Destructoid Q&A

While SWERY was in town for GDC he visited the Destructoid offices for a live question and answer session with the fans. You can watch the entire video of the session is to the right but I’ve transcribed all the questions and answers below to the best of my knowledge, it was sometimes hard to hear!

Please note I have made some small grammatical edits and have added words to make some of the questions/answers flow better. All of my changes are within brackets ([])

– They want to know about the woman in the tree in the beginning. Like an explanation of that? What does the woman in the tree signify what does it mean?

A: Something about red tree?

(My Notes) They didn’t have a microphone for this question and the game dialogue drowned out what the translator had said…But really if you played the game the whole Anna in the tree is explained, no need for SWERY’s answer :)

– Where did this game [idea] come from? Was it from the top of your head? Was it inspir[ed] from Japanese horror movies? Was it something [trails off and pauses] Was it a story that had to be told?

A: The story came from…it was in my head. Something about a country side town, a murder that occurred there a who done it type of mystery was in my mind at the time when I started writing this. Then I showed it to more people [and] I had more people’s input [and] other people’s ideas… that spawned more inspiration and kind of took a small thing and turned it into a really big thing. I also went to to visit other small towns in the US and that also brought forth a lot more-many more ideas that expanded on the original idea.

-They really want to know if you’ve ever eaten a Sinner’s Sandwich?

A: Of course! (laughs)

-They want to know was the game well received in Japan as it was in America?

A: Not much response.

Game Ending Spoiler Question »

-The twins in the Red Room are they the representation of Zach/York personalities or [of] another force?

A: Yes, that is exactly the case. There’s always two sides of a coin and similarly in our game. We have a red tree and a forest, we have beautiful things and non beautiful things. There’s York and then there’s Zach [and] that’s similar to the twins. That is what we tried to achieve.

– What does the White Room symbolize?

A: The White Room is exactly in the center of the “Red World” and “Forest World.” There’s no color applied to it, it’s right in the middle.

-What was the inspiration for the surrealism? Somebody [in chat] mentioned Alice in Wonderland…

A: I really like the surreal elements in a lot of things, not just Alice in Wonderland but I do like Alice in Wonderland too. [I] talk about a lot [about] the surreal elements in different kinds of…forms of entertainment with my co-writer. I really like stuff like Mother Goose and Alice in Wonderland. In once of my past games, called Spy Fiction, the chapter names in the game were titles of such forms of entertainment.

– Where did some of the dialogue for the game come from? Was that just a poor transcript? Or was that intentional? To have some of the dialogue like that?

(My notes) People in the chat room went off about his “poor transcript” comment! It was obvious the fans watching didn’t think the dialogue was bad! I was a little thrown myself at the question. Sure there were odd topics of conversation in the game but nothing spoken was ever bad or felt off to me.

(Translator, asking clarification) What kind of dialogue?

-The cut scenes where they’re talking and saying funny stuff…[like the] really cool catch phrases.

A: About the dialogue… I always talk about unnecessary [and] really random things with my co-writer, his name is Goda-san, [Kenji Goda] and he’s credited as a sub scenario writer in the game, but we always talk about these totally random things and we decided to write some of it down to see what it would look like. Once we did that we love it so we showed it to some of our other staff and they loved it too, so we decided to put it in the game.

-They want to know how much you and York have in common.

A: Well I’m not as tough or as physical as York but I am just as geeky, I think I’m just as kind and I get just as easily emotionally hurt the same way as York. And I love movies and love good food!

-Talking about movies, do you love 80’s movies and music?

A: Yes!

-Speaking of the music where did that song come from? The whistling [song]?

A: I asked my composer, I told him to write some oldies. I told him to listen to some of the stuff and asked him to create something similar to the oldie stuff [I had] handed to him. [The composer] created something not so good. Since it wasn’t so good he thought it might be fun to iterate on the “not so good stuff” and that’s the song we ended up with. The first whistling iteration, the guy couldn’t even whistle! He was just blowing into the microphone.

– They want an explanation for the coffee scene.

A: So when we’re creating that character, York, it would have been really easy to create a really competent FBI guy. Someone who is really good at finding the bad guys. But that would be too simple, I wanted to create some kind of…make him be a little bit more interesting where he has one thing higher than everyone else and something that would be interesting something only makes sense to him? And that was the coffee scene.

-Someone is asking, at what stage in development were the combat sections implemented. Were they originally absent or radically different?

A: It wasn’t originally in the plans, it was awhile ago I don’t really remember when this was during the Alpha testing of the game the publisher looked at our Alpha build and said the we need to put some combat in this game, and that’s why it’s there.

