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Inside The Mind Of Resident Evil Revelations 2's Scribe

by Tim Turi on Oct 15, 2014 at 09:00 AM

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The Resident Evil storyline is a long, twisting road filled with double-crosses, multiple unique virus strains, and a big cast of characters. As part of our month of exclusive online Resident Evil Revelations 2 coverage (check out our cover story reveal here), we spoke with Capcom writer Hiroshi Yamashita about his writing process, what it's like to pick up Claire's storyline, and more.

What were you doing with your career before landing at Capcom?
I studied writing in school, and while still a student, I entered Capcom. I've been at Capcom ever since!

What previous Capcom projects have you worked on?
I've worked on Mega Man Battle Network and Mega Man Star Force as well as Shadow of Rome, Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams, Lost Planet and Resident Evil 6. I was also involved in Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth and Dead Rising to an extent. In all cases, I was in charge of the scenario and in-game text writing.

How does your previous work influence your work on Revelations 2?
I think having been involved in the development of Resident Evil 6 had the strongest impact on my writing. I am a Resident Evil fan myself, so I felt quite a lot of pressure while working on RE 6. But, thanks in part to the help I got from my co-workers, I was able to overcome that, which ultimately gave me more confidence. For Revelations 2, I think we were able to preserve what made Revelations 1 stand out, while fully utilizing the experience I've built up on past titles.

What is your thought process behind writing episodes of Revelations 2? Is the entire story laid out beforehand, or does it evolve as you write individual episodes?
Both, actually. Initially, we all got together – the director, the main development staff and the external writer Dai Sato, who we also worked with on Revelations 1 – and we built out the overall framework for the story. From there, we began to flesh out the individual episodes. Once each episode begins to come online, we then course correct and re-write as necessary – more times than you can count!

What are some of the challenges of writing a new chapter in a series with such a long-running storyline?
There's no doubt that we need to pay respect to the long, storied history that has built the foundation of the franchise. That being said, the real task at hand is to take the story in new and exciting directions so that it feels fresh and entertaining, even for long time fans of the series. In addition to the task of crafting a fresh experience that leverages the unique strengths of the RE franchise, we must strive to raise the quality bar and exceed the game's predecessor in all areas. Creating something new and high quality is an extremely demanding task, but it's the kind of challenge that really gives meaning to my work.

What is your perspective on the reputation of the writing in previous Resident Evil games?
I hear both fans that say they want a return to classic horror – a back-to-roots, if you will – as well as those who demand us to spin a spectacular story along with the growth and development of the characters. For Revelations 2, our goal is to make sure that both types of fans are getting what they want.

What was it like to write for Claire, a character who has been absent from the series for some time?
Although her comeback to the games is a long time coming, there was a CG movie – Resident Evil: Degeneration – that showed us Claire after the Raccoon City incident. Revelations 2 takes place even further down the line, between Resident Evil 5 and 6. So, we paid close attention to making sure that we portrayed Claire as a character who has grown even more as a person. Having new-comer Moira, daughter of Barry, who is at this point spectacularly young and green, as a foil also helped with Claire's character growth. Claire naturally takes charge and her lines practically wrote themselves.

How much of Barry Burton's personality is being written into Moira?
That's something we can't wait to have you play and find out! I think there will be plenty of situations where players will be saying,"Yep, that's Barry's girl all right."

Does Capcom have a writing room where developers pitch ideas for the story?
We have different approaches for each title. For Revelations 2, for example, we brought in the director, level designers, and game designers and aimed to write a story that goes hand in hand with the gameplay. We then had more meetings, spent more time than you could count to provide feedback to each other and build a strong and cohesive experience.

Do you consider your writing to be influenced more by movies, TV, books, or games?
I'm influenced by all media. You never know where you'll be able to take your next hint of inspiration from. If you don't set aside your preferences and continually extend that creative antenna all the way, I think it's difficult to grow as a scenario writer. That being said, I am in the game industry, so I think I tend to focus a bit more on what other game writers are doing than other forms of media.

What TV shows inspire you as the writer of an episodic game series, and why?
We'll be here all night if I list them all off – but, no doubt, overwhelmingly more American TV shows than Japanese. While Japanese products have their own unique essence that makes them good, Revelations 2 is mostly inspired by American TV dramas.

What are the challenges of writing a game that aims to have a global appeal?
I think the key for a Japanese company is  to produce a game scenario that appeals to people on a global basis lies in not just copying what's done in the West, but by actively searching out and taking what's good from Western titles and at the same time re-evaluating what it is that makes Japanese creations unique. Combining these two elements is the key.

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