During last night’s Xbox One Media Event, we got some hands on playtime with Capcom‘s upcoming Xbox One exclusive Dead Rising 3. After mowing down zombies with a motorcycle/steamroller combo vehicle with flamethrowers on the sides (just in case there are people out there who thought Dead Rising was getting too serious) we got the chance to sit down with the game’s producer Mike Jones of Capcom Vancouver. We had a tonne of questions about the past, present and future of the series, and Mike was more than happy to oblige.
NOTE: The interview contains a few minor spoilers for the game, and also some adult language.
Hi there ladies and gentlemen, this is Andrew Day, Vicky Martin and Zac Elawar here for Capsule Computers and we are talking to Mr. Mike Jones, the producer of the upcoming Xbox One exclusive Dead Rising 3. So without further adieu, lets jump straight in.
V. So first question; what inspired Dead Rising to begin with?
Like the first, first? So I can’t take credit for that. That was all Keiji Inafune and the guys back there. I mean, we’re standing on the shoulders of giants right now.
V. So then what inspired YOU to do Dead Rising 3?
Well so Dead Rising 3 is obviously the third installment in a series. It’s an evolution of a franchise and for us its been this sort of story of growing, evolution and anteing up. So, the first game you’re in a mall, second game; casino resort, third game and now we’re in a fully open world streaming city. So we wanted to just make it the biggest, baddest, most ambitious game we could. More zombies than ever before, more weapons than ever before, it is a bigger and badder Dead Rising than we’ve ever made. So what inspired us was to outdo ourselves, right? So what we wanted to do is solve all these problems that we couldn’t solve on the current generation consoles.
Working on Xbox One allowed us to still have the number of zombies, number of weapons, number of physics objects, number of Ai that is being calculated on screen, cross co-op, all on screen, all streaming, no loads, and that was the technical challenge we set out to solve when we were making Dead Rising 3, technically. From a gameplay standpoint, we wanted to bring player choice, player freedom and all the fun of the game to the surface. So we wanted to let you play how you wanted to play; take it seriously if you want to take it serious, be goofy if you want to be goofy, take the combo weapon system and make it more accessible, make a combo vehicle system and just let people have FUN killing zombies. So those were kind of our guiding lights early on; player choice, bigger-better, no loads, full streaming open world.
V. Plus nightmare mode?
And nightmare mode! Yeah! So well the other thing ; I get asked a lot about this and I’ve seen myself quoted online. We’re totally divided in the Vancouver office right. Like half of the dev team is like “fuck the timer, fuck all that shit, it is annoying. I hate that. It’s not fun! Like, I just want to have fun and kill zombies and make combo weapons and do whatever!” While the rest of the people are like “No! That’s what made the game fresh, made it unique and made it awesome when it first came out. Made it Dead Rising.” And in the end we were just like, “you know what, fine. We’re never going to make you two agree. So we’re just going to make two different modes of the game.”
We’re going to make regular story mode so you can play at your own speed, no time pressure, auto saves, all that shit, explore the world – the world’s huge now, there’s tonnes of stuff to explore, tonnes of collectibles to find, blueprints, challenges, side-missions, psychos, all that kinda hidden stuff. BUT if you’re a super crazy, masochist Dead Rising fan and you like that hardcore nonsense; we got a timer, only manual saves, you gotta start over, it’s gonna be painful; Nightmare Mode, right. And we have that if you want to play that way, it’s again player choice, it’s totally up to you.
But we have one player profile save, so if you want to play regular mode and level your dude up, then go to nightmare mode and play like a New Game+, you can do that. Or, if you get stuck in Nightmare Mode you can go over to Regular Mode, level your guy up, and then go back type of thing.
Z. So your character improvements carry over between game modes?
Absolutely. I mean that’s how DR1 works right? You died, you fuck and then you restart, and you do it again. So we have totally kept that.
Z. You mentioned the auto-save stuff, and I was going to ask about that but you’ve pretty much answered it. One of the things that frustrated me the most in Dead Rising 1 was the saves.
So you’re on the other side of the fence, you just wanna like “Look, I just wanna go in and kill zombies and have fun, and fuck around with my buddy, and not be on a schedule!”
Z. I just don’t want to HAVE to find this place just to save the game because then if I die, I’m screwed just because I forgot to save the game.
Exactly, yeah. Well that’s what we found, we have a huge audience, we’ve got a lot of fans. Some of them love the convenience of modern gaming, some of them love the hardcore, masochistic rules of previous Dead Risings and there’s no way to resolve both of these expectations, so we just have to make two modes.
V. Are there still different levels of difficulty in regular mode?
No, so the way it works is we have a difficulty curve as you go through the game, and the state of the world will change, number of zombies, zombie mutations, we have human enemies that show up. So there’s going to be a whole difficulty curve as you go through the game, but regular story mode is tuned one way, Nightmare Mode tuned one way and it has its own difficulty curve, and is actually probably the most difficult Dead Rising you’ve ever played. But there isn’t like “Easy – Medium – Hard – Hardcore,” levels of difficulty. It’s more like you play regular mode and it’s tuned a certain way.
