While out in LA previewing LET IT DIE (see our hands on impressions here), the upcoming free to play hack and slash PS4 title from Grasshopper Manufacture and GungHo Online Entertainment, I was able to sit down for an interview with game director Hideyuki Shin-San. His translator relayed my questions to him and his answers to me and I have transposed them in this article. Please enjoy!
Tyler Nethers: What was the inspiration for LET IT DIE?
Hideyuki Shin-San: Toward the end of Killer is Dead is when the development for LET IT DIE started. I was part of the development and creative process at that time. Around that time it was decided by the creative team that I would take direction on LET IT DIE.
TN: So this is very different than Killer is Dead. It has a very similar aesthetic and art style, but going from a single player campaign to a free to play hack and slash is very different. What prompted that change?
HS: So it is a completely different style. For the most part, when you make a new title you really want to challenge yourself, do something new, something challenging and make something great. With a new game most of the time you are going to start from the very beginning with a fresh start.
TN: You bring up challenges and challenging yourself, what do you think your biggest challenge with this title was as opposed to others you have worked on?
HS: The biggest challenge is the free to play. I have never done online games before, much less free to play online games. Going online free to play is the biggest challenge. Within that though, you're putting this out on the market for free. You have to have places to monetize, so balancing places where players can monetize but not make them feel native towards it while also being able to show we can make a return on it in the right way and the best way possible was the biggest challenge of this title.
TN: What do you think your biggest influence was in directing this game? Stepping away from the other games that you have done, where did you pull the idea for LET IT DIE from?
HS: In regards to previous titles that I worked on like Killer is Dead, there are action elements to them and I pulled some influence from them and other action titles because grasshopper does focus on very action heavy games. The biggest part of LET IT DIE and what I drew inspiration for are the survival elements. There is this TV show in Japan about survival where one man is placed in these ridiculous situations like alone on a mountain or stranded on a desert island. Not just myself but the CEO of GungHo in their headquarters, we both find this show very interesting and the question was in these horrible situations, what would a person do to survive? Well you can see in this game you have to survive and you’re not given a lot, you start off in your underwear right? You have to live off the land to survive, eating frogs and rats and getting weapons from your fallen enemies here and there. You really see those aspects and the question of what would you do alone in a dire situation to survive.
TN: Backing it up here, what is it that got you into video games in the first place? There must be a jumping off point in your life where you decided that you wanted to make games for a living, what was that?
HS: Originally, I wanted to be an art teacher. I got my license to teach at all levels elementary through high school. I liked drawing and a lot of things with art, but when I was at university that was when the games industry changed and became 3D with games like Virtua Fighter I was like it is unbelievable what you can do with computer graphics now so I really fell in love with 3D graphics and really wanted to be in the gaming industry.
TN: Ok, so what was your favorite game when you were younger? What did you enjoy the most and spend the most time with?
HS: I would have to say that my favorite game of all time right now would be The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.
TN: With starting off wanting to be an art teacher, what kind of art interested you?
HS: To get my degree as an art teacher I did specialize in graphical design for topography, like designing signs. But to get your license for being a teacher you have to be able to do pretty much anything, so oil painting and regular drawing and ceramics. You can’t focus on just one thing because you have to be able to teach a lot of things. I did focus a lot on graphical design.
TN: With all those things you listed, do you have a favorite discipline? An art style that stands out to you aside from making games?
HS: Out of all of it I guess going back 15-20 years ago to the graphic design era I bought a Mac so I could learn a lot of that on my own which connects to where I am now with game design. I have always been fascinated with being able to express things in 3D as opposed to 2D.
TN: So, with this love for art, do you have any plans to go back into teaching once you have done everything you want to do with video games or do you plan to stay in the games industry the rest of the way?
HS: Haha well there was a time that I thought after I made the game that I really wanted to make that sure, I would leave the games industry and go back into teaching and teach young people about what my experiences were. Then I realized that I first have to make the game that I really want to make, then I realized after that, to make the game I really want to make will take a long time. I don’t know how long, but I should just focus on that for right now.
TN: Well then what is the game that you really want to make? Is that this game, have you made that game or is it still coming in the future.
HS: With this title, I have put a lot of my heart and soul and it is a really fun game and I am pretty sure that you will agree and a lot of people after they try it will feel like it is fun too, but personally for a game that I really want to make, first of all I want to try something a little bit different. At Grasshopper you know a lot of games are extremely violent where tons and tons of blood are coming out everywhere, so I want to try something a little different in that sense if I want to try and go to make my own game.
TN: Ok, well those are all the questions that I have for you thank you so much for the time. I really respect everything that you have done so far and everything that you have accomplished in this industry so I really appreciate the time you have taken to talk to me.
HS: Just hearing that makes me feel so great and so thankful, that you would come all the way out here to play the game and enjoy it, that makes me happy. Please continue to play and enjoy the game and thank you.