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AusGamers Resident Evil 6 Developer Interview with Kobayashi, Hirabayashi and Sasaki
Post by Steve Farrelly @ 11:57am 03/08/12 | Comments
AusGamers was given a chance to chat with the producers and director of Resident Evil 6. Read on for what they had to say...

We were given a chance to sit down and chat with not one, not two, but three of the bigwigs behind the forthcoming Resident Evil 6: Executive Producer, Kobayashi-san, Producer, Hirabayashi-san and Director, Sasaki-san. Obviously we had a translator on board, so to avoid any confusion as to who said what, and because a lot of their answers were collaborative, we’ve simply given the three of them “Capcom” as an interview persona.

Read on for what these three legendary developers had to say about the Resident Evil legacy, Resident Evil 6 and what horror means to them.

AusGamers: Wow, okay, so I have the rock stars!

Capcom: [Laughing]

AG: Guys, thanks for talking to me today, probably what I wanted to start with is in each of your own words, what makes a Resident Evil game a Resident Evil game?

Capcom: In order to create a Resident Evil game you need passion for the series; you need love of Resident Evil. You also need challenges because each [Resident Evil] is about taking it to the next level, and for the company it’s a really important franchise, and so you always have to look to challenge yourself to make sure you’re bringing [the series] to the next level, each time.

AG: Resident Evil 4 is arguably one of the best action-horror games ever created - is it difficult for the team to live up to that standard? I know Resident Evil 5 maybe didn’t quite reach that plateau, and critically a lot people made you aware of that. Moving into Resident Evil 6, and taking that criticism on board along with that idea that you want to take it to “the next level”, how did you approach the design philosophy for this game?

Capcom: As you said, RE4 is a critically acclaimed game and there is always the pressure to live up to that. It was very well-recieved, but then if you look at RE5 it was actually our biggest Resident Evil game ever. So in that sense we were able to get the game into the hands of more players out there - probably a lot of new players as well. So there’s a lot of expectation from fans of both games really, so we’ve tried to listen to the feedback about what people liked about [Resident Evil] 4, and what they liked about 5, and follow up on that and try and incorporate that into the production of Resident Evil 6 and make something that really is appealing to all the fans.

AG: Did you approach this game while also looking at other, similar games on the market? You know, a game like Dead Space which was obviously inspired by Resident Evil, and took the formula of RE4 and RE5 and expanded upon that with progressive things, you know, like, being able to aim and walk at the same time, a greater emphasis on light and dark, for example. Has any of that sort of thing filtered into the design of Resident Evil 6?

Capcom: Of course, yeah, we look at lots of games and try to see what they do to get ideas, but mainly only looking at the gameplay mechanics; trying to see what kind of trends are popular in terms of action games - what’s the norm out there, what other people are doing. But the guiding light is we don’t just say “oh this is a good action element” and then put it in the game, we have to be able to connect it to the whole horror element of Resident Evil.

So, for example, in RE6 you can dodge enemy attacks, right? Or you can roll on the ground... And so yeah, that gives you an example, but how do you connect that to horror? It’s a great gameplay mechanic but on its own it doesn’t do anything, so if you’re on your back looking up at an enemy -- an enemy hovering over you, almost -- they’re taking up a majority of the screen, you know, really in your face, and to us that’s kinda scary, and so the controls always have to tie into horror and fear, it can’t just be... I mean it’s really responsive and it’s good controls, and that’s always good, but it also has to have the other purpose of connecting you to the horror in the game.

And to add to that, one of the things that everyone thinks about when they think about RE4 is the fact that it really introduced new gameplay mechanics to the Resident Evil franchise, and that’s what we wanted to do with each numbered iteration of the game: try and tweak the mechanics and the gameplay and we’re trying to do that in our own way with 6 by introducing new gameplay elements that we haven’t seen previously in a Resident Evil game.

AG: In terms of the horror component that you just talked about, is it a difficult balance now that the series appears to be more grounded in action, to maintain a sense of horror; a sense of dread and tension? Coming off E3 a lot of people talked about the game not offering that enough, but I just played with the Leon stuff and the Ada stuff and it’s classic Resident Evil, so how do you pace the game to continue that horror tradition alive?

Capcom: It’s very difficult, because first of all, when you talk about “horror” it’s not something monolithic, it means different things to different people. To just say you’re putting horror into the game doesn’t really convey that, you’re not really being successful there. People experience fear in different ways so what is scary to one person may not be scary to another person, and that goes for the characters in the game as well. So you have to be able to express those horror elements in different ways in the game, so for example if you’re playing as one of the characters in the game, and it’s an action game, you start off with the advantage. And the idea is, to bring out the action element of the game you need to drop the player down; you gotta pull the rug out from under them so they don’t feel like they had that advantage and even though it’s still an action game, I think that’s where the horror elements come in.

