Interview with Kichiro Toyoma, creator of Silent Hill
Silent Hill game creator Kichiro Toyoma recently spoke in an interview with VCG about his memories of his years with Konami and Japan Studios, and commented on a new wave of remixing of old games.
Keiichirō Toyama is a Japanese playmaker best known for creating the Silent Hill series of games. Toyota joined Konami as an artist in 1994, and after making several games for Sega consoles, he was eventually appointed director of the first installment of the Silent Hill series of games. Despite the game’s great success, Toyota left Konami Studios after the release of Silenthill and joined Japan Studios, a subsidiary of Sony, to continue its operations. During his years at Japan Studio, Toyoma directed the Siren series of Siren games. In addition, during these years, Toyota has been working on the 2012 Gravity Rush game for the PlayStation Vita consoles.
In 2020, Kichiro Toyoma splits from Japan Studios to form Bokeh Studios with two other team members who worked together on Siren. During this year’s Games Awards (2021), Toyota will finally unveil its first new studio production, Slitterhead; A game that is supposed to be a Survivor Harrer effect once again.
Watch on the camera
- One year has passed since the introduction of Bokeh Studio. How is the development of your first game going?
We recently released a teaser trailer for our first Slitterhead game at the Games Awards. The initial version of the game is currently finished. From now on, we intend to use the feedback we received to build the rest of the game. I think it’s too early to talk about more details about the game now, and well, we need a lot of time until the release, I hope you wait for our game!
- You seem to have a professional and experienced team and many are probably interested in joining this project. Has this made game development faster?
I have already worked on projects with many current members of the studio, which I am very happy about. I can work with the same mindset I had when I worked for Sony Studios. Little by little, younger people are being added to us, which I think is also good for boosting the team spirit.
- How do you evaluate this one year that you worked in your own studio instead of Japan Studio? Has it been a different experience for you?
I definitely work very freely now. It is true that my main focus is on the creative part of the games, but on the other hand, we also have many professional members in our team, which ultimately creates a solidarity between us in various fields. This way I can focus more on the storyline and the plot.
- We were very surprised to hear that an old studio like Japan was disbanded. Why did you decide to choose between working for another studio and setting up your own studio?
Before the studio was dissolved, I was also thinking about becoming independent. I felt that because of my age (Toyota is fifty years old) it is very difficult for me to want to work for another company again. I think the only way forward for me was to be independent and work with different companies. However, with the circumstances that arose, I found people who agreed with me and I saw that I could work with them. So I decided to start a new studio.
- Slitterhead is a kind of horror comeback that everyone knows you by. Among the modern horror games that have been made, was there a title that you liked very much, or felt better than the others, and why?
Hideo Kojima’s PT demo was without a doubt great. The game set a new standard that VR Horror Games followed. In my opinion, this game is a legendary game. If I want to give an example of a newer game, I think Devotion was a good game. The strangeness of the customs of another culture both evoked a sense of familiarity in me and made me feel afraid of the unknown.
- Given your role in making (the first version) of Silent Hill, what do you think about the second and third versions and the rest of the game?
In the second and third versions, (Masahiro) Ito elevates his artistic style and finally performs what he had in mind in full. In fact, he insisted so much on his original idea that he finally came to a conclusion, which I think was very good. My only concern was how they wanted to move this style of character design into an action game, and I think they struggled a lot with how to give ito’s design.
(Masahiro Ito) Monster designer and game environment designer Silent Hill One (1999) and in the second and third versions of Silent Hill games, he was the artistic director of the game. کرد.)
Pyramid Head in Silent Hill Two
Ito becomes uncontrollable (laughs) while making the game, does not follow the instructions and does not like to be told how to do his job. Even within himself, he has these conflicts and can not follow a specific path, so he must be given a lot of freedom of action. But when he is given this freedom of action, he comes up with great ideas and plans, and as a director, you like to find a way to put his ideas into action, to understand what he has designed, and to find a way to put that plan into action. Bash implemented in the game. In the end, these creatures are creatures that originate from nightmares, so it is finally possible to adapt them to the game and adapt them to the story of the game.
- The quality of the scene created by Takayoshi Sato, which is one of the distinguishing features of this game from Resident Evil’s games, was one of the things that made the game so memorable. Do you think these scenes have contributed to the overall legacy of the game?
(Takayoshi Sato, a member of Tim Silent, designed the Silenthill Cataclysms one and two.)
