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"Talking Evil" Blog

Written by YASUHIRO SETO (Director)

http://www.capcom-fc.com/re_dc/

Title

Yasuhiro Seto's "Talking Evil" Blog

Official Transcript

The Meaning of "Darkside"

Hi, I'm Yasuhiro Seto, the director of Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles here at Capcom.  I'm going to be writing weekly blog entries to bring you an inside look at all the cool things we're doing with this new entry in the Resident Evil series.  I directed the previous game in this series, Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles.

The title of the blog is "TALKING EVIL", and I plan to do just that every week as I go in-depth about all of the cool aspects of the game.

X           X           X

One question I think a lot of you are asking is "So why the subtitle 'The Darkside Chronicles'?" For me, this subtitle illustrates the contrast between the story of this game and the story of the Umbrella Chronicles.

Umbrella Chronicles was all about the big events that made up the rise and fall of the Umbrella Corporation, mainly from Wesker's perspective. If you were to create a chart showing the major episodes in Umbrella's history, the events in that game would be on it. On the other hand, there are also a lot of darker, more intimate stories that illustrate the Resident Evil universe that wouldn't necessarily make the list of big events in Umbrella's history. These stories are the concept upon which The Darkside Chronicles is based.

We use some of the great personal stories from Resident Evil 2 in The Darkside Chronicles. Resident Evil 2 was a darker, more intimate story compared to the chapters that we put into Umbrella Chronicles and I tried to highlight that difference when creating this game. Let me explain a bit further.

When I think back on Resident Evil 2, I see a game that had a lot of remarkable elements. It expanded the scope of the game from the fear found in a haunted house to the terror of being in a city overrun and on the brink of total destruction. The various supporting characters really start to fill out the universe; we meet the sexy and mysterious Ada, the young Sherry, and Brian the twisted police chief. I think Brian's madness is really the scariest thing in that game! Ada and Leon's love story is woven into this robust background which makes for a rich game experience with a scale far surpassing the first game.

In that sense Resident Evil 2 made Resident Evil much bigger while at the same time being more intimate. While in most other Resident Evil games the characters must escape from a biohazard and then face down elements of Umbrella, Resident Evil 2 tells the story of individual battles characters go through when they are caught in a desperate and dangerous situation.

These are the stories that would fall through the cracks when the history of the Umbrella Corporation is writ large: The bonds between Leon and Ada, between Claire and Sherry. The story of the collapse of the Birkin Family. These relatively insignificant stories make Resident Evil 2 an unforgettable game.

We focused on these intimate stories of love and family in The Darkside Chronicles. Tragic romance, the destruction of a happy family...

...isn't that a bit on the Darkside?

■ About me

I was born in Kanagawa Prefecture, and I'm around 40 now. At Capcom I directed Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles as well as Beatdown, and was involved in a number of other Resident Evil games. I can't wait to talk more with you about the games I've worked on!

2009.04.24

 

The Presence of Horror

When talking about Darkside Chronicles, the first word that comes to mind is "presence". By that I mean experiencing something that feels like it could actually exist. After completing Umbrella Chronicles we gave a lot of thought to what kind of sequel we wanted to make, and the word presence really captures the theme of the game.

Even though it was the first title in this series, I was able to achieve quite a lot with Umbrella Chronicles. It serves as a great overview of the entire Resident Evil series and provides arcade-style shooting gameplay that is easy for anyone to pick up and enjoy. It was a really cool experience that the user had total control over, and I'm really proud of that achievement.

Of course, there were certain things I want to see done better this time around. Many aspects of the game I want to improve can be summarized with that word, "presence". We will put that feeling into the game while retaining all the above-mentioned points.

Darkside Chronicles is a horror themed / Arcade shooter.

One of the things I love about Resident Evil is its horror aspect. Resident Evil puts the player in a desperate situation, forcing them to survive by using limited ammo and health-restoring herbs wisely, as well as occasionally forcing players to run to survive. I want to use that tension to make the player feel like they are really there.

In Umbrella Chronicles, a strong feeling of presence was one of my team's goals in making use of a first-person perspective. Umbrella Chronicles was a very complex game in many ways, and we did a good job, but I still think that we could have nailed the horror aspect of the game a little better. As a developer, looking back on your last project and accepting its shortcomings is the best kind of feedback. It helped me realize that there was still a lot I could do with this type of game system.

I used a lot of the feedback from Umbrella Chronicles to help perfect that feeling of presence in this game.

The camera was the first thing that we worked on. The viewpoint of a person who is surrounded by horror and wrapped in tension is not steady like a movie camera, but rather moves quite violently. In order to convey that tension and sense of presence more effectively, in certain places we used a camera that really moves as if it were attached to a person's face.

One other thing that we focused on was the presence of your partner. Seeing your partner being grabbed by zombies on-screen or watching monsters sneak up on them really highlights the fear of being attacked.

We also paid special attention to the in-game voice and used it to great effect. We recorded screams, death rattles and confused voices which our voice actors pulled off wonderfully. Not only that, we added many more layers to the voice acting, including panting and shortness of breath as well as a high degree of distress in the normal conversations of the characters. I'm really proud of how recording all those little details helped us to bring the characters' feelings of horror to the forefront.

Of course these aren't the only things we are doing to bring that feeling of presence to the player. My team and I are working hard day and night experimenting with and implementing a huge number of game elements that will bring that feeling of presence to everyone who plays Darkside Chronicles.

I hope you're looking forward to "the presence of horror" in Darkside Chronicles. Keep checking for more updates!

■ About me

I was born in Kanagawa Prefecture, and I'm around 40 now. At Capcom I directed Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles as well as Beatdown, and was involved in a number of other Resident Evil games. I can't wait to talk more with you about the games I've worked on!

2009.05.01

 

Reimagining Leon

If you watch the recent Darkside Chronicles trailer, you will see the names of some of our staff displayed at the end for a few seconds. We are a very enthusiastic team that is looking forward to bringing you a quality game. I'd like to introduce you to some of the really talented team members, hopefully illustrating some of the cool things about Darkside Chronicles along the way.
 
First I'd like to talk a bit about our scenario writer, Shotaro Suga.

Mr. Suga has written the scripts for some great Japanese anime such as the Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex series, Eureka Seven, and Darker Than Black. He has also worked here at Capcom on Devil May Cry 4 as well as Resident Evil: Degeneration.

Resident Evil: Degeneration is a story about Leon and Claire, set in 2005 after the events of Resident Evil 4. Mr. Suga was the one who created an engaging drama in a rich setting which complimented the stunning CG visuals of the film.

In a previous post I explained one of our themes; that of presence (a heightened sense of reality that enhances the gameplay experience). With Darkside Chronicles we want that sense of presence to surpass what we did in Umbrella Chronicles. The scenario and all the lines of dialogue in the game play an important role in realizing this theme. I asked Mr. Suga to create a script with realistic dialogue filled with raw feeling.

The first big question we had to deal with in moving from drafts to the final scenario was how to portray Leon in this game. Since appearing in Resident Evil 2, Leon has starred in both Resident Evil 4 and the Degeneration film. Resident Evil 2 came out over 10 years ago so we wanted to re-envision Leon's first adventure taking current expectations into account rather than just copying Resident Evil 2 verbatim.