A. I know that in previous Dead Rising games, as you play through the story you need to reach a certain point before you can unlock the whole map. Is that still the case here?
No, so in DR3 we kind of a prologue, or an ‘intro sequence,’ that we’ve created that’s sort of linear and teaches you about the gameplay systems and combo weapons and stuff like that. Just how the world and the game systems work, but once you’ve finished that opening sequence; you have access to the entire world. NOW, as you go through the world and you complete story missions, the state of the world changes; the number of zombies, the mutations of zombies, the human enemies, what’s going on in the world is going to change as you go through the game. But no you have access to everywhere. So if you wanted to spend the first 5 or 10 hours of your gameplay experience collecting all the blueprints, and finding all the collectibles and leveling your guy up, you can totally do that. If you just want to bee-line through all the story missions, you can do that too.
Z. Something I was interested in was, when you mentioned the Psychos. In past games, Psychos were those ‘boss’ characters. Like the crazy clown (Adam) and all that. Are you following that same sort of system where they are the boss battles?
Well ahh, yes and no. So yeah there are. So our paper-thin social commentary has always been that humanity is the real evil right, not the zombies BUT to answer your question, there’s actually a whole set of story bosses that are a little bit more serious and straight forward, and all the Psychos are either side missions or they are hidden and you need to find them, and they are WAY crazier. So, we have a whole set of story bosses, and we have a whole set of Psycho boss battles.
We actually put a lot more effort into our boss battles this time around. They actually have staging, they have patterns, they have environmental effects. It is actually a proper boss battle; it’s not just that you whack a dude 100 times with a crowbar until he dies. So we think people will get a lot more out of our boss battles this time around, and the Psycho battles as well, but we do have story bosses as well as Psycho battles and they are totally separate. The Psychos are our chance to go a little bit loonier, and a little bit crazier, where as the story bosses we wanted to keep more straightforward, down the middle, classic horror style.
A. I know some of our fans out there wont really know, so I was wondering if you could shed some light on the ‘7 Deadly Sins’ theme on some of the Psychos?
Yeah so ahhh I’m trying to remember what we’ve talked about, because we’ve tried to keep some of this secret, but yeah there are Psychos based on the 7 Deadly Sins. We have talked about Greed, who is an ex-surgeon, and he harvests people’s organs because he’s trying to sell them on the black market and make a bunch of money. He’s crazy and he’s one of the darker ones.
Sloth was really difficult to design, I’m not gonna lie. I think we’ve released some information about him recently, he’s kind of like this lazy dude who sits in his house and he’s got all this home automation shit. So he’s got like remote controls, and he sends drones after you and locks you into his house and tries to kill you. Who else have we talked about… I don’t think anybody else, It’s all kind of secret right now. We want there to be some surprises up our sleeve when people actually play the game you know.
A. So part of Dead Rising’s charm has always been its humor, and its little jabs at other video games and especially other Capcom stuff itself. Can we expect more of that for Dead Rising 3?
Oh yeah we’ve got tonnes of Capcom easter egg stuff in the game. We’ve got costumes, we’ve got weapons; I think we showed off our Dragon Punch [item] that lets you Shoryuken, a combo weapon from Street Fighter. We also have an electrified Blanka mask where you can zap zombies. We have a whole bunch of surprises up our sleeve we haven’t announced, like Servbot from Megaman. We have a bunch of Capcom easter eggs, cause we’re Capcom Vancouver, so of course we’re gonna sneak that stuff in.
Z. There’s something actually I was wondering, in terms of the technical aspects of the game is the frame rate with the new hardware. How have you found that, because there are an insane amount of zombies on the screen.
Oh yeah. We’ve got more zombies on screen, more weapons on screen, physics objects, AI that we’re calculating, huge world, fully streaming, we’re syncing up over a network for co-op. Yeah and we actually got dinged, everybody online was freaking out around Gamescom, they were like ‘oh the frame rate looks shitty,’ and it’s like ‘dude, we’re still working on the game. We’re still optimizing it. It’s not finished.’ That’s the last thing you do, once it’s complete and you have all the world built, all the missions built and everything in there, THEN you start optimizing. Then you start getting the frame rate up there, getting the performance up there.
People have noticed, I’ve seen articles hit the web just last week when we were at Tokyo Game Show, from our Gamescom build to our Tokyo Game Show build. It is similar content, and a similar area of the world so people who saw it at Gamescom and saw it at Tokyo Game Show were like “oh shit they weren’t lying, they actually did optimize everything, and the framerate is totally solid now,”and we’re like;
“See? We’re not done, we’re still working on it! Give us a break, there’s two more months till we come out! We’re human beings too! We have feelings too!”
Z. Because when Vicky and Andrew were playing it, I was looking over and I noticed that with the Roller Horn (A Steam Roller crossed with a Motorcycle) just rolling over zombies, and with the flamethrowers that there was no stutter, no frame rate drop, no nothing.
