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GameFan interview with Shinji Mikami

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In early 1998 GameFan interviewed Capcom producer Shinji Mikami.


GameFan Books: How long has the whole development of R.E. 2 taken from initial conception to a final finished version?

Mr. Shinji Mikami (Capcom): It took about a year and 9 months.

GFB: How many people did you have working on it?

SM: Main staff consists of 40 members.

GFB: What did you learn about the PlayStation hardware from developing R.E. 2? What do you think are the machine's greatest strengths and weaknesses?

SM: The machine is good for 3D, but the memory is small.

GFB: The actual areas are astoundingly well-detailed. Please detail how you went about constructing the backgrounds, where you drew inspiration from (i.e., did you use real buildings when you constructed the main street) How long did each rendered background take? What was the most complicated backgrounds to render? What is your favorite background? What rendering packages/tools were utilized?

SM: I took hints from references and also from visiting some cool buildings that actually existed. My favorite and also the most complicated background of all is the main street (the street you are in before you enter the police department). It takes about 2 to 3 weeks to render each background and we used O2.

GFB: Could you tell us more about the game engine - how did you develop it, what is the frame-rate of the game and how is the speed kept up? And what was the most difficult aspect of the game to program?

SM: The frame rate is 30 frames per second. To keep us the speed of the game, I cut down the number of orders and the frame rate. The most difficult aspect of the games was the 3D collision detection.

GFB: The characters are excellently animated and texture mapped. How many polygons are they made up of, and how many characters can you display on the screen at one time? What is your favorite character in R.E. 2? What creature or character are you most proud of? Are there any creatures that didn't make it into the final version of the game? Would you have liked some more zombie types? Anything you couldn't actually ut into the final version (for reasons of taste or whatever)?

SM: The numbers of polygon is different for each character, but Leon and Claire consist of 450. The maximum number of zombies displayed on the screen at one time is 7. My favorite character is Ada Wong and my proudest creatures are the zombies. One creature that did not make it to the final version is the half-man spider phantom. He has the lower part of a human and the upper part of a spider. Yes, I would have liked more zombie types, but decided to settle for what I have, due to time schedule.

GFB: R.E.2 boasts more characters on screen than R.E. Were any sacrifices made to achieve this (i.e. the number of different character textures per load point)?

SM: I was not able to really get into the details of each zombie.

GFB: Where's Elza Walker? Why did you decide to use Chris' sister instead?

SM: I brought up familiar element for fans from the first series. Also, I wanted the lady character to be accustomed to weapons.

GFB: What inspiration did you draw from the grotesque mutation sequences (when the police chief turns into the monster and the creature bursts from the characters' chests)? What are your favorite movies and did these influence your creativity?

SM: I drew inspiration from the "Alien" series. (I really like them). Also I am a fan of Romero's "Zombie", Spielberg's "JAWS" and then Alfred Hitchcock. I think they influence my work.

GFB: Are you overseeing the production of the Resident Evil 2 movie? Do you have a role in it (we'd love to see the programmer in a cameo appearance!), either to influence the feel of the film, or generally okaying the director's idea. GameFan is concerned about the movie staying true to it's origins (especially after the Jean Claude Van Damme 'version' of Street Fighter)?

SM: Basically, I gave the okay to what the production company outputs.

GFB: How far along into production was the ORIGINAL R.E.2 before it was scrapped? Why did you scrap it? Why did you scrap it so late into development/ Where id the fat policemen and the other critters we saw in the preview shots go? Are they hidden in the final game?

SM: The completion of the original Resident Evil 2 had been 60% when I decided to scrap it. The reason is that it was no fun at all. To be specific, I didn't like the visual, scenario and the game... Hey! That's everything! I scrapped it late into development because it was also late into development that the work took form of the game. As for the fat policeman story, sorry, he went away!

GFB: How long after R.E. did you start on R.E.2? Was the same staff involved? Did you envisage the huge success of R.E.?

SM: I started to work on Resident Evil 2 a month after the completion of the first series. More than half of the staff from the first series were involved in the development of Resident Evil 2. I didn't expect that the game would sell so well. What I had in mind at first was a three base hit with no runners on base. I felt that we did a good job, but wasn't expecting any points. But luckily, the game turned out to be a home with runners on each base, that turned the tide of the game at the very last inning.

GFB: What are your opinions on other similar games of this genre? Games such as Nightmare Creatures, Tomb Raider 2, Clock Tower and any others you rate highly.

