Thursday Dec 20, 2012
This is a special guest blog written by Shirahama, a game designer at PlatinumGames for Anarchy Reigns.
Hey there. Doing all right? I’m here from PlatinumGames, the best damn action game developer in the world, to tell you some classified info about Anarchy Reigns. My name’s Shirahama, I’m a game designer.
Guess it’s been three years since we started on a new project with two guidelines: make it online, and have Jack be the main character. When you hear online gaming though, the only thing you think of is FPS, FPS, FPS, right? Were we supposed to play it safe with our own gun-crazy game? Or should we try something else? There were a lot of heated discussions with the preliminary team during the first stages of planning.
Online games were a first for Platinum. Our experience at the time was lacking, but going against the tides of the times and creating something never before seen is at the heart of Platinum’s philosophy. We all agreed with the director when he said, “I don’t want to make an inferior copy of some trendy game that’s flooding the market. If we’re going to make something, let’s do the classic brand of PG-style melee, online.” These words propelled the project with a lot of passion from the get-go.
Our first step in the process was to assemble a small team to work on playability and network capability. We used Jack, Mathilda and Eddie (Eddie was an AI boss) from MADWORLD as our test models. And they were, of course, black and white.
In the beginning, Mathilda had a Gatling gun she’d blast at Jack with from this high platform while he’d roll, dodge, then charge at her to slice her in half with his chainsaw arm. It was as intense as it sounds. We had a round test stage with moody lighting、and 20 Jacks and Mathildas all dashing towards Little Eddie to beat the living daylights out of him. Those were the days.
There was a lot of excitement to be discovered each day working on the prototype. Finally, summer arrived, and the project completed its first step. Our team fleshed out and things started formally getting underway. Yet somehow, there still wasn’t a single person planning what the world was going to look like.
It wasn’t long until we started preparing development for the PS3 and 360. I handled planning for some basic character design and ATE design. Then, like I only could have expected, I was put in charge of Campaign mode. With no scenario. And no defined worldview. Or tools, layouts of any kind to even build a story with. Getting put in charge of this was like being made to do the Cossack Dance in the middle of a mine field.
When I finally got the plot from the scenario writer, we’d already entered the new year. For the tutorial, we had Jack walking through an abandoned subway, explaining the game’s background, while teaching controls whenever a mob pops out. Little bit like Nathan Drake. Thought it wasn’t a bad idea, but… it got scrapped. I wept.
However, if you look at the boss battles in the final product, you can see the idea made it through, albeit in a different shape: the dramatic-style fights where characters would keep having an impassioned discussion right in the middle of duking it out.
The scenario had its own problems moving forward, and everyone on the programming end had to keep reworking tools to fit the game’s ever-changing design. Still, for the scenario writer to put everything together in the short time that he did, I think he has to be a genius, and you can feel our team’s passion with the way they worked it into the game. Whether you play as Jack or Leo, every cutscene really lets you understand the character in a rich way. The experience is similar to that feeling you get replaying your favorite game as a kid, once you’re an adult.
In order to not have the minor character side stories disrupting the main plot’s flow, we divided storytelling in two ways: high-end cutscenes and old school-ish window-based conversations. In the end, instead of being a Hollywood blockbuster, it feels more like an avant garde European film. Did you like it?
In closing, I’ll give a little advice about online play. Anarchy Reigns is a multiplayer online brawler: a genre never before attempted in gaming. The first time you play, you’ll probably have around 13 question marks floating above your head.
Don’t ever hesitate to sneak up behind your opponent and drive a chainsaw in their back. Don’t feel bad about massacring a whole group just when they think they’ve escaped the gas chamber. They’re not going to have any sympathy for you. So, bringing a rifle into a one-on-one endurance match? Of course that’s okay. It’s applauded! This game makes other violent video games look like they’re in preschool. Do what you need to survive. Whatever you need.
10 minutes in Anarchy Reigns is a different experience from 10 minutes in any other game. It’s an electrifying rush you can’t find anywhere else. Think you can reign through the anarchy? Good luck.
Happy holidays! And a happy new year.
From Japan with love.
Posted by Kellie in Anarchy Reigns on 11:00:33AM Dec 20, 2012
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