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Today, we bring to you the 7th installment of SWERY's 2015 Interviews! This is the English translation of the Game*Spark interview regarding the PC version of D4.
SWERY discusses indie spirit, the charm of the PC version of D4, and news about Season 2 and Japanese language voices.
Over a million people have already played D4, an adventure game that was developed for the Xbox One. The game was directed by SWERY, aka Hidetaka Suehiro, who earned a Guinness World Record for Deadly Premonition being the “Most Critically Polarizing Survival Horror Game.” Access Games, which is led by SWERY, recently created a PC version of D4.
The PC version can be controlled with the mouse, and contains various DLC packed-in from the start. The game was published by PLAYISM, and can be played in Japanese just like the Xbox One version.
The PC version was available to play from May 8 to May 10 at the Tokyo Indie Fest 2015 in Akihabara, Tokyo. There, Game*Spark interviewed SWERY at the event. We talked about the special characteristics of the PC version, the release period for Season 2, Japanese language voices, and other interesting things.
◆The Secrets of D4’s Development
――A lot of people have already come to play D4. It seems very close to an “indie game,” with how nuanced it is.
SWERY：Capital-wise, Access Games is not an indie developer, but we definitely have indie spirit when we’re making games. Of course, we want to make our games a hit, but we aren’t trying to make them a hit through “fads,” but rather “the stuff that we really want to make.”
――The game really let me feel that sentiment. I mean, this is a Japanese company creating a full 3D adventure game on a next-generation platform that feels like it’s a foreign TV show. And it’s a completely new IP… Normally, this would never happen. (LOL)
SWERY：Like you said, it’s the “A Japanese developer made this?” part that really surprises people.
When my developer friends ask me “What have you been making lately” and I answer “D4,” they go “Whaaat?!” (LOL)
Japan-centric works need to be created in a way so that they can become popular, but when we look at things from a worldwide perspective, we’re certain that there are people out there who will be able to connect with what we’re creating. That’s how we felt when we created D4, and I was really happy to see such a big response.
――Not that I don’t believe you or anything, but did Japanese people really create this?
SWERY：Access Games is located in Chuo-ku in Osaka, and Japanese people work there. (LOL) Because of our contract with Microsoft, we did add two native English developers to our team, but we tried to take the good aspects of foreign games and arrange them with a Japanese sensibility.
――I could really feel that when I was playing it. I really thought the Kinect system was great.
SWERY：All the other Kinect games try to make systems where you’re copying poses, like in dance games. But when you do that, the input gets prioritized over what’s actually happening in the game, and it becomes unbalanced. With D4, we wanted to create a new kind of experience that was as broad as watching a TV show, something casual that anyone could play. That was our concept, and it turned into what you see now.
――So that’s how you made those great QTE scenes.
SWERY：Thanks. It really makes me the happiest when people say they had fun using Kinect. There are a lot of people out there who say “I don’t want to play it, because I don’t want to use Kinect.”
――Are there any other works you used as references for the story and direction?
SWERY：I can’t think of a single work, but when I began the project, I made 5 pm to 7 pm on every Thursday “TV show Time,” and watched popular TV shows with all the other team members.
――I think there are other games that attempted similar things, but for some reason, whenever Japanese people try to make games that are like foreign TV shows, it always ends up looking really awkward. But D4 was so cool. I was really surprised.
SWERY：The other day, I was reading a book called Araki Hirohiko’s Manga Techniques (Shueisha), and in that book, he wrote that situations where the main character acts stupid and finds himself in some kind of trouble are no good. There are a lot of situations like that in Japanese games, aren’t there? It makes me want to scream “This is all YOUR fault!” (LOL)
I got rid of all that stuff with this game. Also, a very delicate element of detective stories is information that only the player knows about, so I took a lot of care in that area as well.
――Can I hear a little bit about the unique graphical style?
SWERY：In order to create these graphics, we put a lot of time into our shader. Development-wise, a single programmer was each in charge of these three elements: overall balance, color abstraction, and edge adjustment. But since they’re programmers, I can’t just give them an illustration and say “Make it look like this.” That doesn’t make any sense to them up front, so instead, I had to give them detailed instructions, like “I want you to color this like this here,” and spent a lot of time working on it with the art director. Incidentally, the art director of this game is a senior of mine, and the person who drew Terry Bogard.
