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How Resident Evil 2 has collapsed became one of Capcom's biggest hits



[ Ed. Note: From 2014, Alex Annel works on a book that describes the story behind his favorite series, Resident Evil. Looking back on the history of the development of the franchise from earliest days, the book – planned as two volumes – collapses in interviews with many of the key figures behind the scenes of Capcom.

Aniel does not plan to release the first volume – titled Surviving, a delicious story of the living evil: 1994-2006 (Volume 1) by the end of this year. But to celebrate today's 21

st anniversary of Resident Evil 2 he has prepared a preview of the book in the form of an excerpt looking back at the creation of RE2 . staff changes, unsuccessful experiments, and outstanding success.


In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Capcom released games that achieved reputable sales. Street Fighter did not ignite the sales charts in 1987, especially in comparison with the successes of other companies like Nintendo and Sega, but they performed well enough to release Capcom . sequels that put these franchises on the map. Mega Man 2 which many believe is the best in the series, overpowers the original and becomes a global seller of millions. The success of Street Fighter 2 was even more remarkable: he blew the first game so far away that the original was only a footnote in the history of Capcom.

Compared to Mega Man and Street Fighter, the first Resident Evil was a more immediate success, putting it in front of Capcom's historic curve. This is how Resident Evil 2 was born . However, Capcom has to keep its momentum in the newly announced horror horror genre, Resident Evil 2 had to be better than its predecessor, like Mega Man 2 and Street Fighter. 2 . The team wanted the sequel to be what James Cameron Aliens was for his predecessor, Alien : more innovative and more ambitious.

Ideally, any sequel to a video game is supported by the experience gained by its creators during the production of its predecessor. Creators aim to improve the quality of the sequel, usually adding new elements that were not previously possible due to time, technology or budget constraints, while expanding scale to achieve a better value proposition. However, even before Resident Evil 2 officially gets out, staff shakeups at Capcom ensure that it will be created under a different environment than its predecessor.


Tokuro Fujiwara
Photo by Alex Aniel

The first change was the departure of Capcom Tokuro Fujiwara at the end of 1995, before the original game was even released. Being a great master of Capcom's console games since 1983 and a mentor to the younger creators in the company, his departure marked the end of one era and the beginning of another. Fujiwara's decision to leave came to his desire to make new and original games, something he says he could not do within Capcom. Outside Resident Evil Capcom wanted to continue making franchise titles such as Street Fighter. At the same time, I wanted to develop original games but did not seem to be able to do it in the foreseeable future, "Fujiwara said. Formally he withdrew from Capcom right after the release of Resident Evil although he virtually ceased to enter the office in December 1995 to use his accumulated holiday days, of which he had a very 13- year residence, which covers thousands of hours of accumulated extra hours and unused weekends, a pattern that prevailed at Capcom during those years.

Fujiwara began to develop her own development studio, the Hope Camp. There he formed a team to develop a 2D platform for PlayStation, called Tomba! (known as Tombs! in Europe), which was released in December 1997. , he presented himself well enough to receive a sequel two years later, called Tomba! 2: Evil Return of Swine ( Tombi! 2 in Europe). Sadly, Fujiwara did not enjoy the same level of success at Whoopee Camp, as he did in Capcom. Neither Tomba's title was sold well enough to withstand the cost of running the company, and as a result Fujiwara put the Whoopee camp latent. The company continues to exist but is actually inactive.

Fujiwara continued to work on a number of games as a freelance consultant, such as the 2001 Survival Horror Game Extinction for the PlayStation 2. He will reunite with Capcom for the first time in a decade in 2006 for PlayStation Portable (PSP) platformer Ultimate Ghosts n Goblins a remake of the game he created two decades ago. Later he will work with PlatinumGames in the title of the battle called MadWorld as a designer in 2009. Fujiwara then took a break from playing games for several years for health reasons. After his recovery, he quietly returned to the gaming industry in 2015 as a consultant. To perform these jobs, Fujiwara led the Hopey camp from latency; From 2018, he again operates under the banner. His participation in the Resident Evil series may have been short in retrospect, but if it was not his seven-year-long desire to bring legitimate horrible experience to video games and his ability to recognize Shinji Mikami's talents, Resident Evil may not exist as we know him today. Mikami is often credited as the father of Resident Evil, but Fujiwara must certainly be considered his grandfather. Resident Evil 2 Grandpa is no longer around.

