It’s a big week for gaming. The release of a new mainline Resident Evil game is one of those events where gamers the world over prepare to bunk off school/work (PS Blog can condone neither action!) and devote their every waking hour to the noble pursuit of mindless zombie slaughter.
The sequel to 2009’s Africa-set Resident Evil 5 is an absolute beast of a game, offering one of the largest single player campaigns in recent memory. Ahead of its global release today we caught up with executive producer Kobayashi-san, director Sasaki-san and producer Hirabayashi-san in Tokyo, to find out how Capcom went about creating such a mammoth title.
What makes Resident Evil 6 stand out from its predecessors?
Sasaki: I think it’s the human drama that we really wanted to convey. The script is just so packed with stuff. Trying to blend everything from the script with the game design and make that come together was really a challenge. What we tried while writing the script was to incorporate the level design and the design of the game itself so they blended seamlessly together. That was the toughest part.
At the beginning of development, do you start out with a story, or do ideas for gameplay and set pieces come first?
Sasaki: I try and get a bunch of different situations in my mind – things that I want to see happening in the game – and they’re usually not connected at all. It’s independent of any story at that stage. For example, with this game when we started, the image I had in my mind was the one of Chris and Leon pointing their guns at each other. That was a cool thing that I wanted to see, but I hadn’t even thought about where the story would be at that point. I just thought that’s a cool thing I wanted in the game – how do we make that happen? How can we make a really cool story around that, and add horror elements and make it work?
The Resident Evil series is famous for its hammy dialogue, catchphrases and visual memes. Do you consciously try and work those sorts of things into the script?
Sasaki: We are aware of those things but that doesn’t mean we go out of our way to create those situations. When we’re making the story we try to come up with lines that reflect the situation that is happening in the story. Everything has to match the story. I personally have lines which I’m a fan of – and the fans have their favourite lines as well – but we don’t say to ourselves “let’s put this line in the script and everyone will like it and it will become a meme”. That’s not something we try to do; I think it’s something that’s born out of people’s experience with the game.
Resident Evil 6 is an enormous game – are you worried that some players won’t have the stamina to make it all the way to the end?
Sasaki: Yes, just a little worried about that. But because of that we developed this new service that ties into Resident Evil 6 called REnet. We hope this service will really motivate people to keep playing the game. It’s for you and your friends – it will help keep all of you conneted and looking forward to clearing the game.
There are lots of different aspects that will allow that. One of the basic elements is you’re going to be able to check in on your friends’ progress and see how they’re progressing. Conversely they’ll do the same with you, so it will be a challenge for both of you to see how far you can get, and see who is doing better. There are a lot of ways you can compare your progress with that of your friends. It’s compatible with Twitter and Facebook so you can get push notifications from friends. It should spur people to continue playing and make it to the end.
Resident Evil 5 saw some great Move support. Do you have plans to offer anything similar with its sequel?
Right now, we don’t have plans for that.
And can you tell us any more about your plans for post-launch support?
Sasaki: We can’t talk about the DLC we are preparing for the game, but in the near future we will be making an announcement about additional content for Resident Evil 6. But the main portion of the game is so loaded with stuff that it should take people a long time to get through this game before they are even ready for DLC.
Sasaki: First of all I’m glad there is a clamouring for something like that. That’s something we will have to look at. If there are enough people clamouring for Resident Evil on Vita that’s definitely something we’ll have to do.
The Resident Evil fanbase is a particular passionate one and isn’t afraid to voice its concerns when it doesn’t approve of the direction you take with a game. Is it frustrating trying to keep them happy?
Kobayashi: The way I always think of it is that if Resident Evil represents a child, then the fans and us as creators are the two parents. The resulting games are like the children that are born between both of us. And just like real parents, you’re not always going to agree on what is best for raising that child.
Now, we do always have our ear to the ground and listen to what the fans are saying and we try to take that into account when we’re making the game. But it’s our job to create a new gaming experience and to offer them something that’s fresh and challenging. We want to make sure that what we do pleases them but the initial reaction might not always be positive. We do listen to the fans but we can’t be beholden to them at every turn or I don’t think we’ll ever make progress in terms of the series’ development.
The zombie genre is getting increasingly crowded these days. Do you think there’s still room for innovation?
Hirabayashi: I still think there is room for innovation with the zombie genre. We have to think about what we do next, but at the core of it the zombie element is almost like its own genre now. There are so many things you can do with them. For us, the challenge for the next Resident Evil outing will be sitting down together and thinking what can we do that we haven’t done before.
After so many years working on RE6, doesn’t the thought of getting started on the next game fill you with horror?!
Hirabayashi: If there are any discussions about furthering the series, yes, the first feeling I would have would be one of fear! But right now we’re so far from that stage – everything is focussed on Resident Evil 6.
Executive producer Kobayashi-san, director Sasaki-san and producer Hirabayashi-san