"I told the interviewer that the current games on the market were not the types of games I wanted to make. They felt dated to me. I wanted to make games with the future in mind. The interviewer said to me: ‘You are kind of out there, but we could probably use someone like you in our company.'"
- Tetsuya Mizuguchi, recounting his memory of applying for a job at Sega.
Game designer Tetsuya Mizuguchi is best known for his seminal rhythm shooter game Rez, but he's worked a variety of projects in the course of his 26-year career in the game industry.
The veteran designer recently wrote about some of his defining projects in a feature for Edge magazine, which has been republished today on Kotaku UK. It's a fun, intriguing read for fellow developers, especially those who might be curious about why Mizuguchi came to join Sega ("I had an unorthodox route to working there, to say the least") and how early work on Sega's arcade games and amusement park attractions shaped his approach to 3D game design.
"I wanted to make a rally game. The opportunity came with the arrival of polygons," Mizuguchi writes, reminiscing about how he first pitched the idea for what would become Sega Rally Championship to his superiors -- and was shot down. "I begged them to give me a chance. They said: ‘What if it doesn’t work out and we lose money?’ I told them that if it was a failure I would quit the company and they wouldn’t even have to pay me for the work. They told me that was an incredibly irresponsible thing to say. I told them I didn’t care. I had to make this game."
Sega did wind up greenlighting the game, and it went to be a significant and enduring success in arcades around the world. Mizuguchi recounts his belief that the team's efforts to go out and research real-world locales and drivers (a novel idea to Sega at the time) helped them make a better game, and goes on to share how he conducted similar research for his later rally games -- which actually wound up influencing his work on Rez.
"Again, we had to do a lot of research because there weren’t really any games like [Rez] at the time, or at least, not enough to consider it a genre," writes Mizuguchi. "I took my team clubbing. We also visited Taiko drumming festivals and watched hours and hours of recordings of street musicians. It wasn’t just a case of listening to the music. We also took notice of the shapes and colours, and how we felt as the performance progressed. These were all things we wanted to translate into our game."
Of course, that game went on to be its own enduring success, one which is slated to be reborn as a VR game later this year.
Mizuguchi actually recounted the game's development in a Rez postmortem at GDC earlier this year, and his thoughts on its place in his career (as well as the time he spent making everything from Megalopolis: Tokyo City Battle to Lumines) is worth reading in full over on Kotaku UK.