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Developer Interview 2013

03. Senior Manager of Technology Management, Technology Development, Consumer Games Development / Masaru Ijuin / Appointed as Senior manager of Software & Tools Section after working as the main programmer on "Onimusha 2: Samurai's Destiny". Since then, has contributed to improving Capcom's technical capabilities as the leading authority on the game engines "MT Framework" and "Panta Rhei".

Technological innovations that make effects more realistic and help boost the motivation of development staff

- Could you describe the specific features of "Panta Rhei"?
"Ijuin"
"Panta Rhei" is designed to unlock the full potential of hardware and maximize the rendering power of next-gen consoles. It also reduces the iterations in developing games for next-gen consoles. To make games more exciting, we need to go through a process of trial and error, such as adjusting parameters and considering how games are played. This process needs to be completed in the shortest amount of time possible. Reducing the iteration time from ten minutes to one minute delivers a tenfold increase on the amount of work we can do.
- I see. Are there any other features?
"Ijuin"
One of the main features is "parallelization". Normally when a game is made, the planner comes up with a plan, and the designer draws a map. The characters are then placed on the map and the created game is played. If the game's not fun, the map is redesigned from scratch. This is what you would call a serial process. On the other hand, "Panta Rhei" transforms this into a parallel process, thereby minimizing work loss through the coordination of efforts.

- That's very efficient.
"Ijuin"
These improvements reflect the results of a detailed survey we conducted by interviewing members of the development team. One advantage of this new development engine is that it improves the overall efficiency of development. To enhance efficiency, we needed to overhaul the workflow, and to reformulate the workflow, we needed to replace the tools. That's why we developed "Panta Rhei".
- What changes to game development made by "Panta Rhei" will players notice?
"Ijuin"
The players of "deep down" will be surprised to see realistic fire rendered by fluids. Traditionally, fire is rendered by arranging a large number of so-called billboards, but this method fails to depict the motion of fire. We can now make fire look more realistic by using fluids and simulating the flow of the flames. Imagine a T junction at the end of a narrow corridor. The fire rendered through the use of billboards ends at the wall of the T junction. On the other hand, the fire rendered with fluids fans out to the left and right when it hits the wall.
- That's pretty realistic.
"Ijuin"
The effects staff were extremely excited when they discovered this was possible with "Panta Rhei" (laugh). I think this change will also affect different elements of gameplay. For example, in traditional games a player can run away to safety by turning at a T junction, but in the future that fire might actually chase them around the corner.
- It sounds likes games will be even more realistic in the future.
"Ijuin"
They definitely will. We're also focusing on this concept of "global illumination". Basically, this is the idea of the colors of objects reflecting off of their surroundings. For example, when intense light hits and reflects off a blue board, the floor turns slightly bluish. Global illumination is not possible with conventional computer graphics, but we're now able to reproduce realistic details like this in "deep down".
- So it will be pretty tough to tell the difference between CG and actual photo images.
"Ijuin"
That's the best complement we could hope for (laughs). The members of the development team are highly satisfied with these features because they make it possible to do things we couldn't do before due to the number of man hours involved.
- I see. These types of features sound like they'll boost the motivation of developers.
"Ijuin"
Yes they will. I sometimes receive suggestions from them about trying new things and attempting to exploit the full potential of "Panta Rhei".
- How do you respond to requests from the development team?
"Ijuin"
I view the development team as a kind of sparring partner when it comes to developing an engine. Without a partner, we wouldn't know what functions need to be put into the engine or what kind of development environment we need to set up. The "Dead Rising" team was our sparring partner when we created "MT Framework", while this time around with "Panta Rhei" it was the "deep down" team. We communicate closely with the development team members to improve and add functions which meet their demands.

- So basically you're saying it's a team effort.
"Ijuin"
Exactly. Essentially we're working with them to create the development engine. We hand the engine over to the "deep down" team to make sure it meets their expectations, get feedback in real time, and quickly address the points that need to be improved. This relationship will continue until we reach the development deadline for "deep down". I'm pretty sure Pant Rhei will be complete by the time "deep down" is ready for release.
- How would you rate "Panta Rhei" at this stage?
"Ijuin"
I often encourage my team members to make improvements to the engine because it's still in the development stages. Some of the things we used to be able to do are no longer possible with the new engine, though we are able to do things that were impossible in the past. More time is needed until we have a new engine we're happy with.
- What kinds of games is "Panta Rhei" particularly geared towards?
"Ijuin"
"Panta Rhei" can be adapted to anything. It is designed to be a general-purpose engine, and facilitate the creation of all types of games. Capcom creates games for a variety of genres, so this engine needs to be capable of handling whatever kind of game we want to make. "Panta Rhei" can meet the exact needs of each development team, no matter what type of game it is they're making. This engine is pretty much "engineered specifically for Capcom games".
Back to Developer Interview 2013 Top Page
  1. 05. Corporate Officer and Deputy Head of Consumer Games Development / Yoshinori Ono
  2. 06. Director and Executive Corporate Officer in charge of Consumer Games Business / Katsuhiko Ichii
  3. 03. Senior Manager of Technology Management, Technology Development, Consumer Games Development / Masaru Ijuin
  4. 04. General Manager of Division 2, Consumer Games Development / Kazunori Sugiura
  5. 01. Producer, Development Strategy and Support, Consumer Games Development / Yoshiaki Hirabayashi
  6. 02.Senior Manager of Produce Section,P&S Software Development Department P&S Business Division /  Kentaro Ono

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