Another remarkable departure is that of Kenichi Ivao, screenwriter of the screenplay Resident Evil . Iwao joined Capcom in the early 1990s, after releasing Street Fighter 2 and initially worked on games such as Super NES Platform Demon's Crest . While Fujiwara as an executive producer is more influential behind the scenes, Iowo's contribution to the series is more direct and tangible. Ivao created the core elements of the Resident Evil universe, such as the T-Virus, Umbrella Corporation, S.T.A.R.S. members, zombies, the tyrant and all other enemies. He also wrote the game files, including the iconic "Itchy" line. From the Guardian's Diary. In Japanese, the line is written as kayui uma (か ゆ い う ま), which is more or less a direct translation of "Itchy. This phrase has become a pop culture in Japan, since the word kayu is homonymous, which means either "itchy" or "rhino mess", while the word uma , which means "tasty" or "horseback". Thanks to Iwao, Resident Evil's Japanese fans can sometimes joke about the game, including a combination of delicious oatmeal, itchy porridge, a delicious horse or an itchy horse.

After leaving Capcom, Ivao returns to his hometown Tokyo and joins the Square where Parasite Eve 2 continues the Resident Evil-inspired horror survival game, whose plot is based on novel. He also works on the scenarios of the Final Fantasy XI and Final Fantasy XIV scenarios for massively multiplayer online RPGs . It's hard to imagine the Resident Evil without the framework that Iwao created early. His departure meant that Resident Evil 2 would have to find a new screenwriter who would have profound implications for the development of the game. In the meanwhile, Shinji Mikami, an established figure in Capcom, thanks to his successful leadership Resident Evil decided to take on a different role for the sequel as his producer, a task that is more involved with budgeting and project management than just working on creative juices. That meant having to choose someone else to direct Resident Evil 2 . Mickey wanted to hand over the thumb to a younger colleague to promote his professional and creative development. Among the many talented people in his team, Micky has spotted a 25-year-old man named Hideki Kami, who recently joined the company.

The pot, like most creators, has its humble beginnings. During his childhood he becomes an avid gamer, possessing the NES and playing arcade games. He was also glad to paint. After graduating from university, Kama wants to work in the gaming industry, making him apply for several companies. He receives job offers from two major publishers: Capcom, designer and Namco, who want it as an artist. After all, Kamiya chose the first, joining in April 1994. Soon he was introduced through the proposals as most new employees in Japanese companies are in the first year. After studying at work, Kamiya performs top-level assignments such as quality assurance and basic planning before joining the original team Resident Evil . There, Kamiya is a Spencer Estate designer for certain environments, although his most consistent contribution to the series is the naming of some of the characters, including Jill, Chris, Wesker and others. "I received inspiration for their names from a variety of media sources, including pornographic magazines," said Kamika for dinner at a restaurant in Osaka a rainy autumn evening in October 2017 when he tried to remember exactly how he invented their names.

Of course, Kamiya's creative talent surpassed only the naming of heroes, and Mikami soon noticed his potential. Overnight in the middle of 1994, Mikey told Kahma : "You are the dark horse of new employees. You either will fail spectacularly, or you will be able to achieve tremendous success. "While Kamiya admits he's pretty stormy in his twenties, his colleagues describe him all over the hard, thoughtful and hard-working features that Micky saw as vital for a successful project. When it was time to elect a director for Resident Evil 2 Mikami called Kamiya to a meeting in the spring of 1996 to formalize the decision similar to Fujiwara made to Mikami almost three years earlier. The Kahn, for reasons he himself claims he does not understand so far, was now the director of Resident Evil 2 .

"Resident Evil 1.5" and the arrival of Noboru Sugimura

Terrible survival games are not for everyone. Besides being intended for a mature audience, their cowardice and obsessive images require a certain level of mental readiness so that there can not be much screaming and panic. It was ironic then that Hideki Kami was already in the place of the director of Resident Evil 2 . Despite his new responsibility to observe the creative direction of the hyper continuation of the most successful horror game of the time, the Kama was not, nor was he a fan of horror movies or games. He admits that he is easily startled and has a soft stomach when it comes to violent and grotesque images, pointing out that even the terrible scenes of death in scenes of people chewed by zombies to be decapitated of hunters can be too much for him. However, Mikami chose him to direct Resident Evil 2 which means that the Kamiah must overcome his disgust from horror, or transfer the responsibility of someone who could. In the next two years, the Kama would have done her best to put herself in a bold face.

Impossible never to put aside fear of horror, Kamie decided that Resident Evil 2 while sticking to a large part of the gameplay's main frame of action for its predecessor would be more action-oriented. This direction was a reflection of his own preference for Hollywood action films. The original Resident Evil as an early PlayStation title, castrated the battle capabilities of the main characters, resulting in a fun experience of action. With small additions like automatic weapons and faster and more numerous enemies, Resident Evil 2 will largely conform to the original. But instead of an isolated mansion in the woods, the game will take place in the streets of Raccoon City. That meant more zombies on the screen – as many as seven, actually, more than twice as many as three in the original. In the sequel, there will be a new actor in two scenarios, including heroes such as officers Leon S. Kennedy and Marvin Branha, civilian Ada Wang and Robert Kendo, young motorcyclist Elsa Walker and teenage Sherry Birkin (most of them were different earlier in production) . ). Kamiya came up with unique and expansive scenarios for both Leon and Elza, similar to those who set Jill and Chris in the original. Asking Resident Evil 2 to stand alone, Kamiya decided that the game would have a few direct links to the history of the original game, although they are held in the same universe.