Sure, and I’ll be the first to admit; with Gamescom we had some frame hitches and problems. Since then we updated some shit, we optimized some things.
Z. The only time I think I saw any stutter was with the traffic cone sound blaster, and it was only for half a second and then it was gone. So you guys have it nailed.
Well there’s a LOT of physics going on there! Listen to me when I tell you that we’re still working on it. That build is weeks old, and we have guys in Vancouver RIGHT NOW who are staying up until 3am to solve that problem. We are also working on new hardware, with a new SDK, as a day one launch title; a lot of people don’t understand the balance in this. We re-wrote our entire engine for Xbox One, and then we were getting new development shit, and new information about the hardware, and we were working with Microsoft trying to optimize everything and it is insane what our development team has been able to do. We’ve just been thrilled working with Microsoft and how our team has risen to the challenge to make the biggest, most ambitious Dead Rising yet.
V. What do you think the response will be when you do release the game?
People are going to be like ‘fucking awfu-‘ no. I think that Dead Rising fans are going to get a whole lot out of the story, a whole lot out of the characters and a whole lot out of the background we’ve got there, as well as the gameplay system. All the stuff they’re used to is gonna be there in spades. It’s gonna be more convenient; you can combo anything, anywhere. We’ve got more weapons, more zombies, more missions, a larger world than we’ve ever had before.
If you are an open world action gamer we’ve got that. If you just wanna get in and play with your buddy online, we’ve got that too. Tonnes of zombies, you can goof it up if you want, you can take it seriously if you want, but for Dead Rising fans, I think the boss battles, the Psychos, the player customisation. Whether you are a Dead Rising fan or an open world action gamer, the player freedom is what we’ve really tried to invest. The leveling, visual customisation, weapons, whether you want to engage in the missions or not, we just wanted to give you like a huge toy box and let you do what you want to do.
What we really really hope is that once the game comes out, that people just start to discover all this crazy, anomylous, like sandboxy stuff that we never planned. I’m really looking forward to seeing people’s speed run videos, and their crazy co-op videos. Things like “this weapon and this weapon is just crazy,” or “you can do this thing on this mission,” and we just can’t wait to see all the sandboxing and improvisational, crazy stuff that people do when we let it out there into the wild.
Z. One more thing we should mention is the Smart Glass integration. So what can we do with the Smart Glass App.
Well we basically turned your phone… into a phone. It actually adds side-missions to the game, you get random mission calls, it has its own story that folds into the mainline story. You complete the missions and you actually unlock support applications; item finders, weapon finders, survivor backup, military grade support like air-strikes, sniper fire, military grade flares etc.
At E3 at our announcement, people were like “Why can this mechanic guy just call in an air strike?” But there is a whole story reason for that; you gotta find the PDA, you gotta hook up your smart glass, you gotta complete the missions, you’ve gotta hack into the military network and THEN you can call in airstrikes. But we’re hardcore gamers, we just wanted to add something that was going to be convenient and add to the experience, it wasn’t just going to be gimmicky, and a lot of people who have sat down with our Smart Glass think its really, really cool, we had a lot of fun developing it and it actually becomes this cool couch co-op thing.
You can be playing and hand it to your buddy and be like “Dude, where am I supposed to go? Dude, find me a gun! Dude, call in an air strike!” So its been a lot of fun to work on the smart glass stuff, and we hope people enjoy it.
A. With Dead Rising 2, instead of a demo we got Case Zero and then afterwards we got the Case West epilogue. Any chance of something like that coming out for Dead Rising 3?
Well obviously we can’t do a Case 0 because we’re a launch title on Xbox One so we can’t make it any earlier than day one. But yeah, we definitely have some DLC in the works, we’re still trying to figure out how we want to expand the game, and we wanna do some cool stuff that we think fans are gonna enjoy, and hopefully once we’ve got it figured out we will let you guys know more details.
A. And last quick question before we let you get back to the party. For those who are kind of on the fence between Xbox One and PS4, is Dead Rising 3 worth the investment in an Xbox One?
Absolutely! This game could not exist on 360, this is an Xbox One exclusive for a reason. We’ve got a long partnership with Microsoft; Dead Rising 1 was exclusive, Case Zero and Case West which you just mentioned were also exclusive. We’ve been super thrilled to partner with Microsoft with trying to bring our dream game to life on Xbox One, and if you like Dead Rising, if you like zombies, if you like open-world action games, if you like freedom, if you like goofing around, if you like FUN, you’ve gotta play Dead Rising 3! And its only on Xbox One. I dunno what else to tell ya.
A. Alright, thank you very much!
“If you like FUN, You’ve gotta play Dead Rising 3!” Well after that sentiment, I sure am convinced. Thanks a heap to Mike Jones for spending some time with us, and shedding some light on some Dead Rising 3 stuff that we didn’t know about, and for having a good time while doing so.
Dead Rising 3 will be available as a launch title for the Xbox One when it launches on November 22nd, so remember that for all the Dead Rising news as it becomes available, stay tuned to Capsule Computers.