Friday, May 8, 2020

Voices of AC3 Development Staff Part 8 (final)
"'Make it sell!'?"
Graphics Team

Map Designer: Manabu Okano

■Our aims with the mapmaking process and goals for the future

Hello! This is Okano, I was in charge of creating maps.
I love creating miniature gardens where I can roam around freely and I am very happy to be have been part of this work.

[Fusion of the ideal future image of the 1970s and modern design]

One of the most difficult aspects of creating the backgrounds was, of course, the design of the buildings.
At first, when I was creating the map images, I had a lot of ideas for natural objects, but I couldn't quite come up with the images of cities, airports, etc.
When I think of images from the 70s, I see huge buildings with a lot of streamlining, but designing cities and military facilities in those shapes is so far-fetched that it causes problems such as lack of scale and realistic detail, and the limitations of polygon display.
There is a difference between the streamlined shape of the Neucom and the linear shape of General Resource, but they could not be built without including modern reality as a premise.

[Changes in the look of the cities and nature by time of day]
In this work, the same map may appear several times, depending on the scenario.
For example, Megafloat has a variety of light source settings, such as morning, noon, evening, and night, and there are maps where things that didn't exist when you first went there are now there after time has passed, so we're more aware of the passage of time within the same world than in previous games. I hope you enjoy the world of changing looks.

[If I ever get a chance to make my next installment]
First of all, I would like to pursue the reality of the atmosphere and the look of the sea even more.
Secondly, I want to walk around the miniature world from the perspective of a resident of the world. For example, when I was young, I witnessed Dision's plane taking off from a General airport while looking at the sky. And that would make me want to join General.
As an aside, the seven domes in the city of Port Edwards were originally built up to the inside of the building (it was scrapped due to heavy processing). The setting was a multi-purpose dome with a modified stadium inside for circuits and ball games, and the ceiling was a large screen. 

(end page 1)
(start page 2)

Character Designer: Mamoru Takahashi
Art Director: Takaharu Suzuki

Takashi: "Hi, I'm Suzuki, who was in charge of the print design for AC3.
Hi, I'm Takahashi, the character designer."
Takaharu. "Both of us together..."
Mamoru: "...Hey, why is it like a comic book?"
Takaharu: "Oh, I'm sorry. (laughs)"
Mamoru: "Will you cut it out...?"
Takaharu: "Then, are you all having fun in the Electrosphere?"
Mamoru: "Did you like the characters?"
Takaharu: "Well, this relay essay for AC3 is a bit different, so I'd like to proceed with a conversation between the two of us. Please bear with us for a while. Well, Mamoru had created the characters pretty early on~"
Mamoru: "That's right. I started drawing the rough drafts when I only had a rough idea of the story, so there are countless characters who were rejected... (cries)"
Takaharu: "After Mr. Dai Sato from Frognation started working on the setting and script, you were able to design  pretty quickly."
Mamoru: "Yeah, once the story and initial character designs are finalized, it's easier to design.
Takaharu: "Initial character designs and personalities?"
Mamoru: "When designing a character, telling a character's personality apart from another's is not so easy."
Mr. Sato had clear ideas of the people and their backgrounds, so all I had to do was expand them from there. ''

Takaharu: "Visually, is there anything that bothered you?"
Mamoru: "The hardest part this time was that I had to prepare the initial character designs for the animation because we used cel animation for the movies. There's a huge amount of setting up that needs to be done compared to a regular game, such as setting up the game from different angles and collecting expressions for video mail. It was my first experience working with people in the anime industry, and I was nervous, but it was a good stimulus."
Takaharu: "Did you feel happy when your picture moved in animation?
Mamoru "I couldn't believe it~. It was really moving."
Takaharu: "Is it difficult to draw for anime?
Mamoru: "Yeah, yeah~, hmmm...
Takaharu: "If the design is too complicated, the animators will get in trouble.
Mamoru "I didn't want it to look too anime-y (?) I wanted to make it more realistic and hardcore, but in the end, you have to make it so it can be animated.
So we settled on that kind of balance. I can draw it more realistically and restrained, but I don't want it to feel out of place in a movie.

