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Brief history of the turbulent development of Resident Evil

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In a short video on YouTube titled "In the beginning," Capcom shows images of the development of Resident Evil 7. The opportunity to review the history of the "industrial accidents" of the saga.

By looking the video from Capcom TV coming back for a moment on the development of Resident Evil 7, it is fun to compare these images with the final version of the game. Thus, we rediscover certain cult scenes graphically sober to say the least. There is also the scene of the discovery of the first corpse at the basement that one recognizes, even if it looks austere.

By looking the video from Capcom TV coming back for a moment on the development of Resident Evil 7, it is fun to compare these images with the final version of the game. Thus, we rediscover certain cult scenes graphically sober to say the least. There is also the scene of the discovery of the first corpse at the basement that one recognizes, even if it looks austere.

Next to it, one discovers scenes previously unseen : one believes, for example, to recognize an adult Evelyn of disgusting pace urging his son to attack us. There is also this shotgun shot that takes Father Baker's head down in a gore effect that some regret not seeing in the final version. We also note a passage in a cornfield that seems to come straight out of the demo of Outlast 2. Would this be a foretaste of the DLC "Not a hero" planned for this spring ?



Despite these changes, one can not really say for the time being that the development of the game was full of incidents. Nothing to see, in any case, with the perilous torments that have punctuated the history of the saga.

A first trilogy full of pitfalls

For example, take a look at the first episode. It was initially a first-person shooter. Indeed, it was the next episode in 3D of a game released on Famicom (the Nintendo NES in Japan) in 1989 and adapted from an eponymous japanese horror film. His designer, Shinji Mikami, eventually chose precalculated 3D which he considered more expressive. It then became the trademark of the game, at least initially.

This episode was one the many hiccups in the development of Capcom's flagship series. It is worth remembering the chaotic genesis of Resident Evil 2, a first version of which was achieved at more than 60%. It was then given up. Shinji Mikami, this time producer, was not satisfied with the result. With his inimitable style, he compares it to a failed meal :

« If I had to compare this game to a cooked dish, I would say that every ingredient was good ; good meat and good green vegetables. I thought it would make a good meal if I mixed the whole by increasing the proportions. But after I tasted it, I cried "What it is" (Barry's immortal sentence). I realized that even by letting it simmer, it would never become a good meal »1.

Unofficially, it seems rather that the development of the game was turned upside down by the departure of part of the teams for Square to work on Parasite Eve.

Today, that version is titled Resident Evil 1.5. You can find videos of that first version on the web. It has even become playable thanks to the hard work of a fan’s community.



As in Resident Evil 2, the game begins at the Racoon City Police Station. If they have roughly the same thread, they borrow here and there different scenarios. We find Leon S. Kennedy but not Claire Redfield, replaced by a certain Elza Walker.

The third episode also has a difficult start. At first, it is expected that the game will come out on Dreamcast under the name Code: Veronica. The project is delayed, Capcom conditioning the exit of the game to a minimum of one million machines2. In a second step, the Osaka firm is interested in the new Playstation 2 before falling back, in a third time, on the first console of Sony.

The adventures are just beginning. Indeed, the project is conceived, at the outset, as a spin-off exploiting the concept of permanent threat embodied by the Nemesis. It was conceived to introduce a new character escaping from Racoon City before Capcom back-pedaled while retaining Jill Valentine. Shinji Mikami considers this episode as common DLC, titled Resident Evil 1.9. 3. It eventually becomes a fully-fledged episode, the third of the series.

Resident Evil Dash : unheard of recipes

Resident Evil Dash is certainly the most nascent project from Capcom. Conceived between the two Biohazard (japanese name for Resident Evil), the game is supposed to start in a place below the Tyrant’s incubation room. Three years after the events of the first episode, infected plants assaulted Raccon City’s inhabitants who in turn change into plants.

Busy with their work on Resident Evil 2, Capcom give up the project.

