quinta-feira, 26 de abril de 2012

postheadericon Interview with the director of Resident Evil Raccoon City operation city

Andy Santos, Game Director – Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City, Slant Six Games
Andy began his career as a level designer on the Colony Wars series at Psygnosis. He has 15 years worth of game design experience having worked as a lead game designer and software engineer on several AAA franchises including: Colony Wars, Star Trek, Formula One Rally Championship, Destruction Derby, Skate, Driver and Resident Evil: Raccoon City. As an avid fan of the Resident Evil franchise he joined Slant Six Games to guide the design team into production. Andy has also worked at Rockstar, Sony, Ubisoft and Electronic Arts. At Electronic Arts, he was the co-creator of the Skate franchise and lead designer of the first two games.

Ian Christy, Senior Game Designer – Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City
Ian Christy is a Senior Game Designer who worked on Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City for Capcom and Slant Six Games. Previously he has contributed to Captain America: Super Soldier for Next Level Games as the Lead Level Designer after a year laboring on an unannounced project (and possibly the town's worst kept secret) at EA Blackbox using the Frostbite engine from DICE. Prior to that he worked extensively on Scarface: The World is Yours, two fun Crash Bandicoot titles, and various other projects during a very educational and prolonged stint with Radical Games of Vivendi Activision. Before Radical, Ian worked for half a decade at Dynamix in Eugene, Oregon on Starsiege, Tribes 2, and a few side projects. Ian recently joined the Writers Guild of America, West as a fully fledged member and looks forward to doing more writing and designing for video games in the future.

REVIL: How was it for you to work in a partnership with Capcom? Why do you think they chose you guys to develop REORC?

AS: The opportunity to partner with Capcom and work on Resident Evil is the zenith of my career. Back when I was working PS One (PSX – for you oldies) and playing Biohazard, I could never have dreamed that I would be working on this game series. As a partner, Capcom works differently to other publishers, they are very detail oriented which means they were fully involved with all the decisions among our team in Vancouver. For a large amount of time on this project we had Capcom’s Osaka team embedded with us.

IC: I joined the project midstream, so my sense of why Capcom chose to partner up with Slant Six Games is completely derived from my experiences in working with Capcom and the awesome crew in house since I have been here. The Slant Six Games owners and staff, from top to bottom, are simply mad about all types of shooters - from highly technical to absurd ‘marmites in space’ type of shooters! Having shared passions and ambitions makes the relationship between a publisher and a development studio so much better.

AS: I think Ian hit the nail on the head. We are also nuts about Resident Evil too!

R: We heard rumors from REORC's existence since 2010. Since when is the game being developed and how many people worked on this project?

IC: I had heard the rumors too, although I had no idea the title had landed in Vancouver, BC, or that it would have a cooperative focus. My buddy Barry, a former colleague from Scarface: The World is Yours at Radical, sent me a ping to ask if, since I loved horror and zombies, would I want to come help him out with something? I walked in the door and found out what the project was, and then saw zombies swarming a bleeding soldier on a screen near the lobby, and knew I had to work here on this project. I think I even begged a little! While I am sad to have missed out on the project’s preproduction and a chunk of production time, I am thrilled to have been able to pitch in and help tie up some loose ends before turning my attention to all the DLC missions.
The game started production during 2010 and the team grew from about 35 to well over 100. More if you include outsourcing, actors, audio and the teams at Capcom.

R: Which was the biggest challenge for Slant Six during the development of the game? Is it hard to work with such a big franchise like Resident Evil?

IC: Working with Resident Evil means working with a franchise that has a considerable amount of history, not to mention incarnations, varied platform presence, and ancillary products like films, toys, comics, and novels. It means working with a franchise that has a pretty rabid (pardon the pun) fan base. That is something I can fully appreciate, having my own fetishistic affectations for things like zombies, post-apocalyptic anything, 70’s toys, indie comics, Nexus 6 models, and the 501st. It also means trying to infuse the game with integrity while also providing players with a new lens to view the overall Intellectual Property through. Resident Evil games have historically been pretty versatile, game to game, and that has set an excellent precedent for Slant Six Games to add an installment which offers a new gameplay context, that of four person shooter-centric cooperative campaigning and a group of more intricate Versus multiplayer Team VS. Team match types. So yes, bringing something new to the established audience while also trying to draw players of other IPs to the RE fold is a challenge, and thankfully Capcom has been immensely supportive and available throughout the process to ensure we provide the best end user experience possible that both satisfies genre players without alienating franchise fan base. If the number of posted videos and pictorials from fans replicating our characters and sold out pre- orders are any indication, we’ve made the right call on how we’ve approached maintaining the integrity of the franchise while dropping players into an entirely new gameplay archetype.

