Website of the Dead’s Exclusive Interview with Takashi Oda

Here is our interview with the director of The House of the Dead series, Takashi Oda. Thank you fans for submitting your questions to the man that brought this series to life.

1. It’s an honor to speak with the man who directs one of SEGA’s greatest arcade franchises, The House of the Dead. Tell me, how did you apply at SEGA and how long have you worked for the company?

I’ve been working at SEGA for 20 years. A friend of mine at university entered SEGA one year earlier than me, and he told me that SEGA was interesting, so I applied the following year.

2. What is your position within SEGA? Have you worked on any other titles other than The House of the Dead?

I work as a director creating games. Other than The House of the Dead, I have worked on mostly arcade shooters like “Vampire Night” and “Rambo”. I have also worked on “Motor Raid”, “BRAVE FIRE FIGHTERS.”, and “Harley-Davidson: King of the Road”.

3. What has The House of the Dead been influenced by?

One of the things that has influenced The House of the Dead is the film “Seven”. I saw it in the theater when we were creating The House of the Dead 1, and it was incredibly memorable. I think it had some effect on the game. Even when I watch it now, the atmosphere and the visual presentation still impresses me.

4. While directing the House of the Dead games, how did you come up with ideas for the characters, creatures, bosses, settings, etc? (motives, tarot cards and such)

The main characters of the game are the creatures and bosses, so we prioritized visual individuality for them. On the other hand, the player characters are created to be more general characters. The world is designed to be realistic, so the player thinks that the events in the game could happen.

5. I’ve heard that you don’t like to call your creatures “zombies”. Why is that?

The creatures in the games are copied and created. We wanted to differentiate them from the basic zombie formula where you get bitten by a zombie, and turn into a zombie. Because of this, we use the term “creature” instead.

6. A game guide from Japan says that before the game was called The House of the Dead, it was supposed to be a paranormal ghost game of some sort and Sophie a villain. Is this true?

In the initial game design document, the game’s environment was pretty close to what it is now. There were ideas to try a world where you face ghosts, but a game where you fight against phenomena that you can’t see was never an option. There was an idea to make Sophie a boss in the sequel, but that plot was deleted early in the planning phase.

7. Did Sophie survive during the 1998 Curien Mansion case, and is she the mother of Lisa Rogan?

Sophie did survive, and she is the mother of Lisa Rogan in The House of the Dead 3.

8. Who’s your favorite boss in the series?

My favorite boss is “Strength” from The House of the Dead 2. I think we were able to express the fear of being chased and facing unpredictable attacks.

9. After 16 years of the first game’s release, many fans have been wondering this – what does AMS stand for?

The development team asked me this, too. I told them that if we ever create a game based on a time before The House of the Dead 1, I would like to explain how AMS started.

10. G seems to appear in more House of the Dead games than any other character within the series. What purpose does he serve in the story, and what does his name stand for?

He appears in many of the games, but his frequent appearances are not necessarily intentional. If we ever created a game based on a time before The House of the Dead 1, the reason he is called “G” would be an important part of that game.

11. Whatever happened to the other characters from The House of the Dead series who only had appearances in few games, like Gary Stewart, Harry, Amy, Kate, Daniel, Lisa and Thomas Rogan? Will we ever see them again?

If we ever created a new game, I would like characters from the past to appear again so you can see what happened to each character, and how they’ve changed.

12. Were you involved with the writing for The House of the Dead Overkill in anyway? I’ve heard G told Issac Washington not to use the “Z” word. I was wondering if you were involved with that line?

I was not part of creation of the game, but I gave some advice about the story, and shared some rules of the House of the Dead franchise.

13. Will we ever see any returning bosses in a future House of the Dead game? I would love to see Hangedman or Judgement come back.

If we develop a sequel, these bosses may come back.

14. Fans have been speculating this theory since the release of III and 4. In one of the endings, there is this old mysterious man who limps on his right leg and picks some sort of container that Curien had and tells Goldman that he’s “soft” towards humans. Is he someone we know from previous titles or a entirely new character?

He was in both The House of the Dead 3 and 4. If we ever develop a sequel, the story would be based around this character.

And there you have it folks. Special Thanks to Kellie Parker, who worked very dillgently to get in contact with one of the creators of The House of the Dead. Also judging from the words of Oda-san, we may see another sequel and maybe several prequels to The House of the Dead games. The more the merrier I say.

