31st Jan 2007 | 16:39
Friend of CVG and all-round gaming god Tetsuya Mizuguchi recently popped in to town for a chat and a swift coffee for the launch of his latest mind-bending PSP blaster, Every Extend Extra.
Risking jetlag and a throttling from his publisher Miziguchi shared with us the latest on his top-secret project, the ever-changing Japanese games industry and what he thinks of Sony's next platform.
So how did you come across the PC version of Every Extend and why did you decide to create the PSP remake?
Tetsuya Mizuguchi: A new team of young people worked on Every Extend Extra. One day they showed me the freeware PC version of Every Extend and every young person at Q Entertainment was playing it.
The director Reo Yonaga suggested to me that we remake Every Extend for the PSP using some Q Entertainment tastes, like quantizing sounds and visual effects. That's the story.
I think the original Every Extend was a fun game; we believed if we added the new elements it would be even better.
Each level in the game has a very distinct art style. What were some of the inspirations for the art in EEE?
Miz: The artists are very young, I think they had some influence from Rez and Lumines. I didn't tell them they should study the Synesthesia concept, but at the same time if they wanted to that was OK.
I wanted more of the opposite, to see what the generation that grew up with stuff like Rez and Lumines were going to produce -leave it as much as possible to them and see what they were going to create. So I was taking very much a back seat in most of those things.
You've been making music-based games for a while now. How do you intend to shake-up the genre going forward?
Miz: The games I made at Sega and up to now are all in the same line, if you understand, so it's all an on-going evolution from Space Channel 5, Rez, Lumines to Every Extend Extra and Gunpey. It's all in the same line for me.
I think at Q Entertainment we will always continue to make something new with the latest technology - we're really aggressive in creating the next music-based game or experience.
I don't know exactly what that is, but I'm really aggressive to make it. We will announce what the next game is very, very soon - it's not too far in the future.
What is your process for choosing which licensed tracks go in your games?
Miz: Basically it depends on the game. We have to think about what kind of experience we want, so with Rez I focused on a trancey experience - using lots of sounds and effects to make you feel trancey.
I think about what kind of effect I want to give the player first, then I decide the kind of sound of music I want and go out and get it. The priority is not to get a name or famous artist.
You moved into new offices last year. How quickly is Q Entertainment growing?
Miz: At the moment there are quite a lot of new people coming into the company, not in the Music Interactive side but more to help develop online and mobile games because they're quite big in Japan.
It's becoming more like we're not limited to one type of console or experience - we're not taking one form of shape. The expansion is making Q Entertainment a lot healthier.
What kind of freedom has the success of Lumines and your other titles given you as a creator?
Miz: When I was at Sega it was my only client, so if I presented and idea to the executive board members and they said no, that was it. But I can't keep my ego and my passions locked up; I want to design in a certain way.
Now I can talk with everybody, in any media, not just game consoles by PC and mobiles. So if I want to make a music video for example, I can do that. Things have totally changed for me.
Talking of music videos your produced track Heavenly Star has done really well - is that the start of a bigger music career for you?
Miz: I learned a lot and got a big influence from that kind of process. Making Heavenly Star might even give me a big influence in a future game. I want to keep that kind of parallel creation going, and think about what the next Heavenly Star is for some future project.
What do you think of the current state of the Japanese games industry?
Miz: There are many, many developers watching the Wii and Nintendo DS in Japan and I think those consoles have a very worldwide appeal. You don't need the hi-res, hi-def technology. It's a very clear concept; playing games using your body.
With the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 you need to put in a lot of detail, so it's very difficult to create only one thing that appeals to the whole world. In two or three years I think Nintendo will be very strong in Japan.
Does Nintendo's current Japanese dominance worry you at all? Is it healthy for the industry?
Miz: No I don't care about that. We never think about the console, we think about what kind of game or experience we want to create and then decide what the best console or media for it is. So if I think 'oh this is a good game for Wii' or 'this is a good game for DS' we will do that.
You've traditionally been a PlayStation-centric developer. What are your first impressions of the PS3?
Miz: I don't exactly know what the PlayStation 3 is yet. At the time of PlayStation 2 many people wanted to watch DVDs like The Matrix so they needed to buy a DVD player, but now I don't know how big the motivation is to watch hi-def movies on Blu-ray disc.
I don't feel such a big impact like with PlayStation 2 era, but I think the motivation is in the many wants; 'I want to play a game', 'I want to watch hi-def movies', 'I want to connect online with other people' - I think they could combine to become one big motivation, but I don't feel such a big motivation in the PS3 yet.
Sony has always had very good concepts, like with the PSP - it's not only a game console; you can listen to music and watch movies.
You've mentioned wanting to work on a successor to Rez before. Is there any chance of that happening?
Miz: No (laughs). I'm really aggressive to make the next game - It's a big motivation to me, to create something. I always have the concept and the ideas - I'm always thinking about what kind of game I should make if I get to make Rez 2.
I don't know if the next game should be Rez 2 or some new title. I have a big reason to make that kind of new experience because technology is changing; hi-res, 7.1 surround. I'm ready to go.
If you were to approach Sega with the idea do you think it would be a problem?
Miz: I don't think so. I still have really good communication with Sega.
You've said before that you believe your best game is yet to come. Will your next title be that game?
Miz: Probably. It must be (laughs). I hope the next game will be the best game in my career.
So what are your plans for the rest of the year?
This coming year and the next I'm concentrating solely on game making in a director's role. It will be my last - hurrah (laughs).