Code Veronica : a painful childbirth

The development Resident Evil: Code Veronica has also been difficult. First of all, the developers have a problem with the new console of Sega, which forces them to ask the help of the technical team of Sonic’s creator4. In addition, part of the development is outsourced. Moreover, the leaders of the project are extremely ambitious. For instance, they want to set up a precise system for damage location. The zombies had to lose their limbs one by one. Consequence : originally planned for April 1999, the game ends up on February 9, 2000 in Japan. It is estimated today that there would have been three betas of the game.

Game Boy Color : an aborted version

At same time as the development of Resident Evil 3 on Playstation and Code: Veronica on Dreamcast, a Game Boy Color (GBC) version is scheduled under the name of Resident Evil Gaiden. The game is expected in 2D to fit with the power of the machine with a view from above ofr movements and first-person view for the battles. The work is given to the English studio HotGen under the direction of Virgin Interactive.

More than ten years before the first Revelations, the story takes place aboard a luxurious cruise ship, the Starlight, in which the Machiavellian organization Umbrella has installed an organic bio weapon. A clandestine organization composed of former S.T.A.R.S. members, including Leon S. Kennedy and Barry Burton, is in charge for thwarting Umbrella's plans.

The first review of the game are not very exciting (check the ING’s one). It ended up being cancelled when its development has almost reached its term (90 % according some sources)5.

The game reborns in 2012 thanks to Assembler Forums funding. You can see walkthroughs on Youtube.



Nearly zero Resident Evil on N64

The idea of a prequel to Resident Evil occurs during the design of the latter. Nintendo announces working on a magnetic disk drive for its future Nintendo 64 (N64) in 1995. Capcom then decides to develop an episode on this platform: Resident Evil 0. It’s started in the summer of 1998 while other episodes are still under way (the 3rd, the Code: Veronica, the Gaiden on GBC). Soon, the teams have to adapt to the reduced size of the N64 cartridge memory, which is ten times smaller than the Dreamcast's CD media.

The game is designed to be much more difficult than its predecessors, especially removing backup rooms. Fighting is also much more dynamic. Thus, the zombies react differently according to the attacks. The player can replicate when he is bitten by a zombie. "Fast" undead are in the game, anticipating the future "Crimson Head" (all these new features will be kept in the final version). It is interesting to note that the system of "alternative" cooperation (one can "zap" between the two characters) has been introduced to take advantage of the specificities of the console and its cartridge holder which limits the loading times. The game is also planned to support local cooperation.



Resident Evil Zero on N64 is presented as a playable demo in January 2000 at the Tokyo Game Show. According to Capcom, it is completed at 20%. Expected for July 2000, it is finally canceled due to lack of memory of N64 cartridges. It is reported on GameCube. As for the N64, it hosts the second episode in February 2000.

The 4th : a long and winding road

However, the worse is coming with the fourth episode. Released at the beginning of 2005, its genesis can be traced back to 19986. And for good reason: the game has known no less than... five versions! The first has the style of its creator, Hideki Kamiya. Fan of shoot them up more than survival horror, he imagines a game in which frantic action takes precedence over reflection and exploration. One embodies a charismatic and casual hero inspired by the character of Cobra. His name is Dante. The latter is a police inspector charged with investigating in a castle. He has one particularity : he has an evil double named Virgil and armed with a katana, when Dante has a pistol. No need to epilogue, you get it: this first version of Resident Evil 4 is none other than Devil May Cry.

A second version is presented at the Tokyo Game Show of 2002. It is called the "fog version" (or "Progenitor" as the very well-known site survivhor.biohazardfrance.net calls it). It is the work of Hiroshi Shibata, who was in charge of the sets on Resident Evil 3. The hero, Leon S. Kennedy, is infected with a virus, the Progenitor (which will come back in Resident Evil 5). Facing a mysterious and threatening fog, he confronts zombies in a castle of Umbrella sounding like a reminiscence of the version "Devil May Cry". New: Capcom seems to have wanted to introduce a day and night cycle. In addition, part of the game takes place in an airship.



