Back in early 2009 at their Captivate event, Capcom boasted about the ability to present gigantic, 7,000 zombie crowds on-screen in Dead Rising 2, thanks to Blue Castle Games’ spiffy new engine. As development has progressed, however, we’ve slowly been seeing fewer and fewer undead in demos than we did at first — though the shambling masses in the sequel vastly outnumber what the original featured at any given time. That’s always a good thing.
Speaking with Gamasutra this week, Capcom producer Shin Ohara says that the tech still allows for absurd amounts of characters on-screen, but Blue Castle has dialed it back since it eventually gets to a point of diminishing returns.
“We want people to use a lot of weapons, and they need to be able to move around to use [them] against zombies,” Ohara explains. “Traversing the space shouldn’t be a pain, but it needs to be a challenge as well. We didn’t want to fill a room out of zombies where you had to wiggle your way out. Rather, you can jump over them, kick them, or go around them. There are many ways that you can deal with the zombies.”
“Last year at Captivate we did a demo. We had a strip — It was probably like 10 meters wide and 200 meters long. We filled it with about 7,000 zombies. After about 3,000, you can’t really tell the difference because it fills up the screen anyway. Over 3,000, it ruins the experience. It’s not a game anymore.”
“We can show about 7,000 zombies if we wanted to, our technology is not limiting us. If the game only shows about 500 zombies or 1,000 zombies, that’s not the game’s limit. We have just enough so that people have fun with the zombies and the gameplay is rewarding.“
Ohara goes on to add that besides their Western influence, Blue Castle, a Canadian developer, had the tech required to showcase their vision of the undead for a Dead Rising sequel, and that everything “just really clicked. It was easy to work with and talk to them.“
Judging by what we’re seeing, Dead Rising 2 seems like it will improve on its predecessor in almost every way. Whether it will end up suffering the fate of other externally developed Capcom franchises like Bionic Commando, or even underwhelming sequels like Lost Planet 2, remains uncertain.