-Is there anything in the game you would change?

A: The game came out about a year ago and at that time there were a lot of things that I wanted to change or I wish I had more time to work on. But right now, since a year has passed, right now I would really like to create something new or make this game in a way that is more playable by more people. So for example, like make a PC version or NGP [next Sony PSP] version, something like that…or retry development for the PS3

– What happened with that why wasn’t there a PS3 version in the US?

A: I think a lot of business decisions were made…

– Since he said he wanted to try something new is there a sequel [in mind] perhaps?

A: Sequel? I would love to make one! A port, it could be a port too. Making a port to this game would be great too because it would allow for more people to enjoy this game.

-Since he was talking about the Playstation Portable, PSP2, what does he think about 3DS? Or maybe a Deadly Premonition on the 3DS?

A: The 3DS would be cool too I would be able to make the “FK” really come out at you from the coffee or allow for the player to feel some distance with Polly at the table.

-Was there any thought about using Kinect in Deadly Premonition?

A: I’m personally really interested in making a Kinect…something with Kinect and writing a game design for it right now. In Japan unfortunately it isn’t as popular as it is over here so I’m still trying to think of ways to get that to move forward.

– Where did you draw inspiration for the dark zones?

A: The dark zones were inspired my own experiences when I was a kid. For example, whenever I was scared I would think about, those moments I would think about when I was a kid. For example when I stayed in the country side late at night I wouldn’t be able to go to the bathroom. There would be strange or scary thoughts come across my mind and those ideas are probably what inspired me for those dark zones in the game.

(My question!)
-A Character Specific question for Olivia Cormack her trading card mentions a shadowy past but it’s never elaborated in the game. What happened in her past?

(my notes: Just as the translator finished repeating my question in Japanese Jim Sterling had finally come onto skype. The Destructoid interviewers didn’t let SWERY answer, instead they immediately moved on to Jim. LOL in my head I was like noooooooooooo please let him answer my question before you move on to Jim. I had to ask again several times within the chat log again to get my question re-addressed later on.)

A: Unfortunately sorry I don’t remember what was written on the card for her. That was written 5 years ago

(my notes: I reposted the trading card description in the chat but it wasn’t addressed again lol I was sad I wanted to know what was up with her past hehe!)

(Jim and SWERY chatted back and forth. SWERY thanked Jim for his 10/10 review that sparked interest in the game and Jim thanked him for making it and was glad he could contribute in a small part to
make it a cult success which he considered one of the most rewarding thing he’s done in his career.)

(SWERY) With making Deadly Premontion SWERY wanted to take a different approach at the time. He wanted to use his energy to find a different way to approach entertainment. He was able to funnel all that energy into this game.

(Jim)- What’s it like getting the game made? Was there a lot of resistance cause it was so different? Did you worry at all that gamers and even publishers wouldn’t quite “get it?”

A: Yes of course there were people who resisted, not just on the publisher side but even inside my team, but I truly believe that this game was going to be fun and at the same time the producers and publishers believed in me as well and other staff, the staff that did believe in me, and also well me, Todd(?), Todd(?) was also helpful in encouraging that thought that this was going to be a really good game and everybody’s positive thoughts together, combined really created this confidence in my mind that this game was going to be really good.

– Would you ever consider working with Grasshopper?

A: Yes, I’m personally intrigued by Suda-san and I love him as a persona as well, I love his work and if there was a chance to work with him I would take that opportunely. I was really intrigued. I loved his game: Flower, Sun, and Rain and if we were able to work together it would be fun to make that kind of a game.

– Where did the name SWERY65 come from?

A: I would like to keep that a secret, actually it came from some of my personal college years.

(my notes: someone in the chat exclaimed it must have been how many girls he was able to sleep with lol)

-Someone wants to know about the state of the game when it was first called Rainy Woods, what changes had happened [between] Rainy Woods and Deadly Premonition.

A: At the time we had to reboot the project basically be we wanted to reuse some of the actual resources we had already created. The stuff we had already created, however it would be probably best explained as we needed to rebuild everything we could.

– So does that go along with the graphics in the game? Some people in the chatroom are mentioning it looks a little bit different than other 360 games was that a budget reason?

A: Yes we wanted to reuse the resources we had created for this game called Rainy Woods, that was created a long long time ago and during the process there were 3 or4 times where the project at the verge of being cancelled and there was that scare of being cancelled and in order to get past those times, those tough times we had to spend some money there so yes he would say the budgetary reasons.

– So what audience was this game made for? What was the ideal person? Destructoid, we like these types of games but originally who were you targeting?

