Issue 12 (24th of January, 2006)
Rule of Rose – Part 2
(Punchline) Shuji Ishikawa – Director, CG Director
Punchline is a company put together by former Love-de-Lic staff members who wished to develop games which express their own thoughts and ideas about the world.
(Shirogumi Inc.) Makoto Hanafusa – Art Director
Shirogumi Inc. produces high quality visual work, such as CG and animation, for various media projects across the globe.
A beautiful surface concealing a terrifying reality underneath: this was the style of horror envisioned for Rule of Rose. Continuing from where we left off previously, we asked Director and CG Director Shuji Ishikawa and Art Director Makoto Hanafusa more questions about the game’s development.
-The movement of the characters in Rule of Rose is quite detailed isn’t it? When the characters are all doing curtsies for example, the delicate way their hands and feet move convey their personalities and nature perfectly. How did you go about implementing this?
Ishikawa: We used motion capture. Children have a unique way of moving, they tend to put too much energy into many actions. Since it would have been hard for adults to replicate this kind of motion, we had child-actors perform the roles. When put into practice, I think it accurately reflected the distinctive movement of real children.
Hanafusa: We wanted the character movements to be quite exaggerated in general. Because of this we had the motion actors emphasize their movements and actions as though they were in a theatre production, something which children were able to pull off much more successfully than adults.
-You have a dog appear in the game as well, did you animate its movement by hand?
Ishikawa: We did motion capture for the dog too! We tried to put it in a regular motion capture suit at first, but ended up having to make a brand new suit that was better fitted for dogs (laughs).
Hanafusa: It made it hard not to laugh while filming serious moments. During scenes where Brown sniffed for scents, we would line up treats to get the dog to move to the right places (laughs).
Ishikawa: It worked for getting the dog to walk and run….but we couldn’t get the dog to step backwards like that. Since we couldn’t work out any other way, we just attached a lead to the dog and pulled it back ourselves (laughs).
Hanafusa: When we wrapped up filming with the dog and all got near it, it became over-excited and peed all over the floor. The next day while we were working the whole studio smelled awful (laughs).
-What else did you do in order to express the world from the children’s point of view?
Ishikawa: We drew several child-like crayon pictures for the game
Hanafusa: One area has several boxes covered in children’s drawings, and it was easier to draw the pictures in real life than to create the textures in-engine. I could then take a picture of the drawings and scan them onto CG models.
Ishikawa: There was also art being drawn on the Shirogumi rooftop.
Hanafusa: Yes, for scenes with pictures drawn on concrete walls, it was thought that sketching the pictures up on our building’s roof would be useful for conceptualising the art. I thought they were joking at first, but one of the designers actually went ahead and started painting pictures on the rooftop. Of course, we had to get rid of them pretty quickly (laughs).
-What are your favourite parts of the game?
Ishikawa: Everything that shows Amanda’s eccentric behaviour, definitely.
Hanafusa: Yes, I would say Amanda’s scenes as well.
Ishikawa: Amanda is the first character you learn more about in the story. She is a representation of emotional instability. She goes from being very calm and gentle before suddenly bursting into tears. She’s the kind of person who might make you think ‘hey, I had a classmate like that once’.
Hanafusa: Whenever Amanda shows up, I can’t help but be amused. Despite being a horror game, it’s good to involve some humorous elements.
Ishikawa: As well as that, there was the scene with the Aristocrats together on the altar. The main theme (Bullying) plays here, and it flows really well with the scene. I feel we were able to convey a slightly more pleasant atmosphere here.
Hanafusa: The main theme is inspired by the song ‘Gloomy Sunday’. It was a rather unpleasant song, so I had all of the staff listen to it (laughs) to see if they thought it would fit the tone of the game. It’s a very dramatic song.
-Now, we would appreciate it if you could answer some questions for people thinking of applying to the ‘Let’s Make a Game! 2006’ competition. First off, what is the appeal of working in the games industry for you?
Ishikawa: I like both movies and games, but I think games are trickier to make overall. This is due to the interactivity of games, and the need to anticipate the actions of the player. It is challenging, but definitely worth it.
Hanafusa: CG allows you to create unreal things as though they were real, like aliens and monsters. It’s a lot of fun. With games, you are able to experience these unreal things for yourself, be it exploring a sci-fi world or something else entirely. It’s what I love most about them.
Ishikawa: People who make videogames tend to also enjoy playing them as a pastime. As a result, our work comes from a genuine love for the medium. Being able to relate to, and enjoy, the games I create is one of the main appeals of working in the games industry for me.
-Game technology is improving all the time, how do you keep up with the advances being made?
Ishikawa: I think people in this business often like to try out new things. We all have different approaches to game design, so it is important to work with the technology that suits you.
Hanafusa: CG tech is improving all the time, and now you can find a lot of useful information online. When we first began CG work, things were a lot less convenient. Using the internet to improve your awareness of technology is very important, as it will save you from a lot of complications when working. Properly understanding the technology you are using is vital.
-Finally, is there any advice you would give to ‘Let’s Make a Game! 2006’ participants?
Ishikawa: Something to keep in mind is the importance of being able to get your ideas across to people clearly. If you propose an interesting idea to your team in a way that cannot be mistaken, it will be easier to have that idea conveyed well to the player when implemented in the finished product . Try to make sure you are good at articulating your ideas to others in general.
Hanafusa: If you limit yourself to learning just one aspect of game design, you’ll end up with a very narrow skillset. You should try to gain a wide range of abilities. With that said, excelling at certain things can help a lot too. It’s best to aim for a balance of both.
-Many thanks to both of you for your time!
We’re getting close to the deadline for the ‘Let’s Make a Game! 2006’ competition! You’re probably in the final stages of your entries, but please don’t overwork yourselves! Next time, we will be talking about the development of another special game.