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Deadly Premonition designer Swery is back with a new studio called White Owls

Promises ‘bizarre’ games with a ‘strange realism’

Publicity photos featuring Swery in a top hat and sporting a handlebar mustache. A white owl is perched on his forearm.
A publicity photo from Swery’s new website.
White Owls Inc.
Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

Just a few months after announcing his retirement from Access Games, Hidetaka Suehiro (aka Swery 65, aka Swery) has opened a new, independent studio called White Owls Inc. The developer behind such titles as Deadly Premonition and D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die has brought together a small team headquartered in Osaka, Japan. Swery tells Gamasutra that his new venture will be lean and focused on “bizarre games” with a “strange realism.”

Swery said it was other developers and friends who inspired him to come back on his own terms. They encouraged him to cast off the burden of changing the team at Access Games, and instead start fresh as an independent developer.

“It made perfect sense!” Swery told Gamasutra. “So I immediately started making preparations to go independent.”

In 2015 Swery took a leave of absence from game development for medical reasons. He suffers from reactive hypoglycemia, a non-diabetic condition that nonetheless shares some of the same symptoms with that disease.

“I'm already slow enough at making games as it is, and I feel like all I ever do is make my fans wait,” Swery wrote on his blog the time. “But I've decided that I need to take a rest here, so that I can hopefully continue to make games in the future.”

Later, in October of last year, Swery officially retired.

Swery, his back turned to the camera, has an elaborate tattoo painted on his back featuring a monkey wearing a t-shirt with his alias ‘Swery 65’ on it.
Wondering Future is part of Swery’s collaboration with a pair of tattoo artists in Tokyo.
Horizaru and Horilla/Men of Game Development 2017

Swery has been busy in the interim. He took advantage of the time off to become a Buddhist monk and also participated in this year’s Men of Game Development Calendar. The White Owls website also says that he’s also working on a novel.

The announcement of his new studio comes with the launch of a new website, which features sections for video games as well as VR projects.

“It's been 20 years now since I started working in the game industry,” Swery said. “I've now gained a new way of thinking that I certainly wasn't capable of when I was young, acquired new wisdom that I hadn't previously, and have started to take a new step forward.

“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.”

Polygon ran an in-depth profile of Swery back in 2013. You can read today’s interview in full on Gamasutra.

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