In Umbrella Chronicles, and indeed the Chronicles series as a whole, we want to revisit the true stories of the characters' motivations and intentions. Even if this isn't directly related to the gameplay, it's very important to focus on these things to keep the characters and world of Resident Evil appealing.

However, this was unexpectedly difficult in Leon's case. He's not as simple as Chris or Jill, definitely a tough nut to crack.

Leon was nothing but a rookie police officer when he was caught up in the Raccoon City incident. When did he change so drastically? What do you think Leon's real purpose and motivations are? Money? Love? Duty? Honor? Perhaps revenge?

Mr. Suga already has experience with Leon in writing the script for Degeneration. In re-imagining Leon's Raccoon City exploits, he has strived to create a character that is more consistent with the "resourceful special-agent" Leon we know from newer Resident Evil stories. What happened to Leon that made him choose that life?

Mr. Suga and I have gone through many revisions trying different things with Leon's character, and this process has yielded a great final scenario. The story of how Leon lives his life and the choices he makes is one of the themes I am very excited to explore with you in the Darkside Chronicles.

■ About me

I was born in Kanagawa Prefecture, and I'm around 40 now. At Capcom I directed Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles as well as Beatdown, and was involved in a number of other Resident Evil games. I can't wait to talk more with you about the games I've worked on!

2009.05.08

 

The Leon of 1998

The Leon in Darkside Chronicles appears as he was in 1998. This was the year the T-Virus spread throughout Raccoon City and started the whole Resident Evil series. Leon must endure a bitter struggle to escape the doomed Raccoon City.
 
Leon looks a little different compared to his other appearances in Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 4. He's a fresh rookie cop, and his looks are somewhat soft. But we wanted to leave hints of the man Leon would become in Resident Evil 4.

We debated long and hard about what kind of voice to give this young Leon and still maintain his character's image.

Paul Mercier did most of the voice work for Leon in Resident Evil 4. He also played Leon in the CG movie Resident Evil: Degeneration. Paul has become our image of what Leon's character is.

We did the voice recording in Los Angeles. Paul's real voice is actually low and cool, as it is in Degeneration. But since for this setting we needed a very young Leon, we had him say his lines in a higher pitch. Early recording sessions were drawn out at times because during intense lines, sometimes Paul would revert back to his natural, low voice. But, he was very professional. Once he understood what we were trying to accomplish with the character, recording went quite smoothly with little need for multiple takes. In my mind, Paul's voice as Leon is dazzling. It's perfect.

In Resident Evil 2, we were shown a Leon who was serious (almost to a fault), and a sucker for the ladies. We tried to maintain those qualities for him in Darkside Chronicles. The aim of the scenario concept for Darkside Chronicles was to preserve the feeling of the old games while making them more interesting, and to retell those stories from the first person perspective. So, we've decide to give Leon a little girl trouble in this game as well.

With Claire, Ada, and Sherry as the scenario's female characters, something is bound to happen. ;-)

More than 10 years has gone by since the release of Resident Evil 2, and graphics technology has come a long way since then. Likewise, advancements in sound technology have made equally great strides. As such, I knew I would have to take character dialogue very seriously. So, I got together with Mr. Suga, whom I mentioned before, to put together the script. We decided to use dialog to give the audience a deeper look into the characters.

How could we create an emotional drama between Leon and another female character?

I met with Cinematic Director Hide Gondoh over and over trying to come up with a solution.

I've worked with Mr. Gondoh before on titles like Resident Evil Remake, and Resident Evil 4. He's an extremely talented director who can handle everything from event scene choreography, to staff coordination. It just so happens that he is fond of Leon's character. And he wisely suggested that we write Leon with a focus on realism.

Will all this tension and realism Leon is feeling fit into the game's overall theme of "presence"?

At first I thought that with a pre-existing Resident Evil scenario, the lines for that scenario would be, for the most part, already written. But, for Darkside Chronicles, we are taking it to another level.

We will continue to challenge ourselves and make this one of the most epic Resident Evil games yet!

■ About me

I was born in Kanagawa Prefecture, and I'm around 40 now. At Capcom I directed Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles as well as Beatdown, and was involved in a number of other Resident Evil games. I can't wait to talk more with you about the games I've worked on! 

2009.05.15

 

Claire's Presence

To me, Claire is one of the most interesting characters in the Resident Evil universe. I personally have always really liked her as a character...

In the story, Claire is just your average college student, and the fact that she is a civilian makes her quite unique. With the exception of the Outbreak games, there haven't been very many civilians to play a major role in the Resident Evil Series.
 
I'm of the mind that it is the regular people that play the most important roles in horror. Characters in games who are just ordinary people without any special skills are emblematic of most of us. I believe that these characters put a face to our fears. In horror films there are generally many main characters, of which most are killed off. They are there to make the audience think, "What if that was me in this situation?" Also, I think Claire being a woman fits nicely into this kind of horror story.

I enjoy, and have seen quite a few horror movies, but to me most of the female main characters seem to be in the movies for the sole purpose of having a terrified person who can scream loudly. Perhaps it is this way because the women are generally portrayed as weak and defenseless, and seeing them being chased increases the feeling of oneness with that character, and thus the sense of fear.

But back to Claire, I feel that she is perhaps more well-rounded than a lot of the characters we see in horror movies and games. Sure she has a tough side, but she is also a just your average civilian/college student/woman. It is my opinion that all of these elements together make her a perfect main character for a horror story.

For Resident Evil: Darkside Chronicles, Claire's voice was again done by the immensely talented Alyson Court, who has been the voice of Claire since Resident Evil 2. We were very privileged to be able to work with Alyson again, and even though we asked a lot from her, she never failed to exceed our expectations. On the set, Alyson BECAME the young Claire again from 1998. It was truly a pleasure to work with her again.

Going into the voice recording, we thought about how a regular girl thrown into a town writhing with the undead would react, how the fear would affect her breathing, and how she would scream. So it was with this direction in mind that we had Alyson consider all of these things when delivering her lines. We wanted to convey from the mere sound of her voice, the terror Claire was feeling.

In the end, what we needed to do was to convey through Claire the real "presence" of horror.

■ About me

I was born in Kanagawa Prefecture, and I'm around 40 now. At Capcom I directed Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles as well as Beatdown, and was involved in a number of other Resident Evil games. I can't wait to talk more with you about the games I've worked on! 

2009.05.22

 

The Gap between two Claires

Last time, I talked about Claire's appeal, but that's not all there is to her.  Have you ever thought about the gap between the two sides of her character?
 
It's just when you think she's just an ordinary college student, we find out that Claire possesses an exceptional set of survival skills. - Perhaps because she is the little sister of Special Forces member Chris Redfield? Yet despite being a saucy biker type, her gentle side won't allow her to forsake the weak. The reason she came to Raccoon City in the first place was to look for her brother. Her outward appearance kind of belies her real personality, and that gap makes her an interesting character.

For this game, we realized the importance of that gap, and tried to recreate the Claire we knew from 1998. For the design, we turned to Capcom's own SHIGECHIYO. SHIGECHIYO also worked as the main designer on Umbrella Chronicles, and did character and monster design. For Darkside Chronicles he went a step further and gave us support starting from the concept stage.

