"The actual development time itself has been just about three years. If we were to include the time spent in the concept and planning stages, then I guess it would be close to four years. We have pretty much been working on it since Resident Evil 4 itself came out. As for the team size, at the biggest it was about 110 people.": Producer Jun Takeuchi (Joystiq Interview 24/02/2009)
Regarding the implementation of the MT Framework engine, Anpo san states that "before the MT Framework, we were all working on games separately, and creating them separately, and it was a very inefficient process, to have lots of different teams separately developing tools to make games. So we wanted to create something that would unify the process."
The début trailer for Biohazard 5 premièred in last quarter of 2005, at Tokyo Game Show, although development started considerably earlier in 2004.
The beta logo differed from the retail version, having a much thicker design, with cracks appearing along the top & bottom, and illuminated by a fire or lava effect. We first get a glimpse at the beta logo in the E3 2007 extended trailer. Both versions are coloured bright orange to symbolise hope for Chris and the rest of the world.
Development began in 2004; Capcom knew that the game would be a lengthy process before it hit retail, so they made sure to keep up to date with the latest technology.
"When we set out to make Resident Evil 5, the guys knew that if you want to make the most powerful, most pretty game, the Nintendo Wii isn't the best choice.": Producer Jun Takeuchi (Resident Evil 5 Demo MTV.com interview 23/02/2009)
The original idea was considerably ambitious and had to be scaled down over time; however Jun Takeeuchi states that they did try to keep the most impressive features. Right from the start the main theme was decided upon, Chris Redfield versus Albert Wesker, with Spencer E. Oswell earmarked for a cameo appearance. But the game design was constantly changing, right up until release.
"For the story we decided to go with Chris, we looked at what he has done and the puzzles surrounding him, what we wanted to do was solve those and figure out what had been going on... show the origins for various viruses that had appeared in the games and figure out where those had come from... One of the pillars for the story was the Progenitor virus, where it came from? How it was developed... This won’t be limited to the Redfield’s this will go into the origins of the virus.": Producer Jun Takeuchi (Gamespot interview 03/06/2008)
"Once again we have focused on the theme of humans. The contrast between Wesker & Chris has always been an important part of the story... in the Resident Evil series we have all kinds of twisted & tragic events happening, like the murder in the mansion, but it was a human who stood at the root of it all... We knew right from the get-go that this was going to be a story about Chris & Wesker... We also knew that Spencer would make an appearance, even if we didn't explore his character very much.": Producer Jun Takeuchi (The Art Of Resident Evil 5)
The possibilities offered by a new generation PlayStation 3 console, coupled with the MT Framework v1.4 engine, enthused the development team to take on challenges unique to the series; a main game offering an online co-operative campaign, and instead of setting Resident Evil 5 in a dark environment, the unusual decision to utilise the bright, daylight locations of Africa was taken. Assisted by directors Kenichi Ueda & Yasuhiro Anpo, game producer Takeuchi contrasted light with shadows to
implement the fear.
"Some felt we should create something with the traditional, dark foreboding atmosphere... As a next-gen game, others felt we needed to do something completely new... We really wanted to show the origins of the virus, so for the setting we thought, how about using the place where humankind was born... That's how we came to use a place in Africa as the setting... In doing that we had to set the game somewhere bright. Up to now, light was never a factor in any of the Biohazard games... Being a next-gen game we also saw it as a good chance to create something different... We wanted to maintain the Biohazard-esque feel of the game, and of course when you create light, you automatically create shadow... We're creating a game that is based around light and darkness... When you're in a bright place, it's really difficult to see into the shadow. You're pupil contracts when there is a lot of light, but this makes it hard to see when you suddenly enter a dark place... By focusing on that element, we're able to escalate the player's fear of the darkness. Stepping into the shadows from a place where your eyes have adapted to the light, in those few moments until your eyes adapt, you're playing a game where you can't see... That really fans the fires of panic.": Producer Jun Takeuchi: (Capcom Production Room Interview)
"Having Resident Evil 5 take place in Africa gave us a great
opportunity to develop the series not only in the sense of how we use darkness,
but also brightness.": Designer Kentaro Yano (Prima Games Interview)
"With the jump to next-gen, a lot of the processing power that you have, as a designer, you want to show off the graphics that you can... something that they've been able to accomplish is take the fear and horror from the past games, and really take it from a place where you can only experience that in darkness and say, 'Well, you can actually do this in the light as well.' I think they've captured the essence of what made the original Resident Evil games so great; they've just done it in a way that takes advantage of the next-gen platforms.": Marketing Director Mike Webster (WorthPlaying Developer Interview 29/12/2008)
Capcom would have had the option to release the game up to two years earlier, but invested considerable time perfecting the visual realism, now offered by a new generation of consoles. Jun Takeuchi instructed his team to take as much time as they needed to attain perfection, and it is arguable that Resident Evil 5 remains, to this day, the most graphically accomplished game in the series, some eight years after its release.
