Staying True to Metal Gear

METAL GEAR RISING

Filed: Community, Games, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, PlatinumGames

Hey. I’m Kenichirou Yoshimura, a former designer at PlatinumGames who recently turned freelance. I designed enemies and side characters in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance.

Three days before I was about to leave Platinum to go freelance, without much left to do, I strolled over to the nearby Rising team to see if they needed any help. “I could design something small, if you wanted,” I said. Then I saw their designs – the art style could not have been further from the Metal Gear universe. Immediately, I slammed my fist on the director’s table. “You cannot put this in a Metal Gear game!” I told him. Before I knew it, my last three days at Platinum turned into over half a year.

I’ve played through the entire Metal Gear series and I share the same impressions as so many other fans – Shinkawa-san does unbelievable character and mech design. I collect all the art books like everyone else, (not to mention that I love Z.O.E., too.) so if you had told me I was going to be working on a Metal Gear game someday, I never would have believed you. Joining the team, I was as excited as I was terrified.

The first character I designed was Raiden’s rival, Sam. The director asked for “something samurai-like”, so I roughed out a few ideas.

A rough design for Sam.

A rough design for Sam

A rough design for Sam.

A rough design for Sam.

Another rough design for Sam.

Another rough design for Sam.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He looks pretty naked in the first sketch here. In the second version of the sketches we’ve got him battle-ready…

The near-final rough design.

The near-final rough design.

After thinking over some different styles, we finally settled on going in the direction of that second pass. The key points to look at here are:
-Asymmetrical design. His right arm has been enhanced for faster blade drawing.
-The top of the sheath is structured like a gun from the inside out, again for enhancing blade drawing speed.

I argued with the director for a long time whether to have his base color be black with a white right arm, or be white with a black arm. I wanted the black body/white arm personally, but we opted to go with a white body/black arm to contrast with Raiden’s black color scheme, which I think was the right decision in the end.

Usually we’d be close to the final design at this stage, but to have things be true to Metal Gear, we needed to add that extra layer of detail. Once I got into it, all I can say is the detail is insane! (Every single part has it’s own specialized warnings and labels!) But even going through that process, I can’t say I was an expert on what it meant to be truly “Metal Gear.” I had to keep trying and failing, but by keeping all those Shinkawa-san artbooks close at hand, I was able to accomplish what I set out to do.

Sam's final design.

Sam’s final design.

Sam's final design - waist up.

Sam’s final design – waist up.

Sam's final weapon design.

Sam’s final weapon design.

Sam final design detail.

Sam final design detail.

Sam's weapon "saya" final design.

Sam’s weapon “saya” final design.

The sheath was designed by Platinum’s military buff, Muneyuki “Johnny” Kotegawa.

With these designs, my first priority was making sure that when a fan of Metal Gear plays Rising, they would feel they fit right alongside Shinkawa-san’s. I wanted what I designed to be deserving of the Metal Gear name.

So while Konami gave me the green light on most of my work with their initial check, next in line was always a meeting with Shinkawa-san, where he would tell me his opinion of my work directly (which, of course, scared me to death).

“You’ve set my mind at ease,” he said. I was elated.

The Metal Gear staff work hard to stay true to the Metal Gear world; PlatinumGames works hard to ensure quality gameplay. The chance to work with these two different sides of the project has taught me a lot. I’m truly honored to have been a part of this one!

All that’s left now is hoping you guys pick up the game and have a great time.
Until then… Farewell!

A picture of Sam that Shinkawa-san drew for me in an artbook during our meeting!

A picture of Sam that Shinkawa-san drew for me in an artbook during our meeting!

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The Weapons of Bayonetta – Special Edition

Bayonetta

Filed: Bayonetta, Community, Games, PlatinumGames

Happy New Year, everyone!
I’m the head of the PlatinumGames Weapons Development Division (No. of Employees: 1), Muneyuki “Johnny” Kotegawa here.