SM: No Comment.

GFB: Can you run through some of the game's effects that you're most proud (such as the zombie splitting in half after a custom shotgun round to the chest)?

SM: I personally think it was wonderful that the effects of the weapon became flashy.

GFB: The weapons of R.E.2 are gruesomely spectacular! Where did you go for inspiration on some of these more powerful weapons (such as Terminator 2 or Predator for the Mini-gun)?

SM: You're right! (regarding the Mini-gun!)

GFB: On the subject of violence, did you have to censor anything? Was there any gore-related elements that just couldn't make it into the final version of the game? Will there be any changes between the Japanese and American versions of the game?

SM: I had to do without the sequence to be shown at "Game Over". I'm really disappointed about this because I had it made out for each creature! At this point, there is no difference between the Japanese and American version on the subject of violence.

GFB: The sometimes humorous dialogue is also excellent and gives the game more edge and light relief. How did you go about hiring actors and who are the actors portraying the voices? How did you react when the first game's dialogue was found to be so unintentionally amusing by the English speaking population? We've found the 'b-movie' chatter of the sequel to be perfect and great fun to listen to!

SM: We did an audition.We chose our actors from two points: Do they act well? And, do they match the image of the characters. With regard to the dialogue to the first series... are you trying to offend me? (Only joking!)

GFB: What are the effects in the game that you're most proud of? What effects were you least happy with?

SM: Didn't I tell you before that my favorite effect are our weapons!?

GFB: What rendering tools or packages were used in the creation of this game?

SM: O2 and Soft Image.

GFB: Who did the music for R.E.2.? What are his/her credentials and what type of atmosphere were you trying for this time around?

SM: Mr. Ueda of our R&D team. He also worked on the previous series. The theme of the atmosphere is desperation.

GFB: What different sound effects were implemented into the finished game? How did you make all the gruesome sound effects (did you hit melons with hammers for example)? What's your favorite spot-effect? How many channels of sound does R.E. 2 use?

SM: For example,there are sound of foot-steps, gun shots, moaning of zombies, etc. How to make them is... a secret. We can tell you though, that we do not use the primitive yet unique method of crushing melons with hammers! My favorite sound effects are the gun shots. How many channels we use is also a secret!

GFB: Did you use motion-capture animation for the humanoid creatures [zombies, et cetera]?

SM: We used Motion Picture Animation in the movie part, but not in the game.

GFB: What artificial intelligence was used on the enemies you meet, and how advanced was it? What abilities do enemies have that hasn't been seen before?

SM: The new ability of the enemy is mutation.

GFB: What secrets are you most excited about people discovering? How many secrets are there in total? How long did they take to implement? How many different paths can you take (in all four versions of the game)?

SM: There are very many secrets in the game. I look forward to having the "extra game" being disovered by the players. The time needed to implement depends on the individual, but if you play it for the first time it may take around 10 hours to clear one version. There is only one path for each version.

GFB: Have you pushed the PlayStation to the limit with R.E.2? Can we see R.E.2 on any other platform? Can we see a R.E.3?

SM: Yes, I think I have nearly pushed the PlayStation to the limit. The production of Resident Evil 3 is not yet decided.

GFB: What's the previous experience that the R.E.2 team has had? And what are you planning to start developing next?

SM: Our previous experience is "Resident Evil". I plan to make something more fun.

GFB: What is your relationship with Sony? How helpful have they been in this project?

SM: Our relationship with Sony is good. They were cooperative.

GFB: What video-game developers do you admire the most? What other people in the entertainment industry do your admire? How about Bruce Campbell and the Sam Raimi Evil Dead movies? How popular are those types of 'cult' movies in Japan?

SM: Personally, I am extremely fond of Sam Raimi's Evil Dead series. "Horror Movies" are well accepted in Japan 2.

GFB: What are your favorite video games of the moment and all-time?

SM: My game of the moment is Mega Man Dash (Capcom) and my game of all-time is Legend of Zelda (from SNES).

GFB: Please run through a normal daily routine for the staff of R.E. 2 during it's production.


9:00 to 12:00 Work
12:00 to 13:00 Rest
13:00 to 17:30 Work
17:30 to 19:00 Rest
19:00 to 21:00 Work
Back to home for sleep.

GFB: Everyone at GameFan is enjoying our close relationship with Capcom, and w thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to speak to us. Thank you very much. - David S J Hodgson.

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