How did you come across the voice actor for York? He fits his role really well -- is he a professional?
SWERY: The voice actor for York is Jeff Kramer.
Of course, he is a professional and was introduced to us by the translation company that did the English version for us, Katalyst Lab. Actually, Jeff Kramer was the voice for Seaman.
He was definitely a pro among the pros, a really tough guy but really kind. On the top of that, he was really fun.
After we received his voice sample and I listened to it, I was really surprised because I had the feeling that I was actually listening to York's voice from my PC. It was him and couldn't be anyone else.
How much of York's conversation with Zach was your own inner thoughts? Not many people have seen Deadly Spawn, for example, so it sounded very personal to me (I saw the movie in a theatre in 2001 with the director, who did a Q&A afterward).
SWERY: The inner thought conversations in the game were written by the co-scenarist Kenji Gota and me. Kenji Gota is actually a movie director in the Japanese independent scene and he is a good friend of mine. When we meet, we always talk about movies, sometimes for hours while drinking. This atmosphere, I wanted to recreate it in the game too that's why I had to think about a way to integrate it.
So through different gimmicks, we ended up integrating our conversations such like the one below in the game, especially in the inner thought talks in the car I think.
"What?! You met Douglas McKeown!
How lucky you are!!
I wanted to hear more about it but I have an interview today, so let's discuss it around a coffee next time. OK, Zach?"
Deadly Premonition has some of the most interesting and twisted monologues I've heard in a video game before, and I think they work because York's voice actor plays it so straight. Most game developers would not dare to address necrophilia or drinking urine from a skull. What was your motivation there?
SWERY: That's a difficult question.
When I created York, he actually started to express himself... So I just wrote down what he was saying. Next time, I will ask him in details his motivation.
There was a lot of writing in this game, with care taken to give NPCs new dialog every time York has found a new piece of evidence, even if the dialog doesn't ultimately advance the storyline. Did you have a team of writers, or did one person do it all?
SWERY: I (under my other pen name) and Kenji Gota wrote the main scenario. I also wrote 80 percent of the side-missions. The remaining 20 percent was written by our planner.
The conversations with the NPCs were all written by me. We prepared discussions for all chapters, 24 hours a day, and all types of weather. I didn't want the player to feel any repetition while talking with the NPCs.
Since the player is taking some time to converse with the NPCs, if he is told the same thing each time, it would be a kind of let down. When I started to write the scenario, every day for 18 hours, without resting even during New Year, I had to write down something.
How have you felt about the reaction to the game in the U.S.?
SWERY: I felt really flattered!! Everyone, I love you!! That's all.
Most of the positive reviews of Deadly Premonition have been from the alternative press, or those members of the press who appreciate something different. How do you think the game will review in Japan, where alternative games press hardly exists?
SWERY: Not particularly great. Actually, the feedback I got from users were "it's good fun!" but looks like the Japanese media didn't really bother. Unfortunately, there is no alternative games press at the moment here.
I have to discuss the map UI -- it reorients every time you change direction, and is really confusing -- you also can't zoom out very much. Why was it this way? I have been speculating that maybe you wanted to make players learn the layout of the town.
SWERY: York has to do many visits in remote, inconvenient places in Greenvale.
Besides, his laptop and cell phone were broken, his beloved car crashed, the sheriff is an arrogant moron, there is no convenience store, gas is expensive, chocolate chip cookies are also expensive...
But, actually, in the game, there are many other inconvenient things that we didn't implement. For example, he couldn't find his favorite cigarette brand, there are only a few channels on TV, and as you can see in recent movies, there is no catering service, no internet, and so on...
I think that a car GPS is also one commodity that you can't find in the countryside, so I need you to be comprehensive. Furthermore, it's not as if I didn't warn you at the beginning of the game when York says "Zach, there goes the civilized world".