I’ve seen on the web lately that some fans have been creating Scarborough Fair and All 4 One models. As a member (and leader) of the PlatinumGames Weapons Development Division, I am quite pleased to see these efforts.
I decided to lend my little bit of support by preparing multi-direction and exploded views of the guns in question. Print them out, line them up, and get a taste of how much fun it must be to be Rodin himself. The charms are also included, so I suppose you may want to make these as accessories as well.

So please accept these as a token of my gratitude, and enjoy your lives as witches!

These images are also available on the PlatinumGames Flickr page.

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The Weapons of Bayonetta – 2

Bayonetta

Filed: Bayonetta, Community, Games, PlatinumGames

Hello all, Bayonetta weapon designer (all of them) and CG modeler Muneyuki “Johnny” Kotegawa here.

It has been a long time since I last hit this blog, but I would like to share the story behind the star of the most recent trailer, Jeanne’s guns, as well as some of the other weapons that appear in the game.

These weapons, All 4 One, were designed with the concept that they would be given to Bayonetta’s rival, Jeanne. Of course, she wouldn’t be a good rival character unless her weapons weren’t greater than or equal to what the other one holds. However, keeping them two similar would be boring. I kept all that in mind while I designed.

Just as I mentioned previously, I start by thinking about real guns. Bayonetta’s guns are based on the simplest, semi-automatics possible since she uses them for melee attacks; however, her rival’s guns would have to be based off of the most complicated guns possible and then taken to their extreme limits of power!  With that in mind, I based Jeanne’s guns on a Parabellum Pistol, AKA a Luger. (I just like them and…)

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I gave the front end of the gun a quad shape, with that nice heavy sense of weight, while maintaining the delicate inch-worm style toggle and breach mechanism, and still making sure it had the heft for use as a melee weapon. Furthermore, even though a lot of guns say they are short recoil, when you actually fire them, they still kick back a little bit. This is something I preserved in my design, although it will not be something you really notice during the action of the game. (It’s a little thing that I was picky about.)
Just like Scarborough Fair, All 4 One has the same type of crystal in its center allowing it to magically summon bullets. The guns can also use their standard magazine/barrel mechanism to fire. Finally, I’ve added a high heel silhouette onto the knuckle guard.

While Bayonetta has her easy to identify long hair trailing from both arms to accentuate her action, Jeanne has short hair, so we added long feathers to her guns. Shimako wrote about this previously. I used the long ostrich feathers used during Carnival as reference and designed the accents. For me, the feathers are from angels that she has killed.

As for the coloring of the weapons, just as with Bayonetta, we needed to pick a color that would pop out from her limbs and be easy to recognize. Thus, we picked silver to contrast against her red clothing. However, normal silver would overlap with her head and the feathers attached to the guns, so I adjusted the colors to give the guns more of a stainless steel, blue tint.
To add a “clean” sense to the guns, I added ivory to the grips and gold accents to the inlays.
…Now that you mention it, I think I’ve seen guns like this before…

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This design was pretty much OK’d on the first, from-scratch design. Like I mentioned last time, once you have a design in place, things are much easier to lock down. In Shimako’s second post, Designing Bayonetta 2 – Jeanne, she mentions the same thing. (Although, I think we might have been in a pretty pitched battle, comparatively speaking…)

Out of curiosity, have you checked out the Custom Shot Bar “The Gates of Hell” that you can visit on our Bayonetta.jp website? Bayonetta’s guns, Scarborough Fair (which I talked about last blog), and Jeanne’s All 4 One were both made by The Gates of Hell’s very own Umibozu, Rodin. All 4 One is taken from D’Artagnan’s tale of the Three Musketeers, and their famed phrase, “Tous pour un, un pour tous.”(All for one and one for all.) Even though Jeanne and the gun’s name are of French origin, the guns are based off a German design. This must be Rodin’s personal preference coming through.
Finally, Rodin tends to inscribe sentences on his weapons along with his maker’s mark and brand mark. I think it would be fun if you tried finding them once you get the full game.

Ultimately, for Rodin, making guns for both sides of a rivalry is really about seeing how they hold u on the battlefield. You will have to see how it unfolds in the game to find out the answer!