AS: I told you we were nuts about Resident Evil. I think the biggest production challenge was the language barriers. Despite Slant Six Games having several Japanese speaking people on staff, we had to get translators, not just any translators, but translators who knew Biohazard, who knew videogame terminology and had a passion for making games. The guys we got were so good they were embedded on our production and design teams. They worked immensely hard to ensure Capcom and Slant Six Games could work hand-in-hand! If they are reading this, good job guys!

R: REORC is a RE title very focused on action, although RE series born as survival horror franchise. How is it to make gamers to feel fear in an action oriented game?

AS: It was obvious to us all that we were making a Resident Evil shooter. Therefore, to inject fear we took components from the Survival Horror and made sure they became features in REORC. For example, we kept health persistent (ignoring the current trend of regenerative health), ensured the monsters were difficult to fight and made it harder to shoot accurate when not still. Ian can elaborate on moment-to-moment design.

IC: Giving heavily armed and military trained characters to players and then trying to put fear into them is a tall order, for sure. We had to experiment a lot with variations of resource attrition, enemy numbers, AI archetypes, and a myriad other aspects to find some standards we could regularly employ. That learning has continued through the DLC mission production as we constantly tried to come up with new tricks and surprises while also ensuring the player never feels robbed or blind sided with some untaught mechanic or rule break. One of my favorite moments is when you are walking past a door along a wall of several doors. You pass by a couple unhindered, and it is not until you are passing by the third identical door, that a zombie bursts through, grabs you, and throws you back into a room full of other hungry fiends. I remember the first time we got that working, and it has remained a crowd pleaser. I like that it even works when it is your teammate getting snatched away from beside you, maybe that is even more stressful because if the teammate is another player, you want to keep the band together, save the day, right? We’ve learned a lot as well about the importance of timing, lighting, sound, and false pings. Several of us are horror film junkies, so that inspiration proved very helpful as well for crafting a buildup of tension before giving players a scare or at least an action packed release before beginning to turn the screws again.

R: Capcom told us that REORC had evolved a lot since its early concept phases. Can you tell us more about the beginning of the development process?

AS: The game was meant to be a multiplayer shooter. I know the producers at Slant Six Games, were amazed (I am sure that is the wrong word), when it turned into a game that housed Single Player, Co-op and Versus Multiplayer with fresh new features like Close Quarters Combat (CQC), Brutal Kills, Abilities and Quick Draw. Capcom is always thinking about the game first, they push for innovation, so that’s what we did! Sorry production…

IC: Since I came aboard later in production I cannot speak to the initial process or preproduction. What I can say, is from the trail of design documentation, the vision and pillars took a little while to shake out as folks realized the game didn’t follow an existing recipe. Structurally, it is not like previous RE games, nor is it a clone of other cooperative games. It is not a tactical shooter, or simply a zombie slayer, or a brainless slaughter-fest. There is a story to tell, more than one if you count the DLC missions. Naturally trying to create something without direct precedent presents challenges. What I have to applaud is the dedication and massive efforts folks at Slant Six Games and our partners at Capcom made to shake out the truths of what really mattered most and bring those things to life for this inaugural effort.

AS: Ian’s insight alludes to the fact that the game grew. It evolved from being a simple shooter without a story to being a campaign based game with more traditional RE elements and unique gameplay. All of which was born out of Capcom’s & Slant Six Games’ necessity to provide gamers with an experience that is fun and more importantly fresh and different!

R: How about the engine? Did you develop something specific to REORC or you used the same from any your previous titles?

AS: The engine has its roots in the technology that Slant Six produced a long time ago for Syphon Filter: Dark Mirror and the subsequent SOCOM games. However, this engine in particular is now multi-format, working on PC, PS3 and X360.

IC: A project like this brings a wealth of demands to an engine, and our technology team rose repeatedly to the challenge. A lot of lessons were learned, and I am sure not all of them were the soft and easy way. Developing for 360 is new for this studio for example. And the FX, lighting, rendering, and a myriad other things you have to take into account for a project with the needs this one has all required commendable efforts from the engineers on and off the project.

R: Do you expect to work with Capcom again in another Resident Evil title?

IC: I can unabashedly say that I really hope so. It has been a privilege to work closely with powerhouses like Matsuura-San and Seto-San. I like that Capcom is adventurous, takes risks, and has a sense of humor while occasionally exploring the potentially, delightfully absurd. Most of all, with respect to Slant Six Games and Capcom, I feel privileged getting asked to come out and play. Helping craft missions rife with monsters, zombies, and explosions is a far cry from the dishwasher in prison gig my high school counselors projected I’d end up with.

AS: In other words, we would love to partner with Capcom again especially to work on Resident Evil!

Special thanks to Ruth Spink, Marketing & Community Manager at Slant Six Games and Jérémy Gosset Durand (UltimateRE).

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