"It certainly was a decision from myself and from the development team that we really wanted to push the next part of the series as far as it could be pushed. That included the graphical aspect of the game. So that was the reason that we went with the 360 and the PS3.": Producer Jun Takeuchi (Joystiq Interview 24/02/2009)
"Lighting effects, physics, sound effects, AI, animation of objects and characters with many joints, big textures, polygon count… not one of these Resident Evil 5 features would be possible on older consoles. If you take a close look, you can see the motion of all joints in each Majini's fingers. We depict flying debris with complex physical calculations, and a Majini's screams rebound from the walls inside buildings.": Programmer Mikio Ueda (Prima Games Interview)
The scenario team headed to Africa to collate reference photos for game textures & locations. However Art Production lead designer Yoshizumi Hori had concerns regarding the urban city locations his team visited being too modern, and not resembling the classic, generic African visual theme he desired.
After trial and error it was decided to shape the stages with a more popular generic design, more recognisable as African locations to the gamer audience. These reference materials were clearly inspiration for paintings found in Resident Evil 5 DLC locations that required a continuation and link to Africa, the setting now chosen to depict the origins of Resident Evil, that was to be a main part of Resident Evil 5's narrative.
During a Games Aktuell interview, Jun Takeuchi was asked if the location for Resident Evil 5 was indeed a real African country, and to identify which language was spoken. "The venue is a fictional country in Africa. The locals speak Suheli." (Credit: Captain Redfield)
When creating the environments for Resident Evil 5, Capcom used real life photos as a source for textures, and for concept inspiration, during the earliest design stage, as can be seen in the source photographs below, extracted by BSAArklay from Resident Evil 5 disc.
An early beta concept sketch for an African savannah, with inset source photograph. The slide-show below contains just a few source photos from the large collection, taken by the development team, and extracted from the disc.
During the earliest development stages, Resident Evil 5 had much more of a war/action theme to it. There were numerous allies planned that would assist the player, and allow for gameplay mechanics such as 'protection'.
"I drew these in the summer of 2005. There are way more people here than are in the final game. The characters coloured green are allies... Since the enemies always outnumber Chris and his allies, the player would have had to figure out how to use the allies effectively to win each battle.": Background Designer Yasuko Shimoda (The Art of Resident Evil 5)
War zone concept area with the objective of securing the safety of your allies after clearing the enemy base.
Action scene concept including traps and mechanisms for use in combat gameplay, with the objective of defending your allies.
Production Director Yasuhiri Anpo considered these action and war orientated locations too far removed from the true style of the series. And such was a concern throughout, to respect and adhere to Resident Evil's roots. Hence a continuing challenge in these early days of the game's development, was this African setting dictating bright, sunlit locations, and how to induce the series' signature survival horror despite that.
"I drew this in the spring of 2005, as a piece to maintain the direction of focus for the development team. This is the earliest of early stages in development, when very little of the actual game content had been decided upon. The man in the foreground is Chris, and the woman is his partner, who wasn't decided as Sheva at the time... I kept wondering how I could manage to bring out the Resident Evil flavour in an image with sunlight & Africa, two themes that had never really had a place in the series before.": Background Designer Yasuko Shimoda (The Art of Resident Evil 5)
One method employed to avoid this conflict would be to utilise the darkness of typical survival horror interiors, and with very much in mind, the team began to design the buildings & underground locations that would accompany the outside environment.