With Resident Evil which captures the imagination of gamers since 1996, the sequel has attracted considerable media and consumer attention both in North America and Japan. Resident Evil 2 was first shown publicly in Tokyo in the spring of 1996. While it was still at the start of production, players were already seeing improvements in graphics and gameplay. Hype began to build among fans, and expectations grew, which in turn contributed to the great strain of Kamiya and his team. There was also considerable internal pressure from Capcom's management. After averting the threat of bankruptcy with the success of the original game, Capcom was now in better shape, though it was still far from clear. A disadvantage or two can bring the company back in difficult times. So Capcom could not afford to waste his momentum. Resident Evil 2 had to be successful as Street Fighter 2 was earlier in the decade. In the summer and autumn of 1996, Kamiya's team continued to develop the medium, script, and gameplay system. They managed to complete about 70% of their development by the end of this year. Resident Evil was now in rough shape when was in a rough form when took the lead of Tokuro Fujiwara as an executive producer, but Okamoto was even more dissatisfied with the status. Resident Evil 2 . It is remarkable that the visual room, with its brightly illuminated neon environments and emphasis on the elements of Hollywood action, seems to contradict the authentic horrible experience. Put simply, the game was not very scary. There were also a number of other staff related issues that impeded the project that Mikawis attributed in an interview in 1998 in the book Biohazard 2 – Final Edition of the large number of young, relatively inexperienced developers of

History also turned out to be a bigger obstacle than anyone could expect. Okamoto felt that the plot and the writing were especially unpalatable and uninteresting, as the game was generally unpretentious. The Resident Evil series was Capcom's first game in which the plot was an important part of the universe. The Mega Man series, Street Fighter and Ghosts had simple stories with little dialogue. For these games, stories may not be there. The targets of the Resident Evil 2 team were unprecedented in the history of Capcom. The Kama took command of the story after Ivao left, carefully trying to work within Ivao while injecting his own style. However, Kai's lack of genuine scriptwriting experience was obvious. In his current state Resident Evil 2 was not far from becoming Aliens which Capcom initially intended to create.

The team had to modify the script, but no one else in the company had a credible replacement. So Capcom decided to seek help from the company outside of the company. Okamoto decided to contact Noboru Sugimura, a well-known Japanese writer who until 1996 had an impressive two-decade genealogy for his work on Japanese TV shows like (adapted for the West) Mighty Morphin Power Rangers ) and Kamen Rider (adapted for the West as Masked Rider of Saban ). Sugimura was a fan of the first game, so he accepted Okamoto's invitation. At the end of 1996, Sugimura visited Capcom's office in Tokyo to meet Mikami and Kamiya, who were visiting Capcom's headquarters in Osaka.

Sugimura plays the latest version of Capcom on Resident Evil 2 . After he finished, he immediately offered Mickey and Kamika feedback. Sugimura, as a writer, believed that the story had no depth and thematic coherence, which he emphasized as key elements in creating a universe that would be engaged to gamers while surpassing what Capcom had already achieved with the first game. The idea of ​​"thematic coherence" was particularly important for Sugimura, who reproached the Kama to create a story without any connection to the original. "Това е ужасно! Трябва да създадете правилна връзка между двете игри! ”Възкликна Сугимура . Сугимура вярваше, че ако Resident Evil се превърне в пълноценна игра, тогава игрите трябваше да бъдат обвързани по начин, който беше по-дълбок от това, с което Capcom беше свикнал да прави серията Mega Man и Street Fighter, която не зависят от техните минималистични сюжети, за да определят самоличността си като игрални франчайзи. Сугимура предложи провокативната идея за това екипът да преустанови развитието на сегашната сграда и да започне отново. Миками и Камия не м жаха да вземат решение по време на тази среща. Те казали на Сугимура, че ще го обсъдят със своя екип и ще се върнат при него.


Shinji Mikami
Снимка: Alex Aniel

След срещата, Mikami и Kamiya се качиха на влака за три часа път до Осака. По време на пътуването двамата обсъдиха обратната връзка на Сугимура. Макар да беше доста отрицателен по отношение на играта, те се съгласиха, че Сугимура е повдигнал много валидни точки, които е трудно да бъдат пренебрегнати. Това беше моментът, когато Миками и Камия осъзнаха какво трябва да направят: съществуващата конструкция на Resident Evil 2 ще трябва да бъде напълно ремонтирана и ще трябва да въведат Сугимура на борда, за да управляват кораба вдясно. посока. Подобен драстичен ход ще доведе до дългогодишно закъснение, което все още е дълго време в епохата на PlayStation. Докато играта, създадена по график, може да отнеме от три до пет години до днес, през 90-те години такива дълги периоди на развитие са по-малко чести и често са знак за смущаващо производство. Независимо от загубената производителност и финансово въздействие върху Capcom, Mikami и Kamiya бяха взели решение. Окамото анализира обратната информация на Сугимура, голяма част от която отразява първоначалните опасения на Окамото. Okamoto подкрепи Mikami и Kamiya, като по този начин направи решението официално: Resident Evil 2 трябваше да бъде бракуван, забавен и възстановен. "Решихме да го анулираме, защото знаехме, че няма да отговори на очакванията на играчите", казва Окамото.

