- How did you come to take part in the development of Devil May Cry 5?
DMC5 started coming together after the release of Devil May Cry 4: Special Edition. Spearheading the process was Hideaki Itsuno, who has acted as director on the series since its second installment.
As this game's director, Mr. Itsuno established a rather concrete vision at the start of development: Three playable characters, Nero as the protagonist, and the game starting from the loss of his right arm. His fondness for this sequel only grew stronger from there, and development continues almost exactly as his vision dictated back then.
- What do you think has sustained the Devil May Cry series since its inception 18 years ago?
- In a word, I'd say it's the exhilaration that comes from throwing quirky characters into high-speed combat. This title takes that sort of stylish action and ramps it up, using cutting-edge technology to realize our vision through the most beautiful graphics this series has seen to date.
- What do you find appealing about this new title, DMC5?
Set several years after the last installment, DMC5 offers a gripping tale full of characters with important roles, including Dante and Nero, the returning protagonist from DMC4. We also put an emphasis on stunning visuals, and feel that players new to the series will get the urge to try out DMC5 as soon as they lay eyes on it.
We've packed everything we can into this title in the hopes of surpassing even the expectations of DMC fans that have waited almost ten years for the next numbered entry, crafting an experience they can enjoy for years to come.
- Please tell us a bit about the visuals for this new game.
- We've generated photorealistic expressions utilizing the latest technology through Capcom's development engine, RE ENGINE. Actors bearing a close resemblance to the character images were hired overseas, clothed in original costumes and makeup, and incorporated as 3D data via 3D scanning systems. We also employed 3Lateral's techniques to craft characters with a wealth of expressions.
- How did you find the actors and technology used in the development process?
- The development staff looked all over the world for actors, models and tech that could fulfill their needs, heading on-site in each country to observe the viability of potential candidates for themselves. 3Lateral is based out of Serbia, but we ended up selecting them for their world-leading skill in crafting expression for video game characters.
- I imagine even a single character takes a lot of time to create!
- Gathering the best materials for making a character's look, voice, and actions probably takes more time than an actual live-action film. Take actions, for example: For gestures unique to Japanese people, we need to get a Japanese actor to play the part. For voice, we need to use a Native English voice actor who can use proper pronunciation. These are details that players don't think about while playing the game, but considering how immersed they become in the DMC world, we can't cut corners.
- The characters that appeared in promotional materials were incredibly expressive. It almost looked like a live-action film.
Faces have been crafted with such detail that we can create scenes relying solely on character expressions to tell the story.
When recording voicework for anime or games, voice actors are usually provided with supplementary explanations of the character's age and emotional profile. But the level of completion in this title's animations allows for a myriad of nuanced expressions. For the Japanese voicework we showed them actual video footage, so they could perform as they would when dubbing over Western movies.
- A feat achievable through facial animation techniques and the RE ENGINE, correct?
- Expressions like a soft chuckle can add subtle changes to a scene. The high-level animation offered by RE ENGINE lets us do more than just move 3D models around, bringing such nuanced expressions to life.
*FPS: Frames per second. 60 FPS means that sixty frames are displayed every second, or one new frame every 0.016 seconds. The higher the FPS, the smoother the visuals become, and the more responsive controls can be achieved.
- What kind of effort went into the action controls—a pillar of the DMC franchise?
- Mr. Itsuno originally possessed the know-how for creating competitive action games, injecting arcade-style presentation and control schemes into this series. This gave birth to the stylish action DMC is known for. I'm sure gamers will enjoy it this time around, and development is proceeding under that belief.
- What sort of elements go into the action sequences of a hack-and-slash game?
Unlike human movements, there is a time lag between a button input and the action on-screen. After all, a player's controller is a tool for programmed input commands, which are only carried out on-screen after various calculations have been processed.
The gap between the real world and the game must be compensated for as much as possible on the programming side. Knowledge we’ve cultivated in the world of 60FPS-competitive-action games has been incorporated into the single-player experience, resulting in outstanding controls that instantly reflect player input on-screen.
- Can high-definition images and reduced load times exist in tandem?
- With Capcom's current techniques, it can! Many games use realistic visuals as a selling point, but higher-definition visuals mean longer processing time, which in turn impacts the feeling of control. To counter this issue, we're having a veteran of the series handle animation, and involving creators with a track record in other game series. Repeated manual adjustments to prevent users from feeling any dissonance was arduous work, but I'm happy to say we completed our final adjustments as a result. It would certainly be difficult for other companies to replicate such techniques.
- Did you have many hurdles to overcome on the technical side of things?
- I'm sure other companies must deal with this, but this is a hurdle you cannot overcome unless you share a deep understanding of both your technology and your gameplay. People with craftsman-like skill and proper development environments to reproduce their work are essential, but even more essential is a sense of how your game should control.
- Do you think such attention to detail is a trait characteristic of Japanese game development?
- Well, we have our background in developing competitive fighting games, coupled with a sense of artisanship that is uniquely Japanese. There are plenty of amazing games made overseas, but few show such minute attention to detail.
- How did the crowd react when you first unveiled DMC5 at Electronic Entertainment Expo 2018 in Los Angeles?
- I was eager to announce the game to fans all over the world. Mr. Itsuno and Producer Matt Walker were backstage. The moment the video started playing and cheers of joy reverberated through the venue, the two of them stood there in triumph, deeply moved by a reaction that exceeded even their expectations.
- You couldn't tell right away it was a Capcom game from the visuals alone!
The trailer was intentionally edited to prevent viewers from figuring out the developer or the title for the first part of the video. The Capcom logo appears partway through, and from there it becomes clear this is a DMC game. I looked forward to seeing how the audience would react when they realized what game it was.
I'm happy to say that the video has received millions of views. Also, having messages from fans of the series expressing how much they've waited for this pour in every day acted as daily motivation during development.
We were so pleased to see just how much our audience is anticipating this gung-ho, action-focused game. Going forward, I want to continue merging past experiences with new endeavors to create the kind of game worlds unique to this series that fans crave.
- What sort of promotions will you do until launch?
After the trailer reveal in June, we showed our first demo at gamescom 2018, the largest European game event held in Germany. We finally got a chance to see how our hard work had paid off in terms of the game's playability, and got to show off the game to boot. From September's Tokyo Game Show onwards, we plan to show just how amazing DMC5 is. As part of this, we'll release videos that introduce other starring characters as well as those that demonstrate the action at the center of the game.
Now, Japanese games are getting a good reception in the market, and the Capcom brand is associated with many popular series, so I believe demonstrating how development is coming along in accordance to fan expectations will provide sufficient results. We've really gone all in on this one, and feel that the value being added by the development staff and technology at our disposal will work toward our aim of cultivating new players as well.
- In conclusion, do you have a message for all the fans out there waiting for DMC5?
- Here at Capcom, we're creating masterpieces that combine decades of development knowledge with cutting-edge technology. The entire team dedicated themselves to raising the quality of the visuals and action beyond expectations, in the hopes to creating the greatest action game of the modern era. It’s definitely worth checking out, and I hope many people out there play it to their hearts content. DMC is BACK!