As for the other weapons, I have the sneaking suspicion that Rodin will be explaining them further from now on, and many of them should be added to the Action section of the Japanese website. With that in mind, I’d like to introduce a few of the other weapons in the game.

Shuraba
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Put aside your idea of Shuraba being a homonym for the Japanese word meaning “site of a bloodbath,” and instead think of things this way – You definitely want a close combat weapon, and if Bayonetta is going to have a blade, it wouldn’t be a sword, it would be a katana. That why I designed this Japanese style sword for her. It isn’t even a normal katana. I tend to like things that are a bit underhanded, so while Shuraba may appear to be a normal katana, the tip of the blade actually has a notch in it. (It’s a little bit different than any katana you’d find in the real world…)
The enormous hand guard is actually the mark of the witches, while the grip has a special feature included in it that you only get to see during a combo.

Kulshedra
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Bayonetta’s weapons, including Kulshedra, all have something sealed inside of them. Naturally, the whip Kulshedra ended up having a snake sealed inside. As you can see, it appears to be a cobra-esque demon, but in reality, it can change into numerous types of serpents depending on the situation. Maybe Kulshedra isn’t the only one of its kind. You know, there are tons of different types of whips, and Bayonetta is a bit of a sassy, mean girl…

Lt. Col. Kilgore
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(Almost) Everyone loves tonfas. These were designed as rocket launchers that traded the ability to launch powerful attacks for a long period of vulnerability. You can, of course, equip these on your legs for a Tonfa Kick, or two.
We call this weapon a rocket or grenade launcher out of convenience; however, I did things like making it’s rear end an amalgamation of RPG-like recoilless artillery and a rocket launcher. Furthermore, if you are using this weapon, you can also attempt risky, long-range melee attacks. Finally, I wanted to make the front end stand out, so I added some rifling to the end of the barrel.

There are quite a few other weapons in Bayonetta; from the outrageous to the sublime, to some weapons that are borderline jokes. As Kamiya-san has previously written, we’ve made it so there are enough weapons that you won’t get bored with playing around even if it is your second, or even higher, run through the game. All you replayability hounds have something in store for you!

In my next blog, you can look forward to learning more about one of the highlights of Bayonetta – Torture Attacks!

Now to answer some questions from our global blog:

DancingRobot:
I think it is safe to say that the weapons in Bayonetta, especially Scarborough Fair and All 4 One for Bayonetta and Jeanne respectively, are part of their characters. (Especially Jeanne, whose silhouette would change drastically if she wasn’t holding her weapons.)
With these two weapons, I think it is better to show how they tie in with the character to make things look cool rather than just putting them out there by themselves. As for a model viewer… Look forward to the final game!

Black Chamber:
I took a look at the forum threads. The report you guys created from just looking at the trailer was incredibly detailed! I couldn’t believe you guys interpreted the trailer that much!
What you mentioned about the weapon naming and engravings is true. It does have that classic Hideki Kamiya sense, with JP and I coming up with the detailed ideas to flesh it out.
Scarborough Fair and Bayonetta’s past, Rodin in the Gates of Hell, or even that “famous poet,” are all places where Kamiya-san specifically chooses to leave his mark. Also, the way we placed the seal/engravings on Scarborough Fair and All 4 One are a little bit different.
Anyways, there are lots more of these little easter eggs in the game, so look forward to hunting them down!

MonkeyMagic:
Since I am such a gun nut, even when I get to work on a fictional gun, I start thinking about how it would actually work, and the design ends up becoming something a bit dull. Those are the times when I become envious of people who can put aside realism and design something purely for the fact that it looks cool.
You have to be picky about where you are picky, right. But even then, I will probably keep throwing in the little things you can’t see, like the short recoil on All 4 One.
Also, when you combine a gun and a sword, the idea of a gun blade is such an overpowering one, it is really hard to come up with some sort of original design! But I would love to take up the challenge and design that type of weapon in a way that doesn’t make you instantly think gun blade.