So, I asked SHIGECHIYO about what he paid attention to most while designing.

First of all, I didn't want to upset the image fans have of Resident Evil 2, so I tried to leave the basics unchanged. But given that the original's design is more than 10 years old, I have updated the look and feel in some places. The changes aren't drastic though; it just needs a subtle refining touch.

Also, advances in hardware have led to improvements in rendering and allowed me to add details that convey Claire's character and personality. Her sunglasses and boots show that she is into motorcycles. The knife on her shoulder, her cut-off jeans, all of these things that show that gap in her character, her spunk, I am leaving them as they were. I'm only rearranging them. 

[See SHIGECHIYO's Design]

We created a 3D model of Claire based on that design.

We really paid attention to detail, right down to how much midriff to have her show, and the size of her butt. Because the display system in Darkside Chronicles let's you see your partner, how characters look from behind is extremely important. From that attention to detail was born a Claire, packed with a whole new kind of appeal. Watch the latest trailer, and I'm sure you'll understand what I mean.

[See Clair Redfield Game Model]

When voice is added to Claire's model in motion, the allure she had in Resident Evil 2 becomes apparent once again.

Claire gets caught up in a hellish struggle to escape from Raccoon City. As she and Leon help each other, they start to develop a mutual understanding of one another. Unlike in the original game, in Darkside Chronicles, the two characters act as a pair, so the dialog between them has more substance and detail.

They start out in the beginning as just two survivors, but along the way, they learn to trust in each other, and transform into a formidable team. Claire's tenderness and her toughness are what pull Leon through. I believe that seeing that growth, together with the game's learning curve, will make for an enjoyable experience.

The fact that she grows up in the end, is the reason I like Claire.  Claire does, in fact, mature into a real warrior. That is the Claire you've seen in Code: Veronica.

■ About me

Lives in Osaka, but doesn't speak the local Osaka dialect.
Has directed titles such as RE: Umbrella Chronicles and Beat Down.
A fan of horror movies, especially the unforgettable masterpiece, "Phenomena."
Enjoyed that movie so much that he decided to use the band Goblin in the score.

2009.05.29

 

The Impact of Veronica

The world of Resident Evil: Code Veronica also appears in Darkside Chronicles. This is one of my favorite games. You probably think that I'm just saying that, but it's true. I guess that can't be helped though ;-) Even though Resident Evil has so many titles in its ever expanding franchise, I still think that Code: Veronica stands out among them.

Claire was captured by Umbrella and sent to a prison on a solitary island while investigating the disappearance of her brother Chris. While planning her escape, she meets a teenage boy named Steve. The two of them learn of a sudden and mysterious biohazard outbreak on the island, and a story stitched together from madness and terror begins to unfold.

What is it that makes Code: Veronica stand out so?

When I think about it from the standpoint of a fan, I just remember the huge impact it had on me back when the game came out. Until then, the games in the series were numbered. However, Code: Veronica broke the mold and used a "codename" in its title - and a female name to boot. The title also didn't give anything away, which only added to the game's enjoyment. The fact that you didn't learn what Code: Veronica actually meant until you reached the end of the game was a brilliant twist. This is the standard I want to hold Darkside Chronicles to.

The setting itself was also very different from that of other games in the series. Code: Veronica got away from the Raccoon City setting. It started out on a solitary island in the distant sea below the equator, and then moved even further south to Antarctica. No game in the series had ever experienced such a dramatic change of scenery. It broke the pattern of having a story start and finish in one place, and it put the player in a completely different world at the end of the game than the one they were in at the beginning.

I think that Code: Veronica was created to go against everything that had come before in the Resident Evil series.

I didn't just want to bring that game to Darkside Chronicles, I wanted to everything that made it great!  I wanted to give additional meaning to that story and to more closely knit it together with Resident Evil 2. I found that it wasn't so difficult once I dissected both of them.

Code: Veronica itself is already on the darker side of the Resident Evil series. Its story is more emotional, more insane: Steve's crush on Claire, the life-and-death struggles in a place all but forgotten by the rest of the world, and families on the verge of falling apart - Steve's family and the insane Ashford family. These are stories that you can't just chart on a timeline.

Including Code: Veronica in Darkside Chronicles was, in a way, inevitable.

■ Yasuhiro Seto's Profile

Lives in Osaka, but doesn't speak the local Osaka dialect.
Has directed titles such as RE: Umbrella Chronicles and Beat Down.
A fan of horror movies, especially the unforgettable masterpiece, "Phenomena."
He enjoyed it so much that he decided to use the band Goblin in the score. 

2009.06.05

 

Veronica's Darkness

Code: Veronica's music is very distinctive. Especially the song called Alexia's Lullaby. This song seems to paint the world in Veronica's colors. Like the word "lullaby" suggests, it's a very simple song, but you hear it a number of times during the game and it leaves quite a strong impression. Anybody who has played Code: Veronica and hears it will think "Oh yeah, that song."

Other Resident Evil games are set in America and have a corresponding American feel to them, but Veronica carries more of a European gothic feel. This comes out not only in the rich gothic ornamentation in many of the game's settings, but also in the story of the fall of an aristocratic family. So many elements, such as the German-style weaponry, the Central European carvings, the lone island and forlorn mansion create a complete backdrop for the gothic horror story of a noble lady who should have died long ago.

The genre of "gothic horror" has a lot of different definitions, but the main themes include a horror story rooted in and accented by the old culture of Europe. It might include old castles, ruins, mansions, and ghosts as well. All of these elements are present in Code: Veronica and tied up in a unique Resident Evil way.

While the first Resident Evil borrowed some of these elements, the Resident Evil games before Code Veronica were more of an American-style horror heavily influenced by the sense of panic imbued in American horror films. The fear in those earlier games was focused on the monsters, zombies, and the cruel organization controlling events from the shadows.

The fear in Code: Veronica focuses on the madness of man, and the fate of a noble bloodline. The story of that madness is told partly through Alexia's Lullaby. The song holds something akin to an unexplainable dread that even some Mother Goose tales hold. As that music plays, you can hear the European operatic undertones that highlight the gothic story, which underpins the story of a bloodline's collapse told in the game. That style of gothic horror is original to Code: Veronica.

The music in Darkside Chronicles is all original or else newly arranged, but I think we have been able to capture the essence of Code: Veronica very well. That's because we are lucky to have Takeshi Miura working as the sound director for the portions of Darkside's music that have to do with the Veronica story. He was the composer of the original songs in Code: Veronica.

Having the composer of the original music has really helped us keep the spirit of Code: Veronica, and heighten the darkness we are trying to bring out in this title.

■ Yasuhiro Seto's Profile

Lives in Osaka, but doesn't speak the local Osaka dialect.
Has directed titles such as RE: Umbrella Chronicles and Beat Down.
A fan of horror movies, especially the unforgettable masterpiece, "Phenomena."
He enjoyed it so much that he decided to use the band Goblin in the score. 

2009.06.12

 

Steve's Shadow

If you're talking about Code: Veronica, you can't forget about Steve.

I mean, when most people think of Code: Veronica, they think of Steve, right!?