The Website of the Dead’s interview with Steve “S0L” Lycett

Thank you for all of your questions fans of the dead. This is a present from me to you… Website of the Dead interviews Steve Lycett, producer of the upcoming Sega crossover game, Sonic & All-Stars Racing: Transformed!

1.What is your position within Sumo Digital and may I ask, how long have you’ve been working in the gaming industry?
Steve – Hello there! I’m Steve Lycett and I’m Executive Producer at SUMO. I’m one of the many people working on Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed. I’ve been at SUMO since 2003, pretty much since it started! Before that I worked at Gremlin Interactive since 1997, though it had a short stint of being Infogrames Sheffield House for a while! I guess that means I’m coming up for 15 years! Ouch!

2.How were you and Sumo Digital approached by Sega with making their famous titles?
Steve- Well, we’ve been working with SEGA since we did the Xbox conversion of OutRun2. Most people remember us for at least that! Over the years we’ve worked on many SEGA titles, so Virtua Tennis World Tour, OutRun2006, Virtua Tennis 3, SEGA SuperStars Tennis and Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing. Plus digital titles like OutRun Online Arcade and SEGA Rally Online Arcade. You can say we’ve been busy!
Each time we’ve worked on a new SEGA game they get bigger, bolder and more ambitious. This time is no exception! Land, air and sea and transforming vehicles? We must be mad!

3.I’ve heard that you’ve worked with producers of Sega’s well known franchises, how was the experience for you to meet people who made Sega, you know, SEGA?
Steve – One of the great things about the All-Star series is we get to work directly with the creators of the original games. Given I grew up playing many of those games it’s a bit strange when you’re in Japan sitting in an office with people who made those games which sit so strongly in your memory! So you have to pinch yourselves sometimes! We get great support and in more than a few cases we find out all manner of interesting background facts about those games, plus a vision of if they were to remake them today, what they’d be like. We try and take all this onboard and bring it into our games. Hopefully fans can recognise that passion and they get the feeling that when we reference a classic SEGA title the experiences feels authentic!

4.Seems like Dr. Curien’s legacy still lives on within the Sega Superstars/All-Stars series, may I ask what is your favorite House of the Dead title and your moments with that game?
Steve – Yep! We see House of the Dead as being one of SEGA’s iconic IP’s and so it’s always high on our must includes. Maybe this time too!
For me I played the original first in the arcade, then again when I got my SEGA Saturn. I’ve always loved how it blends elements of classic horror, with tight arcade game play. When I got my Xbox, House of the Dead 3 was one of the very first games I picked up too.
My favourite probably is House of the Dead 2 as it took what was there from the first game and really made it bigger and better. Plus it helped I could play it at home on my Dreamcast with a Dreamcast Gun! It also rounded the story out more. That’s not to say I don’t like the others, it’s like picking your favourite child though!
I have a very soft spot for House of the Dead EX. I just love the tongue in cheek nature of the game, it’s really really playful J

5.The House of the Dead is filled with not only mad experimental creatures, but a secret governmental agency called “AMS”. Fans of the series expected a certain AMS agent to represent HotD in the first ASR, but we’ve gotten a lovely zombie couple (Zobio & Zobiko) from the spinoff title, Loving Deads: The House of the Dead EX. What made you and the team pick the lovely duo than the dogs of the AMS?
Steve – Really, this was more to do with the age rating and cartoony nature of ASR! Especially since we really couldn’t do something as extreme as House of the Dead Overkill. We’d have an 18 rating!
We’d been across to Japan to talk to the House of the Dead team and whilst we were there we saw a work-in-progress version of the game, and it was immediate that we’d take Zobio and Zobiko as characters and then take the look and style to become the three House of the Dead tracks, it just fit into our hyper realistic cartoon ethos.
That’s not to say we didn’t try and include some series staples like Zombie Bob, Zombie Dave and other characters, just we had to keep the right side of the PEGI and ESRB ratings!

6. Who’s your favorite AMS agent from the entire series?
Steve – Well for me it has to be G. What does G stand for? Gary? Garth? Gwilym? It’s hard to say. But he keeps a cool head regardless of the situation – and if you were going into danger, you’d want G by your side!

7. Zobio has a mouth full of words, but Zobiko was awfully silent. Did she have any voice clips early in development of Sonic and Sega All-Stars Racing? (She has a lovely voice in EX)
Steve – Well, when we were making ASR, they were very much still making House of the Dead EX! So we only got Zobio’s English VO very late in the day, and whilst we had Zobiko’s Japanese voice, it didn’t really make sense to have one character speaking one language and the other speaking another. So rather than make it all weird, we kept to just Zobio speaking.

