16th Sep 2010 | 15:01
Goichi 'Suda 51' Suda is a busy man. Not only has he announced work on a new download shooter, Sine Mora, he's also unveiled epic Shinji Mikami collaboration Shadows of the Damned and Kinect game Codename D.
We're sure you'll agree that's a lot of exciting games right there, all of which are bound to radiate the man's frankly mental style of game design seeded from Killer 7 and Wii slash-em-up series, No More Heroes.
We caught up with Suda ahead of this week's TGS announcements (so we didn't know about Shadows and Codename D at the time). When we weren't staring at his shiny silver trainers, here's what we asked him...
You recently announced a new game, Sine Mora. It's a collaboration, can you tell us how that came about?
Yes, Digital Reality is the publisher and we've just decided to work with them not just on one title, but through digital distribution make a long-lasting relationship with them.
Over time I've been told by fans and publishers Grasshopper would be suited for this type of distribution and I agree. I think it's important to develop games at a much faster pace and not to be forgotten by our fans. This is a great chance to create more innovative games for the fans and not have them wait so much. I hope people pay attention to us and are excited for what we have.
Sine Mora is the first title in the collaboration, the prototype for Sine Mora was done by a director at Digital Reality and when they go into production we are going to provide the art direction and the sound.
What kind of direction are you going for?
It's not going to be a Mizaguchi, Rez style but this time Theo, the director has a pretty good idea what the world should be like, the image. He has a scenario ready and has game design ready and wants a steam punk style for the game, so I hope to propose our style of steam punk for him.
There are not many details out there at the moment; could you explain how the game will play, in terms of the time-bending aspects?
I think it has been announced that the gameplay has to do with time and bending time but other than that it is really up to Theo, he has all these ideas for the game, but it will be a side-scrolling game.
This is a long-term plan isn't it? Have you got more ideas for other games and how soon might we see more?
Of course, there are lots of plans, at least ten. The next announcement I'm not sure about. We would love to announce something after TGS but that needs to be hammered down with Digital Reality.
No More Heroes on PS3 is set to receive Move support. Have you used Move and what are your thoughts on it?
I have. I'm worried about the style of release of it, concerned about how it will be sold. I've heard it is going to be sold separately but you can actually use it in a set at once. Depending on how it is sold as a developer you have to change how the game should be made, so I'm concerned about that.
So we have to think about the possibility where the user has one controller, it's limiting for us when it comes to game development so I guess it will be important to make games that can only be played with a single controller.
Do you think it is too risky for a developer like Grasshopper, or another independent, to adopt that technology too quickly?
Actually Grasshopper is always working with different hardware and consoles. We haven't necessarily picked one but depending how talks went with publishers we went with different hardware. I think it is a blessing to have technology and a new hardware platform, it does give challenges - especially for the technical people - but even for them it is a chance to create new gameplay and is blessing.
So you're never afraid to take a risk on something new like this?
No, I've never been afraid.
What do you think needs to be done to revive the Japanese games industry?
Of course, we are based in Japan but I'm already done with the idea that you have to be Japanese market specific. We're still based here but we work with Japanese publishers as well as publishers like EA in the states, Digital Reality is Hungary.
In Japan we want to be able to keep on working with publishers around the world and go up against all the great developers in the world and be stimulated and excited by great games from around the world. I think continuing to create great games and be influenced by others is how to improve the industry.
Do you think your EA game is going to help you do that, to compete and take on the big developers around the world?
I think it is going to be a great start. Even in EA there are a lot of people from Activison or Take 2 with a lot of great knowledge on game development. By working with EA we can also learn new things and ideas for development. It helps us to be able to help with other big publishers. So yes it does, you definitely need more experience.
So you think that project will improve you as a designer?
Yes of course.
You've built a reputation of having a big group of friends in the Japanese design community. When was the last time you went partying with them?
I can't remember... maybe E3. The memory of E3 is gone - there was no party from Nintendo or Sony, Microsoft...
Perhaps that reputation is a bit exaggerated then?
Really? I guess the last time might have been the secret party that creators organised for Kojima-san when he was awarded the lifetime achievement award at GDC. Enterbrain - the publisher of Famitsu - organised the party for Kojima-san.
Who's the biggest drinker in the Japanese design community?
Nagoshi-san from Sega, the designer of Super-Monkey ball and Yakuza. He drinks wine a lot - it's impressive.
And the worst?
Mr Sakurai [designer of Smash Bros., Kid Icarus 3DS], he doesn't drink at all, just Coca Cola.
What would you say is the highest point and biggest regret of your career so far?
Any time a title is released is really exciting for me, but at the same time during my twelve years in the business a few games have been cancelled and I really regret those. If I ever have the chance I'd really like to revive these projects somehow.
If Grasshopper becomes more famous, gets more fans, I think there might be a chance, that is more of the reason why we want to go and become a strong company.