Just like Claire, Steve too had been caught and imprisoned on Rockfort Island. The two of them work together to plan their escape from the island following a biohazard emergency. Steve a brand new character for Code: Veronica, together with Claire, must fight his way out of this insane world.

What really stands out about Steve is his youth. He's younger than Claire, and she sees him kind of like a little brother. With his slender build, red haired, thin face, Steve is one of the more attractive men in the Resident Evil universe. Perhaps because of his young age, Steve was well received by women; at the time of Code: Veronica, he was quite popular.

His wannabe delinquent disposition was a departure from other characters.

"Wannabe" is the key word here. Steve is actually a pure-of-heart, straight-shooting individual who wears an exterior that belies that truth.

The relationship between Steve and Claire often breaks down to a typical big-sis versus snotty younger brother situation that I remember made me grin more than a few times.

The combination of Steve's slightly awkward manner, and desire to look cool, contrasted against Claire's rough-and-tumble beauty inevitably makes for an interesting drama between the sexes. 

The feelings Steve has for this beautiful woman he has met through sheer chance are painfully obvious. No matter how critical the situation may be, men are creatures that have a natural response to women. Steve's self consciousness about his age and the clash between his natural impulses is something that we all have experienced. Though he is still quite wet behind the ears, he is interesting to watch from the point of view of an outsider.

For this game we had Shigechiyo handle Steve's redesign as well

[See SHIGECHIYO's Design]

 
Steve will be given a more modern makeover, without tarnishing his original look. In addition to some extra "wild" touches, we are incorporating minute details that make him a more realistic looking prisoner. There was also the question of what Umbrella's original purpose was for having this facility. This time around, to a certain degree we try to convey a sense that the prisoners are being supervised.

One more thing that makes Steve hard to forget is that he carries with him some baggage; a shadowy secret in his past, a dark side, related to why he was imprisoned on that island. At first he tries to hide its very existence, but little by little it comes to light. We learn that this dark side actually stems from Steve's relationship with his father. Shadows are a product of light, and light cannot be completely separated from darkness. So in keeping with the "Darkside" theme, this is a tale of shadows and family.

What is Steve's fate? Will he be able to escape his dark past?

■ Yasuhiro Seto's Profile

Lives in Osaka, but doesn't speak the local Osaka dialect.
Has directed titles such as RE: Umbrella Chronicles and Beat Down.
A fan of horror movies, especially the unforgettable masterpiece, "Phenomena."
Enjoyed that movie so much that he decided to use the band Goblin in the score.

2009.06.19

 

The Essence of Monsters

This week's theme is monsters.

Life and death duels with monstrous, dimorphic creatures called Bio-Organic Weapons (B.O.W.s) developed by the Umbrella Corporation are what Resident Evil has always been about. I love monsters like the ones in Aliens and Predator, so I really get into my work.

There are some monsters in the Resident Evil series that have really come to represent the series. Of all the scenes from Resident Evil 2 in Darkside Chronicles, but perhaps the most memorable scene was where we met the creature known as the "Licker". With its bizarre skinless appearance as it prows walls and ceilings, its long tongue, and sharp claws, no doubt this creature has caused grief for more than a few players.

Now, every type of monster has its own scary essence.

Sure, zombies have a scary appearance, but it's what we know about zombies that make them distinctively terrifying: They are the walking dead, their death is contagious, they gorge on human flesh, etc. It is their basic essence, which conveys all of that fear to the player.

The Lickers I mentioned before are already very scary in their appearance - with their extendable tongues, their sharp claws, and their exposed muscle structure. But I think the thing that makes them truly terrifying is that they are blind hunters that creep along the ceiling and sneak up on their prey.

We set Darkside Chronicles around the horror concept. Monsters are scary, and we set out to make the most of their ability to convey fear.

Lickers also appeared in Umbrella Chronicles; however, I wasn't completely satisfied with how they conveyed fear in RE2. So, for this game we recreated their models from scratch. We emphasized their muscular limbs that give them their super-agility, and accentuated the features that inspire terror, like their bared canine teeth and brains visible through their skulls.

[See Licker Conceptual Artwork] 

However, true terror has to do with more than just appearance. The fright of a monster standing there in front of you all of a sudden is enough to leave you powerless. To be able to see something means that eventually you will understand what it is you're dealing with, and that takes away from the terror element.

Using sounds and the atmosphere to convey the presence of a monster invokes fear. In this game, having the Licker sneak up on you in the darkness and attack you is how we spell fright.

Please look forward to meeting the Licker. It's a monster whose essence we were particular about.

■ Yasuhiro Seto's Profile

Lives in Osaka, but doesn't speak the local Osaka dialect.
Has directed titles such as RE: Umbrella Chronicles and Beat Down.
A fan of horror movies, especially the unforgettable masterpiece, "Phenomena."
Enjoyed that movie so much that he decided to use the band Goblin in the score.

2009.06.26

 

The Ashfords

The Code: Veronica scenario takes place on Rockfort Island, run by two members of the noble Ashford family, the twin brother and sister Alfred and Alexia Ashford, the story's main characters.

The family matriarch, Veronica Ashford, was a noble-born descendent of European aristocracy. The Ashford family bloodline has been cursed ever since Edward, the 5th generation family head, founded the Umbrella Corporation. This curse also affected his heir Alexander, and his children Alfred and Alexia.

It was not long after the founding of Umbrella that Edward died mysteriously. When his successor Alexander went missing, it was presumed that he had died as well, so Alfred assumed the position of the 7th generation family head and took command of Rockfort Island, which meant that he got to play king-of-the-hill of a remote Umbrella prison and paramilitary training facility. But, he had a plan...

When recreating the Code: Veronica scenario for Darkside Chronicles, I had a hard time deciding where to put the focus. I sat down with the cut-scene director, Hidé Gondoh, and we chose the Ashford Family to be the focus. We liked the story of the Ashfords. But why?

The first work Hidé ever did on Resident Evil was on the original Code: Veronica. I was involved in that project as well, so the two of us have developed a special fondness for it. I saw this game as a second chance to do the things we weren't able to do in the original game, and I wanted to take the challenge.

[See Alfred Ashford Conceptual Artwork] 

Alfred's subdued yet eerie performance choreographed by Hidé is a must-see. There were a lot of things I did, too, throughout the game to try to bring out Alfred's mental deterioration and slow descent into insanity. I think all of that came together effectively to tell the story of this cursed bloodline.

In the Code: Veronica portion of Darkside Chronicles, there is a chapter called "Game of Oblivion", whose title holds a certain significance. Until the game is released, I'll have to let you remain "oblivious" to what this chapter is all about

■ About me
 
I have directed such titles as Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles, and Beat Down. I enjoys travelling. I'm also a fan of horror novels, especially Stephen King's books. His earlier works, like "Salem's Lot", and "Firestarter" are must-have items. Both of those have been made into movies, but I strongly recommend you read the books.

2009.07.03

 

Alexia's Rebirth

This week, I'd like to talk a bit about Alfred Ashford's daughter, Alexia.

Since we are revisiting Code: Veronica in the game, Alexia will of course be an indispensable part of the story. I've got to be careful not to give away too much while writing this blog!

Alexia was supposedly dead for 15 years but Claire and Steve see her on Rockfort Island. Why has Alexia, who was supposed to have died so long ago, suddenly appeared on this island?

