I remember a long time ago you were talking about maybe working with Kojima, has anything come of that?
Suda: Did I ever say that? I did? Maybe to pay empty compliments? Really? I said that? I don't have any plans to work on a game with Mr. Kojima at the moment (laughs).
You sort of touched on this before, but how important is the Western market for GH?
Suda: The Japanese fans are very important to me too, but we want to make a big breakthrough with the Grasshopper name someday, and to that end it's not enough for us to just focus on the Japanese market. I can't give you an exact percentage, but the Western market is extremely important.
When I make games, I always put in a lot of effort toward making them with an image of the Western audience in mind. The Western market is that important to me. I don't make games with only the Japanese in mind, I treat it as though people from all around the world are going to play my games.
It seems like sometimes even very Japan-centric games like Okami do better in the US than in Japan. I wonder why it is that players don't grab hold of the actual more Japanese aesthetic in Japan?
Suda: What's clear is that things Japanese and American players seek in games are completely changing. For example, Okami, which you mentioned. In recent years, the ex-Clover Studios developers have made many game titles that have been successful overseas, so naturally they know how to make games that increasingly appeal to the Western market.
Also another element is that the American and European audiences are more receptive to new games. They welcome change. The Japanese are more close minded and the market is showing signs of rejection towards new games. I think that's the main reason.
In Okami's case, it's especially strange because it's set in Japanese mythological history, and still Americans somehow find that more interesting. Is there some sort of rejection of national identity in Japan?
Suda: Actually, I think the world of Okami isn't one that most Japanese people are familiar with either. So in terms of interest in one's own history… hmm… this is a hard question. I think in Japan's case, if you're talking about history, most people like Oda Nobunaga (and samurai history).
Maybe everyone's interest is channeled in that direction. He's a superstar! Oh, the Japanese also love Sangokushi (Romance of the Three Kingdoms), though it's culture of a neighboring country (China).
That's why Koei gets to keep making the same game over and over and it continues to sell.
Suda: Exactly! That's right! (laughs)
Here's a strange question. Your email address is "smiths." Are the Killer7 Smiths elements of your personality?
Suda: You mean mine? "Smith" just comes from the band The Smiths. Yeah. I use the name "Smith" when I put my heart into something. The character name "Smith" is a symbol of self investment for me.
A long time ago we talked about how you'd like to create an open world game, like GTA, but we never got to talk about how you would go about creating one. What are the most important elements of open world games for you for a Grasshopper like game?
Suda: Budget, budget and timeframe. That and you have to team up with a major publisher.
And gameplay-wise how would you make it a Grasshopper game?
Suda: How would I want to do it? I would want to make a denser, more intense world. This sounds very abstract, but say there's a town within a vast space where a culture is born.
Unlike GTA, in which this is expressed through a huge map, vaguely, I imagine something very detailed and specific - well not that extreme, but a more compact world where I can show elements of lifestyle, culture, environment. To this, I would probably then apply a different style script and a story that no one's ever heard of, that way a new world is created.