"The dark interiors are supposed to bring out the trademark scary feelings that the Resident Evil series is known for.": Cinematic Supervisor Yoshiaki Hirabayashi (The Art of Resident Evil 5)
"A realistic representation of lighting makes an environment much more authentic, and helps to immerse the player. We achieved this with a variety of visual effect such as tone mapping.": Designer Toru Arikawa (Prima Games Interview)
"Ridley Scott is a director who makes a proper distinction between light and dark. The darkness you see in his movies are truly the blackest of black.": Co-Producer Masachika Kawata (The Art Of Resident Evil 5)
Resident Evil 5 chief producer Jun Takeuchi stated that the development team were very much inspired by Shinji Mikami’s work on the game's predecessor, however
they clearly wanted to avoid suggestions of plagiarism, and knew they would also fail to match the survival horror icon's creativity, if they were to attempt to copy any gameplay mechanics from Resident Evil 4. Takeuchi-san was also mindful that it was imperative to progress the series forward, for its own survival, with sales figures for the series on a consistent downturn, since the records set by Resident Evil 2; and with that his attention turned to those gameplay mechanics that could provide the necessary innovation to turn the financially flailing series around.
"For Resident Evil 5, a lot of the elements in it are a refinement of things that we had in Resident Evil 4; making them better, and choosing which elements to keep, which elements to discard.When we first sat down to design Resident Evil 5, we decided that changing fundamentally the way that Resident Evil 4 worked was something that we did not want to do. So that was one of the most important parts of that design process.": Resident Evil 5 Producer Jun Takeuchi (Gamasutra Interview 15/08/2008)
Only the very first Resident Evil 5 beta scenarios featured a lone Chris Redfield, chosen as the sole protagonist of a single player campaign. But with Capcom's MT Framework engine and the tantalising power of a new generation PlayStation 3, the ambitious decision was taken during early stages of development to upgrade to co-operative gameplay.
"We wanted to create a new experience for the player... to advance the series on from Resident Evil 4 and to allow the users to do something in the game that they have never been able to do before. Our answer to that was co-op; to allow the players to play with a partner and to experience the game in a different way.": Resident Evil 5 Producer Jun Takeuchi (Joystiq Interview 24/02/2009)
"I think the main feature is co-op. A lot of what
Takeuchi-san tried to do when he took a look at Resident Evil 4 and tried to
lay out what he was going to do for Resident Evil 5 was really take a look at
how franchises fail as they progress, and one of the things that I think he
identified was that they really don't innovate very well. So that was really a
big focus of his.": Marketing Director Mike Webster (WorthPlaying Developer Interview 29/12/2008)
During these very first stages of level design, the shadow cast by Resident Evil 4 over its successor, spread to influence many in the development team, to such degree that the idea to include co-operative gameplay, was first met with reservation.
"It was something that we included part way through the development of the game. I always had the idea that co-op was something that was going to be necessary in Resident Evil 5. But just when we started planning and making the game right at the start, the pressure to outdo Resident Evil 4 was so strong that it was difficult to get everybody in the team behind the idea of doing a co-op focused game.": Producer Jun Takeuchi (Joystiq Interview 24/02/2009)
"In terms of the co-op element, it was time to introduce that element to the series, to liven up that aspect of the series and also to give ourselves a new challenge. To give us something new to bring to the series, and to give ourselves something new and challenging to do.": Producer Jun Takeuchi (Gamasutra Interview 15/08/2008)
With Chris Redfield decided upon as main protagonist, and concept art illustrating a female partner to utilise the required co-op gameplay, Chief Producer Jun Takeuchi now turned his attention to this character, and whether to draw upon the series past roster of recognisable protagonists, or to create a new one.