(NOTE: Higher resolution versions of the concept art in this post can be found on the PlatinumGames Inc. Flickr Page)

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Designing Bayonetta Part 2 – Jeanne

Bayonetta

Filed: Bayonetta, Community, Games, PlatinumGames

Hello again, everyone. Mari Shimazaki here, back to talk a little bit more about the character design on Bayonetta.

Thank you all so much for the comments on the blog!

Your comments are the source of much happiness here, so everyone on the staff makes sure to read them.

Well, E3 is now over, and I think everyone has finally seen videos of Bayonetta being played. I hope you are looking forward to the game even more now…

Since this is my second blog post on character design, I thought I would write about Bayonetta’s fateful rival, Jeanne.

jeanne_front

I think the only thing that could rival a woman is another woman, which is why we decided early on that Bayonetta’s rival would be female.

I thought about what we could do to make her the antithesis of Bayonetta… With Bayonetta, she carried strongly held, specific design cues such as witches being black with long hair. However, with Jeanne, I was able to freely deviate from those cues despite the fact she is a witch. Bayonetta is known for her long hair, so I felt that Jeanne needed to have some kind of defining trait as well. It became her large lapel. It kinda looks like Pon De Lion, don’t you think? LOL (Note: Pon De Lion is a popular character in Japan.)

Thematically, Bayonetta’s color is black, so to provide symmetry, Jeanne’s color is red. I added the slit-esque accents down the legs of her dress to allow users to easily see her action-game-style movements. The coloring on Jeanne was actually a result of me paying attention to another character’s design. It’s subtle… But maybe you can figure it out? You have to admit, the nice blend of red, black, and silver is cool, right?

jeanne_back

jeanne_back_embro

I also added some faint embroidery on her back.

From a game character design standpoint, having something that really stands out is what you would usually go with; however, we are intentionally avoiding that on this game. All of the characters in Bayonetta share a theme of being “fashionable,” so we try to keep the ornamentation subdued.

Moreover, Jeanne needed to have something moving, or she wouldn’t be very interesting in-game. Thus, I added a long, plume-like accessory on to her guns. Once that was done, Kotegawa-san took over and designed incredibly cool weapons for me.

jeanne_face

I wanted to make Jeanne feel like something out of the 1960s, so she wears rather thick makeup. Her blood red lips and lower eyelashes are the key points to this design. She actually wore her glasses at first; however, I felt it was a bit strange, so I decided to put them on her head instead. While Bayonetta is straight-forward and strong, I designed Jeanne to be a bit of a change-up if you will, with a sense that she is haughty and putting on airs.

To be honest, Jeanne’s design didn’t require a huge amount of effort, so there aren’t any particular incidents that happened during her design to revisit here…

Nevertheless, there you have it, our two witches. Checking around with the team, it seems that Jeanne is overwhelmingly the more popular of the pair. Kamiya-san is also extraordinarily attached to Jeanne. (He even told me exactly what her bust, waist, and hip measurements were.) But to be honest, I personally prefer Bayonetta…

Which one do all of you prefer?

Next time, I hope to blog about designing the other characters in the game.

jeanne_raku

(NOTE: Higher resolution versions of the concept art in this post can be found on the PlatinumGames Inc. Flickr Page)

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The Weapons of Bayonetta

Bayonetta

Filed: Bayonetta, Games, PlatinumGames

Hi, everyone. I’m Muneyuki “Johnny” Kotegawa, and I am in charge of the design and modeling for all of the weapons in Bayonetta.

I was also involved in designing the weapons for Devil May Cry and Resident Evil. This is my first project with Kamiya-san since Devil May Cry.

I wanted to blog about Scarborough Fair, Bayonetta’s beloved handguns that you may have seen in our trailers and other advertisements.

First I want to cover how we approached design in general, not just limited to weapons. Kamiya-san’s direction for the character was pretty much;

1. A female lead character
2. A modern witch
3. Guns on hands and feet

I think that Shimako covered this in an earlier blog.

