Sunday, February 25, 2018

Voices of AC3 Development Staff Part 3
Chief Programmer Toshiyuki Koike

Everyone, have you seen all the endings already?
Programmer Toshiyuki Koike here.

Since programming lasted a long time, let's take a look back on Ace Combat 3.

The first thing I'm gonna talk about is the "line-of-sight control".
Often in 3D games, you feel like looking around you, right?
Your neck was fixed until now, but I wished to make it free ever since the making of Ace Combat 2.
I'm very happy that I was able to reflect that wish in the game this time.

I like it very much because I play around with the viewpoint every time, as I play with Dual Shock or else my right thumb feels lonely.
I really need to be careful not to get a callus on my thumb from changing the viewpoint.

Talking about development struggles...
there were several missions during the development of Ace Combat 3.
One of them was to "Make the presentation surpass that of Ace Combat 2!" on the subject of "Do I have to go beyond the limits of the PS1?!" which I thought as a joke but then spent every day working on the programming.

Thanks to improvements in programming to maximize the hardware, it was possible to display 1.5 to 1.8 times as much polygons as in the previous outing, but on the other hand that caused a rise in amounts of data... which would eventually become the problem of this transition.
The hardware of PS has not changed since Ace Combat 1, and the capacity which can be stored from long ago has not increased either. Before this premise, further challenges come down, everyday is a pleasant challenge solving game.


"Another mission was to "Put 4 CDs-worth of data into 2!".  
Difficult things often come from the planning people, but this time we were at a loss. Considering the story had already been decided, from which the dialogs and animation necessary for the game presentation had already been determined and all of them are to be reproduced, the capacity is orders of magnitude farther. Apart from that, even the regular game data became three times as big as the previous work's, making this even more of a "when it rains, it pours" situation.
I must handle this like a professional! So I changed my attitude and thought of a means to pack as much as possible.
However, the data was still 2.4 discs even after optimizing and re-arranging, there was no way to make it all fit into 2 discs. By this time, where we needed to put in the remaining 0.4, we were 2 months to deadline. (*cries*...) I forced the artists to eliminate any unnecessary data, compressed everything and somehow managed to fit into 2 CDs only 3 weeks before deadline. Loading times became much faster compared to previous works thanks to making it all so compact (laughs). I  felt that "games are now in the realm of gigabytes of data".  

The task I thought of as a joke became a reality, and the answer that solved several difficult problems is Ace Combat 3. This time, this and the previous work are significantly different in many ways.

Two discs for the first time. Multiple characters. Story. An extraordinary world view. Cel animation presentation. The introduction of Sci-Fi. It is already a super new work that has largely exceeded the framework of a sequel (laugh).  

If expressed in programmer, "ACECOMBAT 3! = ACECOMBAT 2 + 1" Or will it be "ACECOMBAT 2! = ACECOMBAT 3 - 1"? 
("! =" Means not equal to "≠" in C language.)

Either way, Ace Combat 2 has the merit of 2, 3 has a merit different from 2's. I think that it is good to play the previous
Ace Combat 2 in the sense of enjoying 2's and 3's distinct world views. (It'll be cheaper by getting the "Best" reissue).  

Ace Combat 3 is not just a sequel that ends up an imitation of itself, I sincerely think it is a work where, upon discovering its many surprises, will have everyone saying things like "Huh?", "Oh!", "Ah!", "Impressive, Namco!"...