A: I wanted to make a game, firstly that me and my staff wanted to play ourselves. We wanted to make sure that we created something cool that we as customers would want to play. then we were thinking also we wanted to create a game for people who love games but aren’t really satisfied with the game that they are currently playing and we wanted to kind of scratch that itch basically of what not making them feel satisfied? We put a lot of those small little things that would scratch such itches into our game.

Game Ending Spoiler Question »

-Several people have asked about Willie’s significance and why the town of Greenvale is shaped like him.

A: Willie is actually Kaysen’s keeper. Kaysen is really a bad guy who’s working for the Red Tree. The Red Tree is actually giving order’s to Kaysen through Willie.

(My Notes) I was so bummed to find out Willie is a bad guy I was hoping he was like a MIKE to Kaysen’s BOB. Now we know why Kaysen thought he was so smart!

-How important to you feel it is that games be filled with small details, do you feel that for that reason there was success for Deadly Premonition?

A: From the development perspective if you have the time and resources you should be putting in as much detail as you can in the game. If I didn’t have to sleep I would be putting more detail in my games.

– What’s your favorite part of the game? Is there a part of the game where you say “Yes! This is magic this is why I made this.”

A: I don’t want to really state this game had a strong message for anything I would rather prefer that gamers take what they can from the game, their own personal message. My favorite scene in the game would be when the player fishes out materials out of the waterfall area.

-What are some of your favorite games?

A: On the Super Famicom, Super FamilyComputer, Super Nintendo over here there was a game Legend of Zelda: Triforce of Gods? I’m not sure what the sub title was but… (some one said Link to the Past).

Episode 2 Part 2 spoilers »

– During the making of the game was there anything he was forced to take out? Due to censorship?

A: Many things, yeah sure when I spoke earlier about 4 times when the game was about to be canceled, each time I had to cut things out. Whether it was at the stage of storyline check I had to tear somethings out. When the cut scenes were created I had to tear some things out. For example, Becky’s bathroom scene was a lot more vivid and people were angry with me for the scene for many many times. We were trying to make for example of that Becky scene I recall we were trying to have the internal organs of Becky come out of the body and turn into a red tree and that was something we had to take out of the game. We probably went a little too far when we were trying to recreate that.

(My Notes) The would have been pretty epic…

-Through out the game future aspects of the story are revealed before they happen such as in trading cards. What was the reason behind this?

A: Yes some of that was intentional and some of that wasn’t intentional for example for the trading cards you can actually move forward in the story without collecting any of them but in a reverse example you collect a card before you’ll learn something about what’s going to happen in the future and that in it’s self I thought was cool. That might be something players feel would be fun and entertaining and so we left that as a part of the game. I liked the thinking them more you play this game the more mysterious it becomes and that was helping in that regard.

– Are you a fan of Horror Movies, favorite directors favorite movie whether American or Japanese?

A: Sam Raimi (Evil Dead). Brazil Terry Gilliam…It’s not a horror movie

-Would you ever consider making a movie?

A: When I was still a student I really wanted to make a movie but once I started making games I just got hooked and I right now I just love making games. I like interacting with the users likes this I like the interactive aspect of the games.

-Do you think video games are the new Hollywood? The new thing and eventually movies won’t be interactive enough for us?

A: I haven’t given that much thought but I do know that if you are making a game you really have to think about the user had going on in his mind when he’s playing the game and that whole process is something that I love.

– What was the game that changed his life and got him to want to making games?

A: That’s hard to answer. I’ve played a lot of games in my life as a child while I was growing up but after I graduated school, my studies, I wanted to make a movie and after awhile I wanted to make a cg animations and while making the cg animations I was thinking to myself I would really want to control this character that’s on screen and that kind of evolved into making games. So it’s the whole process of my career path and the whole process of playing a lot of games as a child.

– Are you a big fan of Resident Evil?

A: I really love Resident Evil 1 and 4

-What’s your favorite type of coffee?

A: In Japan Mandheling coffee (mumbles) and black

– Will your next project be coming to the PS3, cause people can’t afford both systems.

A: I would really like to make multi platform games so that way more people can enjoy the game.

– If you had the appropriate budget what would be your ideal game?

A: In Deadly Premonition there are about 30 characters or so who were moving along a real time table, living life they way I invisioned them to be living life throughout the 24 hours of the day and making that kind of time table alot of fun for me. So in the future it would be really fun if I can make one that has mnore characters, like 100 characters or that live life the way I invision them to live life in 24 hours a day, that kind of game would be funto make.

