Hidetaka ‘Swery’ Suehiro, the mastermind behind bestworstbest game Deadly Premontion, has started his own studio. He left longtime home Access Games in 2016 after being away for a year’s convalesce, and apparently he’s not going back. His new studio is White Owls, based in Osaka. Though their first game is still under wraps, Swery says they’ll be making more weird, scary, dreamy, funny games. That’s exactly what I want to hear. Oh, and of course Swery’s using this freedom to deliver voice messages from his stuffed monkey partner, Sharapova, and absolutely you can buy an official wall clock with Swery’s bum and his Sharapova ‘tattoo’.White Owls officially formed on November 1st, 2016 — the day after Swery announced he was leaving Access Games — and announced itself to the world this morning.
Swery tells Gamasutra that the seeds for White Owls were planted during his sabbatical.
“During that time, I started to feel a sense of danger in regards to the large separation between the Japanese market and the international market, as well as the changes happening in our era, and with my own philosophies. I really wanted to do something about this, but I was unable to fill that void within the unique environment that is a (Japanese) company.”
Then some western developers suggest he go independent and make only what he wanted, and here we are. White Owls do have a game on the go but it’s still secret for now. I’m encouraged by him telling Gama this:
“We want to create games for YOU, the people who like us. Games that are bizarre, scary, grotesque, and dreamlike, yet also have a strange realism. Games that remind you of the past, that are comical, and sad yet lovable. Those are the kind of games we’ll be making.”
Swery’s games are always wonked out in ways – and barely playable on PC, in the case of Deadly Premonition – but they have such good heart. Deadly Premonition is genuinely one of my favourite games, in spite of the bad shooter wedged in (requested by a publisher, so the story goes) and the bugs and the… it’s such a wonderful melodrama, and such a warm place. I wasn’t at all surprised to hear he had become a certified Buddhist monk.
Oh, and the owls? Swery says it’s a reference to Minerva, the goddess of wisdom, rather than more Twin Peaks riffing.