Когато го попитали какви са чувствата му Resident Evil 2 беше официално отменен и дали има Особено съжалява за опита, Kamiya недвусмислено твърди, че започването отначало е правилното решение. – Наистина беше глупост. Беше скучно, лишено от видение и лошо извинение за ужасяваща игра – описва колоритно Камия. Въоръжен със силен избор на думи, Камия изглежда непоколебим и уверен по начин, който може да бъде само някой с необходимия опит. "Честно казано, всъщност бях облекчена, когато отменихме играта", признава Камия. – За първи път седях на мястото на директора, така че бях доста неопитен. Обичам да експериментирам с различни идеи, за да видя какво работи и кое не. Друго нещо, което допринесе за провала на играта, беше липсата на визия. Обикновено не разполагам с конкретна визия за проект. Харесва ми да експериментирам и да видя какви пръчки. ”Когато беше попитан дали някога е помислил да подаде оставка – акт, който не е нечувано в Япония, където един провал може да сложи край на кариерата си – Камия стоически казва:„ Не, изобщо. ”


  Когато новините за отмяната направиха кръгове в Capcom, редица членове на екипа бяха разтревожени. Една година от времето на развитие се срина, а моралът на екипа беше потънал. Някои членове на екипа дори отидоха толкова далеч, че да организират частни срещи с Миками, за да поискат Камия да бъде заменена с директор. Миками не беше впечатлен от такива искания. Щеше да обърне масите на членовете и да ги предизвика с риторично питане: „Защо не <em> вие </em> управлявате играта?” Никой не предложи да пристъпи напред, за да поеме ролята на директор. Позицията на Камия беше безопасна – за момента. За всички обаче се върна към чертожната дъска. По време на втория кръг Камия не можеше просто да почива на лаврите си. Друг неуспешен опит нямаше да бъде толериран дори от Миками, който беше мажоретката на Камия в Capcom и единствената фигура, която стоеше между Камия и по-недоволните членове на екипа. [19650042] Първоначалната версия на </em> ] вече беше изчезнал, макар и да не беше забравен. Разработчиците са му задали кодовото име "Resident Evil 1.5", за да го разграничат от версията на <em> Resident Evil 2 </em>върху която сега работят. "1.5" е предназначен да споменава развитието на прототипа, което протича между <em> Resident Evil </em> ("1") и <em> Resident Evil 2 </em>. Повечето игри се променят между първоначалната им концепция и окончателната версия; такива трансформации обикновено се държат извън погледа на обществеността, докато играта не е близо до датата на излизане. Но тъй като “Resident Evil 1.5” беше изцяло покрит в медийните игри преди рестартирането му, Capcom признава и открито признава съществуването си като прототипиран <em> Resident Evil 2 </em>. За Capcom, той служи като свидетелство за започване от нулата, когато ситуацията наистина го изисква, и че игрите са еволюирали до точката, в която търсенето на външна помощ, като тази на Sugimura, може да помогне да се подобри състоянието на проекта и да го постави на път не е налице. Отмяната му също е ключов момент в историята на Resident Evil, защото това е първата стъпка в създаването на устойчив и взаимосвързан разказ, който продължава и до днес. Capcom също така научи, че не всичките му игри са необходими, за да следват подхода Mega Man или Street Fighter, тъй като имат само свободно свързани истории. Дори някои от разработчиците на прототипа намериха нов живот по-късно в друга екшън игра, <em> Onimusha: Warlords </em>която беше издадена през 2001 г. за PlayStation 2. </p>
<p id= Включен беше куриран трейлър „Resident Evil 1.5“. като бонус с японски копия на Resident Evil: Cut Dual Shock Ver. издаден през август 1998 г. (след финалната версия на Resident Evil 2 ) от това, което би могло да бъде. Петнадесет години по-късно през 2013 г., една непълна, но възпроизвеждаща се демо-версия на прототипа успя да проникне в интернет. Общността за модифициране на играта се опитва да превърне демото в продукт, който може да се възпроизвежда и който се придържа към първоначалната визия на екипа за разработка, с различна степен на успех. Въпреки че геймърите могат да намерят прототипа интересен остатък от историята на игрите, Kamiya не е използван от такива усилия, за да върне „Resident Evil 1.5“ назад: „Честно казано, никой не трябва да играе през такава лоша игра.“


