Grasshopper Manufacture, developer of No More Heroes
and Killer 7
, has the tendency to do the unexpected.
In August, the independent Tokyo, Japan-headquartered studio, led by CEO Goichi "Suda51" Suda, announced it would partner
with Hungary's Digital Reality, developer of titles including the PC strategy games Imperium Galactica
, Hegemonia: Legions of Iron
and War Front: Turning Point
With Grasshopper's action game background and Digital Reality's primarily strategy-focused development expertise, the multi-game co-development partnership between the two companies was a bit of a surprise.
But while the studios' past content differs, Suda said the two developers share a similar mindset: "Grasshopper is a company that loves games, of course, and they want to release innovative and fun games worldwide, so working with [Digital Reality] was a pretty obvious step forward."
The Grasshopper Manufacture head, speaking to Gamasutra in a recent interview, added: "There was hardly any reason not to collaborate, in fact. They're the best partner we could have."
The first announced game to come out of the partnership is Sine Mora
, a side-scrolling shooter for Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network that implements time manipulation mechanics. While other titles are unannounced, Digital Reality said the co-development partnership is for "a range of games" for the online market.
Suda said that with Sine Mora
, Digital Reality is creating the technology, game design and the scenario. "Their tech is pretty advanced," he said. At Grasshopper, famed video game composer Akira Yamaoka, who left Konami in 2009 and is best known for composing music for the Silent Hill
series, will do the sound work on the game. Grasshopper will also handle art direction on the title.
is the first digitally-distributed game for Grasshopper. Suda said the "sheer speed" of development of a digitally-distributed game to him is the biggest change from the studio's past work. "It's a lot quicker than the two-to-three-year development cycles you have now," he said. "It's possible, for example, to come up with a wholly original idea and complete the whole project in half a year if you're quick enough."
Suda's studio is perhaps best known known for games that star offbeat, strange characters placed in even stranger scenarios. The studio's motto "Punk's Not Dead" comes through in characters like No More Heroes
' Travis Touchdown. So the idea of creative freedom was naturally another reason for Digital Reality and Grasshopper's partnership, the CEO said.
"The thing that impressed me the most as I was talking with [Digital Reality], was how much they valued creative freedom," said Suda. "Digital Reality has always been working with European publishers in a very similar way to how Grasshopper handles things. They have experience dealing with publishers and overcoming the problems that pop up, and yet they still retain a very deep focus on creativity -- especially Andras [Peller, Digital Reality CEO]."
He added, "I definitely want Grasshopper to provide a difference from the norm for Andras. We want them to have freedom as they develop and get it to as many people around the world as possible; I have a lot of sympathy for that approach, and I can feel the love."
Suda and Grasshopper are also at work with EA Partners on the "psychological action thriller," Shadows of the Damned