Since the Chronicles series is a gun shooting game, we have to make sure that telling the story doesn't interfere with the tempo of the game. To accomplish this, we've made a lot of additions and changes to the way the story is told. This chance meeting with Alexia on Rockfort Island happens much more directly in Darkside Chronicles than it does in the original game.

Claire and Steve follow the elusive figure of Alexia while searching the island. They hear her laughter, her footsteps, and the constant sound of her lullaby... but they never seem to be able to catch a clear look at the woman herself. The pair feels like they are chasing after a ghost.

No matter how quickly they pursue her, Alexia always seems to disappear just out of reach, leaving nothing but questions and riddles in her path. What is Alexia, and what is she planning to do?

The one thing that I can say here is this:

Alexia's incarnation in the Darkside Chronicles is burning hot, and she will leave you wanting more!

■ About me
 
I have directed such titles as Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles, and Beat Down. I enjoys travelling. I'm also a fan of horror novels, especially Stephen King's books. His earlier works, like "Salem's Lot", and "Firestarter" are must-have items. Both of those have been made into movies, but I strongly recommend you read the books. 

2009.07.10

 

The Importance of the Orchestra

I'd like to talk a little bit about the background music this week.

We recently held a recording session for the game's orchestrated music. The Resident Evil series has a long history of impressive orchestral music. We are always trying to find ways to make the music more and more impressive, which is why I love to visit the recording studio.

We recorded with the Tokyo Shitsunaigaku Kyokai Co., LTD (a Tokyo-based orchestra). Over 40 musicians performed on more than 13 types of instruments accompanied by a chorus of 30 singers to bring the soundtrack to life in spectacular fashion. The performance was awe-inspiring. I am sure the soundtrack will add another layer of depth to the game.

As you can imagine, recording an orchestra of this scale is no simple task. First, each piece of music must be analyzed and a musical role must be assigned to each instrument for each part of the song in a process called "orchestration."

It's often quite common that game music was not originally created to be performed by a live orchestra, and therefore there is often quite a bit of arrangement necessary in the orchestration process. Luckily our composer is Yoshihisa Hirano, an artist of exceptional skill. Mr. Hirano has created memorable music for many games and anime titles. He is also an accomplished classical composer. His skills make him perfect for the job of creating music for this game. His arrangements have made it possible to bring an amazing orchestral performance to Darkside Chronicles.

Previously on this blog, I've mentioned Takeshi Miura, another skilled composer working on the game who wrote an original piece for the Code: Veronica portion of the title. He also helped bring new life to the Resident Evil 2 music featured in this title, along with one other talented composer, Shusaku Uchiyama. Shusaku wrote music for the original Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 4 as well. He is currently a freelance composer. Having Takeshi and Shusaku work together on this project has been a wonderful experience.

All of the musical elements including superb original music, first-rate arrangements, excellent orchestration and the moving performance of the orchestra itself have combined to create a truly splendid musical experience.

You absolutely have to hear the Darkside Chronicles soundtrack!

■ About me
 
I have directed such titles as Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles, and Beat Down. I enjoys travelling. I'm also a fan of horror novels, especially Stephen King's books. His earlier works, like "Salem's Lot", and "Firestarter" are must-have items. Both of those have been made into movies, but I strongly recommend you read the books. 

2009.07.17

 

Know Thy Fellow Man

My true feeling is that Darkside Chronicles has surpassed the original Umbrella Chronicles in pure entertainment quality. Here is why I feel confident in saying this:

Darkside Chronicles was designed and planned here at Capcom, and developed by the excellent production studio, Cavia.

Cavia is a superb company with a proven track record for quality. They create outstanding original brands, and I have actually worked with them on a number of great titles in the past. We worked on Capcom's excellent Beatdown, which was jointly developed with Cavia. More recently, we created Umbrella Chronicles together. In my opinion, Cavia is a company with great creative vision and technical skill.

For Darkside Chronicles, I wanted to work with the same staff that I worked with on Umbrella Chronicles. I selected staff in order to get the very best quality into the game. I chose people who had experience with Umbrella Chronicles so I could put that experience to work.

Being conscious of people is very important when it comes to entertainment. This awareness is essential when trying to create something that's fun. Of course the execution of a game involves mastery of the hardware and programming tools you are working with, but having a good understanding of the people making the game is absolutely indispensable. That consciousness is what allows a game maker to make his game better.

Cavia's director Hiroaki Kotake was responsible for planning the foundation of the gun shooting action in Umbrella Chronicles. On Darkside, he had control of important factors such as game balance and difficulty. His work has really made this game exciting.

However, the most difficult thing is a consciousness of what your staff is enthusiastic about, and how to best use that enthusiasm to make something great.

People will often have differing opinions during development, and as a leader it's difficult to get people to come around to your way of thinking. Opinions will clash, and sometimes creating games can feel like a mental battlefield!

Although it can be very difficult, I think that those conflicts of opinion are necessary. There's no way to avoid friction when you get a lot of smart people with their own opinions together, but if you have a leader who can guide friction in the right direction, you will end up with a better result in the end. The director's job is to guide that creative energy in the right direction during the whole course of production

A team with good results under its belt has already been through the crucible once so to speak, and therefore they have an advantage. Once the elements of Darkside Chronicles finally started to come together, I knew that the team's experience really helped them. They were absolutely on the right track, and it's obvious that Darkside has surpassed Umbrella Chronicles. Mr. Kotake has taken the awareness of his staff's talents and opinions and given it shape in the form of Darkside Chronicles. He and his staff continue to put the finishing touches on the game.

I have to be honest, sometimes it's downright scary seeing how heated things can get during the development of a game, but I hope you will enjoy the final product of that intense struggle!

■ About me
 
I have directed such titles as Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles, and Beat Down. I enjoys travelling. I'm also a fan of horror novels, especially Stephen King's books. His earlier works, like "Salem's Lot", and "Firestarter" are must-have items. Both of those have been made into movies, but I strongly recommend you read the books. 

2009.07.24

 

Cut Scenes Taking Shape

Shirogumi inc. is creating the cut scenes for Darkside Chronicles, and Mr. Hidekazu Gondoh is directing them. Shirogumi has been doing CG animation for quite awhile, working on game cut scenes, TV commercials, and CG in feature films. They most recently worked on K-20: Kaijin Nijyuu Mensou Den (K-20: Legend of the 20 mysterious faces), and will be working on BALLAD Na mo Naki Koi no Uta (BALLAD: The unnamed love song) this September.

Hidekazu also worked on Umbrella Chronicles with me, and in my opinion he's not your average director. He offers great opinions on the story which make the cut scenes even better in the end. Mr. Hidekazu's mark has been left on the game's story. He has especially strong feelings about the Veronica story which he was involved with.

I talked with Hidekazu from the beginning about how we wanted to do the cut scenes. We aimed to emphasize the games central concept of presence through the cut scenes, so they were suffused with a sense of reality. At that time, we weren't exactly sure how we wanted to increase the realism of the cut scenes in the game, but I agreed with the director that we had to imbue the scenes with a raw, real feeling.

