At E3, Shinji Mikami -- best known as the creator and revitalizer of the Resident Evil series with its first and fourth installments, respectively -- showed his new third person shooter, Vanquish. Developed by Platinum Games (Bayonetta) and published by Sega, it continues the work he started in the genre in 2005, with Resident Evil 4.
Here, Game Developer Magazine editor in chief Brandon Sheffield presses Mikami for the concrete reasons behind the gameplay decisions he has made with Vanquish, a battlesuit-toting action title set in San Francisco.
The shooter genre, after all, has become tremendously important this generation -- but there's still a lot of room for evolution of gameplay expression within it, and Mikami and his team at Platinum Games are going down a specific and different path with this game.
Let's start by talking about the third-person shooter genre. After Resident Evil 4 came out, most games in third-person style followed the same camera angle, the same aiming scheme; it did a lot to re-launch that genre -- have you noticed those similarities?
Shinji Mikami: Well, I like all kinds of games, really, and I try out a lot of them, but I don't think that a lot has been done with the action genre in general since, whether you're talking first- or third-person.
What's your philosophy for moment-to-moment gameplay in this genre, going up to Vanquish? In the past you always had something new to throw at the player -- they have to reinterpret the situation differently with their existing controls.
SM: When development first began on this game, the design was centered a lot more around QTEs. QTEs were a really big thing you saw in games all over the place at the time, no matter where they were developed. There were tons of QTE games coming out, and honestly I got sick of them.
So we started cutting down the QTE sections and concentrating on keeping the gameplay simple and fast-paced -- something that you could enjoy and get really enthralled with without things getting too complex. You know, give the player a chance to control all of that on their own instead.
In your mind, what's a good strategy for pacing the player action over the course of a level?
SM: Basically, first I decide how the player moves -- his movement speed -- as well as how much time it takes for him to dispatch an enemy. Then I add that up to figure out the total amount of time it takes to go through a given area of the game. That's the usual order of things.