Deadly Premonition Director Swery On How To Make Players Think About Your Game

By Ishaan . March 24, 2011 . 9:25am

Earlier this month at the Game Developers Conference, Deadly Premonition director, Swery, gave a talk titled “Game Design in the Coffee,” on how to keep players thinking about your game by linking it to real life activities, and how to keep them from growing bored of it. You can read the full talk here, and some of the points we found interesting summarized below.


One way Deadly Premonition does this is by highlighting scenes of protagonist, York, doing everyday things, such as eating, sleeping, shaving or lighting up a cigarette. Swery says that the next time you go to bed or you’re eating, you’ll think of Deadly Premonition.


Another way to keep players from getting bored with the game is “allowing for a change of heart,” Swery says. There are times when, part of the way through a particular quest in a game, you change your mind and decide you don’t want to do it any more. In most games, backing out of a quest equates to failure. In Deadly Premonition, however, effort was made to allow players to be able to take a break from what they were doing and branch off into something else.


This strengthens the sense of freedom and removes the sense of being forced to doing something against your will. This is further reinforced via the game’s script, with York willingly going along with the player’s desire and expressing his agreement through dialogue: "That’s exactly what I was thinking!"


As far as characters go, Swery created notes that helped him write up a resumé for Deadly Premonition’s cast. Furthermore, Swery believes it’s important that your character can be mimicked, as, again, this allows fans to mimic them and causes them to think about the game. For this reason, it’s important to give your characters signature styles and poses.


It’s also important to give them a negative side, Swery says, as this helps make them more relatable. “In life when we are in love with someone we are actually in love with both the good and the bad sides of that person. We’re in love with that unique blend.”


Swery’s talk ended on an interesting note. He touched very briefly upon the kind of games he’s interested in making, and one idea was a game in which every character could become the main character.

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  • Altritter

    Swery seems like a really awesome guy and I thoroughly enjoyed Deadly Premonition. Here’s hoping he gets to make another game like it again soon, and by that I just mean a game with its unique surreal humor and well-developed characters, not the horror elements so much.

    What do you think, Zach?

    • i definitely agree with u though… and swery is correct in every point he made.. but i hope he can work in some place where his game’s graphic and some technical stuff can be greatly enhanced.. cuz, lets admit it, we are all spoilt by the HD graphic many developers been throwing at us this past years.. its hard to go back…

      • Testsubject909

        Why’re you answering in Zach’s name? I do believe Zach can answer for himself.

        • oh great… now.. you even want to control my freedom of speech? Can’t I just agree with something even if it is not directed to me or something? Unless you are joking.. which I see no sign of it.. and if so, then I find you very very annoying.. I would sincerely ask you to be a little bit more quiet… Thanks!!

          • Nah, he’s joking. The whole Zach thing is part of a joke within Deadly Premonition.

      • Altritter

        Eh, I didn’t have a problem with the game’s graphics to be honest. The game was only $20 anyway, so I wasn’t expecting some great-looking title graphically but what I got was one of the most entertaining and engrossing titles this generation.

      • Yusaku_Matsuda70s

        The game’s “shitty” graphics and odd colors contributed greatly to the campy low-budget movie feel of the game the longer I played it. Appropriately, gave the game a very ’90s feel. Also, things like voice acting, cutscene direction, and subtle character behaviors, were expertly executed. More than “made up” for the dated visuals. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  • PrinceHeir

    interesting tid bits :D

    now release the PS3 version on US please. im dying to play this :P

    • Testsubject909

      SWERY: How to make people think about your game. Never release it on the PS3.

      It works, fool proof. DAMN YOU SWERY! I kid, I kid… Please release it… I have no interest in importing a Voice Only english game with Japanese text…

  • Testsubject909

    Indeed, a unique blend SWERY did brew,
    Much like York’s coffee, or an excellent stew.
    Making a game that’s rare by far and few,
    And around it, such a community grew.

    But still, we beg, that it may come to the PS3,
    The fans are many who would pay for such.
    Obviously we’re not asking you to do it for free,
    We don’t believe it’s asking for much.

    So that we can also enjoy that tasty crunch.

    So says Mister Stewart.

  • Guest

    Why all this buzz talk? Release it for PS3 to the U.S./EU then already!

    • the buzz was because he was at GDC giving a speech about his game and the development processes. He most likely wouldn’t have been at GDC if the game wasn’t a cult hit.

      There are plenty of post mortems on games and that’s what SWERWY was giving.

      • Guest

        yeah but….this article has been posted twice on this board…

  • Hm… I remember a couple of my friends complaining about having to perform daily activities (like cooking, showering, shaving…) in Heavy Rain. I didn’t have a problem with it, but I do admit that there are certain points where it feels more like tedium than gaming.

    So here’s my question: Will you be forced to do it, or will it just be a casual thing?

    • Testsubject909

      In Deadly Premonition, these were all completely optional. You could comically choose to never change clothes and just stink to high heavens with flies flying around you. But unlike Heavy Rain, the game actively rewarded you for tending to your everyday needs, so it wasn’t as if the activities, which took a fraction of a moment, were anything bad.

      Plus the whole eating + resting portion was similar enough to other RPGs that most people never really found it all that annoying, last I checked.

  • Yusaku_Matsuda70s

    Wise words. I don’t know about other players, but I’m already thinking about his next game.

    Swery 65 is my new Suda 51. The question is, can he ever make anything ever as good again? (And localized for the PS3, hopefully)

    • Testsubject909

      Wait until we see a Swery 65 and Suda 51 collab called Apocalypse 116 dated for 2012.

      The Mayans were right!

  • Ah, that’s funny…that thing you did with the PS3/360 above the headline.

  • Tokyo Guy

    So I’m guessing that the North American PS3 version of this game has basically amounted to vaporware…

  • thaKingRocka

    I got halfway through the third paragraph before I was like, “Why read this? Just buy it already.” I was seriously looking forward to this game back when it was more clearly influenced by Twin Peaks. I’m a Twin Peaks superfan, so I have a soft spot for anything that pays even the mildest of homage. Those guys at Konami and Remedy must have been big fans too.

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