(end page 2)
(start page 3)

Takaharu: "Which character do you like best?"
Mamoru "Hmmm. Personally, I like all the characters myself, but... a lot of users tell me that they liked Fi the most. I think I like Simon."
Takaharu: Simon? After all, Simon was a female character in the beginning, right?
Mamoru: "No, I wanted a shaved Simon!"Takaharu: "A shaving fetish...?"
Mamoru: "..."Takaharu: "..."
Mamoru: "You also said you liked Yoko's white coat, didn't you?"Takaharu: "..."
Mamoru: "..."Takaharu: "What about Rena? Rena was also very unusual."
Mamoru: "I have no special feelings, it's just that she was difficult to draw, yes."
Takaharu: "Yes, yes. Well, whatever."
Mamoru: "Well, let's talk about that, shall we? You've made jackets and such, but your title is not the usual package designer. Promoted to art director this time? (laughs)"
Takaharu: "(laughs) That's right. Or rather, I did all the planning, direction, and design for the Photosphere. I get tired just thinking about it."
Mamoru: "Mr. Sashida did the design for the game, did you pay attention to staying consistent?"
Takaharu: "Of course. It's just that it was difficult. The demand for the package from the planning side is, 'Make it sell!', point blank. I thought long and hard about what kind of product I wanted to sell, while keeping the image of the game in mind. In the end, I designed it with an honorary-style balance."
Mamoru: "What's an honorary balance?"
Takaharu: "It's an image that appeals to both hardcore shooters and fans of science fiction stories and animation. If we can appeal to both fans, will it sell? I thought.
If we use only fighters like we did in AC2, we won't be able to win over the SF story fans, and if we use Mamoru's characters as the main character, the shooting fans will leave."
Mamoru: "I see. Also, the logo for this time is not the phoenix image from series 1 and 2, because it doesn't fit with the world view?
Takaharu: "Yes, I designed AC3 with a vision of the future as 'hard and fantastical'. Fantastical as in retro-futuristic.
In 1 & 2, where the game itself had a stoic image, it was important to have a character in the logo for the overall balance of the product, but this time AC3 has a character in the game itself. I didn't want to make the logo too character-ish and mix up the images, so I went with something simple. I had a meeting with Mr. Sashida and others and decided on the colors for the entire product, he said."
Mamoru: "Ivory white and orange."
Takaharu: "You got it! (laughs)"

(end page 3)
(start page 4)

Mamoru: "The Photosphere was also good. It was hard to draw the pictures, though..."
Takaharu: "You never had to draw something under a tight deadline before."
Mamoru: "Oh, no..."
Takaharu: "(laughs) But it was really hard work, photosphere. I'm glad that we were able to overcome all the obstacles and somehow get it done the way it did."
Mamoru: "That's right. But in the prototype stage, the paper and bookbinding were more expensive too~"
Takashi: "Well, there was a lot going on... (distant look)
Mamoru: "So many things..." (distant eyes)
Takaharu: "I thought so when I saw AC3's huge amount of pre-production materials. It's a great game, so I wanted to get people interested in it. So I planned a separate book like that, besides the manual."
Mamoru: "You used so many characters... All the pages are freshly drawn! I wanted to cry when I was told..."
Takaharu: "Thank you for your hard work. I've had most of my work drawn for me. I'm grateful to the CG designers who helped me with the CG of the fighter planes, other than for the characters."
Mamoru - "It was really hard, wasn't it... (distant look)"
Takashi "(sweat)...Well, well, what was the hardest part of illustrating the Photosphere?
Mamoru: "Erich!
Takaharu: "It's just a normal feeling without much character (laughs)."
Mamoru: "That's right."
Takaharu: "Dision and Keith were fast."
Mamoru: "Yes, I'm quite good at drawing distinctive characters."
Takaharu: "Yeah, they are."
Mamoru: "Yeah, something like that. But the reputation of the users was pretty good, too.
Takaharu: "That's right. (I check everyone's emails and postcards closely.) Game print materials don't get a lot of attention, so I'm really happy when I hear comments like, 'That's cool'".
Mamoru "I'd like to work like that again, wouldn't you?
Takaharu: - You said it... - Grin.
Mamoru "Doki... So, if you'll excuse me.
Takaharu: "Finally! Ace Combat 3 wallpaper giveaway with the most popular 'Fi' desktop!    
Mamoru "Oh, give it to me too.
Takaharu: "It's a Mac layout, so if you're in Win, please move the menu bar up."
Mamoru, "How selfish of you..."
Takaharu: - Because I'm a Mac..."