 Resident Evil 2 ( 2019) - целта на зомби на тавана

Capcom&#39;s Resident Evil 2 римейк за PC, PS4 и Xbox One запазва същата структура като оригиналната игра, но преразглежда визуализациите и геймплея.
Capcom

Kamiya отвръща: Resident Evil 2 се рестартира

След като е бил нает от екипа на Resident Evil 2 от Yoshiki Okamoto, за да насочи кораба в правилната посока, писателят Noboru Sugimura не губи време краката му са мокри. Признавайки стойността, която добре написаните разкази довеждат до игри, Okamoto създаде независима компания, наречена Flagship Co., Ltd., през април 1997 г. с цел разработване на сценарии за игри. С Okamoto, отговарящ за новата компания, Sugimura беше определен за ръководител на сценария за развитие. Докато технически работи за отделна компания извън Capcom, Flagship и Sugimura са много интегрирани в екипа на Resident Evil 2 и ще имат пряко участие в новата посока на проекта.

Първо, Sugimura разгледа какво всъщност може да бъде спасено от „Resident Evil 1.5“ или по друг начин да се пренасочи към новата игра. Въпреки че Resident Evil 2 е бил преработен от земята, не всичко от "Resident Evil 1.5" е било хвърляно на пътя. Сугимура реши да използва някои дизайни на герои, за да отговаря на новата посока. Той решил, че някой от актьора Resident Evil 2 трябва да има директни връзки с някого от първата игра. В резултат на това той избра да замени Елза Уокър с подобен, но нов характер: 19-годишната Клеър Редфийлд, която ще служи като по-малката сестра на Крис Редфийлд. Играта вече съдържаше пряка връзка с първата игра, която „Resident Evil 1.5“ липсваше. Проектите за Леон С. Кенеди, Ада Вонг, Шери Биркин, Марвин Брана и Робърт Кендо бяха до голяма степен пренесени от първоначалната версия и бяха дадени разширени или модифицирани роли.

Sugimura също реши да запази общия фон на Raccoon City, като се има предвид, че това всъщност е един от малкото елементи, директно свързани с оригиналната игра. И както при оригиналната концепция на Hideki Kamiya, настройките биха били драматично по-големи от тези на оригинала. Raccoon City е препълнен със зомбита, за разлика от по-тихите, по-изолирани и клаустрофобични коридори на имението Спенсър. Три месеца след първоначалната игра, Леон и Клер са пристигнали в Raccoon City, където несъзнателно са вкарани в зомбито. Те търсят убежище в полицейското управление Raccoon (RPD), може би най-емблематичната серия в непосредствена близост до имението на Спенсър и където започва истинското забавление. Сугимура предложи РПД да получи конкретна предистория, за да може тя да функционира като лабиринт с пъзели. "По време на" Resident Evil 1.5 ", настройката на RPD изобщо нямаше смисъл", обяснява Камия. "Сугимура предложи да се направи така, че полицейската сграда да е била музей на изкуствата, обясняващо защо има странни пъзели в цялата сграда."

Друг елемент, пренесен от “Resident Evil 1.5”, е използването на двама герои. Камия и Сугимура работят заедно, за да излязат с нов механик, наречен „система за прескачане“. Леон и Клер изследват едни и същи места и решават много от същите или подобни. пъзели, но тъй като техните истории се случват едновременно, играчите трябва да завършат и двата сценария, за да станат свидетели на цялата история и да спечелят истинския край. Леон и Клер се пресичат от време на време, така че има случаи, когато действията в един сценарий пряко засягат това, което се случва в другия. Най-забележителното би било да се реши дали трябва да бъде Леон или Клер, които придобиват определено оръжие; играчите трябва да преценят плюсовете и минусите на решението, тъй като може да улесни нещата в първия сценарий, но по-трудно през второто и обратното.

Системата zapping съдържаше допълнителен слой дълбочина: присъствието на двете Сценарии А ”и“ Б ”. В сценарий А, Клер е избрана, докато Леон е избран за сценарий В. Обратното, Леон за А и Клер за В, също е възможно. Историите и елементите на геймплея, като враговете и предметите, които се срещат, ще се променят в зависимост от избраната комбинация от сценарии. Общо в момента има две комбинации в четири различни сценария. Сценариите В включват изключителен враг на преследвач, носещ Trench-Tiran, който често се нарича от западните фенове като „господин“. X, който щеше да стане един от най-емблематичните чудовища от поредицата. Докато системата за прескачане на грешки е определила самоличността на Resident Evil 2 като я отличава от останалите, то действително е реализирано късно в развитието. Kamiya решава да включи концепцията за две припокриващи се дъги, една идея, която всъщност е измислил в края на развитието на първата игра, когато е твърде късно да се приложи в тази игра. Камия признава, че има повтарящи се елементи, споделени във всички сценарии, като и двата героя трябва да отварят същите врати с един и същ ключ, но също така отбелязва, че обсебването от това, че играта е твърде реалистична, би я направило по-малко забавна.

