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How Resident Evil 6 Happens

September 21, 2012 Article Start Page 1 of 3 Next

What goes into making a game like Resident Evil 6? Think about it. The game stands at the absolute head of its publisher's lineup, and also has to draw on 16 years of accumulated franchise history while still surprising fans. It also has to outdo all previous installments in the franchise -- and match up to the current generation state of the art while being built in a reasonable time frame.

Executive producer Hiroyuki Kobayashi has called the game "by far, the largest-scale production Capcom has ever embarked on". How do these developers deal with such a massive undertaking?

How would you do it? In this interview Kobayashi, producer Yoshiaki Hirabayashi, and director Eiichiro Sasaki discuss this task at length, describing how the game was developed using an entirely new production methodology for the studio, and how that lead to better results for the game and the satisfaction of its 150-member strong team of internal developers, which swells to a massive 600-plus when you include external contractors and outsourcing.

When you sit down to do a sequel to a franchise like this, what is the first thing that you think -- the first thing you have to think, with so much history, and so much pressure as well?

Hiroyuki Kobayashi: I think, especially with numbered iterations in the Resident Evil franchise, you have to think, "What are we going to do to surpass what we did with the last iteration of the game?" So with 6, I think the first thing we all thought of was how are we going to surpass what we did the last time out.

Hiroyuki Kobayashi

What defines "surpass"?

Eiichiro Sasaki: I think, for me, "surpass" means to create a new experience. So you want to create something new, something that you didn't do in Resident Evils 1 through 5.

And when we're talking about "experiences" -- is that a gameplay experience, is that a story experience, or is it a holistic experience?

ES: Definitely a holistic experience.

How much pre-production and pre-planning goes into a game like this, if you want to get a holistically new experience? How much work goes into defining that, before you even set foot on developing it?

ES: Pre-production on this game started in July 2009.

HK: Yeah, I think it takes at least half a year for something like that.

Yoshiaki Hirabayashi: For just half a year, we gathered everyone's input and feedback before really starting the game.

What kind of size team does a game like this have?

YH: Just internally alone, we had about or over 150 members working on the game -- internally. But when you consider external partners and all outsourced elements, and things like that, there were over 600 people involved in the making of this game.

Yoshiaki Hirabayashi

Managing that process must be so complicated. You can't just have one person managing all of that; just the level of which you manage that is just so complicated.

ES: Well, we have everything broken down into different sections. So we have, like, the game designers, the environment designers, the artists, and each of those groups has its own, you would say, director controlling that. But then within the team, itself everything is comprised of different units, and each of these units is like its own game development company. So they're working on portions of the game individually.

Eiichiro Sasaki

Now usually, what you think of when you think of something like that is, you have a group of, say, artists, programmers, and designers, and you say, "Okay, you guys are working on zombie movement," and then, "You guys are working on the controls for the player characters", and things like that, and it's really a piecemeal process.

Well, we didn't do it that way. Our units were in charge of actual stages of the game, and so they had to create everything for that section of the game. So it's as if each unit was its own company, creating its own individual product, and so then we had to bring that together. And so you had all these separate units working on their own things, and then it becomes much easier to manage them overall.

Article Start Page 1 of 3 Next

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Muir Freeland
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Based on the demo, not one of these things worked.

Kellam Templeton-Smith
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I'm a diehard fan of the franchise, and I turned it off midway through. I'll wait until this is $30 before I care.

Muir Freeland
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I felt the same way. I've been following the series since the first game, and Resident Evil 4 is one of my favorite games ever made, but I think it's been stumbling a lot since Mikami left the team. I enjoyed RE5, but it was apparent that it was trying to copy a lot of things from RE4 wholesale without understanding what made those things work (remember being able to knock down ladders in the area where the enemies can just jump up to you?) I wanted so badly to enjoy the RE6 demo, but I just couldn't -- it felt like the biggest copycat yet, except this time, they couldn't even agree on what to copy, so they just copied everything.

Ronildson Palermo
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Resident Evil's problem is that its story got past the 3rd title in the franchise. This should've been reboot way before 4 was ever made. I had high hopes for Resident Evil 5 when it was just Chris, before the whole 'racist' scandal and how they had to shove Sheva down all our throats... but that whole thing fell apart when Co-Op was force fed to us.

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Luis Guimaraes
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In the Survival Horror genre, yes, the story is of the biggest importance.

Ronildson Palermo
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Well, you see. RE4 was just the proven RE formula with a different camera perspective and tighter gun control - stripped of all the mood and puzzles. That's why people liked it - because it stopped being so grim and scary.

We defend story as an important pillar in Survival Horror because that's why we choose to undergo the scares and the adventure: we wish to understand the story behind the horror. The reason behind the tragedy.

If you take survival horrors from the 90's and some of the 00's you'll notice the trend that games of this genre are very good at making small spaces a labyrinth which you take hours to explore completely. It's a different pace... Take REØ for example, a good hour (maybe an hour and a half) happen in a tight train!

In a game like RE4, and Gears of War after it, you traverse the same amount of terrain in about 30 seconds. There's a contrast in depth of scenario, in its meaning. It's the lack of depth in scenario that drives people to something like Horror genre.

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Muir Freeland
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I have no idea how you extrapolated those things from "dense."

Alan Rimkeit
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@dario silva - Actually the gameplay mechnaics look and feel a lot like Uncharted. First time I saw the trailer I thought this instantly.

Bill Uliv
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Dear RE6 graphics programmers,

why your game seems gamma un-corrected?

The demo with Leon was 80% BLACK as hell. I hope that is not intentional, to me it's a fundamentally wrong thing: i understand the need for a dark feeling, but this is ludicrous.

And if you used HDR, it seems to not working at all.

Michael O'Hair
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I think that adequately explains the how...

Now an explanation is warranted as to "why"...

Jonathan Jennings
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i can only imagine when you have several units responsible for several areas of a game that even if you manage to combine it into one game it may end up feeling like one large disjointed experience. granted i am sure capcom has a level of QA and a standard for each "unit" to follow i couldn't even comprehend but if not it will be interesting seeing what the final product is.

Taure Anthony
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I honestly enjoyed the demo of RE6, it's a mix of RE4 and RE5. I am digging the new control mechanics, quick shots, melee, rolling left/right, shooting from the ground ----> this raises the bar for 3rd-person-shooters.

Sean Kiley
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Giving the player limited ammo for a really powerful weapon is balancing the game, not adding horror.

Björn Nystedt
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After playing especially the Leon section a few times I must say this game is up there with 4 and 5 in feel of gameplay. Cant wait... playing the whole game will be epic!