Jim Ryan Fanclub's #1 Member
HAPPY ANIVERSARY MY BELOVED GRAVITY RUSH
The game of my life, came to PS VITA 10 years ago.
Never, I never thought that the game that I will remember forever and always exists, that's right.... That great artistic work is called Gravity rush!!!!
10 years. 10 happy years where I flew with Kat and fell into gravity.
Great and wonderful people, as well as Gravity rush fans who are the calmest people out there.
Keiichiro Toyama leaves us a great interview for his 10th anniversary.
GRC: It’s been 10 years since the release of the first Gravity Rush on PS Vita. You’re said to be a director who doesn’t micro-manage everything and instead encourages the development team to come up with their own ideas. Can you talk about how different Gravity Rush ended up being as a result of that, compared to your original vision when you first started development?
KT: For Gravity Rush we had core concepts such as “A world in the style of bande dessinée”, “An Action Game that allows you to control gravity” – however there were limitless approaches in how to materialize these ideas. I think it is genuinely rational for the team to interpret the concepts in their own way and suggest ideas so that staff members can demonstrate their own strengths. As a result, compared to the original puzzle-orientated game, we shifted towards a game that allows you to enjoy the world and liberation.
GRC: This creative process also seemed to be something that we see in other Japan Studio games. They often took risks and tried to deliver unique gameplay experiences. Looking back at your time working at Japan Studio, what are some of your best memories working there?
KT: In Japan Studio there was a culture where you could start up a project from bottom-up, and for that I am grateful for having had a highly free and enjoyable time. However, as the hardware evolved and the market grew to a worldwide audience, I think it was unavoidable that restrictions would increase due to the scale of things.
GRC: We know that the world design and architecture of Jirga Para Lhao in Gravity Rush 2 was influenced by the development team’s travels throughout Latin America and Asia. In a similar way, would you say that these also influenced the game’s story and its underlying themes such as social inequality?
KT: The experience of visiting Mexico for promoting Gravity Rush 1 had a great influence on us. The theme of the story of Gravity Rush is an attempt to incorporate the concerns of the world at a certain time into a fictional world as a satire. It’s a huge problem, but everyone has given up somewhere in their hearts. Kat would face that problem with an honest attitude. This is the structure we envisioned. I also wanted to draw the strong, unwavering will of people who do not lose hope in such circumstances.
GRC: David Lynch was a noted influence for you when creating Silent Hill. Could you speak more on that, and if any of those elements of Lynch’s works—any themes or ideas, major or minor—also found themselves in Gravity Rush 1 and 2?
KT: At the time of Silent Hill, there were many creators who had been influenced by Lynch’s works due to the popularity at the time – but I don’t think that there is much influence to be seen in Gravity Rush. The most prominent influences for Gravity Rush are Mœbius and Alejandro Jodorowsky, who collaborated on many works.
GRC: If you’re at liberty to talk about this, we were wondering if Team Gravity was aware of the #DontForgetGravityRush campaign on social media to preserve the online services for Gravity Rush 2? And if you were, what were the team’s thoughts on this fan initiative?
KT: Of course, we were aware of the campaign. Due to my position in the company at that time, I refrained from reacting to it openly, but everyone involved on the project took it with great gratitude. I must tell you how thankful I am.
GRC: Gravity Rush 2 could be played entirely in first-person mode. You once mentioned that the fans should make their voice heard if they wanted to see a VR mode included in the game. While this didn’t become a reality, it had me wondering if the development team ever experimented with a VR mode for the game?
KT: We had run tests. The frame rate was low, so it was far from any comfortable experience… Even so, the feeling of entering this other world was touching. Due to the nature of the game being an gravity-controlling action, we had hit a brick wall in terms of sustaining a high frame rate for VR.
GRC: Game development is notoriously difficult and ideas often get removed due to time constraints or available resources. If you had an opportunity to go back in time and add a removed feature in the Gravity Rush games, what would it be?
KT: As for features I feel that we exhausted these in Gravity Rush 2, and for that reason there isn’t anything I’d particularly like to add. Production at that time was quite tight, so I can say that it would have been nice to have more time in fine-tuning certain things.
GRC: Sony is currently porting more of their first-party games to PC. How would you feel about the Gravity Rush games being made available on that platform?
KT: I think it would be a good thing to open the game up to more users. It would also be wonderful if Gravity Rush 2 ran on 60fps.
GRC: Having founded Bokeh Game Studio after leaving SIE, can you talk a bit more about the positives and negatives that you have experienced working as head of an independent studio, compared to working at a large videogame company?
KT: There certainly is a fear in having to deal with any kind of problems all by ourselves, however up to this point there hasn’t been an instance like that, and I am enjoying being in a free environment and how we are able to make decisions instantly.
GRC: Your new game Slitterhead marks your return to the horror genre, and looks like it’ll be very different game from Gravity Rush. Even so, are there aspects of the game that you think will be familiar to people who played the Gravity Rush games?
KT: Compared to Silent Hill and Siren there is a greater weight of Action in Slitterhead, so naturally many things we have learnt from Gravity Rush is applied in that sense. I believe that there will be aspects in Slitterhead where you could feel the DNA of either directions.
GRC: Of course, there’s one question we have to ask. You’ve mentioned that you maintain a good relationship with Sony. Given the chance, would you want to work on a new Gravity Rush game?
KT: There are various things to bear in mind as a start-up, but on a personal level I obviously would like to. Even if it wasn’t a new game, if there is any opportunity for me to be involved with anything related, I would be grateful to do so.
GRC: You’ve once mentioned that you aspire to make IPs that fans can enjoy even ten or twenty years after they’re released. It’s fair to say that you’ve achieved that goal with Gravity Rush! Even now we still see people posting screenshots and fan art every day on social media. We’d like to thank you and everyone who worked on the Gravity Rush franchise for bringing these wonderful games to life, and we wish you and everyone at Bokeh Game Studio all the best with the development of your new game. To conclude our interview, is there any message you’d like to share with the Gravity Rush fans around the world?
KT: It’s a somewhat strange game, and I don’t think it can be referred as a major title, but I’m truly happy that people have been attached to it for such a long time.
We are currently working on a project with a different perspective compared to Gravity Rush, but in the meantime I would strongly like to come up with new ideas and work on titles like Gravity Rush again, so I hope you will still keep an eye out for us.
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