Hey. My name is Takahito Washisaka, I was in charge of background graphics in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. I’m feeling nervous from excitement thinking about how close Rising is to its release now. Before long you’ll all be able to check it out! I’m thinking about sneaking into a local retailer when the game hits stores, but something tells me I’d run into the rest of the development team there.
One word that caused me a lot of trouble while working on the background stages of MGR was “balance.” Balance between what and what, you say?
Cutting mechanics have undoubtedly been a key focal point of Rising’s development, but among Raiden’s abilities there also exists something called the “ninja run.” The ninja run basically allows Raiden to move at an increased speed while automatically overcoming any obstacles in his path. Something like this ends up having a tremendous influence on our work in background design; add to this the necessity for this game to run at 60 fps and suddenly the ninja run takes a considerable amount of attention.
Cutting mechanics, ninja run, 60fps… balancing these different elements and deciding how to go about creating MGR’s graphics and stages resulted in a fair deal of stress for the background team (and especially me).
To put things simply, the ability players have in Rising to cut even background objects apart sometimes made adjusting the stage so the player didn’t make dead ends for themselves a monumental task. If we toned down the cutting concept, however, the result would be an overall less satisfying action game with less challenging stages. As the ninja run is designed to automatically scale obstacles, the right programming will solve some problems, but using simple shapes in stage design also improves players ability to get through stages smoothly. Only, the more we dumb down stage design, the duller Rising’s look, not to mention a critical decrease in the realism of the game.
Hypothetically, even if we were able to make stages full of complicated structures that could all be shred to pieces and smoothly sped through, the CPU would never be able to process the images fast enough to keep the game at 60 fps. We would have to continually cut the quality of graphics until we could release the necessary CPU strain… but that doesn’t sound like an ideal option either.
That’s why the word “balance” became so important.
What balance is necessary to maintain the right amount of enjoyment and challenge within the game…? Carefully considering both the game’s system and the world it takes place in, what should be the right level of graphic quality…?
The margin for error here is razor thin. Each aspect is extremely important. Through the cooperation between our team’s background artists and programmers, however, I think we were able to find this balance in Rising. You might have been able to see this for yourself in the promotional videos we’ve released until now, or the game’s demo. Nevertheless, I suggest seeing the whole package after the game’s commercial release.
I don’t want to write too much, so I’ll post some videos for you to take a peek at.
Augment mode not only tells you where the enemy is located with easy to understand visuals, it also highlights objects that Raiden is able to cut with a fuzzy blue tint. (If you could cut everything on screen, things would just be a complete mess of blue… another reason why balance is so important).
You’re free to play without AR mode and figure out what you can and can’t cut among background objects by yourself, though personally I recommend diligent use of it when entering a new area. This way you can confirm where the enemies are and what you can cut through, helping you to adjust your strategy to either sneak through the stage or rush in full force.
There are also a few stages we’ve prepared that will be difficult to get through without AR mode’s assistance. When you’re stuck, don’t forget it.
(This entry was posted on the Japanese PlatinumGames blog site on February 19th.)