One other thing we aimed for was quality that exceeded the high standards set in Umbrella Chronicles. That was an absolute must, and difficult since the cut scenes in Umbrella Chronicles were great. One thing we were careful and conscious of during Umbrella Chronicles was creating a sense of uniformity between the cut scenes and the gameplay itself. We didn't constrain ourselves quite so tightly this time around, and we decided to let the more powerful aspects of the story come through with high quality CG this time around.

Of course just saying "We're gonna make the cut scenes look better!" won't get it done. Actually executing those goals comes down to CG technique, and Hidekazu has that in spades.

Hidekazu took care of all the storyboarding, and actor's motion capture performances were recorded at Shirogumi's studio. After that, we recorded voices in Los Angeles. A lot of different steps and many people are involved in the process of creating the cut scenes for this game. It's a very tough job to oversee and control everything that goes into the creation of these scenes.

Right now we are in the process of finishing off the game's final scenes. All the rough cuts I've been getting from the director are absolutely incredible. This is thanks to Hidekazu's skill in direction as well as the technical expertise and hard work of the team at Shirogumi.

One of the guiding principles we kept in mind from the beginning while creating the cut scenes was the use of light and the overall mood of the lighting. We used lighting that was similar to the in-game scenes, but more dynamic and active. Another principle was character expressions and eye movement. Characters that might otherwise look a bit doll-like really come alive when their eyes are moving realistically. I was really happy about that small detail as it added realism to the scenes, specifically in Claire and Steve's expressions.

I'm very excited that you'll be able to see all of our work so soon. It won't be long now!

■ About me

I have directed such titles as Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles, and Beat Down. I enjoys travelling. I'm also a fan of horror novels, especially Stephen King's books. His earlier works, like "Salem's Lot", and "Firestarter" are must-have items. Both of those have been made into movies, but I strongly recommend you read the books.

2009.07.31

 

Sound Recording Takes Shape

Most of the Resident Evil series is set in America, so the characters speak English. Of course this means that we have to record each character's dialogue in English.

We have Japanese voice actors record the dialogue of games which are in Japanese, and there was even a time when development staff recorded the voices for games. That was fine back then, but now as every aspect of our games becomes higher quality, and as we try to appeal to a more global audience, the quality of in-game voice must increase as well.

The voice for the Resident Evil series has been praised as exceptional, and that is due in large part to holding the voice recording sessions in America. We recorded the voice for Darkside Chronicles in America as well.

We broke the recording up into a number of sessions. I went to one such session in Los Angeles in March.

Los Angeles has plenty of great weather in March, but I was closed up in the studio all day and couldn't enjoy it at all. Also, we were trying to have the actors that worked on the older games work on Darkside as much as possible, so the actor/actress was often connected to our studio remotely to do their recordings. The role of Claire was played by Alyson Court and Ada Wong's voice was provided by Sally Cahill. These actresses are both based in Canada, so they weren't actually with us while we recorded. This technology is very advanced, and is very commonplace in the industry right now, but there are still drops in the connection, and since the actor/actress isn't there in the room with you, it can be frustrating at times.

In spite of those issues, the studio was great because there was free coffee, donuts, fruit and salad. You could have as much as you wanted! It was always fun to munch on these snacks when waiting for a tech problem to get sorted out, or just while taking a break.

We worked with JUST CAUSE for the voice recording of this game. They are excellent at what they do in terms of voice recording and motion capture, and did great work on Resident Evil 5 in both of those areas. JUST CAUSE has a great sense of quality and a passion for games. They are a great partner to Capcom. I know that we will be able to reach our high goals for quality working with them.

The theme of the voice recording was "presence".

We learned an important lesson about voice during Umbrella Chronicles. We learned that voice is extremely effective when trying to build tension. In Umbrella and Darkside Chronicles the camera advances automatically, so we are able to sync a dramatic conversation between characters that matches what's happening. You couldn't have such a fluid and natural conversation happening if you were controlling the characters movement directly.

We felt we had to set the bar for voice very high on this game, but just saying you want to have powerful voice acting that conveys a sense of presence is much easier than executing it. First, we create a Japanese script that flows naturally, correcting, editing and trying different things as we go. The next step is the very difficult task of translating the script. All of the voice is recorded in English, so special care and attention needs to be paid to the translation process. We cannot translate the script literally. Sometimes, completely different expressions need to be used in English. For example, there is the line "Mushikera!" ("You worm!") in the Japanese script, however, there is no good phrase that means "You worm!" in English. This line is rather important in the scenario, so it had to be translated very carefully. In the end we couldn't find something that got the meaning across exactly, so we settled on "You rat!" for the translation.

There were a number of cases where the actors just couldn't get a feel for the lines, and the presence which we were aiming for couldn't be achieved. The first voice recording session didn't go quite as well as I had hoped, so we took the time to hold some extra sessions to fix our mistakes. Through trial and error, the voice director and studio staff was able to more fully understand the meaning behind the brilliant words we had written. By giving examples of what kind of tension we were going for, and by providing videos which made the scenes and situations as easy to understand as possible, we were able to eliminate the problems. We were able to get all the voices, sighs, breathing, groans and whimpers that are necessary to conveying a realistic sense of presence.

This process has yielded voice for Darkside Chronicles which I feel is a cut above other game voices. I can't wait for all of you to hear it! You can't help but be pulled right in!

■ 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.

2009.08.07

 

Little Girls Lost in the Dark

There are 2 little girls in this game.

The dark side that each of them possesses is one of the themes of this game.

The first of them, Sherry Birkin, you already know.

Leon and Claire meet her at the Raccoon City Police Station, but they fail to earn her trust and she runs away. There is a reason for this and it comes out in Sherry's character.

Belying her dainty, flower-girl like appearance, she is very distrustful of people and is a child with a very strong will. One might even go so far as to say that she is stubborn. Couple that with her general mistrust of people, and I think that explains her poor communication skills. Even in school, I see her as having a very dark personality.

What kind of background does Sherry come from?

Leon and Claire come to learn of Sherry's complex home situation.

Both of her parents are researchers with the same aspirations, totally absorbed in their work. Neither one of them could be described as family oriented; at best you could call them distant. Unfortunately, their research left them little time to consider their daughter. They may have even been driven by the prospect of publishing their own research and gaining notoriety and fame.

Over time, having been brought up in such a household, Sherry had put up a wall between herself and the outside world.

Perhaps she resigned herself to never trusting others, and living a life of solitude.

However, things begin to change for Sherry after she meets Leon and Claire.

Will this new interpersonal connection shine a new light into her life?

The other little girl in the game is the very young Alexia.

Alexia was raised a child prodigy. At the age of 10, viral research became the centerpiece of her life, to the point that she became obsessed with it. Her level of genius was unmatched. She was on a whole other level entirely. With her superior intellect, one could hardly refer to her as a child.

Her father, Alexander, mysteriously went missing, but he couldn't be described as a caring father either. He was focused solely on taking back power within the Umbrella Corporation. Allowing Alexia to continue her viral research was merely a part of that process. Years of living under such conditions engrained within Alexia delusions of being special and different from other people. Her bloated perception of herself as being a "Solitary Queen" only grew bigger.

They say that the apple never falls far from the tree. This must be true of even bad apples.

Both of these little girls are like mirrors that reflect the dark side of their parents.

Perhaps all they really wanted was to have close relationships with their parents.

