Q&A: Konami's Akihiro Imamura

GameSpot interviews the producer of Silent Hill 2 regarding both the PlayStation 2 and Xbox versions of the game.

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GameSpot recently interviewed Akihiro Imamura, producer of Silent Hill 2. Before the interview, we had the opportunity to play the demo of the PS2 version and watch the promo clip for the Xbox version at the Konami booth during the Tokyo Game Show.

GameSpot: What percentage of the game is complete at this point?

Akihiro Imamura: We are about 50 percent complete in development.

GS: The CG movie portion of the game was shown at shows previously like ECTS and Tokyo Game Show, we were pretty amazed that the level of graphics in game and CG movies were close. Any difficulties your team encountered during the process?

AI: With a more powerful hardware spec--more polygon and graphical enhancements--our team has worked hard from the beginning of the development and managed to reach the level we have attained.

GS: The previous Silent Hill had effects like thick fog and darkness. We've previously read in a publication that the fog effects will be improved. Would you like to elaborate on that?

AI: We weren't able to show you in the playable demo, but if you've seen parts of the promotion clips, we've made the fog effects more lifelike.

GS: For example, when the character is walking through the thick fog, would we see effects like the fog dispersing around him?

AI: We are still making adjustments on that in our programming at this point, so we probably can't show it [at] a visual level yet, but yes.

GS: Are you adding other effects such as rain?

AI: There were no situations in the game where rain was involved, but we've added other effects to enhance the experience of being in the game.

GS: In the first Silent Hill, the game seemed to take place predominantly indoors. Will it be the same for Silent Hill 2?

AI: I think we will have an equal amount of both indoors and outdoors. Graphically though, you might notice a slight difference between the two, because the outdoors involve more objects per area.

GS: Will the cutscenes during the game be real time or CG?

AI: For expressions on characters, we are using both CG and real time accordingly.

GS: Silent Hill 2 uses "S-Force 3D Sound Library," the new 3D audio library developed by Sony. How much of it is being used?

AI: You will feel sound from different directions--from the left, right, above, or even below you.

GS: How would it work on, say, a home-theater system?

AI: Though the game is not 5.1-channel compatible, it will have a pretty good effect.

GS: The story involved a great sense of fear and claustrophobia. Will you be adding any new themes such as love or trust?

AI: Our presentation is a horror genre, but yes, we'd also like to present themes such as love in the game.

GS: There were multiple endings in SH1, and for some users, it was difficult to understand. Will the sequel be easier to understand?

AI: Yes, we have made certain parts like that on purpose. In the second one, we do have several endings prepared, and it will probably be easier for the users to understand.

GS: Is there anything in particular in the sequel you'd like to bring to our attention that is different from the first game?

AI: That would be [the] graphics. We had hardware limitations with the PlayStation. I think we can express some of the things we missed out--such as shadows of monsters appearing on the wall or, as we've just discussed, effects such as fog.

GS: How much bigger is the world in SH2?

AI: The contents are about the same as SH1.

GS: Regarding the Xbox version, we just saw the movie clip at the booth. What are the particular differences? Can we expect graphical and audio enhancements?

AI: We have just begun developing and grasping the basics, so we're particularly not sure yet at this point.

GS: Any additional features?

AI: Yes, there will be original additions exclusively for the Xbox.

GS: The development kits for the Xbox are not yet finalized. Would there be any problems or issues in terms of game development?

AI: We are a software maker, so it is our job to do our best with what we are provided. We'll have to continually adjust ourselves with the changes [of the development kit] accordingly.

GS: What are your aspirations for the Xbox? It seems Konami has a strong support for the Xbox.

AI: For a software maker, hardware makers are our partners, so we'd like to develop games for their hardware.

GS: The general consensus is more sensitive about issues of violence than ever before. With the more realistic-looking sequel, are you worried about it?

AI: The game's main theme is fear, but we'd like to keep it to a certain extent. It is difficult to balance between our artistic expressions [and], at the same time, being careful about the general consensus.

GS: Were you involved in the GBA version of Silent Hill?

AI: Just a little bit, like checking the script of the game and playing hands-on of the final version, but everything else is done by a different team.

GS: The development team for Shadow of Memories is under the same division. Looking at their game, did you have any inspiration from it?

AI: Well, the direction on both games is very different, so there weren't any particular feelings such as inspiration or feel for competition when developing our game.

GS: I've read in interviews from other publications that you seem to like David Lynch films.

AI: With Silent Hill, I usually mention his name since he is a popular director and is easy to relate to for the non-Japanese audience. But I am not particularly limiting myself to just his films.

GS: Any movies you watched recently that you might want to transpire into your next work?

AI: I don't have a particular title, but I'd like to watch different movies and absorb as much visuals as possible.

GS: Have you played online games?

AI: Yes, though I have been busy with work, I have played a little bit of Phantasy Star Online on the Dreamcast.

GS: Any ideas for an online game?

AI: Personally, Silent Hill and network games don't meld, but if I will be involved in a network title, I'd like to work on a title once the infrastructure for it is well and ready in the Japanese market.

GS: Lastly, any messages for the American gamers?

AI: Please have a look at the graphics, it is quality you have not seen before. It will be a scary game, at the same time you will enjoy playing the game--like instances when attacking monsters. To both old and new users alike, I hope you will buy the game and have fun.

GS: Thank you very much for your time.

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