The Devil Laughs: A Chat With Capcom Producer Hiroyuki Kobayashi
December 12, 2007 Page 3 of 5
What made me think about Western-targeting a little bit was that I was looking at an interview with [Capcom Japan producer] Ben Judd, who's working on Bionic Commando, and they talked about doing a great deal of focus testing on the arm of the character, really very early on in development. Obviously, that would be a more western audience-focused title, because the original NES version was more popular here. So I was wondering, do you guys do focus testing when you target your titles for several different markets simultaneously? How does that work for you?
HK: We don't do it! (laughs) No, we don't do any focus testing on the game. We just do it based on what we think is good.
HK: Of course, we have many ideas ourselves for the game, like in terms of what [new main character] Nero's design is going to look like. It's not just the first thing we come up with. We have many different ideas. We look at them all in the team, rather than asking particularly in the localization staff or whatever.
We decide ourselves in the development team. We get all the ideas together, and we look over them, not just for Nero himself, but for all the new characters who appear in the game and all those kinds of things. We take all the ideas together, we look at what's best, and we decide ourselves what we think is the best choice.
This might be a little bit sensitive, but with Resident Evil: Outbreak, the characters looked like famous actors. Obviously that's well known for sure, and it was kind of funny, at least for Americans. (laughs) But I look at Trish, and she doesn't look like any specific Western actress, but she looks Caucasian. How did you come up with the process of modeling realistic-looking Caucasian characters without resorting to the copying process from before?
HK: Trish, of course, was a character in Devil May Cry 1, but on the PS2, the polygon count was completely different. The artists who come up with Trish or these kinds of characters look at a lot of movies or fashion magazines or things like that that have Caucasian women in them.
We get inspiration from that, and maybe specific parts would come from a variety of different places. But we do put them together to make something that's our own design in a specific way. It doesn't come from one specific person.
It's sort of the fine line, right? Designing characters that look like real people yet still have a style to them must be quite difficult for art directors, I think. A lot of times, you'll see that western games get knocked a bit, because the main guy is always sort of a generic space marine or whatever. It's hard to find individuality for the characters. But Devil May Cry is very stylized. It has to have these really cool, interesting characters, but they still have to look realistic enough to look like people. How do you balance that? How is that challenge?
HK: In terms of character design, that's one thing that Capcom is good at. The way we do it on this game is that first we decide what the character themselves are like and what their personality is like, and what they think and what personality aspects they have.
From there, we decide, "Well, if their personality is like that, what kind of fashion would they wear? What kind of clothes would they wear? What kind of hairstyle would they have?" That's how we decide the things like that. For example, if you have Lady, based on her personality, what kind of sunglasses would a person like that choose to wear? So that's how we decide it, and that's how we go on to create interesting and cool characters.
Sometimes in Capcom games -- not Devil May Cry, but in some other games like Onimusha and Lost Planet -- you've based some characters on actual actors. Is that something that's done for promotional purposes, or is it to bring a realism to the character? Where does that come from? I don't know if you can talk about those titles with authority...
HK: I can't really say why those teams made those decisions. In the DMC series, we start from zero, making the characters, and it does take a long time.
If you use an actor like Takeshi Kaneshiro in Onimusha or Jean Reno in Onimusha 3, you can immediately have the image of what that character is going to look like and be like. It is a faster process. But we do it from scratch in Devil May Cry. That's something we've always wanted to do, is to create the characters themselves.
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