– That be fun but that also a really big undertaking. That sounds like a lot of work!

A: Yeah it would be definitely. For example though maybe we can use some online aspects so maybe some people might want to play the Non Playable Characters that would be living in the universe I would be thinking of. That might be fun too.

– That’s almost like a MMO. We were just talking about online cooperative modes and stuff like that…so yes you would like to have you would have online if you could?

A: Cooperative? Hmm maybe, maybe not I really want to make a real living city and maybe some kind of-something happens there that people need to take part in. Give you some kind of, something bad happens that people need to take part and do their own thing in.

– Some characters seem to be molded after some actors?

A: We definitely weren’t trying to make some of the characters look like actually existing people. but when talking about the background of characters we would always talk about some kind of movies or tv shows what have you. That kind of image would be explained to our artists that maybe would come through in the final product of what they created.

-York mentioned that he used to listen to Punk music, do you like Punk music?

A: When I was a student, yes I loved Punk music. Sex Pistols.

– Do you plan to make a game that is based on the culture of people from other countries. Maybe a non Western game?

A: I really want to work on games that use culture’s that are non Japanese. I want to make more games that are American culture like this game. I recently went to Europe and using some of their culture might be fun too but right now I really want to learn more of the American culture, so I would like to work more on American culture games. When you think about Europe, to me it has so much history and so I would be yearning to want to create something with some sort of historical significance that has to do with the history that they have so much of. What I’m better at doing, or what I think I’m really good at doing is making things that are more close to day to day life and I really like the day to day life, culture of the day to day in the US and that kind of so that’s something I’d like to work on more for future games.

-How do you feel about psychology in the games? Manipulating the gamer’s experience,making them happy, making them mad, how do you make that happen?

A: I’ll be talking more about at GDC this week but I’ve always been thinking that when I create something I want to create the good side and the bad side and also for example in the story there’s something the user wants to see happen, there’s something the user doesn’t want to see happen. Being able to create both of those allows me to create something that makes the gamer happy and sometimes makes the gamer sad.

-They want to know why is some scenes you use fixed camera angles and if it expresses anything(?)

A: As I was making the game there are certain places inside the game I wanted the player to actually to see or force them to see to make sure they understand what’s going on and in hindsight that made some of the game play hard to control and maybe that was a bad thing. At the time I was thinking a lot of the scenery just goes past you if you kept walking forward and there are certain things I wanted to make sure the player saw and if the camera cuts to a fixed camera when you pass that area I thought that would be-spark some memorable moments for the player. So at the time I thought it was a good decision but in hindsight maybe it wasn’t.

Apologies for the bad controls!

– Sometimes when you kill an enemy they say “I don’t want to die” what was the meaning/inspiration behind that?

A: The shadows are evil spirits basically in Japan we have this concept that when you die your soul separates from your body and the thinking here is that of the souls that were separated from their body when they died the evil ones remain on earth and the evil ones then took over one of the cadavers, one of the dead bodies inside Greenvale and now are trying to attack the player so even though the souls are actually dead already they believe that since they are in control of a body now they think they are alive so they don’t want to die.

Game Ending Spoiler Question »

-Why did you choose the song Amazing Grace as the theme for Raincoat killer?

A: I wanted to use a song that everyone has heard of and something that oozes easily into the soul of the player. Also I wanted to create this scene that would cause some thought in the user’s mind to wonder whether this is a good thing that is occurring or a bad thing that’s occurring. I wanted to create that type of ambiguity.

– When could we see your newest game?

A: I don’t know maybe 5 years? Maybe 10?

– If we are talking 10 years what is your next goal with interactive storytelling since gaming keeps involving and some would say easier and others harder to make games?

A: Storytelling how that’s going to be moving forward in the future would be, this is something we are going to talk about more at GDC this week one way to take storytelling, make it keep the user experience entertaining is always to create multiple endings, creating more assets, creating more artwork creating more work for everyone to do. but that is one path to take, the path I would like to take is to have one story that allows the player more freedom inside the one story path. For example there would be some freedom in timing that its a one path storyline the user would have a lot of sense of freedom in regards to figuring out the timing when he wants to do things. That’s the direction I want to take things in the future.

Game Ending Spoiler Question »

-Forrest Kaysen appears in both Spy Fiction and Deadly Premonition is there a connection, he’s not the only character who transitions but he’s definitely one of the ones that makes the most sense if he’s intended to be the same person/force.

A: There’s lots of reasons why Forrest Kaysen is in Spy Fiction and Deadly Premonition but one of the reasons that come to mind would be that I want to make him appear in the games that I love the most.