"There was a long list of characters that came up as candidates. Every one of them had strong enthusiasts amongst the team. Satisfying all of them would require us to line up all the characters and create a variety of stories corresponding to each of them. It was just impossible to create such a volume of work, and that would also make it difficult to establish the story line we had planned. Additionally, staging within a new location required us to bring in a local guide, one who is familiar with the region. All of these factors convinced us to use a brand-new character.": Producer Jun Takeuchi (IGN interview 14/07/2008)
"Originally Chris was going to be the only main character. With the addition of Sheva, and co-op actions, we had to redo the map at least twice... Though she started off as a regular sub-character, changes in the scenario led to changes in her character. When co-op was brought in, it made Sheva a BSAA agent, and we made her more of a combat-orientated character": Production Director Yasuhiro Anpo (The Art of Resident Evil 5)
Chris’s appearance and role as lead protagonist in Resident Evil 5 was decided upon by Capcom, from the get go. At the concept stage character modeller Yosuke Yamagata was given instructions to make Chris’s muscle structure as visibly enhanced as possible. The reasoning behind this was to give the clear impression that Chris had been training for his confrontation with Albert Wesker, and if necessary Chris wanted to be physically prepared and capable to take down Wesker with his bare hands! So instructions went out to 'make his neck thicker than his head, and his arms should be super thick too….like, inhuman thick.' Moreover, Chris’s original design had considerably bigger arms than the final CGI version. Additionally he sported scruffy facial hair, and an unkempt hairstyle, to make his appearance look wilder.
"We created his equipment with reference to military hardware in the real world to avoid being outdated or unrealistic. We also drew upon photos of soldiers and PMC (Private Military Company, or mercenaries) in the field to recreate the "wardrobe" typical of troops involved in military action… We got help from a Japanese military store during the game's development. The owner of this shop imports and sells equipment. We borrowed real body armour, holsters, night vision goggles, gas masks and other gear as research material.": Modeler Yosuke Yamagata (Prima Games Interview)
Yamagata-san wanted to make sure Sheva stood out from the African daytime scenarios. To achieve this he used a lavender colour scheme. He was also mindful not to design the character too feminine so as to look physically awkward for the trials ahead, whilst keeping sufficient femininity to imbue players with strong desire to protect her. This conflict was quickly averted, when Ampo-san confirmed 'I like slender girls'. Furthermore, many in the design team were not happy with Sheva’s face on several occasions, with Yamagata-san directed to ‘make her cuter’.
"We made a new design that retained their signature colour, green for Chris, blue for Jill, to carry over the same look from the past. The facial structures are mainly based on the visuals of the GameCube version, and we added various details to these in order to develop a realistic texture.": Modeler Yosuke Yamagata (Prima Games interview)
theme colour is still blue... the fact that her hair changed colour
when she became an enemy really accentuates the change in her character.
I enhanced her raccoon-like features, with heavy lips, relatively
larger eyes and nose, and brushed her up to bring out the texture of her
skin and veins... I didn't receive instructions to give her different outfits for before she gets caught by Wesker and when she shows up as an
enemy, but it was something I chose to do... The close-fitting clothes
she is wearing are supposed to give the player the idea that she had
been experimented on while captured.": Modeler Yosuke Yamagata (The Art of Resident Evil 5)
Initially Excella Gionne was going to be a secretary, with the CEO role
going to a male figure. Far removed from her strong presence in the
retail version, the character's earliest conception was that of a
feminine secretary, far more submissive, and in a sexual relationship
with Albert Wesker. Yamagata goes on to state that when they changed her
role to the CEO the design team decided to make her attire similar to a
Excella went through several different changes in her design and there was much conflict between the staff concerning 'makes a great woman'. In the BSAA Desktop at the very end, an animation can be seen where Ryan’s blood splatters across the screen and a silhouette of M Suzuki appears behind him, on the monitor. That silhouette seen is the exact concept model as Excella’s secretary attire shown in early concept art (see below)
Ricardo Irving had a less significant role in the early concept stage. One of his earliest character designs was that of a small-time crook, a loser with flaws, and insecurities due to such failings.
Originally the Executioner was conceived as a Chainsaw Majini wielding a huge axe; however his slender appearance did not feel sufficiently intimidating. He was always intended to have a butcher, self-harming theme. Early concept sketches were of a minimalist appearance, with just a hood over his head; he wore no clothing on his upper body unlike the retail version. Another un-used concept saw his back designed with a large weak spot, which would open up like a flower, offering a vulnerable area for the player to target in battle.