What lies in store for these lonely little girls who were pulled into the darkness...?

We're calling the new trailer which comes out in Cologne, Germany next week, "Darkside".

For now, you should be able to get a sense of the girls' loneliness from the expressions on their faces.

■ 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. 

2009.08.14

 

Character Modeling

For Darkside Chronicles, we have created high-res character models that we use for cut scenes and the like. These high-res character models are not only being used for the game but also on the web, in ads, and on packaging; serving the important purpose of conveying the appeal and originality of each character. 
 
We enlisted the help of Satoshi Ueda, who did the character models for Umbrella Chronicles, to create models for the main characters in Darkside Chronicles.

Satoshi Ueda is a whiz when it comes to CG and creating character models; he's even published several books on the subject.

※ 3dsmax Super Technique Version 6 (Sotec)

He also has a background in game production, and his knowledge of the ins and outs of the process makes him very easy to work with.

Satoshi is known to be very good with character face creation. That was already demonstrated in his work on Umbrella Chronicles. This time, though, we raised the bar even higher, and had him work his magic.

The overall flow for the project goes something like this. First we dig up all the material we can on the original characters. This step is important in order to keep loyal to the identity of the original characters. It is especially important that a game which has the word "Chronicles" in its title respect the content of original work.

Next, we decide on the character's face. Of course, the face should be well-matched to the setting, as well as the disposition and appearance of the character. If the character is strong-willed, for example, the eyes could be should be strong, with eyebrows that accentuate that. On the other hand, though, there may be characters whose personalities should be subdued.

We then select actors (face models) based on facial concepts we've decide on, and digitize their faces. That data is then put into a database. Creating face data from the faces of real face models yields more natural, high-quality results. And that is the same method we used in the recently release Resident Evil 5.

Now, this is where Satoshi gets to do what he does best. He infuses those faces with character and brings them to life. The digitized face models are merely guides; Satoshi, with his keen eye for detail, transforms that raw data into characters for the game. Of course, there is always the option of using the unaltered face model data, but for the Resident Evil series, we fine tune everything down to the tiniest detail so that the characters look stunning. But a balance must be struck, so as not to overdo everything to the point the faces look too CG and artificial.

So, that is how each face is created. For this game especially, in order to achieve real-looking skin and life-like faces, we even used the imperfections from the face model data.

When you put expressions on those faces, the characters take on a whole new appeal.

If you watch "The Darkside" trailer that came out the other day, I think you'll see what it is we are working so hard to achieve! 

■ 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.

2009.08.21

 

Image Is Everything

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:

[See Rockfort Island Detention Facility Conceptual Artwork] 

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. 

2009.08.28

 

Invitation to the Darkside

Now I'd like to go back to the meaning of "Darkside Chronicles" for just a moment. 
 
Even when we started this project as the sequel to Umbrella Chronicles, the Resident Evil 2 and Code: Veronica scenarios were to be the primary focus. These stories were left out of Umbrella Chronicles, and I had some regrets about that. But now, since we were doing a sequel, I didn't want to just tell a story in the traditional way. I wanted to be a little unorthodox.

When I reexamined the scenario of Resident Evil 2 and Code: Veronica, I noticed some things they had in common.

Claire plays a major role in both titles, and both titles take place very close together on the Resident Evil time line, so there is a good deal of continuity in their storylines. And, neither title is solely about a corporation or organization, per se; they both are narratives about individuals who find themselves caught up in terrifying situations. At the time, there were some things that were a little confusing and unclear, but I think Leon and Claire, the star characters of these two titles, did a good job of helping to tie up loose ends.

Umbrella Chronicles is, as its name suggests, an objective documentary-style account of past events, which tries to do away with any human emotional elements. The basic style of Umbrella Chronicles is to not depict the emotions of the characters more than is necessary.

But, I like emotional stories, and I believe that since horror evokes in us the emotion of fear, it isn't altogether different than say a dramatic story of the lives of people. So with that in mind, I thought for the next "Chronicle", why not tell a dramatic personal story?

When you look at Resident Evil 2 and Code: Veronica as an emotional, dramatic story, underneath you'll notice something ominous and dark that is not just viruses and zombies. At their core, both of the stories are about human weakness and desire. It is the darkness inside of people that makes us fear.

In Resident Evil 2 there was the darkness in the Birkin household.

In Code: Veronica there was the darkness in the Ashford Family.

The darkness inside. That is one of the themes of this game. Why did the Raccoon City incident occur? Why wasn't the development of Biological Weapons stopped?

Why does darkness seep in? Where does the darkness come from? That is how we as developers want you to feel when you finish playing Darkside Chronicles.

■About me

Eel is one of my favorite kinds of fish... To eat, that is. There are several types of eel, each with a unique taste. I like variety, you know? There is even an eel called a "lamprey" that has a round funnel-like mouth and looks like some kind of sea monster. It's really cool, but it doesn't taste very good. 

2009.09.04

 

South America is Calling

Today, I'm finally able to talk about a new episode in Darkside Chronicles that was recently announced.

The year is 2002, before the destruction of the Russian branch of Umbrella. Leon Kennedy is sent to a small South American country as part of a secret military detachment. Due to the difficult nature of the operation, Jack Krauser, a seasoned operative with a history of brave service, was selected to be Leon's partner.

This new episode inherits RE2 and Code: Veronica's "inner darkness". This story was also created as an original battle story different from what we saw in Umbrella Chronicles.

One thing that's really important for a retail game is a sense of consistency and wholeness. Umbrella Chronicles told the story of the rise and fall of the Umbrella Corporation. If Darkside Chronicles was simply re-envisioning a few scenes from RE2 and Code: Veronica, it wouldn't feel like a complete game. The Producer Masachika Kawata, felt the same way. When this original episode was created, the game really started to come into its own. It's not just as a sequel to Umbrella Chronicles; it also works as a standalone experience.

One of my favorite RE characters is in this episode, Jack Krauser.

I always thought he left a strong impression in RE4. Leon arrives in a remote European village looking for the President's kidnapped daughter, and who does he find behind the plot? None other than Krauser.

There are hints in RE4 that point to Leon and Krauser having a past together. Krauser's history with Leon and his thirst for ultimate power made him a very dark and cool character.

I wanted to create that story of what happened when Leon met Krauser.

When I was thinking about the story, I wasn't planning out what would happen logically; rather I relied more on intuition and flash ideas for inspiration. I thought of a number of scenarios which could be interesting and imagined Leon and Krauser in them. After doing some research, and working through a lot of different material, I decided that South America would be the perfect setting for the story.

Hidekazu Gondo was also a big help with Krauser on this project. He was in charge of the RE4 cinematics, and his ideas really helped to flesh out the story. Also as the story developed, a lot of my original ideas had to be changed, but thanks to him I was able to keep the theme I was looking for which I am quite thankful for. I believe the story is really deep and interesting.

Darkside Chronicles will be playable on the TGS show room floor. TGS will be where we officially present the South American stage as well. I'm very confident because I know this game is even better than the first Chronicles. If you are at the show, please stop by the booth and check the game out.

I'm sure you will enjoy the bright South American sunlight, and the equally dark shadows that are created. Don't miss this chance to check out Darkside Chronicles!

