As the Nintendo DS and Wii sweep across the Japanese marketplace in the face of the 360, it's become clear that the country's most talented developers are mostly struggling to enter the next-generation race. One exception has been Capcom. With two hugely successful titles -- Lost Planet and Dead Rising -- complete, the company is moving into its second-generation next-gen titles as the PS3 starts to finally pick up some steam.
Here, Gamasutra spoke to Devil May Cry 4 producer Hiroyuki Kobayashi about the creative and technical decisions the team made on that title, and how the company approaches next-generation development. He also filled us in on some rarely-published details of the company's proprietary next-generation engine, MT ("multi-target") Framework, which powers many of its games.
Obviously you're coming up on completion of the title. If you can talk about how the overall development process has been going for this, because it's the first next-generation Devil May Cry game.
I remember when development on this game first started. It was before the PS3 was finalized, and I believe you started to develop it on the PC, and then move it over to the PS3. Can you talk about that process a little bit?
HK: Yeah. As I've mentioned before, we started developing this on the PC on the MT Framework -- the internal Capcom engine. The PS3 specs were not finalized at that stage when we started developing it, so we did start to develop it on the PC. By developing it on the PC, it's very easy for us to work with the graphics and the gameplay, and see how the game is going to play. Actually, we're still continuing to develop it on the PC, as well as being able to check how it runs on the 360 and the PS3.
The MT Framework -- is that the engine that you used for the game? I know that Lost Planet also uses the same engine as DMC4. Is it also used for Dead Rising and other projects? Can you talk about that, please?
HK: I can't really talk much about the technical aspects of the MT Framework. It is the same one as was used in Dead Rising and Lost Planet and a lot of our next-generation games. Really, it's sort of a combination of all of the game know-how that we at Capcom possess. Basically, it's an environment for all the planners, programmers, directors, sound designers, and all of the people who are involved in the process of the game to work on something, for them to be able to work on it easily.
When the game was first announced, it was a PS3 exclusive, but then the 360 version was announced. Was that planned all along, or was that an opportunity that arose or a decision that was made? How did that affect development?
HK: We initially planned only to release it on the PS3 in the first arc of development, but during the development of the game, Capcom announced that we decided that we were going to have a multiplatform strategy for the next generation machines, and we started to develop it for the 360 at that time.
In terms of any problems or any effect it had in the development of the game, we initially didn't have a schedule for releasing it on two platforms simultaneously, so that did have an affect on the amount of work that we had to do. Because we developed it on the same engine -- on the MT Framework -- it wasn't double the work that we had to do, but it probably required about 1.5 times the work and 1.5 times the ability in order to be able to get everything done. There were some changes we had to make, and some extra work that we had to put into it.
The game's also coming out on the PC in North America and probably in Europe. I don't know if it's coming out in Japan on the PC, but I was wondering... for Devil May Cry 3, Ubisoft was a sub-licenser, and I'm assuming they involved with the development of the PC version somehow. Can you talk about that decision and why that was approached this time?
HK: For Devil May Cry 3, that was when we had finished the game. We created the PS2 version of the game, then we had a different team in Capcom Japan develop the game for the PC. So they ported it over to the PC, and then Ubisoft sold it. They were the distributors of the game, in North America, anyway. Not in Japan. They were just the distributors. But in terms of [DMC4], like I mentioned, we had the multiplatform announcement, and since then, we're developing it simultaneously for the PC and 360 as well. So it's different enough.
Can you talk about how the multiplatform strategy that Capcom's embracing for this generation is different to what's come before, and how it's affecting development of the games? The process for the teams over at Capcom.
HK: As I mentioned before, it does take probably 1.5 times more work than it did before. One of the things that takes up the most time in developing simultaneously on different platforms is that before, we would develop it just for the PS2, and would check it running on the PS2 and make sure that everything's okay.
Now, even though we have the MT Framework in place, we still have to check the actual game that the customers are going to play and are going to have in their hands, so that means checking and going through not just the PS3 version, but the 360 and the PC versions, making sure that everything looks okay and runs smoothly. That does take a lot of time, and it really increases the amount of work that we have to do.
Having said that, developing it simultaneously for different machines is easier than developing it separately -- developing it for something, and then porting it over onto something else. But it does increase the amount of work that we have to do for the game.