От техническа страна, екипът успя да направи осезаеми подобрения на двигателя на играта, особено неговата графика и анимация. Whereas Resident Evil was an experiment in getting a 3D video game up and running on PlayStation, the team was now more skilled and experienced, and it clearly showed with the technical improvements in Resident Evil 2. The character models and backgrounds are more detailed, and characters will slow down and clutch their sides as they sustain injuries. The enemies are faster and more aggressive, thanks to improvements made to the game’s AI. This is most obvious with boss animations, which are faster and more threatening than anything from the first game.

One accident during development was how Resident Evil 2 became a game shipped across two CDs. In the final game, disc 1 contains Leon’s scenario, while disc 2 features Claire’s. It was technologically possible to have all of the final data for Resident Evil 2 fit on a single 700 MB CD, just like the original. This was what Capcom had planned to do initially. However, the team ultimately miscalculated the game’s final audio data size algorithm, which no one noticed until it was too late to change. Mikami recalls learning of the issue from Yasuhiro Anpo, a software engineer. Anpo called Mikami, who was working on a different floor from the rest of the team. “Anpo told me there was a problem. But before he could explain, I actually hung up on him!” Mikami laughs. “Anpo eventually came over to my desk, where he told me that Resident Evil 2 would require two discs instead of just one.” Mikami remembers gasping in surprise. As producer, he was responsible for keeping the game within budget. This would surely force a recalculation. Capcom management was not at all pleased with the development. It would result in higher manufacturing and shipping costs due to the thicker double-disc jewel case required. However, given that Resident Evil 2 was already behind schedule at this point, rather than give the team time to reprogram the audio algorithms, Capcom conceded and allowed the game to ship on two discs. Kamiya, in a January 2018 tweet reflecting on the game’s 20th anniversary, attributed the move to his youth and recklessness, but it certainly left its mark for years to come. Even though the team never initially conceptualized Resident Evil 2 as a two-disc game, it did have a positive net effect: it made the game seem even larger, and therefore better, than the single-disc original in the eyes of the average consumer who knew nothing of the game’s technical composition.

Meanwhile, Sugimura rewrote the sequel’s plot to be more expansive and engaging than both the original and “Resident Evil 1.5.” He improved the story by affording deeper roles to the supporting cast, which consisted of Ada, an enigmatic spy operating for an unknown organization, and Sherry, the 12-year-old daughter of the researchers at Umbrella responsible for developing the G-virus, which was capable of creating more powerful B.O.W. than the T-virus zombies from the first game. In contrast to the one-dimensional interactions of the original that were stymied by budget limitations and poor voice acting, the interactions among all the characters in Resident Evil 2 are more varied, containing elements like fear, tension, trauma, naïveté, romance, friendship, and family.

The story is presented more effectively in Resident Evil 2 than the original thanks to the sequel’s improved audio experience. Resident Evil 2 was the first time Capcom outsourced voice acting to a professional recording studio outside of Japan. Whereas the original game had Mikami and other core staff members working with amateur or non-professional English voice actors who happened to be local, the talent pool improved greatly for the sequel. Notably, voice actress Alyson Court joined the series as Claire, a role she would reprise multiple times over the next 14 years. Meanwhile, the soundtrack, composed by Masami Ueda, Shusaku Uchiyama, and Syun Nishigaki, featured moody and melodic tunes that managed to squeeze an orchestral sound out of the PlayStation’s sound chip. The music was so well-received that in 1999, Resident Evil 2’s soundtrack, along with tracks from other Resident Evil games, was orchestrated by the prestigious New Japan Philharmonic. To this day, many fans still remember iconic themes such as the B ending rock-and-roll credits theme, or the boss themes associated with the Birkin G-Type and T-102 Tyrant.

Resident Evil 2 also has more extra gameplay modes than its predecessor. The most notable is “The 4th Survivor,” which stars the enigmatic Umbrella agent codenamed “HUNK.” The mode was directed by system planner Kazuhiro Aoyama as a bonus scenario that unlocks after you’ve met a specific set of conditions in the main scenario. This marked the first time players could play as one of the bad guys. The idea for the minigame came late in production, when the development team had just enough time until the game was mastered for release to include an extra mode. “The 4th Survivor” was crafted together out of existing assets from the main scenarios, with Aoyama admitting that all of HUNK’s animations were identical to Leon’s. From a design perspective, they chose a masked character to avoid having to create an entirely new character. The other minigame, “The To-fu Survivor,” features, as the name implies, a character resembling a giant block of bean curd with floating hands, holding nothing but a Combat Knife. This bonus feature is a remnant of the game’s bug-testing phase, which used the tofu block to test the characters’ collision detection against enemies.

