle aged women with a cooking pot “. I try to assign each person a role so even if you can’t remember their names you know who they are.

Wada     If the style of writing is very natural and there are not many points of contention you find it generally easier to remember names. It’s the way to make a name stick in your mind.

Swery    Probably because the original English story was well written and was then translated very well into Japanese by someone who really liked the story.

Wada     I’ve read a lot of other novels and often there is a part that doesn’t quite work somewhere.

Swery    The movie adaptation of No Country was really close to the book. I read the book before seeing the film and thought the director did a great job of getting across all the content from the book into a two hour film.

Wada     Aha, Dragoon Tattoo is probably the same.

Swery    I didn’t think you’d be into the Millennium series. When did you read it?

Wada     I read before I go to sleep at night, otherwise I can’t go to sleep. Problem is I often drop-off while I’m reading and then can’t remember where I read to the next day.

Wada     One other thing I’m into at the moment is Pocket Soccer League: Calciobit for Nintendo 3DS.

Swery    A football game eh. I’ve not played it yet.

Wada     It’s a football simulation game where you make your own football team and watch them play out matches.

Swery    Kind of like Derby Stallion?

Wada     The creating part is the same, but in Pocket League you have to think about the business side and manage the players, salaries etc. That said, it’s just really fun to play and the matches are really, really funny to watch.

Swery    Sounds interesting.

Wada     The graphical style is kind of reminiscent of the old Super Famicom (Super NES) days, but it really feels like football. Pulling off through passes, the way the ball rebounds off the posts or the way the footballers move etc, it feels like football. It’s really well done. Plus the AI is great. The character graphics are just symbols but it doesn’t detract from how much fun the game is.

Swery    Brings back memories of the old days. I remember that the words for “secretary” were written in hiragana instead of kanji! hahaha.

Wada     Right…but, this is a bit different. The graphics in Pocket League enhance the game play. By the same token, Deadly Premonition was also said to have dated graphics, but the people who actually played the game said that essence of the game play was in the game system.

Wada     Well, time’s almost up. It’s been great getting back together again to work on Deadly Premonitions Directors Cut, and I hope we can cooperate again on a new product.

Swery    Yeah, definitely, and besides we have Kanazawa-san’s new concept for a mystery horror game.

Wada     And the other cool design that we talked about too! It might be too scary for the people reading this, so let’s talk about it another time! (laughs)

Swery    You got it! I love you all!














PROFILE:

 ☆Hidetaka“Swery”Suehiro☆

  Game Director/Writer from ACCESS
 GAMES
  The Works:"Deadly Premonition(XBox360)"
 "LORD OFARCANA(PSP)" etc