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GDC 2012: The Making of Resident Evil Revelations

Posted on March 12, 2012 AT 12:39am

At this year’s GDC, Resident Evil: Revelations producer Masachika Kawata talked about the challenges the team at Capcom faced in bringing the beloved survival horror franchise to Nintendo’s 3DS.

Kawata’s team for Revelations contained a lot of staffers who had worked on Resident Evil 5—and Kawata noted that that experience with the series helped the development of Revelations go smoother that it otherwise might have. It was one RE5 veteran in particular—producer Jun Takeuchi—who suggested the setting for Revelations when the team was trying to think of how to bring back the scare factor of the original Resident Evil.

“What if, for this title, we set it on a boat,” Kawata recalled Takeuchi saying. “Seeing it on a cruise ship, we’d be able to set it in a nice, scary atmosphere similar to the original game.”

One of the concepts for Revelations from the beginning was to create a Resident Evil game that would be tailor-made for the 3DS hardware. Partially in response to this, Kawata noted that five key points were outlined for the game:

  1. A new style of user interface that would put key elements on the 3DS’ bottom screen, thus giving the player a more “stress-free” experience
  2. Support for the 3DS’ gyro sensors, which allow the player to control the in-game camera in a more immersive way
  3. Compatibility with Nintendo’s Circle Pad Pro attachment, which gives the option for controls that feel closer to those used in first- and third-person shooters
  4. “Genesis”, a new scan system which encourages players to extensively search each area they traverse
  5. RAID MODE, a bonus multiplayer game based on “hack and slash game type concepts” that expands Revelations past its single-player campaign

Kawata said that features like these were included in Revelations to help “freshen up” the series—but that they also worked as a test bed of sorts for trying new ideas and seeing how they’d work on the 3DS.

But why make such a major new Resident Evil game for the 3DS in the first place? Kawata gave three main reasons.

“Reasons #1: We felt that the graphical specs of this portable had vastly increased over previous hardware. Reason #2: We were looking to cultivate new markets. Reason #3: We were looking to create new types of entertainment.”

The Revelations producer then gave a few examples of Japanese “cultural tricks” which he felt were used in the creations of the game—prefaced by explaining that he feels Japanese developers are working hard on making games people will enjoy. Hearing Kawata make that statement, I couldn’t help but feel that it was a response to comments made by people like Keiji Inafune and Phil Fish in regards to the health of the Japanese development scene.

Kawata’s first example was “The Art of Makunouchi Bentou”. He talked about the lunch boxes sold at Japanese train stations, and how expertly crafted they are in regards to packing a lot of variety into a small, compact space.

“We tend to take pride in the fact, at least we think, that we have some skill in being able to pack this variety of elements—that hopefully people can really enjoy—in this satisfactory and pretty way into a very small package. The same goes for developing games onto portable hardware like the 3DS.”

The other concept Kawata brought up was “Nimousaku”, or double cropping—the act of cultivating two different types of crops on the same piece of land at different times of year. He used this to describe the method through which Capcom developed both Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D and Resident Evil: Revelations with the same pool of talent and the same basic technology.

Kawata gave a few examples of how this lead to Revelations being a better game. Developing Mercenaries 3D first helped get the engine and technical aspects smoothed out, as well as helped the team learn how they could push graphical and 3D effects on the 3DS even more than they would have known how to otherwise. Also, by working on the games in tandem, Capcom was able to include a demo of Revelations in the retail release of The Mercenaries 3D—which assisted in the publisher getting valuable feedback from players in terms of what they were looking for from Revelations.

Finally, though Kawata said he couldn’t speak about anything related to the upcoming Resident Evil 6, or the cancelled Resident Evil project for the PSP, he did take a moment to make a comment on what he’d like to see for the future of the series.

“So I hear that they’re going to be releasing a Resident Evil 6—but, in addition to that, I hope that we can continue to do these kinds of offshoot titles and expand the IP more. We really hope that, moving forward, we’ll be able to make new Resident Evil games for new markets that bring players new things they aren’t expecting—as well as new chapters of the series that people will really want to play.”

Eric L. Patterson, Executive Editor
Eric L. Patterson got started via self-publishing game-related fanzines in junior high, and now has one goal in life: making sure EGM has as much coverage of niche Japanese games as can realistically be crammed in. Eric’s also active in the gaming community on a personal level, being an outspoken voice on topics such as equality in gaming and consumer rights. Stalk Eric on Twitter: @Eric_EGM. Meet the rest of the crew.

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