Due to its stylized all-caps spelling, fans over the years have speculated whether the name “HUNK” was an abbreviation for anything specific. Aoyama says that “HUNK” is just his name. An American on the Resident Evil team who wants to remain anonymous claims, “HUNK’s name was actually supposed to be ‘Hank,’ but the developers misspelled it as ‘hunk,’ which they also wrote in all caps. That’s why his name is stylized that way, even though it makes no sense.” Indeed, in Japanese katakana, “Hank” and “Hunk” are spelled the same way, ハンク (hanku), due to the lack of differentiation in Japanese between the /æ/ (A) and /ʌ/ (U) sounds. In Japan, nouns, proper or otherwise, are often spelled out in all caps. Most Japanese developers are not fluent in English, and thus are less discerning about grammar and punctuation; many have told me that all-caps spellings make it easier for developers to spot key terms in verbose conceptual documents. The same can be applied with “To-fu,” which was the result of someone on the development team not realizing that in English, “tofu” is spelled without a hyphen. Kamiya disagrees with the HUNK/Hank assertion.

Resident Evil 2 breaks sales records

At last, after an expensive and protracted production cycle that saw one prototype scrapped and development restarted from zero, Resident Evil 2 was finally completed in December 1997. The game was scheduled to be released in North America on January 21, 1998, and in Japan on January 29. Capcom hoped to sell 2 million copies of the game in a short span of time, a very tall order for video games in the 1990s, when the industry was far smaller than it is today. Resident Evil 2 launched under the watchful eye of both Capcom and worldwide Resident Evil fans.

The response was far better than Capcom could have ever hoped for. Straight out of the gate, Resident Evil 2 sold a very large volume of copies and received a vast amount of critical acclaim. In Japan, the game sold nearly 1.4 million copies in its just four days, making it an instant platinum-seller and doing what it took the original game a year to achieve. In 1998, only Square’s Final Fantasy and Enix’s Dragon Quest series ever sold beyond a million copies at launch, indicating how popular the Resident Evil brand had become since 1996. Resident Evil 2 was also very successful in the United States, where over 380,000 copies had been pre-ordered, constituting 60 percent of its initial manufacturing run of 633,000 units. The game grossed $19 million, earning it an accolade in the 1999 edition of the Guinness Book of Records. It even outpaced Final Fantasy VII and Super Mario 64. Despite Capcom USA still being a relatively small operation with limited marketing resources at the time, Resident Evil 2 cemented the series as one of Capcom’s most lucrative franchises, ultimately replicating what Street Fighter 2 and Mega Man 2 did for their respective series: take something great and make it even greater. Capcom had succeeded in making its equivalent to what Aliens was to Alien.

The game’s success brought Capcom financial gain that allowed it to pay dividends to its employees. By the time Resident Evil 2 was released, Capcom had introduced an incentive-based bonus system, in which a team’s salaries would be commensurate with the sales of the games they developed. Having sold 4.96 million copies globally, Resident Evil 2 was very lucrative for the team. Mikami and Kamiya in particular had complained of low salaries during the time of Resident Evilwith Mikami admitting in a 2014 interview with Polygon that “[his] salary on Resident Evil was probably less than a first-year employee would get today. [Mikami] was actually unable to get married because of [his] financial situation.” Resident Evil 2 had allowed each member of the team to achieve greater financial stability, in an industry infamous in Japan for its low salaries and long work hours.

Resident Evil 2 was critically successful as well. It was reviewed positively in all of the mainstream U.S. game media at the time, including IGN, Electronic Gaming Monthly, GameSpot, and the Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine. On Metacritic, it enjoys a rating of 89 out of 100 and an average user rating of 9.2 out of 10. It cannot be overstated just how much of an improvement the sequel was over the original: it was larger and improved in nearly every respect. Perhaps the exception to this may be the actual horror elements, which some consider to be stronger in the original. But Resident Evil 2 is no slouch either, offering up its own fair share of frightening and disturbing moments, all while taking a more action-oriented approach that successors would adopt in the years ahead. Combined with a more dramatic and elaborate storyline thanks to Sugimura, one can say that while Resident Evil gave birth to this survival horror series, it was Resident Evil 2 that ultimately transformed it into a full-blown game franchise.


Resident Evil 2 (2019) - two people in a tunnel

The upcoming Resident Evil 2 remake is one of the most visually impressive remasters to date.
Capcom

Ask your mom: Reflections from Hideki Kamiya

The tremendous success of Resident Evil 2 was just what Hideki Kamiya needed after such an arduous experience. The cancellation of “Resident Evil 1.5” had set the project back one year, cast doubt among some of his colleagues about his leadership skills, and nearly sent Capcom’s franchise careening off a cliff to an untimely demise. Armed with Shinji Mikami’s unwavering support, Kamiya never gave up on his goal of delivering a Resident Evil 2 that would be groundbreaking and high-quality. Kamiya prevailed, but the rest of his blossoming career still lay ahead of him. Kamiya never fails to remind everyone that he would never have been able to make it without Mikami’s support. “Without Mikami-san, I wouldn’t be the person I am today,” Kamiya proclaims.