Although it has reached 40% of development, the project is definitively abandoned. It is in 2003 that Shinji Mikami presents a new version commonly entitled "the Hook Man ". The well informed site survivhor.biohazardfrance.net gives it the name of "Illusions" or « Hallucinations ». Whatever the denomination, Mikami describes it as frightening ("do not wet your pants", he says in front on a hilarious assembly during a presentation). It seems more accomplished than the previous ones since the video of presentation shows elements of gameplay. The screenwriter, Yasuhisa Kawamura, aims to return to the heart of horror.

Marked by the Jacob's ladder’s movie and the Silent Hills game by Konami, he wants to reinject some uncertainty into a game that ended up (already at the time) by giving a great deal of room for action. In order to do this, enemies must appear randomly in order to place the player in a situation of permanent stress. The process is carried out on the narrative level with the idea that Leon, suffering from a strange disease, is prey to uncontrollable hallucinations. The shady environment, with its disarticulated dolls and its knight statues falling to pieces, also participates in this general malaise. The whole is underlined by a sound atmosphere in tune.

The project is ambitious, too maybe. Such a device requires the creation of two types of 3D model according to the structure of the level conditioned by the attitude of the player. This implies an overspend that Capcom can not afford. Worse: the freshly released Gamecube console, which should host the title, simply does not have sufficient capabilities to handle this technical problem. Moreover, it has to deal with stunning graphics and complex visual effects like rain, water or light movements.

In the end, only one enemy can be managed : the famous character with the hook (also described as the "blue ghost" on survivhor.biohazardfrance.net). That’s insufficient to offer a decent lifespan and a fear worthy of the name. Even the Nemesis, to which this enemy approaches, had not put an end to the traditional zombies and other monstrosities.



As it happened in the history of the series, desertedd ideas are taken back later, or even recycled in another game. In this case, it is difficult not to think of the hook man in the chapter 9 of The Evil Within during which the hero is hunted by a ghost in an oppressive manor. If the game is published by Bethesda, its designer is a certain Shinji Mikami, operating with his own studio, Tango Gameworks. The comparison does not stop there. The will to put up a smokescreen between reality and dream evokes the hallucinatory episodes of Leon Kennedy in "the hook man".



A final version of Resident Evil 4 is mentioned by Hiroyuki Kobayachi, the producer of the game, for which there is no video testimony7. It is more classical in its way. It returns to the fundamentals of the series, whether it be at the level of enemies (the traditional zombies) or the game system. Judged too shy and badly written, it is abandoned.

It was not until Shinji Mikami resigned his position as producer to dedicate himself fully to the creation of Resident Evil 4, via a fifth version. As you know, it was the public and critical success of a revolutionary game that laid the foundation for the modern Third Person Shooter (TPS).

It should be noted that the sources contradict each other on the existence of these different versions. If the English Wikipedia distinguishes "the hook man" version the "hallucination" one (which requires too much resources), the French Wikipedia does not differentiate between the two and does not talk about technical problems. For Nicolas Courcier, Mehdi El Kanafi and Bruno Provezza, the latter fall under the fog version. On the website survivhor.biohazardfrance.net, the "the Hook Man" title has been replaced by "Illusions" or "Hallucinations".

In the end, the following episodes did not experience the same mishaps, whether it be the 5th, 6th or Revelations. It must be said that they are far from being as innovative as the 4, original matrix of which they constitute a variation around the same theme. We must wait for episode number 7 for a break that sounds like a true back to the roots: a first-person horrifying game.

The circle is complete.

Footnotes :

1 Interview given to Famitsu and available at survivor.biohazardfrance.net

2 Nicolas COURCIER, Mehdi EL KANAFI, Bruno PROVEZZA, Resident Evil. Des souris et des hommes, Toulouse, Third Editions, 2015, pp. 34-35, p. 40.

3 Crispin BOYER, « Resident Evil Everything », Electronic Gaming Monthly, Ziff Davis Media Inc., no 121,? août 1999, p. 115–122.