-Do you think the best game has come out yet or do you feel we’ve lost our way and were moving away from the essence or what made us fans of games?

A: I’m not sure how to answer that there are so many really, really really good games but when you ask which one is best that’s different answer for everybody…but I’m still having a lot of fun with games that are coming out.

– Do you think 3d gaming is another gimmick? Or do you think it will be around for the test of time?

A: There’s two parts of me that have different answers for that as a creator I would really like to make a 3D game, it would be a challenge I’d like to take on but as a person right now when you say 3D game I would prefer to just go out on a trip or go see something go somewhere an experience it myself rather then buy a 3D game perhaps that will change in the future that part of me will change in the future. Right now I’m kind of split.

– Why doesn’t York seem to be phased by being attacked by evil spirits entering the red world?

A: York that’s can be answered with York’s character in his mind believes that there’s a reason for everything. He’s confident whatever crazy thing happens to him it’s going to happen to him for a purpose and it’s going to lead him down the path of what’s expected from him and what he’s expected to do and that gives him the confidence and why he’s not phased by anything or even the evil spirits.

-Has he played Heavy Rain?

A: you want my honest answer? I bought it the day it came out but have been too busy to play it.

-Who’s your favorite character in the game and why?

A: That’s easy to answer, that would be York. When I made his character, the main character, the story evolved by itself, the relationships evolved by themselves. Everything the whole storyline stemmed from that character. Aside from York? Sigourney! She’s a fun character.

-What is he opinion on popular Western games such as Gears of War, Mass Effect, Halo, Call of Duty?

A: I play those games a lot when I can, the thing though is when I go online, for example, I get killed immediately so I usually stick to the campaign modes.

-Is he the one that came up with the mental map on the official Deadly Premonition site?

A: Yes. When I originally created it it was much more of a messier thing in my notes but for the site we cleaned it up a bit.

-Why did you change York’s appearance?

A: That occurred when we wanted to reboot the project as a symbol of the reboot of the project we wanted to make sure he looked different.

– This goes back to the cultural question, somebody wants to know why you don’t want to make a game based on Japanese culture. They were saying that Samurais? Ninjas… cool stuff like that? Even beyond that culture as well, like maybe traditional…today Japanese style as well.

A: Japan culturally is very distinct. It’s very- probably looks strange to a lot people and that kind of makes it difficult for making a game that would appeal to a world wide audience in my mind. So I would like to stay away from it…going in that direction.

-Did you ever play Shemue?

A: The first 30 mins…yes

– Yes he is here for GDC. What is your session about primarily?

A: Well what i prepared is a short talk in regards to the subject, seven points to check to make sure your storyline isn’t already dead. It will be more of a casual talk not like a teaching event or anything like that.

-When do you know your story is dead? What happens? Is there a process? Everyone wants to make videogames, everyone wants to write stories, so many people want to do it, but there has to come a point when you are writing it that is doesn’t work anymore. What are some of the signs for that?

A: Well there’s probably 20 -30 things in my mind that come up in regards in things to check if a story is already dead. I’ll be talking about the 7 I think are probably really important at GDC but the first point is probably the easiest to answer if your users, gamers, aren’t thinking or aren’t going to be thinking of your storyline or game while they’re not playing the game then your storyline is dead.

-You game has very good voice acting, the English is very good. Games like Heavy Rain had English voice acting but you could tell that they were French so it didn’t sound right. They want to know was it difficult finding voice actors? Where did you get them?

A: The voice overs were recorded for Deadly Premonition, the voice overs were recorded in San Jose actually and we were last when we received the sample voices from the actors and we had really good actors.

-How much research did you have to do for the conversations? For example, Thomas’ squirrel facts? Was that stuff already known?

A: Well yeah there was a lot of research was done but we had a lot of time to create the storyline over a period of about 8 months I was writing and researching at the same time so it was never a burden at all it was actually kind of fun.

-Were you more inspired by film or video games?

A: That’s kind of hard to say what has inspired me most is probably the people I have interacted with in real life.

-What are the places in America you scouted for the game?

A: We went to Washington State, Oregon State and also California. Maybe two-three weeks in all three of those areas all combined.

-What can we expect from you in the future?

A: I’m going to be conituning to making games especially for the world wide audience. I’m currently making a game design now. I’m also doing presentations to get the funding for those games and i want to make something even better than Deadly Premonition in the future so please keep an eye out fo that.

(Everyone saying how much they love him and game)

-Did you expect this much love from the American Audience?

A: I was dreaming that US aduiences would love the game as much but I was surprised it actually happened.