But perhaps the most important relationship within the Resident Evil 2 team was that of Kamiya and Noboru Sugimura. During our interview, Kamiya mentioned Sugimura’s name far more than anyone else’s, including Mikami’s. It is also notable that Kamiya always refers to Sugimura with the Japanese honorific title “sensei,” which is commonly used to address teachers or people who are masters at their craft. For Kamiya, Sugimura was the master at creating stories whose guidance helped get Resident Evil 2 back on track. “Sugimura-sensei was old enough to be my father,” Kamiya muses. In Japan, age and seniority are the social fabrics that profoundly shape how any two people interact with each other. Deference is given to elders, who are often seen as sources of wisdom and guidance.

It was Sugimura that carefully constructed and contextualized nearly every story element of Resident Evil 2wrapping it all up within a coherent and interesting universe. That said, few people would give the Resident Evil series credit for having a story befitting the great literary masterpieces of our time, though that is not what Sugimura ever set out to achieve. He gave Resident Evil 2 characters and a story that fans would grow to care about, just like fans of Sugimura’s other work, such as Kamen Rider and Super Sentai. More importantly, Sugimura was the leader that Kamiya needed. “He really loved Resident Evil,” Kamiya explains. “I learned so much from him.” In the years ahead, their relationship continued, growing beyond just a simple professional relationship. Kamiya retells an anecdote about a motorcycle accident that left him hospitalized. Kamiya lay on a hospital gurney recovering from surgery when his mother arrived with a package from Sugimura. Kamiya, believing it to be work material, opened the package up in front of his mother and found five pornographic books inside, much to his embarrassment.

Today, Kamiya is one of the game industry’s most recognized creators. As of 2018, he is the senior vice president for Osaka-based PlatinumGames. On social media, he has earned a reputation for his colorful vocabulary and choice of words when interacting with followers on his Twitter account (@PG_kamiya). Kamiya, who tweets in Japanese and English, often mocks those who send him messages that he perceives to be inane, incomprehensible, redundant, false, or irrelevant. He particularly dislikes questions about games he never worked on and subjects he has discussed previously. If one wants to communicate with Kamiya on Twitter, one would best check his posting history first, for fear of getting publicly told to ask either one’s mother for the answer or to “go eat shit,” or perhaps worst of all, getting publicly blocked from viewing or responding to his tweets altogether.

From a distance, Kamiya might look like a grumpy, unapproachable celebrity. Even I was slightly nervous before meeting him for an interview in October 2017, apprehensive at the thought of bothering him for asking about something he may have answered countless times before. However, in real life, Kamiya is the complete opposite of his Twitter personality. He is very friendly, open, and hospitable. The Kamiya that most people witness on Twitter is, by his own admission, a character. His Twitter persona is an alter ego befitting a WWE actor. “When I post on Twitter, I talk as if I’m having drinks with someone at a bar. I’m not interested in maintaining a veil of formality like I do at work,” Kamiya explains.

While Westerners might be accustomed to the idea of freedom of expression on social media, in Japan fewer people take such liberties to the same extent; often, famous people are expected to show restraint in how they express their opinions to avoid drawing undue attention to themselves. In the game industry, overt criticism of fans, customers, competitors, or other companies is discouraged, which makes Kamiya a very notable exception to that pattern. Others in the game industry who tweet anything half as provocative as Kamiya have been reprimanded, though not Kamiya himself. In an April 2013 interview with Polygon, Tatsuya Minami, Kamiya’s former boss, said of Kamiya’s tweets: “Up until this point, everything he’s said on Twitter has been on the very close side of the safe line. I’ve never asked him to delete anything. But he pushes that safe line when he decides to use some of the more foul language that he knows in English.” Perhaps Kamiya’s online persona works well due to his status as an accomplished, charismatic creator in an industry where people are unfairly stereotyped as being socially awkward or lacking in communication skill. Whatever the reason, Kamiya’s colorful commentary dazzles observers time and time again.

Regardless of whether one agrees with his style of interacting with people on Twitter, Kamiya has certainly earned the privilege of being vocal and opinionated. Within the two-year development cycle of Resident Evil 2 alone, he catapulted from a rookie director who depended on Mikami and Sugimura for guidance to the charismatic creative who helped Capcom reach new heights in the PlayStation era. He had tasted the bitterness of failure with “Resident Evil 1.5” and the sweet sensation of success after Resident Evil 2. Kamiya’s involvement in the Resident Evil series would continue in the years ahead, although for various reasons, Resident Evil 2 remains his most notable and impacting contribution to the franchise.


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