4 Nicolas COURCIER, Mehdi EL KANAFI, Bruno PROVEZZA, op. cit., p. 43.

5 Id., p. 46

6 Id., p. 50.

7 Id., p. 53

/In-the-beginning.png" style="height:333px; width:700px" />

Next to it, one discovers scenes previously unseen : one believes, for example, to recognize an adult Evelyn of disgusting pace urging his son to attack us. There is also this shotgun shot that takes Father Baker's head down in a gore effect that some regret not seeing in the final version. We also note a passage in a cornfield that seems to come straight out of the demo of Outlast 2. Would this be a foretaste of the DLC "Not a hero" planned for this spring ?



Despite these changes, one can not really say for the time being that the development of the game was full of incidents. Nothing to see, in any case, with the perilous torments that have punctuated the history of the saga.

A first trilogy full of pitfalls

For example, take a look at the first episode. It was initially a first-person shooter. Indeed, it was the next episode in 3D of a game released on Famicom (the Nintendo NES in Japan) in 1989 and adapted from an eponymous japanese horror film. His designer, Shinji Mikami, eventually chose precalculated 3D which he considered more expressive. It then became the trademark of the game, at least initially.

This episode was one the many hiccups in the development of Capcom's flagship series. It is worth remembering the chaotic genesis of Resident Evil 2, a first version of which was achieved at more than 60%. It was then given up. Shinji Mikami, this time producer, was not satisfied with the result. With his inimitable style, he compares it to a failed meal :

« If I had to compare this game to a cooked dish, I would say that every ingredient was good ; good meat and good green vegetables. I thought it would make a good meal if I mixed the whole by increasing the proportions. But after I tasted it, I cried "What it is" (Barry's immortal sentence). I realized that even by letting it simmer, it would never become a good meal »1.

Unofficially, it seems rather that the development of the game was turned upside down by the departure of part of the teams for Square to work on Parasite Eve.

Today, that version is titled Resident Evil 1.5. You can find videos of that first version on the web. It has even become playable thanks to the hard work of a fan’s community.



As in Resident Evil 2, the game begins at the Racoon City Police Station. If they have roughly the same thread, they borrow here and there different scenarios. We find Leon S. Kennedy but not Claire Redfield, replaced by a certain Elza Walker.

The third episode also has a difficult start. At first, it is expected that the game will come out on Dreamcast under the name Code: Veronica. The project is delayed, Capcom conditioning the exit of the game to a minimum of one million machines2. In a second step, the Osaka firm is interested in the new Playstation 2 before falling back, in a third time, on the first console of Sony.

The adventures are just beginning. Indeed, the project is conceived, at the outset, as a spin-off exploiting the concept of permanent threat embodied by the Nemesis. It was conceived to introduce a new character escaping from Racoon City before Capcom back-pedaled while retaining Jill Valentine. Shinji Mikami considers this episode as common DLC, titled Resident Evil 1.9. 3. It eventually becomes a fully-fledged episode, the third of the series.

Resident Evil Dash : unheard of recipes

Resident Evil Dash is certainly the most nascent project from Capcom. Conceived between the two Biohazard (japanese name for Resident Evil), the game is supposed to start in a place below the Tyrant’s incubation room. Three years after the events of the first episode, infected plants assaulted Raccon City’s inhabitants who in turn change into plants.

Busy with their work on Resident Evil 2, Capcom give up the project.

Code Veronica : a painful childbirth

The development Resident Evil: Code Veronica has also been difficult. First of all, the developers have a problem with the new console of Sega, which forces them to ask the help of the technical team of Sonic’s creator4. In addition, part of the development is outsourced. Moreover, the leaders of the project are extremely ambitious. For instance, they want to set up a precise system for damage location. The zombies had to lose their limbs one by one. Consequence : originally planned for April 1999, the game ends up on February 9, 2000 in Japan. It is estimated today that there would have been three betas of the game.

