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Q&A: Mizuguchi On  Rez HD 's Genesis, Plans

Q&A: Mizuguchi On Rez HD's Genesis, Plans

November 6, 2007 | By Brandon Sheffield

November 6, 2007 | By Brandon Sheffield
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How did the much lusted-after Rez HD for the Xbox 360 Live Arcade service come into being, what's the state of Q Entertainment, and how about the rumored Ninety-Nine Nights Rondo?

At the recent Tokyo Game Show, Gamasutra had a chance to catch up with Q Entertainment's Tetsuya Mizuguchi, quizzing him cheekily on these questions, alongside possibilities for the future of the Rez franchise and more:

Gamasutra: So, why the Xbox 360 for Rez HD?

Tetsuya Mizuguchi: We had experience with Lumines Live and Every Extend Extra Extreme, so that was easy. It was a very simple reason.

Gamasutra: Just because of having experience with Xbox Live already?

TM: Yes.

Gamasutra: Makes sense. Did you have to pay Sega for the license, or did they give it to you?

TM: We had contact with Sega so we can release Rez again. It's a contract.

Gamasutra: Does it still have to say Sega on it, or is it just Q Entertainment now?

TM: It's copyright Sega, so I don't want to make any change this time. I heard many voices, and messages from the people, "I want to play Rez, but I can't." So nothing changed, but it's in HD and 5.1. This is a big change, to me. I can say that this is a complete version of Rez. It's very smooth, with no jaggies, no stress, widescreen and really good sound.

Gamasutra: Yeah, it's very nice. It looks awesome. But it's a really unusual situation. I assume you don't own the IP of Rez, right? Is it still owned by Sega?

TM: It's still Sega.

Gamasutra: It's pretty unusual for someone leaving a company to get the rights back, so that must have been difficult. I've never seen that in Japan before.

TM: Yeah. I think that this is Sega's policy. I'm very happy.

Gamasutra: It's very nice that they thought that was worth doing. Do you think that you will be able to revive any of your other properties with Sega after doing something like this?

TM: I haven't decided yet. It depends on the voices from the market.

Gamasutra: I know that before leaving Sega, UGA was working on some titles that never finished. Is that anything that you have been able to think about at this point?

TM: No.

Gamasutra: Simple answer! So how big is Q Entertainment now?

TM: Fifty employees.

Gamasutra: Fifty? So it's grown in the last year, by maybe twenty people?

TM: Yeah. Two years ago, twenty. But last year, we already had fifty. It's a really good size -- not so huge, and not so small.

Gamasutra: How do you think your Xbox Live Arcade games will do in Japan? I know that it's not a huge market.

TM: I feel potential. Live Arcade is a really good system. Not only the classic, small sized games -- there's also games like Rez. We've also made E4 -- this is the new property.

Gamasutra: Right, Every Extend Extra Extreme. With Xbox Live Arcade, or Xbox titles in general, do you hope for success in Japan, or do you mostly concentrate on the Western market?

TM: It's a global market, not only Western.

Gamasutra: Obviously the biggest success potential is where they've sold millions instead of thousands. But you didn't say that, I said that!

TM: It's a simple thing -- we want to play on the stage...

Gamasutra: The world stage.

TM: In front of many audiences. It's very simple.

Gamasutra: When I saw you at the East Meets West party at GDC, you mentioned that you were thinking of doing more music production and live show stuff with Genki Rockets. How is that going?

TM: I had a great experience the summer, on July 7th at Live Earth. I directed the show using holographic technology and lasers, and Genki Rockets performed on the stage. This was an opening act in front of ten thousand people in Makuhari Messe. And two million people watched.

That was an amazing experience for me, and I met Mr. [Al] Gore... And Genki Rockets introduced him on stage as our friend, and Al Gore came on stage in holographic form. That was an amazing experience to me. This is not interactive, but it's almost the same concept as Rez or Lumines.

Gamasutra: So is that something that you want to continue doing more in the future?

TM: Yeah. This kind of opportunity gives me many influences, or inspirations.

Gamasutra: Do you think it's the kind of thing you could do in the U.S., or is this something that you have to do in Japan for now?

TM: Genki Rockets?

Gamasutra: Yeah, Genki Rockets or musical production.

TM: We don't care about the market. Now, we just now started from the Japanese, Asian market. I'm looking for a future possibility in the Western market.

Gamasutra: Some video game-related concerts have done pretty well. There are some types of success that have been had already, but mostly those are with symphonies or things like that -- nothing like this kind of presentation. So it would be really interesting to see. Are you involved with the new Ninety-Nine Nights as well?

TM: No.

Gamasutra: So is that all Phantagram?

TM: No. There's a new Ninety-Nine Nights?

Gamasutra: Yeah. Ninety-Nine Nights 2 was announced.

TM: It was announced?

Gamasutra: Wasn't it? Did I make that up? Check it out on the Internet right now!

TM: I don't think so. I think that's a rumor.

[PR researches it and discovers that Famitsu Taiwan has a listing for Ninety-Nine Nights Rondo, though it has not been officially announced.]

TM: I don't do [anything with this title.]

Tim Rogers: Rez HD looks really good. How many Microsoft points is this going to cost?

TM: We haven't decided yet, but it won't be too expensive.

TR: I know a lot of people got upset at Lumines.

TM: Microtransactions?

TR: Yeah, microtransactions.

TM: That was in Lumines' style. Rez and E4 are not like that, so you can download everything.

TR: Will there be any microtransactions in the future [for the new games], like extra levels?

TM: No, no, no.

Gamasutra: Is the original creator of [dojin PC shooter] Every Extend involved in E4?

TM: No.

Gamasutra: So only in the PSP version?

TM: Yes. It's a totally different game design.

Gamasutra: So did he sign over his IP to Q?

TM: The Every Extend guy?

Gamasutra: Yeah.

TM: Yeah, in full.

Gamasutra: Will Rez HD be Xbox 360 only, or also PSN?

TM: We haven't decided yet. How is PSN now? Is it good?

Gamasutra: It's kind of cool in Japan. We don't have as much [back catalog downloadable titles] in the U.S., in terms of releasing the old PS1 games and things like that....

Gamasutra: If you did a Rez 2, or more Kandinsky-influenced games, it could have more of the organic kind of feeling of his paintings. Is that something you would possibly want to get into?


TM: Yeah. We need to cover two directions -- the realism, and the organic and abstract, softer direction. A console is like a canvas for us. If I got a new canvas -- high-def, high-res -- and brighter and softer, vivid colors, we would draw, and we would make a new world.

But I think this is not painting -- we have to think about one more layer, and one more attention. That layer is... something is moving all the time, with music.

This is very tough imagination all the time, so we have to think about all the time something is moving, and the colors changing and moving by sound and music -- an interactive process. If you do something, you get something.


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