Yesterday, SWERY announced his newest gaming venture, an independent studio called White Owls Inc. Based in SWERY's native city of Osaka, Japan, the new studio is aiming to create games that follow in the strange, fantastical footsteps of the designer's previous works.
This follows more than a year away from game development, as SWERY worked on managing his reactive hypoglycemia. During that period, SWERY officially retired from his previous studio, Access Games. And though he stayed away from development, he spent time working on other pursuits, including work on his forthcoming first novel, and becoming a licensed Buddhist monk.
We had the chance to ask SWERY a few questions about his health and his new studio, and though he wasn't able to give us too many details on what's to come from White Owls, the answers seemed to indicate a renewed excitement and passion for video game development.
Giant Bomb: First off, I know you took an extended leave from development to focus on getting healthy. How are you feeling these days?
SWERY: Thank you so much for your concern.
As of now, I've completely gotten over my condition, and my doctor gave me permission to return to work. I also have no more limitations in terms of drinking beer or eating hamburgers or cakes. My palpitations are long gone, and my hands and legs don't shake anymore.
Incidentally, I intend to keep a low carb diet in order to maintain my health from here on out.
GB: What brought you to the point where you decided you wanted to form your own company?
S: This may sound very rude, but it all started once I tasted freedom for the very first time. During my period of medical treatment, I met a lot of people, went to many different towns and countries, watched a lot of films and TV shows, read books, listened to music, and slept a lot. Strangely enough, these actions filled me with more creativity than ever, and I was able to draw pictures that I hadn't been able to draw before, play musical instruments, and even go out to take pictures. I also made silly games with a game maker and then finally started writing a novel.
In the end, I realized that going to the same office every day at the same time, whether or not I actually had work to do, taking a lunch break at the same time whether or not I was actually hungry, and acting like I was awake even when I was sleepy was not the way to go about creating truly amazing work.
But it's very difficult to put that truth into action within a Japanese company (they're infamous around the world for being very "special", right?) So I decided to make my own ideal company.
Of course, in order to do that, I needed some advice from a lot of creators in the West. What I really needed was true friends!
GB: What is the personal significance of the name White Owls Inc.?
S: Owls watch over the darkness of the night. In Ancient Greece, they deified them as symbols of wisdom. I think that the Greek people looked at the darkness of the night as a metaphor for death. And since owls can see through the darkness, they were seen as sacred beings similar to elderly wisemen.
In that same vein, I've gotten older, and I've gained a bit more wisdom than before. So I decided that the owl was the perfect creature for this new stage of mine.
GB: What's the vision for this studio? What kinds of games are you looking to create?
S: White Owls is a completely independent studio without any capital. Therefore, we can freely create as we wish. We want to make games for all the people who are cheering us on. This means they'll be bizarre, horrific, and filled with laughter, tears, and SWERISMs.
Our slogan is "From Osaka to the World!" I hope you're all excited. Just like the owls that fly through the darkness of the night, the games we make here in Osaka, the city I grew up in, are going to soar out over the entire world.
GB: Can you speak at all on the talent you're bringing together for this studio? Can you talk about where some of the other developers came from, what other games they may have worked on?
S: Since the villains are always trying to figure out the Justice League's secrets, I can't tell you any details. (LOL)
...But the one thing I can say is that there are still a lot of creators in Japan who want to do something on a worldwide level. I'm teaming up with them and creating a secret base.
In order to make this into a reality, I signed a contract with Blake Rochkind from UTA. In other words, I'm seriously working to make the entire world my playing field.
GB: You also have a novel coming this year. Can you talk a little bit about what inspired you to try your hand at novel writing, and what we can expect from this first book?
S: Currently, I'm working with a Japanese publisher and writing a book for commercial publication. I got feedback from my first draft, and just started working on my second draft. It's been a very stimulating experience. A while back, I said on Twitter that it'd be a combination of a rural town + murder + cat + mustache + nuts. It'll have the weirdness that can only happen in a small town, similar to Deadly Premonition, but I also used the same writing method that I employed to write D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die. I can't say any more than this, but if you're interested in hearing more news on it, please check my Twitter. I may tweet some hints every now and then.
GB: Is there anything else you'd like to say about your return to game development?
S: I can't thank my family enough. They supported me with food and other health support during my period of recuperation. Thank you so much. I also want to thank all my fans who've cheered me on through the internet. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Now that I'm back in action, I hope you're all looking forward to more SWERY creations!
I Love You All!