'Resident Evil 6': The pre-launch dev postmortem

Ask Resident Evil 6 director Eiichiro Sasaki what he thinks about his project now that it's nearly on sale, and the impression he gives is that he's just glad the thing's done.

"I think the feeling is 'It's finally over,'" he told Famitsu magazine in a roundtable interview published this week. "I have to pat myself on the back for the fact that we were able to get this out on time and on schedule. We had someone who very carefully managed all of the scheduling, which is part of why we were able to have enough confidence we'd make the release date that we pushed the launch up from November 22nd to October 4th [October 2nd in the US]. We were pushing right up to the end to get as much user feedback as we could into the game, though, so it was a race against time right up to the end."

A few other tidbits from the dev team wrap-up roundtable:

  • RE6 features older versions of Leon, Chris and Ada, three of the game's main heroes. "I think the biggest job for the visual people working on the characters," said art director Tomonori Takano," was to not have them simply turn into these old-looking people just because some time has passed. They had to look attractive to the players' eyes, and they had to match the setting."

    "Having Leon age with that hairstyle can be pretty tough to picture," Sasaki added. "We couldn't just go and completely redo the hairstyle, so it was something we had to tweak a lot while Leon fans were telling us 'This isn't Leon!'"
  • This desire to mix new with old (well, aging) extended to the character animation. "With the animation, we had to decide on things while trying to figure out how much players would be willing to accept," said event designer Masato Miyazaki. "We couldn't simply have it all be the same as before, so in that respect, Ada was the most difficult. That's in part because the producer [Yoshiaki Hirabayashi] is a huge Ada fan; you would have him spend a few hours lecturing the motion actor about how Ada should be moving."
  • Moving on to your foes, one of the most symbolic enemies in the game is the Lepotitsa (above), one that appears through most of the in-game scenarios. "The Lepotitsa is a mystery that spans across the entire story of the game, or at least influences it a great deal," Takano explained. "It's the direct cause of the bio-terror that happens in-game, so it's a key enemy. I wanted this enemy to look less actively aggressive and more horrifying and actively contagious. That's part of the reason it looks human-like. It's sort of like a mother breeding zombies, so it's got that sort of pear-shaped, womanly figure."
  • For background graphic designer Toshihiko Tsuda, the challenge was to keep things eye-catching for the player while not straying too far from the old RE atmosphere. "The thought was to give the player some new surprise whenever he went to a new area," he said. "For example, China is a very active, bustling place, while with Eastern Europe, we aimed for a much more lifeless look. For the US, instead of going flashy we have it set in a decrepit old mansion to help give the same some of that classic RE-series feel."
  • This aim to retain the RE feel extends to the voice acting, a massive amount of which was recorded for RE6. "As far as voices go, each of the heroes can have five different patterns for each of their lines during the game," explained sound director Wataru Hachisako. "Depending on their level of caution or if there are enemies in the area, the way they deliver the same line can change greatly. In addition to the dialog itself, the script contains discriptions of the scene surrounding each line, letting the voice actors come up with assorted performances to fit the scene. We handled all the voice work planning over in Los Angeles, and it just took a lot of time. We had the voice director come to oversee the motion capture sessions as well. A lot of the game had no visual reference at the time of voice recording, so I wanted to show him characters actually moving around and have him imagine what kind of voices they would have."
  • This level of variety extends to the musical soundtrack, which lead composer Akihiko Narita sought to make just as varied as the voices. "The soundtrack began with the concept of building up the world of Resident Evil with an orchestra," he said. "The music changes styles a great deal to match all of the heroes and the places they visit. Leon starts his scenario inside a wooden building, so that track has a very Gothic horror feel. Jake's music is modeled after European films, and Chris, meanwhile, is leading the BSAA team, so he has this action-movie soundtrack going on behind him."
  • It's a lot for any game director to watch over - especially given how RE6 was announced with a set release date right from the very start - and director Sasaki seems rightfully proud of it all. "From the visuals to the sound, this is really the culmination of everything the RE series has done up to now," he said. "I think every aspect of it is fun, but there's some features of it that you can only grasp if you go through all of the heroes' perspectives. I'm hoping players are able to set aside the time to play all the way up to the Ada scenario."

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