MAKING OF SILENT HILL 3
(note: Due to the length of this interview, I've decided to summarize a
few things from each page instead of translating it word for word.)
Profiles of those present
Producer & Sound Director: Akira Yamaoka
Born in 1968. Responsible for sound in the first game as well as in the
subsequent games of the series. Also the producer in Silent Hill 3. In
addition to this series, he has worked on games such as Contra and Beatmania.
Art Director & Creature Designer: Masahiro Ito
Born in 1972. Responsible for background and creature design in the first
game. Held the position of creature designer and art director in Silent Hill
2 and 3.
Character Model Chief Designer: Shingo Yuri
Born in 1970. In charge of character motion in Silent Hill 2. Acted as chief
of character team in Silent Hill 3. Besides this series, he has worked on
games such as Hyper Olympics.
Graphics Engine Programmer: Norihito Hatakeda
Born in 1972. Has had a hand in the Silent Hill series since the second game.
In charge of programming related to effects throughout. In addition to the
Silent Hill series, he has worked on games such as NHL Blades of Steel 2000.
Character Programmer: Yuki Mizuochi
Born in 1972. Responsible for character programming since the first game.
Puts together everything related to fighting and action. Works he has been
responsible for besides this series include Fairway of Glory (Virtual Golf
Planner & Scenario Writer: Hiroyuki Owaku
Born in 1975. Responsible for all event programming in and after the first
game. Also worked on the scenario in Silent Hill 2 and 3.
excerpt from page 73
Q: First of all, please tell us about how you got started on the development
of the game.
Hiroyuki Owaku: We finished working on our previous project on the ps2 in
August of 2001, and then in October we were hard at work on Restless Dreams.
We began working on Silent Hill 3 immediately after that.
Q: It looks like you rarely saw any vacation time. Was this painful for you?
Masahiro Ito: I felt that it was dispiriting at times, but then if you take
a vacation whenever you feel like it, you'll lose your job, so...
Owaku mentions that one reason for starting the game someplace other than
Silent Hill is so they could include locations that wouldn't be found in
a small countryside town, such as an urban shopping center and subway.
Ito says that the use of visual noise in the game isn't constant--
it's very slight at the beginning and increases as Heather gets closer to
footnote #3: In Silent Hill 2, noise was used to express James' delusions.
In Silent Hill 3, one reason there's very little noise in the early stages
of the game is that Heather hasn't yet recovered her memories.
Owaku says that he wrote the scenario in Japanese and then Jeremy Blaustein,
the English supervisor, translated it into English. In order to breathe life
into the English version of the script, many small revisions were made during
the translation process.
He also mentions that one of the reasons for choosing a main character that
was a girl is that he was getting bored with male protagonists. Making the
protagonist female gives players something new, and depicting the storyline
as well as fear and other emotions can take on new aspects. And of course,
a male protagonist can't be the mother of God.
The reason for having only four central characters (five if you count Leonard)
is that the team had planned to keep the story relatively simple from the
Shingo Yuri says that the overall quality of the character designs benefited
from the fact that there were so few characters.
footnote #8: The development team made a point of including characteristics
like freckles, spots and moles for the character models.
footnote #9: Certain characteristics that members of the development team
possess were also included to make the characters more realistic, such as
an asymmetry between the left and right side of the face, Vincent's tendency
to squint, and Douglas' hair thinning at the back of his head.
Owaku mentions that he feels that the insertion of prerendered movies disrupt
the flow of a game. Part of the reason for animating facial motion so
meticulously was so that prerendered scenes would not be necessary.
Yuri says that since certain things such as the movement of fingers and eyes
can't be motion captured, video recordings of the voice actors were referenced
while programming the facial animations for the characters they voiced.
Owaku says that the nature of the horror in Silent Hill 3 is a bit different
from 2. In Silent Hill 2, this aspect of the game sinks in quietly bit by bit,
while in 3 it's more vivid and intense. For example, the gap between the
"right side" world and the "reverse side" world is more distinct.