Game Boy Color : an aborted version

At same time as the development of Resident Evil 3 on Playstation and Code: Veronica on Dreamcast, a Game Boy Color (GBC) version is scheduled under the name of Resident Evil Gaiden. The game is expected in 2D to fit with the power of the machine with a view from above ofr movements and first-person view for the battles. The work is given to the English studio HotGen under the direction of Virgin Interactive.

More than ten years before the first Revelations, the story takes place aboard a luxurious cruise ship, the Starlight, in which the Machiavellian organization Umbrella has installed an organic bio weapon. A clandestine organization composed of former S.T.A.R.S. members, including Leon S. Kennedy and Barry Burton, is in charge for thwarting Umbrella's plans.

The first review of the game are not very exciting (check the ING’s one). It ended up being cancelled when its development has almost reached its term (90 % according some sources)5.

The game reborns in 2012 thanks to Assembler Forums funding. You can see walkthroughs on Youtube.

{Youtube}sh8_AIcPaxM {/Youtube}

Nearly zero Resident Evil on N64

The idea of a prequel to Resident Evil occurs during the design of the latter. Nintendo announces working on a magnetic disk drive for its future Nintendo 64 (N64) in 1995. Capcom then decides to develop an episode on this platform: Resident Evil 0. It’s started in the summer of 1998 while other episodes are still under way (the 3rd, the Code: Veronica, the Gaiden on GBC). Soon, the teams have to adapt to the reduced size of the N64 cartridge memory, which is ten times smaller than the Dreamcast's CD media.

The game is designed to be much more difficult than its predecessors, especially removing backup rooms. Fighting is also much more dynamic. Thus, the zombies react differently according to the attacks. The player can replicate when he is bitten by a zombie. "Fast" undead are in the game, anticipating the future "Crimson Head" (all these new features will be kept in the final version). It is interesting to note that the system of "alternative" cooperation (one can "zap" between the two characters) has been introduced to take advantage of the specificities of the console and its cartridge holder which limits the loading times. The game is also planned to support local cooperation.

{Youtube}x86cW1W5G-4 {/Youtube}

Resident Evil Zero on N64 is presented as a playable demo in January 2000 at the Tokyo Game Show. According to Capcom, it is completed at 20%. Expected for July 2000, it is finally canceled due to lack of memory of N64 cartridges. It is reported on GameCube. As for the N64, it hosts the second episode in February 2000.

The 4th : a long and winding road

However, the worse is coming with the fourth episode. Released at the beginning of 2005, its genesis can be traced back to 19986. And for good reason: the game has known no less than... five versions! The first has the style of its creator, Hideki Kamiya. Fan of shoot them up more than survival horror, he imagines a game in which frantic action takes precedence over reflection and exploration. One embodies a charismatic and casual hero inspired by the character of Cobra. His name is Dante. The latter is a police inspector charged with investigating in a castle. He has one particularity : he has an evil double named Virgil and armed with a katana, when Dante has a pistol. No need to epilogue, you get it: this first version of Resident Evil 4 is none other than Devil May Cry.

A second version is presented at the Tokyo Game Show of 2002. It is called the "fog version" (or "Progenitor" as the very well-known site survivhor.biohazardfrance.net calls it). It is the work of Hiroshi Shibata, who was in charge of the sets on Resident Evil 3. The hero, Leon S. Kennedy, is infected with a virus, the Progenitor (which will come back in Resident Evil 5). Facing a mysterious and threatening fog, he confronts zombies in a castle of Umbrella sounding like a reminiscence of the version "Devil May Cry". New: Capcom seems to have wanted to introduce a day and night cycle. In addition, part of the game takes place in an airship.

{Youtube}OqZxNXzpaWk {/Youtube}

Although it has reached 40% of development, the project is definitively abandoned. It is in 2003 that Shinji Mikami presents a new version commonly entitled "the Hook Man ". The well informed site survivhor.biohazardfrance.net gives it the name of "Illusions" or « Hallucinations ». Whatever the denomination, Mikami describes it as frightening ("do not wet your pants", he says in front on a hilarious assembly during a presentation). It seems more accomplished than the previous ones since the video of presentation shows elements of gameplay. The screenwriter, Yasuhisa Kawamura, aims to return to the heart of horror.