8. Were there any other characters that you would have liked to include in previous Superstars/All-Stars titles?
Steve – From House of the Dead? I’ve always wanted to get more of the boss creatures into a stage somehow, though this can be difficult as unless they’re mobile it’d be blink and you’ll miss them as you race by! There’s such a rich selection of cool enemy designs that’d be great for this. Again though we have to keep an eye on the age rating, some of them would properly terrify kids!

9. Now on to Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, when did the production officially started?
Steve – We’ve been working on this game now since 2010. We had to do quite a lengthy pre-production though to get all the gameplay elements figured out so that the transforms feel natural and that each of the land, sea and air handling are all as equally good. That’s actually quite a difficult thing to do, as we’re basically making three games in one! Hopefully when it’s released though people will feel that the play is seamless and feels effortless, but it’s taken quite a while to figure that out!

10. Was the gameplay of Transformed influenced by Sega’s past arcade titles? (Daytona USA, Outrun, Afterburner, Wing War, Waverunner)
Steve – Yes, very much so. Our driving yardstick has always been OutRun, I think that shows in the long sweeping drifts and tight handling, we’re more akin to a racing game than being a Kart racer. Air has heavily been influenced by AfterBurner, though we’ve added a whole flavour of our own with stunts, rolls, flips and of course the weapon combat.
Water… Well here we’ve looked at games like Waverunner, but also games like Wave Race and Hydro Thunder. We want that arcade feel to it as if it is SEGA, but I think we’ve broke a bit of new ground there purely as the water we have is very dynamic. We really can go to town with big waves and huge drops, so I think players will really enjoy this.

11. It was stated that Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed was also made by the influence of the Dreamcast era, if so will we be able to see a brand new House of the Dead track? I heard that a businessman owns a 50 floor building near Point A0063. From up top you can see someone or something has taken over the city)
Steve – You know, we always get accused of paying special attention to the Dreamcast era! Really I don’t think that’s the case, and Transformed I think will prove we’ve got a special love for all era’s of SEGA.
We might have something in the new game based on House of the Dead – but you’ll have to wait and see!

12. Last question, did you suffer like G did while making this game?
Steve – I’m still not quite sure quite how G suffered, but we always pour our hearts and souls into the game, and well, sometimes that involves some late nights and weekends. Next time I see G I’ll ask how much he suffered and we’ll compare notes and get back to you!

Will we see Zobio & Zobiko again, will Goldman Building be represented as a track this time around, and who will protect the LOFY cycle with Goldman dead? Looks like we’ll have to wait and see when Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed releases this Fall.

Sega Amusements posts The House of the Dead 4 arcade pics and info from 2005

Sega Amusements, a Sega’s arcade company in charge of producing arcades to the market, posted lots of HOTD4 information from the company’s vault to their Facebook Timeline which includes screenshots, booth photos showing of the game, artwork, the Lindbergh arcade system and a G3 article interview with Yashuhiro Nishiyama, the producer of Sega Coporation’s AM R&D Division dated back in 2005. Pretty neat stuff Sega Amusements been posting the past few weeks and the article really intrigues me. Here are some words from the producer back in 2005.

“I personally spend a lot of time in gaming environments with players, in arcades, pubs, bowling centres, just watching the customers, imaging them playing my game in order to build profiles. I would quit this business if I lost this connection to the player, this sense of the games they want to play” ~ Yashuhiro Nishiyama

 I believe that Nishiyama-san’s marketing strategy and spending time with players at the arcade really worked well for The House of the Dead 4. Not to forget that The House of the Dead 4 sold pretty well on PSN last April. Hopefully, we’ll get to see a next installment real soon along with ports of the original game and Loving Deads. Check out the gallery below with booth photos, beta screenshots, artwork, and the article. While your at it “Like” and Follow Sega Amusements on their Facebook and Twitter page for more awesome Sega arcade stuff.

Source: Sega Amusement’s Facebook Page


WOTD Interview with Anthony Aroya, the voice behind Issac Washington

Anthony Aroya is a voice actor, screenwriter, and film maker for his company called “CYGNUS CREATIONS” in New York City. He also voiced the profane homicidal detective known as Issac Washington. I’ve chatted with him on the phone late afternoon and had a great conver “mutha fuckin” sation with him about his experience voicing the character. Later on, I’ve sent him the questions from you guys. Here’s the infinite Q&A of Issac Washington.

1.Issac has an extremely foul-mouth. Were all those f-bombs written in the script or did you ad-lib a bunch of them in there?