He also mentions that when he first saw the scene in which the office building
undergoes the shift to the otherworld, this was a point at which he felt this
game would be able to surpass Silent Hill 2 in some respects.
Norihito Hatakeda feels that it's ideal for events to take place in real time.
The shift to the otherworld that takes place in the office building as well as
the shift during the transition from the subway to the sewers are both examples
Akira Yamaoka mentions that he'd had an interest in including songs with vocal
tracks for a while, but there was a question of finding a vocalist with a
quality in his or her voice that would be suited to the atmosphere of Silent
Hill. Most game music makes use of sounds that are synthesized instead of
using real instruments, and Yamaoka feels that it's desirable to utilize
the expressive power of the human voice.
According to Owaku, the combat in Silent Hill 2 had not been particularly well-
received. The team was careful to include more enemies in the third game so
that players could enjoy devising strategies to fight them.
Yuki Mizuochi says that he had decided from the start to include more enemies
and weapons. He was also able to program more specialized vibrations for the
dual shock to correspond to each weapon.
Asked whether he feels that he has a complete grasp of what happens in the
Silent Hill games, Yamaoka says he wonders if anyone besides Owaku understands
it all completely, and also expresses his shock at having recently heard that
some of it is based in Freud's psychoanalytic theories.
Hatakeda thinks that understanding it all might be impossible.
Owaku says that there are things about Ito's designs that he doesn't understand
himself, and that he actually didn't understand Valtiel's significance completely
until data was being gathered for this book. Ito says jokingly that he'll be
sure to explain it to other people from now on.
Shingo Yuri jokes that when the book is released, he and other members of the
team will be reading it and saying "Ah, I see..."
Hatakeda mentions that he created a certain effect with the images of Alessa's
burns, fire, and blood in mind, and asks the other members of the development
team what sort of understanding they have of it. Owaku says that he has the
same understanding of it as Hatakeda.
footnote #19: Hatakeda did all the effects that have to do with the real-time
shifts to the otherworld and the moving walls. This effect represents the
intense suffering that Alessa endured as a result of her burns.
Yamaoka is asked whether or not there will be subsequent games in the series,
to which he replies that he simply doesn't know at this point.
To the question, "What would you like to do next?" Shingo Yuri replies that he
would like to work on something that isn't a horror game. Hatakeda says that
he would like to do something along the lines of Half Life 2, and suggests
that it might be possible to do a game of this type in the world of Silent
Hill in which a different otherworld appears before each player. Mizuochi
says that he would like to do something more colorful along the lines of a
game about an American comic book hero, since he feels that the fact that the
protagonists in the Silent Hill series are merely ordinary people is a bit
restricting. Ito says that he'd like to do a game with a science fiction
theme. Owaku says that he's always wanted to work on the kind of game that
could affect or change someone's life. He feels that there are novels and
movies that have had an impact on his own life, but hasn't yet had that sort
of experience with a game.
The interviewer suggests that there are probably people for whom Silent Hill
has had an impact comparable to the impact that books and movies can have.
He then asks each member of the development team to say something to players
Owaku says he worked on Silent Hill 3 with the intention of giving players
something that would be fun and interesting as well as frightening, so he'll
be happy if he was able to achieve this.
Ito says that he'd like aspiring game designers and art directors to someday
name Silent Hill 3 as having had an influence on them.
Mizuochi suggests going for 100 stars and getting a perfect score.
Instead of simply playing straight through the game, Hatakeda recommends
slowing down once in a while to look around, as there are discoveries to be
Yuri says not to be distracted by the cutscenes or subtitles and to look
closely at the characters. (Owaku says, "Huh? The scenario...?)
To anyone who is introduced to Silent Hill by the third game, Yamaoka recommends
playing the first two games in the series after finishing Silent Hill 3.