(end page 4)
(start page 5)

Concept Designer : Katsura Yoshimizu

Hello everyone. My name is Yoshimizu and I was in charge of "concept design."
Now, what exactly is "concept design"? But the point is behind the scenes. From the very beginning of the project, this is the role of thinking about the direction and visual style of the game, and coming up with ideas for image boards, design drafts, plots, and settings.

From the beginning of the project, it was considered to include a storyline, but since I'm a fan of science fiction myself, I thought it would be a good idea to include science fiction with a cyberpunk theme, so I came up with some ideas.
However, in terms of visual imagery, I felt that there needed to be something novel and not a stereotypical dystopian image, so I started looking for it. At that time, I felt that the design of the '50s and '70s had a straightforward view of the future, and I thought it would be interesting to rearrange it, so I decided on the basic concept of the world view.

This utopian view of the world is also shared by the corporate commercials that appear in the play, and is directly related to the cyber worship which is revealed in the second half of the story, and I believe that I was able to express the gap between the two.

I usually work on movies, but the work I did this time was stimulating in many ways and taught me a lot.
Electrosphere" is two CDs that are 120% made with the staff's desire to try new things. I'm hoping that as many people as possible will play the game and get their message across.

(end page 5)
(start page 6)

Graphic Design: Minoru Sashida

Hey there. Sashida here.

Some of you may know me a little bit, but I was still in an electronics store one time.
It was the summer of 1998, when the development of Techno Drive (*1) was almost finished and I was wandering around the company when I bumped into Iwasaki in the hallway. When I asked him about it, he said he was making some kind of airplane game. Standing there, I said, "What are you up to? (*2), but before I knew it, I was actually going to participate in the event.

At first, I was like, "Is it OK for me to do this? I was so touched by the thought of "We'll do our best, We'll do something new and different from  previous ACEs" that I cried and decided to follow them to the bottom of hell. (Part of the story has been adapted) So, of course, this is the first time I've tried it for home use. It was a lot of hard work. Yeah.

With that said, I'd like to talk about the graphics aspect of the game I was in charge of this time.
I was in charge of the 2D parts around the system, including the data swallow(*3) and the HUD, as well as the design of the marks and logos that supplement the world view.

When I first heard about the world view, I received a rather crude order of "I'd like to do something online in cyber space...", so I honestly thought, "Wow, this might look lame if I don't do it well...", and with a sense of crisis, I searched for a way to achieve it.
It's basically a futuristic Internet browser, but I had a lot of trouble incorporating the "visualized brain space" into its structure.

I was thinking that it would be bad if grid lines(*4) were laid out in a pitch black space, and it's too late to depict high density cyber space like the JM movie... Then I suddenly remembered the mega demo(*6) that my friend Spin Teramoto(*5) showed me before, and I combined it with the futuristic atmosphere of the 60's and 70's in my mind, which is the keyword this time, and I was determined to create the tube-like(*7) presentation that is the background of Data Swallow.

