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Image Is Everything was a Capcom development blog published 28th August 2009. It is the nineteenth in a series of some twenty-three blogs detailing the development of the game.
One of the things that people often overlook when playing games is environment design. The design of backgrounds and environments in games and in film plays the extremely important role of immersing the audience in the world that the game or film is attempting to create.
The construction of a level is another element that has a direct impact on the playability of a game, so it’s an area where we can’t cut corners. It might even be the part that we actually spend the most money on.
When period films are made, a lot of attention to detail is paid so that nothing modern gets into shots. In science fiction films, special sets and CG are used to create new worlds. With games, everything is done through computer modeling, and must be created to fit the game’s setting. The problem is that everything, down to the minute details, must be made from scratch. A characteristic of Darkside Chronicles is that many of the background objects are breakable. That means that not only do we have to create whole versions of these items, but broken versions as well. That can be a daunting task.
Nevertheless, our goal was to give Darkside Chronicles a level of quality that far exceeded its predecessor. Awesome backgrounds are a vital part to achieving that goal.
First we had to start by nailing down the background design concept. I had Mr. Shigechiyo, one of Capcom’s most talented designers, draw up some concept art for the backgrounds so that everyone could understand the level of quality I was looking for in the backgrounds. Below is an example of one of them:
Many of you may remember the scene of the front of this prison cell block from the beginning of Code: Veronica. We left the basic structure unchanged; however, we did play around with the design a little.
First, in order to really bring out the sense of horror, we focused on lighting. Just making everything dark causes the background to disappear. Therefore, we reconstructed the scene in order to create a sharp contrast between lighted areas and shaded areas. We repositioned the placement of the searchlight (which is the primary light source) and the surveillance camera. They have been moved further into the background.
This stage is set on a solitary island, but in the original game the level design didn’t really make you feel like you were isolated in that way. Since this is the beginning of the chapter, I wanted to make players aware of the situation in which they find themselves – trapped on an island in the middle of nowhere. To achieve this effect we removed the far wall and showed the ocean and a lighthouse in the distance.
Once we had our concepts, the next step was to get those concepts into the Wii. So we enlisted the help of some designers from Cavia, the game’s production studio. The designers interpret, arrange and rearrange things in order to make the final product even better. For example, in order to make a puddle of water seem more real, they may use specular highlighting, or to enhance the feel of rain, they may use an effect that puts raindrops right on the camera lens. This kind of imaging technology is made possible by the hard work of the folks at Cavia.
All of these things combined are what gives the environments of Darkside Chronicles their high quality. We challenge our team by setting our goals high, and then we enlist the help of designers who can meet that challenge head on. That is what makes the difference on screen.
By all means, get the game and see just how close we got to the concept art!
■ About Me
Recently the air plants (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tillandsia) I’ve been keeping have been dying. I like air plants and carnivorous plants, so I’ve got a few of them in my house. Of course, Ivy is one of my favorite Resident Evil monsters. I also like the plant-based Ultraman bad guys.
- ↑ RESIDENT EVIL / The Darkside Chronicles TALING EVIL. Archived from the original on 2009-10-31.