After going through an intense bit of back and forth between Shimako and Kamiya-san (I sit between them…) they came up with a color balance based around pitch-black clothing, white skin, gold ornamentations, and the red ribbon accent. It was then that it was decided that the guns in her hand should be red. While there is an element of color balancing to it, this game has intense action that hasn’t really been seen up until this point in gaming, so having the red guns makes it easier to pick up the position of Bayonetta’s limbs in combat. By the way, her gloves (palms), and soles are also red.

We also had to make this easy to pick up on because Bayonetta uses her guns in her primary for of attacking – via melee.

With all this in mind, I went to work to come up with some weapon designs based on real world guns. I do this because if I base something on gun parts that are familiar, it will remain convincing even if the final product is a complete work of the imagination. Movie prop guns like the blaster in Blade Runner, or Han Solo’s gun in Star Wars are examples of this style of design.

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I suppose gun-lovers will be able to figure out which gun is based on what real world weapon. The strange base guns are the traces of trial and error included because I wanted to make something that no one had ever seen before. You could also say they reflect my personal taste as well.

The guns that aren’t red were actually created before we had locked down the final design specifications. I made them silver or gold to make sure they stood out to the eye.

After working on the various designs, Kamiya-san’s eyes stopped at a gun based on the Derringer. It must have been because great minds think alike, and he could see it would be a gun capable of rapid fire; a simple, rugged gun. Or so I thought. “This design would look hot in a girl’s hand.” Hmph.

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1. The first image sees the design taking into account the gun’s use as a melee weapon, as well as making it giant to fit in with the action game requirements we talked about earlier. I also made the small parts gold to impart some elegance. The part underneath the grip is formed and inspired by a high-heel.

2. The second image is even more of a melee weapon, adding some spikes and other ornamentation, as well as a jewel on the side. This was all to give the gun an overall accent.

3. I was told to make the gun less spikey, so redesigned with something a bit more subdued, while thinking of the design elements once again. This is also where I added the final logo for Scarborough Fair.

4. Since the gun will be used for melee attacks, I wanted to add something akin to a knuckle guard onto the gun. I also shrunk things down to make the entire gun seem stronger.

5. I felt I may have gone too far, so I went back to some previous elements. The high-heel silhouette that was removed in design #4 makes a comeback.

6. Here we move even closer back towards the original Derringer silhouette. I added a rail onto the top of the guns so that they could be equipped on Bayonetta’s feet. They slide into the gap in her high heels. The knuckle guard is meant to remind you of an old pair of scissors, an idea that came from Kamiya-san. This is the design I used to make the final guns.

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As a little addition, if you put two of the guns together, they will form the Witch’s mark. I used this design to begin production on the CG model.

But even then, I kept toying with the design as I created the model, doing retakes as I added ideas or the use of the weapon changed.

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Scarborough Fair is an old English ballad that focuses on four herbs – Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme. These herbs became the names of each individual gun. Witches and herbs are closely linked. (This even comes up a bit in the game’s story.) I also changed the color of the gem on each of the gun to match the flower of the herb, which Bayonetta then uses to summon/expel the bullets that allow her to fire limitless rounds of ammo. (You can’t really see it, but there is a bullet in the gem.) Underneath the grip, we also added a charm (designed by Shimako) that is also linked with the herbs.

The gun can also be opened at the breach to be loaded with different bullets and fired single-shot. You’ll just have to look forward to the game to figure out how we use this…

So that pretty much sums up how we went about the design and creation of Scarborough Fair. It took a long time to arrive at Bayonetta’s main weapon, but once we had that clear direction, the rest of the weapons were a smooth design process. The first time is always the hardest, right?

And of course, as you have seen in the trailers, this isn’t the only weapon that Bayonetta will wield. You can look forward to playing with weapons that range from the standard to the absolutely outrageous.

Next time I blog, I will give you a look into the design of some of the other weapons, as well as the guns used by the mysterious woman in red, Jeanne.

(NOTE: See high resolution versions of these pictures on PlatinumGames’s Flickr account.)

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