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IR Top Page > Developer Interview 2012 > vol01.Yoshiaki Hirabayashi
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Developer Interview 2012

01. Producer, Development Strategy and Support, Consumer Games Development /Yoshiaki Hirabayashi/Became designer of “Resident Evil” series after joining company, principally as an image supervising editor. Worked with Hollywood production team to create an even more realistic “Resident Evil” world in “Resident Evil 5”. Now focused on his debut work as a producer.

Three and a half years since the last title– Tackling the greatest challenge in video game history: Transmitting the Resident Evil DNA through the latest installment in the series

- To start things off, I was wondering if you could tell us about the basic concept behind "Resident Evil 6".
The first thing we had in mind for the actual substance of the game was the idea of an "ensemble cast". We then sat down to discuss the various elements needed to liven the game up and make it more attractive, and eventually decided to go with the concept of "multiple storylines played out by multiple protagonists". We also drew upon the ideas and feedback we had received from fans all over the world regarding previous titles. It was impossible to incorporate all of their ideas into the game, but we gave them a lot of thought and tried to understand where the fans are coming from. You have fans around the world that have been waiting for this new title for quite a long time, while there are some relative newcomers to the series who were drawn in by "Resident Evil 5". I'd really hope we're able to meet these expectations and deliver a classical sequel that does the series justice.
- This new installment features the largest number of protagonists in the series.
Yeah it does. Naturally we have "Leon", who you could say is the face of the series. However, to create a true "ensemble cast" players gravitate towards, we needed to have more characters performing alongside Leon and Chris. We ran with a lot of interesting ideas about the relationships between them, which led us to keep adding characters. This process allowed us to expand upon and create a nice blend of all these different concepts, giving us a sound base to work with for "Resident Evil 6".
- Have any changes been made to the game system from the previous title?
"Resident Evil 5" was the first title in the series to support two player online "co-op play". This play mode has been carried over to "Resident Evil 6", but the controls have been improved and the online connection has been made better. Another new feature is this system called "Crossover". Because "Resident Evil 6" boasts an "ensemble cast" with a unique story for each character, our director thought it would be a good idea to create a system that brought these different experiences together. During a "crossover" sequence, up to four players can link up online. When you play "co-op", you might meet another player online at a point where the two stories intersect. If that player is also playing "co-op", then it becomes possible for a total of four players to link up online. Likewise, depending on the situation, you can even switch between co-op players. When it came to the numbering, we avoided running with the idea that "fresh equals good", but felt that it was important to take advantage of ideas that worked in past titles and figure out how to make them "more entertaining". That being said, though, I still think it's equally important to come up with new ideas. I'm confident fans will have a blast with the game system we've got lined up for "Resident Evil 6".
- What about the actual expressions of the characters in the game?
We were really intent on conveying that sense of fear. In "Resident Evil 4" and "Resident Evil 5", we moved away from fear generated in response to zombies, but to me, the game wouldn't really be "Resident Evil" without zombies. A lot of discussions were held, and in the end we decided to bring the zombies back. In addition to zombies, we've added a new element of fear in the form of characters called "J'avo". Creating these characters presented a new challenge for us.
- I see. It looks like you've added a lot of new stuff without sacrificing the things people love about this series.
We certainly have. I don't think there's really anything more we can pack into this game (laughs).
- The development of this game must have been a massive undertaking, and I'm sure you had to streamline the entire process. How did you go about improving efficiency?
We used the all new "MT Framework 2.0" to develop this game. The people from the MT Framework Team (Technology Research and Development) are always a great help. Being able to use our own development engine really helps to improve efficiency. When you use somebody else's engine, it's hard to get an immediate response or accurately convey your needs. The people in Technology Research and Development answer our questions right away, providing us with a system that ensures quality, enhances work efficiency, and cuts costs. Naturally we run into a lot of problems, but another benefit of an in-house engine is that we can discuss those issues and find solutions.
- What kind of set up did you have for the development of "Resident Evil 6"?
We went with what you could call a "unit structure", in which the team is divided into a number of smaller sub-teams. Each sub-team is assigned a specific role to fulfill, and we make sure that information is shared between all the units. With a large team responsibilities tend to get spread out. You end up with something like a waterfall process, in which it's a little hard to build a sense of individual responsibility. By incorporating a number of smaller development units into a greater system, each unit recognizes the need to finish what their working on. This helps to foster the individual's sense of responsibility, awareness, and love for their work. It's a funny thing. When you get a group of small teams together, they always take an interest in what the team next to them is doing, saying: "These guys look like their working on something fun. I wonder what they're doing". This type of thinking is also important when trying to create something attractive. I feel this system is a great educational tool and can help bring out the creativity of each individual.
- You do a nice job of selling this system. But isn't a little difficult to collectively share information among some many small units?
There are a lot of members that take on a multiple tasks. Designers and programmers generally belong to more than one team, so they convey information and know-how to all of their teams. We make sure information is equally shared among all unit leaders to prevent any one team from controlling all the information. It's not just a group of units doing their own thing, but an organization running as a unified body of independent sub-units working in close cooperation with each other.
- Do you feel there any problems with this organization?
The pace of development can differ between teams. Sometimes you have one group that's finished up, while another is still plowing along. Though they are only in charge of a small group, the duties of a team leader are just as demanding of those of a director. I believe the keys to a smooth flow of production are the proper placement of staff and time invested in developing human resources. If you do these two things, the organization should have no problem coordinating and moving forward with difficult tasks.
- What's your view of utilizing resources from outside the company?
We've called on a number of contractors and asked them to handle certain parts of the development for "Resident Evil 6". We often ask partners in other countries to help us with sound and in-game movie clips, as well as modeling, motion-capture, backgrounds, and effects. Some of these companies have been working with us since "Resident Evil 5".
- Are many of these partners firms located in other countries?
We work with both Japanese and non-Japanese partners. To improve quality, we usually outsource the sound work and in-game movie clips to companies overseas that have the expertise to make the kind of video clips you'd see in Hollywood films.
- Looking at things in the short term, do you worry about inconsistencies in quality when you outsource work?
I think it's overly harsh to say that "outsourcing makes it difficult to control quality". If we outsourced work without communicating any of the ideas or know-how we have here at Capcom, the result would be the same, no matter which company we used. It's important to be as up front as we can with our partners. We're making great use of the experience we gained working with outside partners on "Resident Evil 5", so looking ahead to the future I feel the more the merrier, no matter which country these partners may be in.
- With the need to allocate resources and assign tasks inside and outside the company, you definitely need a balanced and mutual understanding of quality.
Exactly. If we train or obtain employees capable of not only improving quality inside the company, but also able to work with our partner firms to control and manage their quality, the overall quality we produce will be much higher.
Back to Developer Interview 2012 Top Page
  1. 06. Director and Executive Corporate Officer in charge of Consumer Games Business
 / Katsuhiko Ichii
  2. 05. Managing Corporate Officer, Head of P&S Business Division / Yoichi Egawa
  3. 04.CEO  Beeline Interactive, Inc./ Midori Yuasa
  4. 03.General Manager, Consumer Games Development Tokyo R&D Department/ Kazunori Sugiura
  5. 02. Producer, Development Strategy and Support, Consumer Games Development /  Motohide Eshiro
  6. 01. Producer, Development Strategy and Support, Consumer Games Development / Yoshiaki Hirabayashi

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