The Kipepeo was first designed with African-esque colours across its
wings. However it appeared too colourful attractive, like a butterfly,
persuading the team to sketch it more moth-like, removing bright
colours, and adding the internal organs to its body, giving it a less pretty design.
These are the sketches for a flying enemy, conceived before the decision was made to base Popokarimo’s design on a bat >
"We started with the idea that we would like to have a creature like "Red Arremer" from Ghouls 'n' Ghosts, which can attack from mid-air and on the ground.": Production Director Yasuhiro Anpo (Prima Games Interview)
"Popokarimu is a combination of bat and silkworm, invented when we planned to create a flying boss enemy.": Lead Designer Jiro Taoka (Prima Games Interview)
"We kept the idea that Popokarimu is a huge bat infected by Plaga, but we changed his appearance from adult insect with hard shell to young, worm-like larva. The reason for this alteration was the look of the early image. That creature had too strong a fantasy element, and lacked a sense of revulsion. So we changed him to increase the visual impact.": Modeler Yoshinori Matsushita (Prima Games Interview)
A concept sketch of the Bui Kichwa shows it attached to the player's
back, as we see in the final build, but also attached to a human, or
Majini host, which in turn attacks the player. Possibly this first concept of
the creature was a kind of mutated form >
The Bui Kichwa was originally desgined to drag around the body of its human host behind it, was smaller, and had a primitive theme to it, not continued over into the larger final version, which changed to be more arachnoid. The changes made were to give this enemy fewer limitations, and enable it to spawn from the ground, independently without the use of a host.
With the superior power now offered by a new generation console, in the PlayStation 3, the modeller team were gifted greater scope for their designs. And with this came the extraordinary physical mechanics of the Uroboros concept enemies.
"The core element of this creature is the large amount of tentacles covering the body. Maybe we could have hit on this idea in earlier days, but it would have been abandoned at review phase because it was impossible to recreate... Initially, we had to reduce the number of tentacles by about 50% for the final Uroboros but our highly motivated staff wanted to develop a creature like never before and persevered to create the birth of Uroboros...": Lead Modeler Makoto Fukui (Prima Games Interview)
The first scenario created for Resident Evil 5's early build, with
panoramic shots across an African landscape, is seen realised in the
opening cut scene. The game originally began
with an Uroboros boss fight, in the town street. Chris is shown battling the B.O.W. surrounded by two military Jeeps, with
deceased team members.
Stated as being the second area, was an indoor shopping district, that had been largely destroyed, in the first city, with an arcade feel to it. This area was designed to involve more use of lighting effects, with shadows and sunlight. The area would be surrounded with shops and retail buildings to show that it was once a bustling bazaar, with the ceiling damaged and cracked, allowing sunlight peering through holes.
Chris would jump across this environment using the pillars to move along, whilst finding items and money; gameplay similar to player's movement in the 'Prince of Persia' series. Zombies in the streets beneath would begin to shake the pillars, trying to force the player to fall into the horde below!
In the first city there was an idea to feature a weapons dealer, similar to Resident Evil 4’s Merchant, with the same design. Inside his shop the player could find bonus items or money, by shooting certain objects, such as a deer head at the back of the store. There was a ladder for the player to climb, gaining access to hidden guns in the room above.
The fort that Chris and Sheva received information on is the next beta scenario scrapped, and appears very similar to the events staged in the 'public assembly' scene, only on a much grander scale.
abandoned fort location was an early concept stage where Chris, Sheva
and their comrades (helicopter support) begin an assault on the fort,
and face a mass amount of swarming enemies. In the concept art there
appears to be large beast type creatures, using spears and rocks to
attack Chris and company. As well as the helicopter support there
appears to be at least seven members of Chris’s team who are on the
ground supporting him, and a Jeep filled with comrades firing weapons.
