Capcom has released the first in a series of developer interviews celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Resident Evil series. The first Resident Evil launched 20 years ago today, on March 22, 1996.
The first video features producer Hiroyuki Kobayashi. The videos that follow will feature commentary from some of the other team members who have played a vital role in developing the Resident Evil brand into what it has become today.
Capcom says it will have anniversary celebrations for Resident Evil continuing “over the next year” and that “the team is already hard at work to deliver some amazing new surprises.”
Get the Hiroyuki Kobayashi interview and transcript below.
I’m Hiroyuki Kobayashi, a producer at Capcom. I’ve been involved in the Resident Evil series since the first game 20 years ago.
Since becoming a producer I’ve worked on the GameCube Resident Evil remake, as well as Resident Evil 4 and Resident Evil 6.
For the movies I was involved from the second one, right up to the upcoming sixth installment, and I’m also a producer on the CG movies.
The Birth of Survival Horror
I had just joined Capcom when the original Resident Evil was in development, and I joined the team as a programmer. I worked alongside experienced staff on a team programming enemies. I was mostly doing small creatures: spiders, bees, crows and so on. The biggest thing I worked on was the human-fly hybrid, who appears in the research lab towards the end of the game. I did some other things too, but those were the most interesting.
At its largest the team was over 100 people. I joined the team about a year before the game came out, but some had been on the project from start to finish. Opinions often clashed as we were making something very unlike previous games, but even when at cross-purposes, the team worked hard and pulled together.
The Secret of Success
The first game had a really scary horror atmosphere, and I think the second one continued very much in the same vein.
The series has an entertainment side to it too, though. They’re like movies, so even if you’re not a big horror fan, there are other elements you can enjoy such as the story, and the various puzzles that appear in the game, and so on.
I think that variety allowed all kinds of people to enjoy the game over the past 20 years. I’m not very fond of horror myself. Besides, when you work on the game, you already know what’s going to happen. So I didn’t think it was that scary while working on it. But then we ran user tests and I saw people getting very shocked and scared. That really made me realise how scary it truly was. But at the time, I felt there was a big difference between how the creators saw the horror in the game and how players themselves experienced it.
New Consoles, New Challenges
With any game series you need new ideas as new consoles arrive. Resident Evil games have always had beautiful graphics. Working out how to make the games look great on new hardware was always a big challenge. The programmers and the artists had to work together to find a way to overcome that challenge. The first game in particular was very much a process of trial and error. Our methods improved as we grew accustomed to the hardware. But we tend to dream really big when we get a new console to work with.
We go in thinking anything is possible, but of course the reality is very different. Our job is then to work out what we can realistically achieve
All titles are hard work, but I find with Resident Evil, the graphics are especially challenging on every project.
The Essence of Resident Evil
There’s no secret manual at Capcom that tells you how to make a Resident Evil game. We’ve been making them for 20 years and passing knowledge down from project to project. Of course, horror is a very important part of it. But while we understand horror, that’s not all there is to it. Each title has its own additional aspects to it. So we have to respect the horror part while recognizing we need more
I have my own take on how to bring the entertainment part to the table. You could say titles I’ve produced have tended towards the entertainment side of the scale. I like to make games that even non-gamers can enjoy. I also want the movies to be enjoyable just as movies, even if you’ve never played a Resident Evil game. I’m always conscious of my goal of bringing Resident Evil to a wide audience
Resident Evil 4‘s Gameplay Revolution
The original Resident Evil was really an amazing game to work on. I feel privileged to be one of the hundred-odd people who can say that. As the series progressed we kept that spark going, and by the time of the fourth game, the series was very popular. But Resident Evil 4 was a completely different game. It brought accurate shooting gameplay to the Resident Evil universe and started a new style that would continue with 5 and 6
That was definitely a big change for Resident Evil. I mean, 4 didn’t even have zombies in it! It featured new enemies called Ganados, which paved the way for a new kind of experience.
A Message to Resident Evil Fans
Resident Evil came out on March 22nd, 1996. I never thought I’d still be working on the series 20 years later. We owe the global success of the series to you, our incredible fans. Each title in the series has its own tone, and while people may like one over another, the creative teams are just as passionate no matter which title. So if you’re a Resident Evil fan but there are titles in the series you’ve not played. I would love it if you’d take the time to check them out. Hopefully the 20th anniversary will give you a chance to think about the whole series. Thank you and I look forward to your continued support of Resident Evil!