I want to talk about using Unreal at the studio. Obviously Unreal has a very, very wide uptake in the Western market, but in the Japanese market there's been very few examples of Unreal use. And when it has been, it's been less than optimally executed. So I was wondering if you could talk about the experience of doing that, with this team at Grasshopper.
MG: Yeah, working with Unreal, definitely it's not a common thing in Japan. It's not a common platform, and we definitely had some troubles at the beginning finding specialized level designers, for example. So we had to hire them from abroad, from the U.S. And we were able, for Shadows of the Damned specifically, to bring together a very specialized team, very knowledgeable about Unreal technologies, and that helped us a lot. At the same time Unreal's technology allows us basically to focus on content rather than technical issues.
I would still say, I mean... that's the first time as a team we're using Unreal in Japan. So we can definitely improve, let's say, our technical side in the next games.
But as I said before, the team is very much international; there's a lot of foreign forces working on it, there's a lot of Japanese programmers as well. So I think we brought in new knowledge, new skills, and from now on it's just going to be growing and improving this.
You've heard a lot of -- to the point where I think it's quite getting tedious -- the Japanese game industry's becoming problems. I think that things are sort of swinging back up a little bit, I was wondering what your perspective was?
MG: Yeah, I mean I hear a lot of times this thing, but I mean... as a developer that has worked in the West and in Japan as well, I don't think it's true at all. I mean it's like... your neighbor's grass is always greener, you know what I mean?
Definitely Japan is a little bit behind from a technology point of view, but you can still find a lot of interesting content, a lot of creative stuff that, culturally, also, you'll never find in the West. So they're just catching up.
And they're just complementary, once again. And I think the most interesting thing we contributed to, as developers, is being able to mix the two of them; to have a workforce both Japanese and foreigners working together and collaborating.
Japan's willingness to play with the culture of games and do different things creatively is its strength, right?
MG: Yeah, I mean culturally speaking, and not just in games, Japan has a totally different approach to visual media in general, and I'm just talking about video games. I mean arts and visual design. So their way of thinking is way more visual than ours, and that reflects very much in games.
In the West, it's more likely to being made and portraying things on a realistic point of view. And those two are, for me cultural, not issues, but cultural properties of each different culture. So you know, that's why I think they're complementary. There are no negative points, it's just like you need to take a little bit from that, and a little bit from that and mix them and get something complete.
Can you talk a little bit about the artistic direction of the game, and keeping it realistic enough to be relatable while bringing in that sort of that visual panache that we would expect from Grasshopper?
MG: From an artistic direction point of view, the main rule, let's say, the main direction, was to create contrast, as well. So we went for a realistic approach, but at the same time it's very surreal and very grotesque. So those two things blended together are kind of unique.
And at the same time we post processed the whole image using specific graphic techniques that you don't see so often in games. We cross-processed the image to add to the overall frame. So we try to give the feel of the movie, at the same time -- that kind of unique flavor that you probably used to see in some cult B-movies of the '80s for example. That was an inspiration.
Do you think there's still room to push forward in those regards, and make games? I feel like it's underutilized. In the current generation, I think, there's way more things we can do that are aesthetically diverse, that are just not happening.
MG: I think absolutely there's room for that. There must be room for that; it's just a matter of coming up with more standardized technology or middleware. And when that time comes, which is going to probably be 10 years or more than that, studios are going to be more focusing on the content itself rather than pushing technology or pushing shaders and stuff like that.
So I totally expect games to grow as an industry and as a medium. We're just not there yet; it's just a young industry. So for now it's still very much software running, and that aspect influences a lot of the mentality of developers and the mentality of companies. You don't see that in movies right now because that's it, the technology of movies is 24 frames per second. That's pretty much all there is about it, so you can experiment with all the rest. So I'm expecting the same thing to happen in video games -- it'll just take some time.