Interview with Akira Yamaoka - Horror Show (EGM)
Date published: 2004.04.14
Horror Show: Akira Yamaoka talks about music, movies, and monsters in EGM's interview with the Silent Hill 4 producer.
EGM: In past Silent Hill games, when the hero crosses over into "the other world" it's always a scary, terrible place where they want to escape. But in SH4, Henry travels there of his own choice to escape his room...does this fundamental difference affect how he reacts to the "Other world?"
Akira Yamaoka: That's right: the main difference in SH4 over previous games in the series is that here, you'll be based in your own room...so when you go into the alternate world you are in fact self-motivated. So, when you wake up for the first time in the game your room looks fine, but as the game progresses, you'll see that your room is being eroded...
EGM: How do you feel that your background in music has affected your role as a producer? Are there similarities between creating music and managing a game's creation?
Yamaoka: It's quite different, and it's also tough to make time for both. But I think I feel more strongly about being a music creator...
EGM: The music in SH3 featured a greater emphasis on melodies (especially with all the vocal tracks), will your score for SH4 continue down that path, or return more to the industrial tunes from SH1 and 2?
Yamaoka: There will be several vocal tracks with nice melodies, as in SH3, but at the same time, there will be a lot of ambient sounds.
EGM: Silent Hill 3 answered many questions left at the end of SH1...will SH4 pick up any loose plot threads from the series? Maybe some from Silent Hill 2?
Yamaoka: Well, in terms of storyline there are no direct connections. But of course, the town of Silent Hill is related here. However, you don't have to have played previous games to play this one.
EGM: We all loved Heather's stylish outfits in SH3...will Henry be as much of a fashion fan?
Yamaoka: Yes, there will be some hidden modes where you can change the costumes of various characters...and this game has the most characters in any game in the series!
EGM: The monsters in SH4 seem as horrific as always...is Ito-san dreaming up these hideous beasts again?
Yamaoka: Actually, Ito is not working on monster designs this time. But Mr. Sugiyama, the art director for SH2, is doing the spooky monsters here.
EGM: Your team has pushed the limits of the PS2 technology further than expected...are you excited about working on a new generations of consoles in the next few years?
Yamaoka: Hmm, of course I'm looking forward to seeing what the new consoles will be like...
EGM: Although Konami already created the GBA SH sound novel, Do you think a game like SH would work well on a portable like PSP? Horror games seem better when played in a dark room late at night...
Yamaoka: It's similar to watching a movie on a portable DVD player...you can do it, but it's not as fun as going to a movie theater! So, I think that having games like Silent Hill on a portable wouldn't work very well.
EGM: The videos you showed today featured some trippy visual filters...how did you do those?
Yamaoka: Actually, I'm quite happy that you pointed those out. We're using a very special technique in order to realize those visuals. It's not a matter of using a program to do it, we actually have to go in there and do those by hand. It's very time-consuming.
EGM: Have you seen any good horror movies lately?
Yamaoka: Well, I love watching movies, and I try to watch as many as possible, but I usually watch my favorites over and over. I recently saw The Omen again; it's very good and scary. I'm amazed by the power it commands so long after being made.
EGM: Are you worried about the Silent Hill movie?
Yamaoka: No, I'm not worried, because we have some control over it. It's not like they just make some new, original movie and we're like "What is that??" I also want to do the soundtrack...(laughs)
EGM: Do you have any desire to make a horror game that doesn't take place in Silent Hill?
Yamaoka: Well, I've been thinking about that ever since I became a producer...and I don't think the genre will every die, so I'd love to keep working on horror games...