◆PC Version Characteristics
――The PC version is available to play in the booth behind us right now. The Kinect controls were all switched over to mouse controls, right?
SWERY：At first, I had no intention to release a PC version. I just made a PC version in order to prove the fact that sensory replication is possible without Kinect, which I talked about during my GDC2014 conference. Then a lot of people told me they wanted to buy it, so I decided to put it on sale.
――I got a chance to play it. The mouse controls were pretty fun.
SWERY：At first, they were more complicated, but I tuned them to make them simpler. Development-wise, we had all the content ready by early May, and right now, I’m checking over all of it. There are still a few things left that need to be better tuned, which I created a list for in my hotel room last night. (LOL)
――I think there are some other things that have changed as well. Are there any other elements that you especially want people to look at?
SWERY：To continue what I started talking about earlier, we didn’t just add mouse controls. We took movements that the mouse is geared toward, such as “placing the pointer at a specific point in space” and made those actually reflect in the game, so playing it feels completely different from the Xbox One version.
All of the previous DLC can be acquired through playing the game, and it runs at 60 fps. D4 isn’t an action game or a fighting game, but watching the story unfold in 60 fps looks truly beautiful.
――When will the next episodes be out?
SWERY：…Everyone wants to know that. I get about 10 questions about Season 2 every day on Twitter. (LOL) When I upload a photo of myself when I’m out drinking, people say “Who cares about that? What about Season 2?” Today, I told them “I put out a PC version,” and they said “Congratulations! Now where’s Season 2?” I know everyone’s really curious about it, but due to my complicated situation, I can only say “I’m working my hardest.”
(Editor’s Note: Directly after this interview, an image from a future episode was released.)
――Well can you blame them, with that cliffhanger? I can’t wait either!
SWERY：Recently, I found a non-Japanese player streaming the game on Twitch. When he got to the ending screen, he grabbed his head and shouted: “Nooo! Not here!!” (LOL) Watching that live really made me feel like I have to work hard. I’ll do my best!
――I was confused about the cost system as well. Each season will have a separate cost, correct?
SWERY：Yes. Season 1 costs 1,500 yen (tax not included), and anything after that will be separate. The season sale scheme seemed to have a good response, so I thought it’d be a good idea to structure it this way.
――The PC version was published by PLAYISM. Was this the plan from the beginning?
SWERY：At first, I went to talk to them about the PC version, as I’m friends with them. But then, as we were discussing it, I started to seriously realize something. “If I work with these people, I’ll be able to focus on my creative work.” We seemed very close in terms of company scope and the way we think, so I think they’re great partners to have.
――And a Japanese PC version will be released, right?
SWERY：Of course. Also, it’s still just a dream of mine right now, but I’d love to put out a Japanese language voice pack. You know, as a patch or something.
――That’d be great! What about the PC specs?
SWERY：It was originally an Xbox One game, so the recommended specs are high. But the necessary specs aren’t that high, so even a 2-year old PC should be enough to run it fine. We added resolution options and other settings, so if you lower the quality, you should be able to enjoy the story and the experience without any problems.
――That’s good news for middle spec gamers.
SWERY：I think that at its core design, D4 is a casual game, so I didn’t think it’d be a good idea if only hardcore gamers could play it.
――Did you get any new ideas from creating the PC version?
SWERY：The options and settings really taught me a lot. Also, the characteristics of the mouse, such as “clicking” and being able to hold a specific point gave me a lot of new ideas regarding game design.
――Is there anything you’d like to say to the readers to end this?
SWERY：The truth is, I’m a reader too. I think everyone reads this site just like I do, and as everyone knows, Game*Spark has the ability to post or not post whatever article they like, so I’m very thankful and honored that you’ve decided to cover D4.
If there is anyone reading this who still has yet to play D4, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it even if you’re a casual gamer, so please give it a try.
――Thank you very much.
The PC version of D4 is planned to be released on June 5. (Editor’s Note: It was released on June 5 (PDT) and is now on sale!)
It costs $14.99 (1480 yen), and can be purchased on Steam, The Humble Store, GOG.com, and PLAYISM.
D4 Official Site
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