I can give you a specific example: if you look to Chris’ campaign, he starts out with this army unit, right. He’s got five or six guys with him... he would feel pretty safe in that situation. But then through the course of his campaign the members of his team are being picked off one by one, so you never know when someone’s gonna die or how long they’re going to be with you, so in that sense you create that tension and that sense of horror by pulling away at the player’s expectations. You really always have to be ready to drop the floor out from underneath the player, both literally and figuratively, to keep them on their toes.

AG: Do you guys ever feel that the series has become too big? I mean, if you think back to the original game you had these single moments compiled under -- no pun intended -- an umbrella that was the mansion. The mansion itself was a single, directed moment that you were driving the player through, and it obviously had tangents and various paths, but it was contained within that small umbrella. Now, however, you have this giant universe with so many characters and countless branching stories which, to non Resident Evil types, can be very confusing. But at the same time, you almost have to capitalise on that which means the game itself needs to become that grand stage... are you ever daunted by that? Do you ever wish that you could just take it back to something as small and driven as the mansion?

Capcom: When you look at the scale of this game -- and it is pretty big -- that is a conscious decision. We wanted to go for this large sense of scale in the game, but that doesn’t mean we’re completely abandoning what you had in Resident Evil 1, as you said you had that confined space and everything took place, as you said, under the umbrella of that one area. And if you look at this game, that’s why we decided to have three different campaigns, so each campaign takes place under the umbrella of its own area - Leon has his, Chris has his, Jake has his, so when you’re playing each of them individually you get the horror experience of, say, Leon’s campaign, in his areas, and it doesn’t feel as big as when you step back and and try and tie all three campaigns together. When you look at them all, it’s like “oh wow, okay. That’s a pretty big story”, but when you look at them individually they all [offer] their own Resident Evil-style game on their own terms.

So we have the best of both worlds there - we’re able to have that unique, one situation scenario, but you’re able to step back and have them all together once you pull back and see them.

For us, in this game, we really wanted to do that hero’s story, right. And so in each campaign you have the hero and their journey and what’s happening to them and we wanted to match the style of the game to that concept. As we were working on the script we decided “okay this is getting bigger and bigger, we need to split it up”, but again, when you put them all together you get this huge story. Of course it is difficult to match horror to that, and that’s why you have to make your choices about what type of horror will suit each campaign.

AG: Are you ever concerned that the Resident Evil universe is too spread out now; too many stories going on at once? And, in relation to that, does Resident Evil 6 bring a lot of that back into a narrower focus?

Capcom: Well if you notice what we try to do with each Resident Evil game is always try and introduce new characters who hopefully resonate with the fans, and will take off in terms of popularity. And with RE6 we’re bringing back a lot of fan-favourites, but we’re trying to introduce new characters as well. We talked about this “hero’s journey” - each of the campaigns, all these characters - they have their own story and their story will come to a conclusion at the end of each of the campaigns. But that doesn’t mean 6 is the end of the Resident Evil franchise, there’s always new places to go and it doesn’t have to be ever-expanding, but there’s still new ways to explore world.

I think when we were at Comic-Con, there were a lot of requests from fans to “bring back this character” and “that character”, so there are a lot of fans of the different characters out there and they all still have stories that need to be told. I don’t think we’re exhausting our resources with Resident Evil 6.

AG: There’s a lot of push, internally, with Capcom to embrace Western development and to make the Capcom brand a bigger player in the Western market. And handing over franchises like Dead Rising and Lost Planet to Western studios solidifies this point, but could you ever foresee a time where a core, numbered Resident Evil is ever handed over to a Western development studio?

Capcom: Yeah, we don’t really see that happening right now, especially if we’re talking about the numbered iterations of the franchise, I think it’s something that Capcom here in Japan can only make.

AG: Okay, getting back to the game... some of the puzzles that I faced when playing as Ada were devilishly creepy, you know, having to drop a hanging body onto a lever, using dead bodies to create an electrical circuit - how many more puzzles like that are we going to come across in the game? And were they the most extreme, or will you take it even further?

Capcom: There are more puzzle elements like that, I don’t know if they go any more “extreme” or any more “grotesque” than what you saw, but there are similar puzzle elements to be seen within the rest of the game itself. I think one thing you have to keep in mind for Resident Evil is that it’s a horror game and not a slasher, and so it’s not always about being grotesque it’s about the atmosphere and the horror itself, so I think what you saw there in terms of puzzle-solving, that’s about the line where we want to draw it.

AG: Okay I think we have to call it there, but thank you very much for your time today.

Capcom: Thank you very much.
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