Even the movement of each element was deliberately shifted slightly, forcing the programmer to do so to give it a slightly old-fashioned analog feel. Rather than digital, it looks like an incredibly precise mechanical device. If you listen carefully to the sound effects, you'll understand that I asked Nakanishi to put in some mechanical noises on purpose (*8).
It has a nostalgic, fantastical atmosphere, and a hard, futuristic outlook. That is the design concept for this time. He believes that it's very cool. Did you notice it?

(end page 6)
(start page 7)

Well, it's easy to say, but making it was... well, it was hard to make. After all, it's a game with a huge amount of information. Just to put it all together, the programmer is in a dilemma and comes up with an unexpectedly elaborate system screen specification... Total ignorance is a terrifying thing. (Hey!)
But there were a lot of specifications that we cried because of Namco's elite unit's (?) timeout, but the programmer's desperate efforts were worth it, and I think we were able to achieve the wonderful finish that we envisioned.


Self-proclaimed world's strongest electromechanical car. Click here for more details
The truth is, it's bad to talk about these things in the hallway.
The name "Data Swallow" actually has an original story. But it's a secret.
The hint is the Osaka Expo.
It was a common expression in 80's anime. Is the film TRON the source?
Interesting guy who worked on R4.
This is a work of art that uses advanced compression techniques to express itself on a single floppy volume.
In the beginning, it didn't work out very well programmatically or design-wise, and texture testing was repeated endlessly. I feel bad when I think about it.

At the beginning, when we heard the sound given to the Data Swallow, it sounded so "SF" that we were all holding our breaths without even noticing it.

Um, do you mind if I write some more? It's the web, so it's OK, right?

Another big job. That's the logo design for the organization or company that appears in the story. If you've played this game, you'll know that it's a story that progresses through multiple organizations, sometimes transferring from one organization to another. In order to make such a setting easier to understand and more persuasive, we have set the logo mark of each organization. A company's logo is an expression of the company's identity, so it should be able to convey its atmosphere at a glance.

The General is a star design with absolute power. Neucom is a young and flexible company, so it's all about vivid colors and sleek lines... UPEO is a peacekeeping organization with a symbolic placement of a dove that's a little more accessible. I tried to make the design easy to understand first.
In addition, there are more than 30 kinds of logos, including those that appear in the background of the news screen and those that are only textures. And in each one, there is a back story. If you play with that in mind, you'll be able to immerse yourself in the world of the Electrosphere even more, so by all means, play the game over and over again and try to nitpick.

It is often pointed out that the Neucom logo is a bit similar to the Namco logo, but it's not their imagination. It's because Neucom's corporate stance of constantly pursuing new technologies is somehow similar to that of Namco. Yes, in my mind, Neucom is the Namco of 40 years from now. Man, there will be a war in 40 years, with my company. Better watch out.

(end page 7)
(start page 8)

Movie editing : Itomi Kosuke

My name is Itomi and I'm in charge of editing the movie.
I'm guessing that you've probably finished watching most of the EDs by now.

My first job after joining this team was to create an image movie*. I think many were left wondering "Is this ACECOMBAT?" because the meaning of the image movie is conveyed, but the content is not. If you watch it after playing the main story, you will be wondering "what was that kind of thing?"
If you watch the game after playing it, you'll think, "What the heck is this all about?Promotional video screened at the Tokyo Game Show. It is also included in the Namco Game Catalog '98 of the extra DISC of "R4". 

I looked at a huge amount of scripts and thought,  'Wow! How many discs do I have to work on?' I remember breaking out in a cold sweat and saying, "I'm going to do this."

From then on, I spent every day "staring" at all the characters.
I listen to the sound and edit the animation. Sometimes I would sit in front of the bathroom mirrorin the middle of the night muttering lines like the characters.

This time, the in-game movie is not limited to 3D.
Of course, there is 3D, 2D animation, motion graphics, live-action, and so on.
In order to do so, I opened the drawers in my head and continued to explore new possibilities for expression. I've tried to pack something that will betray you in a good way.
I hope you enjoy it from beginning to end.

The movies not included are in the video cassette (ACECOMBAT3 Mission0). If you are interested, please have a look at it.