To be honest I’ve been known my entire life to use language that they don’t even use in the military! In part because was grandfather was the coolest dude I ever knew and he seemed to curse every other word around the house. So, I guess I took after him, both in good ways and bad. Got me in a lot of trouble when I was in school. But for the game, that was all Isaac and the script. Believe me, even I was surprised by the barrage of cursing Isaac did in the game.

2.Have you played any of the House of the Dead games in the arcade and Sega consoles basically familiarise yourself with the HotD series before taking the job?

Honestly not at all. See, I grew up in the height of the arcade craze. The 80’s were a time of going into the city and hanging out at the local spot, usually in Times Square, and wasting as many quarters as it took to beat the game. Or at least not look like a fool in front of your girlfriend. As times changed arcades went away and games became part of the household. In the 90’s I couldn’t put down the joystick because instead of quarters all I had to do was hit the reset button. How cool is that? I played a few of the HOTD games whenever I was out on the town and near a place that had the games available, but I didn’t play them to prepare myself for the role to any degree.

3.Are you a gamer and what other games do you play?

At this point in my life I’m not a gamer at all. I have seen some that are mind blowing and want to try them out, but once you get domesticated and raising kids, and other stuff that takes away from your own fun time you find your life taking a different turn. Man, I used to play games like Street Fighter and World Series Baseball until the skin on my thumbs started to blister. No lie.

4.Has your voice acting in HOTD: Overkill, vastly increased your use of profanity?

Funny question and I’ll relay this to the first question. I have been cursing like a sailor since the age of five, so I can honestly say that doing HOTD didn’t effect that part of my character at all.

5.Did you try out to voice any other characters besides Issac Washigton?

No, ol’ Isaac was the first and only character that I read for. But I “think” I may have toyed with the voice of Pappa Ceasar because they try to get the right feel for the voice match to a character. Once everything else begins to fall into place the whole recording process runs more smoothly.

6.What was your reaction to the House of the Dead: Overkill having the most profane language in a video game back in 2009 thanks to your character?

I’m actually laughing as I try to answer this question. See, it never, ever dawned on me that the character of Isaac Washington would have this kind of impact on the entire game. But once we were in the studio getting into it I was thinking, oh shit, this guy has some serious vocabulary anger issues. Has a side note that you may find interesting; HOTD is in the Guiness Book of World Records for most video game profanity. No lie. This was actually told to me by the producers, though I haven’t looked into it as of yet.

7.How was your experience with the character and working with the other voice actors (Will Sierra and Sarah Conner)?

You know as with any job, be it on camera, or in a recording both, you have to have a good back and forth with the other actors. I’m a firm believer in making as much eye contact as possible even when doing voice over. Perhaps even “more” when doing voice over because you can focus so much on the microphone and how you sound that you can forget that you’re supposed to be interacting with another person. I just think it makes the sound of what’s being said far more authentic doing that.

8.What are your thoughts of the character Issac Washigton, how do you describe him in your point of view?

As I was doing the character in the sound both, as with any character you’re doing, you start to get into the skin of it all. Meaning it was easy for Isaac to just curse a lot for cursing sake. But I began to wonder why so much? Was he raised around an older person who had a tendency to do that, as I myself was. Or is it a mask to cover up some kind of insecurity or short coming that he can’t or doesn’t want to address. As a voice actor and a screenwriter I can tell you right up front that verbally presenting my thoughts has never been an issue. But I can pull the F-bombs out of nowhere, in happy circumstances and not so happy. Maybe ol’ I.W. and I are more alike than I thought.

9.Would you like to see Issac Washington make a come back in future HOTD games?

Man, this question is the easiest one of all. I’d love to do Isaac again. Anytime, anywhere. I think most people who play the games we voice over don’t realize how we bond to a character and keep that as a part of us, even after the job has long since been finished.

10.What do you want to say to the fans in Issac’s words?

“I wanna thank all you wonderful mutha fuckas so fuckin much for showin’ me so much love! Shit, I feel like the fuckin prince a’ fuckin’ Persia…or some shit like that! Peace!”

If you missed my interview with Will Sierra, don’t give up hope as you can view it here.

Thank you guys for submitting questions for the voice actors. Hopefully, Headstrong Games can give us a sequel with Will and Anthony reprising their roles again as Agent “G” and Washington in Vegas baby!