The enemies are referred to as 'Militia Ganados'. The weapons they use
appear to be very similar to that of the villagers in the retail
version. Weapons such as spears, bow and arrows, rocks and axe’s. The
area is protected by guards, and this is where a large horde of the
Somewhere near the fort location is an old floodgate/dam, dilapidated and covered with graffiti. Design instructions for this area were to not to show any religious iconography, as this would be covered in the further stages. Design notes stated that these old buildings were built by Westerners, but they were chased away by the indigenous villagers that had been hiding in the abandoned fort.
Probably the reason this whole stage was scrapped, was Shimoda san being instructed that sphere designs would surely prove to be too much a drain on technical resources. Throughout the ruins there would be signs of how the ancient underground villagers had made all these spheres but it largely remains a mystery now.
Continuing this beta storyboard, the player uses a large Gondola to navigate a free falling water current. A conversation takes place between Wesker and Excella; we can only presume that this is something Chris Redfield overhears via radio contact, similar to the elevator scene in the retail version, when Chris and Sheva discover Wesker is still alive. Chris then finds himself in an underground mining area with family housing, and make-shift scaffolding. He is subsequently attacked by a group of Ganado’s, who until his arrival were digging for treasure. Chris then receives communications from Sheva Alomar, requesting aid, and hurries into a quarry storage area, only to witness Sheva and the group being attacked by an El Gigante! Chris rescues the team and helps defeat the B.O.W.
Afterwards the group head into a collapsed tunnel, referred to as a 'resetting area'. Chris and Sheva have a conversation regarding the ruins. When heading into the next area Chris and Sheva are still conversing when they spot Wesker heading into the pyramid. Suddenly the pair are attacked by a large group of Ganado and, after winning this confrontation, the group head into an area with an imposingly large statue. Here Chris has to solve two connecting puzzles, to create the 'Origin of civilisation'. The next area allows Chris to take somewhat of a break with a bonus treasure game. After solving the 'Origin of civilisation' puzzle, the scenario triggers 'a flash from the ancient weapon, the aurora road appears, granting passage to the sun temple'. The diagram shows a rainbow path of light. Whether or not they are suggesting Chris and the team travel across a ray of light, is unknown perhaps it is just a euphemism.
Another can be found upstairs, in the location where Chris battles Wesker and Jill, in the retail version. Perhaps the Ancient B.O.W. did make it into the final game after all, only his role now reduced to these indigenous diagrams.
The Progenitor flower stage went through various design changes, ranging from an environment rich in dry vegetation, to an area filled with water pools, decorated with stone carvings; a location befitting for when the 'stairway to the sun', was conceived as an aquatic flower, similar in design to a water lily
Miscellaneous concept artwork for beta scenarios, including a night time excavation, so perhaps Umbrella or Tricell were excavating the area, a puzzle focused location which changes colour using a lighting system, flooded ruins, and more mysteriously decorated, archway themed ancient architecture.
Wesker was originally planned to fall to his demise into the lava; the rocket launcher sequence was later added purely as homage to the series game-play. Excella’s transformation was not part of this beta narrative, instead she would gradually mutate through transitional stages. Much like the retail game Chris is depicted viewing Jill via video feed, isolated in one of the holding capsules. The environment is different but the actual scene is very much the same.
Moments after their fall from the Spencer Estate, Wesker is shown to be holding an unconscious Jill Valentine. Wesker’s eye is bleeding and appears to be severely damaged. As we know this damage is due to Jill stabbing him in the eye with her knife.
A Tyrant was originally included at this beta stage, with Albert Wesker having the ability to control and order the B.O.W. to execute Excella Gionne. The Tyrant impales her through the chest, while Chris looks on; probably the set-up to a Chris/Tyrant boss battle. Moments after his first in-game fight with Wesker, Jill Valentine appears to save Chris, who has been beaten within an inch of his life. Sheva Alomar also appears on the scene.
Wesker is shown in human form, not mutated with Uroborus. The final boss battle for Resident Evil 5 at beta stage, was to be a raw battle between Chris and an Albert Wesker free of the circling Uroboros tentacles and appendages upgraded with chunks of metal, that he was afforded in the retail version. These bonuses were added to enhance Wesker for a fairer fight, since it was now 2 vs 1. The storyboard continues with Chris Redfield climbing into the plane, triumphant after finally defeating his nemesis.