Deadly Premonition: SWERY Talks Near Cancellations, Sinner’s Sandwich, Coffee
Deadly Premonition is the best worst game this gen. Maybe ever. No other game has flirted with accidental genius as often, from FK in the coffee to the massive flies that buzz around your body if you don’t wash to Mr Stewart.
Tomio Kanazawa (Senior Producer at Rising Star Games) and Swery 65 (director at Access Games) tell us about Deadly Premonition and FK in the coffee…
Did you expect Deadly Premonition to be a big success outside of Japan?
TK: We knew it would be. Compared to the Western market, it was not as successful in Japan, because we had not been developing this game to suit the Western market. Our goal was not to sell this game in Japan because the culture is completely different. We wanted to bring this game to USA and Europe, so now we are satisfied with it.
So what did you do to make the game appeal to the Western market?
TK: We ignored the Japanese market [laughs]
S: We made the main characters American and set it in a US sub-urban city. My original idea was to set Deadly Premonition in a Canadian sub-urban city but when I spoke to Tomio about it, Tomio wanted me to change it to a US city.
TK: I forced him to change it!
I’ve read the main character was originally supposed to be a woman and when the game was Rainy Woods, the main character was David Young. After all that, how did you end up with Francis York Morgan?
TK: You mentioned the main character was a woman. We imagined Natalie Portman or…
S: Jodie Foster.
TK: Jodie Foster or someone. At the time, I was working for Marvelous entertainment and the subsidiary was Rising Star Games, so I was also working with Rising Star games as well. So when I mentioned this idea to my new friends working at Rising Star Games, everyone objected. “No, no, no, you should have a man, not a woman.” Okay. But Tomb Raider is very successful. How is that? “No, no, no. Anything else?” No [laughs]
So okay, after that, I’m convinced. I’m okay with it. So we finally decided to have a male character. After that, we were satisfied with because we could add many unique characteristics onto that male character. So in the end, we were very happy.
How much of Deadly Premonition that we got was the game that was originally intended? How many other changes were there?
S: Other changes that took place in terms of character was when we were thinking of using Young. Young was cynical, quite a handsome man, rather than today’s York. If you agree, he’s a real manly type of character. So that’s another change that too place. Apart from the characters, my original idea was a pure mystery game without any shooting but that aspect changed as well.
So it would have been a detective game?
I’ve always wondered, when Francis York smiles, it’s funny because it’s such an awkward, strange smile. Was that deliberate?
S: It is intentional. I wanted to create a strange man and strange men tend to have a strange smile [laughs]
Sinner’s Sandwich. Is that a real sandwich?
S: What sometimes happens in Japan is the students, same as here, they tend to be skint and have no money. So they create their own combination of food. This is something that Japanese university kids come up with to make an original sandwich, whether it sounds nice or not.
Is this something you had or was it something made by a student you knew?
S: It was done by one of the students. The other version I remember is corn soup. If you put grilled salmon in corn soup, that works quite well.
You should release a recipe book.
S: [laughs] That’s a good idea.
How did you come up with Mr Stewart?
S: A weird character but at the same time quite a true character. That’s what I wanted to make with Mr Stewart. So Stewart is able to walk but he’s still in a wheelchair. He’s a weird guy but quite realistic.
FK in the coffee is the most known meme from the game. Did you expect that to be Deadly Premonition’s most famous meme?
S: I didn’t expect it would be well known. Of course, many things were intentional but it was more than we expected.
Deadly Premonition scored between 2/10 and 10/10. When games score that low AND that high, what do you learn from that?
S: I was really happy that massive gap was recorded in the Guinness Book. Did you know that?
The Guinness Book Of World Records, yeah.
S: Yeah. That’s right. That gave the opportunity for the game to be even further known by people because it was in the Guinness Book because it’s a game people love or hate. So it’s good news, actually.
What does the Red Room mean?
S: The White Room, that represents your subconscious. If you stick to your subconscious, you’ll be fine. You’ll be choosing the right choices. Once you have some sort of influence and start going in the wrong direction, you end up in the Red Room.
After Director’s Cut comes out, are we going to see anything from Agent York again?
S: We are already in discussion to make something afterwards and to work with this character York again, it could be Deadly Premonition 2 or Deadly… something. Not sure yet. But we’re already in discussion.
What’s your favourite memory of working on Deadly Premonition?
S: Four times, we almost had to cancel this project.
TK: Four times!
S: And we somehow survived these occasions and we have spent six years on this project. So to have finally completed this project, that is the main… the biggest thing.
S: Four times.
TK: Ahhhhhh [laughs] There are so many people who did not understand this game. This game is truly unique.
S: One occasion, it was said that the scenario was over the top and the schedule was too far behind the original schedule. And the rating as well, PEGI and CERO, they said this game would be over 18. Not just 18 but you know, unrateable. It was too much.
What was taken out so it would be rated?
S: Some killing scenes were altered.
So Deadly Premonition was nearly being cancelled four times but it finally came out and people in the West loved it. How does that make you feel?
S: The feeling is that it’s good they didn’t give it up!
Does this give you more power for your next game?
S: Mixture of power and pressure! [laughs] Because the next one should be bigger and better than Deadly Premonition, so it’s a mixed feeling.
How does it change development, now people expect a certain kind of game from you?
S: At this point, I think the next team will be slightly bigger after DP Director’s Cut, so that means we have a variety of opinions from a bigger team. I want to stick to what I think DP is, so that will probably be a different approach for the next project. I have to stick to what I want to do.
Did anything surprise you about the way people reviewed Deadly Premonition?
S: One review I particularly remember is the particular review that rated this game 10/10 whereas some other review said 2/10. I thought it was quite a brave thing to say 10/10 and the review said it has to be 10/10, I have to rate this game 10/10 to get peoples attention because this game’s worth it. I thought that was quite a brave thing to do. A complete different rating compared to 2/10, obviously. I really appreciate that.
How would you review Deadly Premonition?
S: [laughs] Priceless!