The House of the Dead 4 Behind the Scenes

Forgive me for using my Tablet to record videos. I’m in a tight budget so I can save up for the Sonic Boom event *laughs* Anyway after completing The House of the Dead 4, you are treated yet again with another behind the scenes video with the series director, Takashi Oda and producer, Yasuhiro Nishiyama. In part 2 of this behind the scenes video, they discuss how they’ve met at Sega during the merge of their development studios (Thus, becoming Sega WOW) and how they share ideas to each other to bring it out as a product to the audience of the gaming industry. They also take about the development the female lead by using Hollywood actresses as references, possibly lead the development of AMS Agent Kate Green. Nishiyama-san then compliments Takashi Oda and is luck that he’s gets to work with Oda-san on these games everyday.

SEGA talks House of the Dead 4 boss battles

Over at Siliconera, Sega talks about the boss battles in The House of the Dead 4 and reflects the creation of one the bosses such as Temperance. Here’s a few quotations from the site,

A member of the development team highlighted the genesis of the obese Temperance creature, commenting: “In the House of the Dead series, all of the boss’ names are inspired by Tarot cards.”

“For example, the name of the stage four boss, Temperance, literally means ‘restrict from something.’ We came to the idea that if you did not restrict food you would become overweight, which led to the design.”

This particular enemy is noteworthy for being able to follow the player throughout the entirety of the chapter, as opposed to just showing up as the end-of-level boss.

“From this initial profile, we created a suitable attack method for this large body type – rolling. We also made full use of the game’s unique force feedback system with Temperance. Overall, we tried to make each boss encounter a unique experience for the player,” the firm added.


Interview with Will Sierra, the voice of Agent G

Will Sierra was born and raised in Elizabeth, NJ. His love for the Arts started at the early age of 10, headlining in every school musical production. Then Will moved on to photography in high school. Upon graduation, Will Sierra discovered a new-found passion in fashion and home furnishings design. In 1994, Will Sierra re-discovered his love of acting and head-lined in numerous theatrical productions.

Today we have Will Sierra, providing answers to many fans of the House of the Dead series about his voice acting role as the famous AMS Special Agent G.

1. Have you ever played or heard of The House of the Dead series before you signed up to provide G’s voice in Overkill?

Yes, of course I did! Back in high-school, we would cut class and run to the arcade and spend all our lunch money on the actual huge video game machine! Such good and scary-fun memories!

2. Did you get the chance to ad-lib any of his lines in the game or did they mostly stick to the script?

When working on voice-over projects, it depends on the director and each individual project. On this project, we were directed to stick to the script. (Besides, I am also a writer, I respect the actual written word and usually do not deviate from a good script.)

3. Was Agent G’s personality something you brought to the character or did you have to follow a strict guideline?

Personality or character is always a huge decision when playing a role. For “Agent G”, I was asked my opinion and we all agreed that where I deciding to go was perfect. I gave him a cool, subtle approach, a la Keanu Reeves meets Rod Serling… Even-toned cool!

4. Did you enjoy providing G’s voice?

“Cream my panties!” or “Almost peed my pants!” … Which best describes an exuberant joy? I am a huge gamer myself… Now my nephews, nieces and friends can all play ME whenever they want to! The kid in me was thrilled!

5. Before you voiced G, were you given a chance to voice any of the other characters in the game?

The audition process was also the favorite of my career to date. I tried out for “Papa Cesar” and Varla’s brother, Jasper. They liked me as “G” and that was that.

6. How was your experience working with the other voice actors?

When doing voice-over work, you are almost always alone. But, on this project, I was scheduled in between Sarah (Varla) and Anthony (Washington). I met and chatted with both for quite some time. Both were cool and it was extremely helpful to build a mini ‘bond’ with my virtual video amigos!

7. Would you love to provide the voice of G in a sequel to The House of the Dead Overkill?

I would be honored and “over the moon!” with excitement. Unfortunately, to date I haven’t been offered.  I’ve heard whispers in the community, they may be going in a different direction with ‘Agent G’… I hope Sega doesn’t piss too many fans off… My fingers and toes r crossed and my voice is in top form, I’m just patiently waiting, like all of you.

8. Many fans asked this question since the first HotD game back in 1997, what does G stand for?

If memory serves me right; I think I know… Unfortunately, I would have to be whisked into a witness protection program if I revealed my information! I whispered it to a dying friend on his death-bed… I have been looking over my shoulder ever since! (Just as a precaution, I have since installed a remote-start on my car.) Lol!

 ~ Will Sierra
Thank you all for submitting your questions to Mr. Will Sierra. Don’t forget to buy The House of the Dead Overkill Extended Cut at your local game store.