Mizuguchi really wants Rez Infinite to be a Playstation VR launch title

March 17, 2016 by Kris Ligman

Also, he really, really likes vibrators.

Rez Infinite is more than a simple HD port. Designer Tetsuya Mizuguchi wants it to offer 360 degree vision, new areas and effects, and become the definitive launch title for Sony's upcoming Playstation VR. If you happened to catch the game's demonstration at December's Playstation Experience, you might be able to understand who would shell out almost $900 for this thing: it looks and sounds so gorgeous, it's practically like living inside the head of a member of Daft Punk.

Especially if you were to wear the weird suit thing Mizuguchi developed for the demonstration, shown below. At his Rez postmortem at the Game Developers Conference, Mizuguchi made sure to tell the audience repeatedly, in multiple languages, that the suit contained 26 vibrating rotors, the better to translate the sound-air vibration of live performance to a full-body percussive trip you can experience in your own home.

"I like vibrators," said Mizuguchi. More than once. To a room full of giggles.

He really, really does. That haptic 'synaesthesia suit' is currently on exhibition in a full 360 degree display in Roppongi Hills, where onlookers can share in the player's trance experience by sitting on one of several vibrating chairs. Stop giggling. It's completely innocent.

The original Rez, of course, is well known for two things: being a total trip, as I discussed above, and for its vibrator attachment you could plug into your Playstation 2. The point of this was to, I don't know, ask your datefriend to hold onto it while you played the game, maybe (because it sure didn't work too well you-know-where). Naturally, Playstation 2's DualShock controller had a haptic feedback system of its own, but Mizuguchi needed more, you see.

"We got vibration from the controller, but I wasn't satisfied," Mizuguchi explained. 'Satisfied.' And let me be clear, he spoke through an interpreter for most of his talk, but that part he said in English.

HARDER. BETTER. FASTER. STRONGER. (Image source: Playstation Blog). HARDER. BETTER. FASTER. STRONGER. (Image source: Playstation Blog).

Call and Response

It's easy to get caught up in some of the silliness of Mizuguchi's presentation, but really, it was an insightful look into the design process of such an inimitable game. Rez isn't a conventional music game -- not that there really was such a genre, the way we now think of it, back in 2001 -- but rather a musician's deconstruction of how sound affects humans on a primal level.

In particular, Mizuguchi said he wanted to investigate 'call and response,' in which a rhythm can build and propagate almost like a meme among a group of people. We hear a pattern, Mizuguchi suggested, and our natural response is to mimic it. To achieve a trance state, as through electronic music, he concluded his game had to "keep feeding that 'feel-good' quality through level changes," elevating the bassline and intensity of that rhythm over the course of gameplay.

"As game designers, our job is to create or recreate experiences," said Mizuguchi. This dovetailed with the metaphysical, in Rez's case: "Everybody began life with the same experience. You were sperm... You had this long, but short, but long journey. We had that experience but we don't remember it. But maybe we can get together and have that experience." (By which he meant sex.)

"This is not something that I've maybe openly talked about before," he continued. "We all know the story of Rez -- you're hacking this system, erasing and eliminating all the viruses and firewalls, purifying, rebooting the network back into safe mode. [But the metaphor is] this long journey -- long but short -- that we all took before our own birth, this lone surviving sperm that is traveling to meet the egg. Where the story ends with Rez, here, is right before the actual birth. This is a metaphor we used and interpreted into game form."

Let's sit and marinate on that for a moment. In Rez, you are playing as a sperm breaking down the defenses of, and then inseminating, a computer system. That is definitely the sort of plot you expect out of a trance videogame released in 2001.

"You could say that [at the end of Rez] a new life -- a baby -- is born in this computer system."

Look, I don't know if I'm ready for parenthood here.

Rez Infinite -- custom vibrator suit not included, sadly -- is currently in development for release as a Playstation VR launch title. Mizuguchi indicates he won't push the game out if it isn't ready, but that's the goal for right now.

Tetsuya Mizuguchi Tetsuya Mizuguchi

Kris is the News Editor for ZAM. They are a very serious and professional journalist writing serious professional things. Giggle about vibrators with them on Twitter @KrisLigman.