I agree that Sato’s work on CG has been and is amazing, and in Konami’s own Sato’s work was highly regarded and admired, we all wanted to be able to turn Sato’s work into a strong point of the game. But personally, since this was my first directing project, I was very worried that I would not be able to implement the strengths of Ito and Sato as I should and maybe in the game. This was one of the challenges I faced when directing Silenthill.
Takayoshi Sato is performing the famous scene from Silent Hill 2
- When you made Silent Hill One, even though you have no directing experience yet, you are left to direct this game. Is this true?
Konami was planning to release a lot of games at the time, and if one of them turned out to be a successful, best-selling game, it would be great. In fact, there was such a mentality, the numbers proved everything. (Konami) was looking to hire a lot of new people for directorial positions. Nevertheless, I had only worked at Konami for three years and was still very young. And well, at the time I made that decision, I was one of the first people to get into directing, and that’s why I was so surprised.
The only reason I can think of for them is that I joined Konami in 1994, when the PlayStation console was released the same year, and so everyone had to go to Paligan, so they decided to hire new recruits. Less experienced developers, and somehow take the risk and try their luck this way.
- If you were not given the director’s chair, your life might have taken a different direction.
I just appreciate it, I think I was very lucky, in terms of time.
- It seems that 32-bit graphic style is coming into fashion again. How do you feel about this? Do you have any good memories from that time or was it more annoying for you to struggle with the limitations of the PlayStation console?
Yes, that was the PlayStation graphic style, and I remember one of the hardest parts of it was constantly changing and bending the details. The lines were not straight and bent and bent again as soon as they moved. I really had a problem with that, so we tried to find a solution. Eventually we came up with different ways to display (details), we found a series of shortcuts or sub-ways to fix this problem, because otherwise the result would look very bad. Interestingly, this method eventually became a style that people liked to emulate, and that was very interesting to me.
Picture of Silent Hill One game
- Capcom has made many remake versions of Biohazard games so far, and will probably continue to do so until the remake of all its games is finally made. Do you think it would be interesting if Konami did the same with Silenthill games?
I think this is more difficult than the Biohazard game remake, because the gameplay layout of the Silenthill games is a bit older. SilentHill is not an action game where you can just redefine the action game system like Biohazard games. If you want to bring Silenthill games to standard today, or if you want to improve the game’s graphics, fans will certainly not be satisfied. I think the outline of the game should be a major overhaul to satisfy the fans.
- In general, what do you think about this new wave of remakes? Is it good that old titles are being made available to new audiences again, or do you see this as just a kind of investment and work without originality?
Unlike the movie, enjoying the games in their original form is harder, and of course the reason is the platform, but over time, the game mechanics will no longer have that logic and complexity in terms of performance. Visually, it is clear that those games were not made for modern equipment, so I have no objection to the fact that the essence of a game conforms to the standards of the modern world in which we live today.
Game Silent Hill One
- With these interpretations, as one of the creators of Silent Hill, do you have an emotional attachment to the game, and are you interested in getting it back one day?
I can not say anything about myself, but if a new version of this game is to be made in the future, as a user, I will obviously be very eager to experience it. I know that many games today are inspired by Silenthill, so I’m very excited to know what the creators will be doing if the new version of the game is made.
- Why are Japanese playmakers so influenced by David Lynch?
(Serial) Twin Peaks was as popular in Japan as it was in the United States. That’s why it’s so well known to the Japanese public. And so the atmosphere that “even very normal people can have a dark side” (a concept portrayed in David Lynch’s Twin Peaks series), I think people relate to such a concept easily. Especially in non-urban spaces where people are usually two-faced, so I got a kind of feeling similar to the Twin Peaks series.
Twin Peaks series, made by David Lynch
- Can you name something between your games that was directly inspired by David Lynch?
The siren sounded in Silent Hill (when you were transported to another world) was a religious homage to Twin Peaks and David Lynch. (In addition) In Eraserhead (another work by David Lynch), we see human curiosity, especially when you are not supposed to be curious about them. As if a desire in human nature that you can not resist, that “insistence on doing things you are not supposed to do” has definitely affected the game.
(In Silent Hill 1) The main character of the game is looking for his daughter, but at the same time he enjoys hunting and the act of killing. At first glance, it seems that he has to do these things to save his daughter Jon, but maybe he enjoys the process as well! This contradiction in the nature of human beings was also inspired by the works of David Lynch.
End of interview