■ About me

Eel is one of my favorite kinds of fish... To eat, that is. There are several types of eel, each with a unique taste. I like variety, you know? There is even an eel called a "lamprey" that has a round funnel-like mouth and looks like some kind of sea monster. It's really cool, but it doesn't taste very good. 

2009.09.11

 

Javier's Domain

The new South American story in Darkside Chronicles is called Operation Javier, named after one of the characters players will meet in the mission. I'd like to tell you a little about Javier.

I wanted to create a character who could illustrate the world which will be the backdrop for Leon and Krauser's past. Javier is an integral part of the story, and he has to fulfill the role of illuminating the setting which our main characters are placed in.

Krauser and Leon have been sent on a mission by the U. S. government to infiltrate this small South American country. Finding Javier is their objective, since he is a drug lord who has taken de-facto control over a large area of jungle. He rules the entire area absolutely. The small government is unable to do anything about Javier's control of the drug trade, so Krauser and Leon have been called in.

The drugs that Javier's organization is producing have been contaminating surrounding countries, as well as finding their way into America. Javier is amassing a fortune in drug money, building up his own private army, and fortifying his operations. He is a wanted criminal in many countries, and is an uncommonly cruel man. Leon and Krauser won't have an easy time getting their hands on Javier in the dense, unfamiliar jungle.

This ability to slip through the fingers of justice and gather other criminals is not something an ordinary person could accomplish. Javier has achieved his goals through the use of violence and strict control of the region. He rewards those who submit to him, and brutally punishes anyone who stands in his way, making harsh examples of anyone who opposes him. He rules his dominion through fear. However, the drug lord has not been seen in public recently. What could he be doing in the depths of the jungle?

The U.S. government has received information that a former Umbrella researcher has somehow entered the region. Sources indicate that something strange is going on, but no accurate information can be obtained. Unwilling to risk a biohazard incident, a secret military agency pairs Leon and Krauser and sends them into this volatile region to determine what, if anything, is going on...

And with that, I would like to make another announcement. Next week's entry will be the final update to this blog. I feel like I've been able to introduce a lot about the game here, but now next week fans will finally be able to play it for themselves at the Tokyo Game Show, and I think I have accomplished what I set out to do with the blog. Now I have to focus on the always harrowing final push before the game is released!

For the next and final post, I'll tell you a bit about the woman you will meet in the depths of the steamy South American jungle.

■About me

Eel is one of my favorite kinds of fish... To eat, that is. There are several types of eel, each with a unique taste. I like variety, you know? There is even an eel called a "lamprey" that has a round funnel-like mouth and looks like some kind of sea monster. It's really cool, but it doesn't taste very good. 

2009.09.18

 

It's Over When the Little Girl Sings

Something out of the ordinary is happening in this South American waterside village that now is all but a ghost town.

As Leon and Krauser make their way through the village, they come across a dying man.

"...She brought devils to this village..." are his final words. What could he have meant?

This is a scene from the South America stage that is playable at this week's Tokyo Game Show.

For quite some time now, strange incidents have been taking place in these parts. It has become an all-too-common occurrence for girls to go missing lately; more than fifty to date. "Missing" posters of their faces, too many to count, cover the walls in the village. They are a testament to the shadow that looms over this land.

Leon and Krauser are looking for a man named Javier Hidalgo when they hear the sound of a young girl singing. Her song is sad, yet warm somehow. They follow the sound which leads them to a young girl who has emerald eyes and is wearing a white dress soaked with blood. Her name is Manuela.

Manuela's song is a key aspect of the South American episode, but oh what a struggle it was to get it right. We took great pains to be sure the melody and timbre of the song weren't so light as to spoil the feeling of horror, as well as the South American atmosphere.

Shusaku Uchiyama, our main music man, put together a huge collection of songs from South America. The idea was to aggressively incorporate a South American musical flavor into the game, but perhaps we were overly ambitious, because we had to do numerous retakes (Sorry...). When I wrote the lyrics to Manuela's song I had in mind a lullaby. Yes, I'm aware that lullabies are a little incongruous for Darkside Chronicles, so we made it a point to keep the melody nice and dark.

Our work wasn't finished until the next long step in the process of having the lyrics translated into English, and then finding an English-speaking vocalist to record them was completed.

Personally, I am curious to know how this song will come across to the people who visit the Darkside Chronicles booth at TGS and play the demo.

Now that the release date has been finalized, I'm sad to announce that this will be my final blog entry for Darkside Chronicles. I'd like to say thank you very much to all of you who have been following this blog for so long. Until it comes out, be sure to stay up to date and keep looking forward to Darkside Chronicles.

With Darkside Chronicles, I believe that we have a very high-quality product on our hands. It is not just "interesting", "beautiful", "detailed", or any one of the basic qualifiers used to describe games. It is something more; it is a treat for the senses. I didn't just want to make a "good game". In my heart, I set out to make a game that stays with you even after you've finished playing it. I hope that I have accomplished what I set out to do.

Please, by all means, play Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles.

And then look in the mirror. Look deep into your own eyes and tell me if you see it... The darkness within...

■About me

Eel is one of my favorite kinds of fish... To eat, that is. There are several types of eel, each with a unique taste. I like variety, you know? There is even an eel called a "lamprey" that has a round funnel-like mouth and looks like some kind of sea monster. It's really cool, but it doesn't taste very good. 

2009.09.25

 

A Quick Reopening 

Hello, this is Yasuhiro Seto, the director of Darkside Chronicles.

I finished updating this blog at one point, but because the development of Darkside Chronicles has settled down, I'd like to bring back this blog for a little bit.

As you may have heard, we have revealed the "Biohazard Darkside Chronicles Collector's Package."

This is an initial-print, limited edition package containing a video DVD, CD and special booklet.  I recommend listening to the DARKSIDE SYMPHONY CD.  It contains orchestral tracks of the game's background music we recorded.  Furthermore, it contains the song of the mysterious girl, Manuela.  Because this a cappella song that also ties into the theme of Darkside Chronicles, it'll be good to listen to and be immersed in its worldview.

We've also added a new wallpaper to the website.

Already having been available on the American home page, one important point is the difference between the new wallpaper and the sense of the wallpapers up until now.  The light, shadow and dim atmosphere are impressive; actually, these hazy feelings are one of the hidden concepts in Darkside Chronicles.  With that thought in mind, I also recommend the new wallpaper, which grabs hold of Darkside Chronicles' special characteristics.

We are currently and steadily preparing for the release of Darkside Chronicles.  We are also building up various ideas for the website in order to raise excitement for the game's release.  Please look forward to it.

2009.10.30

[Editor's Note: Translation courtesy of Biohaze!  Thank you!]

 

Jam-Packed New Trailer

The new promotion video titled "Gunshot" features much of Darkside Chronicles' appealing aspects. We've provided a generous helping of scenes that haven't been publicly shown until now, so by all means, please try to watch every nook and cranny of the trailer.

In particular, there seems to be a lot of meaning regarding the new creatures.  What are those?  It's fun to predict, right?

I would be happy to convey the fine details of Darkside Chronicles' atmosphere that we have created.

2009.11.06

[Editor's Note: Translation courtesy of Biohaze!  Thank you!]