Marked by the Jacob's ladder’s movie and the Silent Hills game by Konami, he wants to reinject some uncertainty into a game that ended up (already at the time) by giving a great deal of room for action. In order to do this, enemies must appear randomly in order to place the player in a situation of permanent stress. The process is carried out on the narrative level with the idea that Leon, suffering from a strange disease, is prey to uncontrollable hallucinations. The shady environment, with its disarticulated dolls and its knight statues falling to pieces, also participates in this general malaise. The whole is underlined by a sound atmosphere in tune.

The project is ambitious, too maybe. Such a device requires the creation of two types of 3D model according to the structure of the level conditioned by the attitude of the player. This implies an overspend that Capcom can not afford. Worse: the freshly released Gamecube console, which should host the title, simply does not have sufficient capabilities to handle this technical problem. Moreover, it has to deal with stunning graphics and complex visual effects like rain, water or light movements.

In the end, only one enemy can be managed : the famous character with the hook (also described as the "blue ghost" on survivhor.biohazardfrance.net). That’s insufficient to offer a decent lifespan and a fear worthy of the name. Even the Nemesis, to which this enemy approaches, had not put an end to the traditional zombies and other monstrosities.

{Youtube}0e3qYoR6m8o {/Youtube}

As it happened in the history of the series, desertedd ideas are taken back later, or even recycled in another game. In this case, it is difficult not to think of the hook man in the chapter 9 of The Evil Within during which the hero is hunted by a ghost in an oppressive manor. If the game is published by Bethesda, its designer is a certain Shinji Mikami, operating with his own studio, Tango Gameworks. The comparison does not stop there. The will to put up a smokescreen between reality and dream evokes the hallucinatory episodes of Leon Kennedy in "the hook man".

{Youtube}Qiyd6bUQuRs{/Youtube}

A final version of Resident Evil 4 is mentioned by Hiroyuki Kobayachi, the producer of the game, for which there is no video testimony7. It is more classical in its way. It returns to the fundamentals of the series, whether it be at the level of enemies (the traditional zombies) or the game system. Judged too shy and badly written, it is abandoned.

It was not until Shinji Mikami resigned his position as producer to dedicate himself fully to the creation of Resident Evil 4, via a fifth version. As you know, it was the public and critical success of a revolutionary game that laid the foundation for the modern Third Person Shooter (TPS).

It should be noted that the sources contradict each other on the existence of these different versions. If the English Wikipedia distinguishes "the hook man" version the "hallucination" one (which requires too much resources), the French Wikipedia does not differentiate between the two and does not talk about technical problems. For Nicolas Courcier, Mehdi El Kanafi and Bruno Provezza, the latter fall under the fog version. On the website survivhor.biohazardfrance.net, the "the Hook Man" title has been replaced by "Illusions" or "Hallucinations".

In the end, the following episodes did not experience the same mishaps, whether it be the 5th, 6th or Revelations. It must be said that they are far from being as innovative as the 4, original matrix of which they constitute a variation around the same theme. We must wait for episode number 7 for a break that sounds like a true back to the roots: a first-person horrifying game.

The circle is complete.

Footnotes :

1 Interview given to Famitsu and available at survivor.biohazardfrance.net

2 Nicolas COURCIER, Mehdi EL KANAFI, Bruno PROVEZZA, Resident Evil. Des souris et des hommes, Toulouse, Third Editions, 2015, pp. 34-35, p. 40.

3 Crispin BOYER, « Resident Evil Everything », Electronic Gaming Monthly, Ziff Davis Media Inc., no 121,? août 1999, p. 115–122.

4 Nicolas COURCIER, Mehdi EL KANAFI, Bruno PROVEZZA, op. cit., p. 43.

5 Id., p. 46

6 Id., p. 50.

7 Id., p. 53


 

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