Posted: Sep 22, 2009
Published by: the area
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Software: Autodesk 3ds Max, Autodesk MotionBuilder, Autodesk Softimage
Capcom Gives Next Generation Visuals to a Fighting Game Classic
Capcom’s Street Fighter series, a pioneer in the fighting game genre, recently celebrated its 20th anniversary. Released across many platforms, the franchise is a worldwide hit with over 500,000 arcade units and 27 million copies of the home software sold so far. The series’ latest title, Street Fighter IV, was developed as part of a project to mark this 20-year milestone. After almost a decade since the release of its last installment, Street Fighter III, fans around the world greeted the new arrival with great anticipation. The arcade version was released in June 2008, followed by versions for PLAYSTATION® 3 and Xbox 360® video game and entertainment systems in February 2009.
The project began when designers at Dimps’ development workshop were handed a series of scanned sketches and drawings from Capcom’s Art Director, Daigo Ikeno. Their mission was to take the scans and create “the best quality images that can move in 3D”. More specifically, they needed to reproduce the nostalgic movements and atmosphere of the 2D animation era while at the same time create next-generation graphics that had never been seen before. In the end, they managed to create graphics that went beyond the expectations of even the most devoted Street Fighter fan.
After the concept designs drawn by Ikeno were sent to the development workshop, the 3D designers got to work. Toshiyuki Kamei explained how the team members used Autodesk® Softimage® software (formerly SOFTIMAGE®|XSI® software) as the main tool for character modeling and character animation. In the initial modeling process, they found the Softimage Tweak Component tool and proportional modeling particularly useful. Kamei said that thanks to these features, the team members were able to model characters in an intuitive way that was reminiscent of shaping clay, creating modeling data for over 25 characters, each with two sets of clothes.
The Generalized Attribute Transfer Operator (GATOR) was instrumental in helping reduce the setup work for facial rigs. Softimage® GATOR technology was used to transfer the properties and attributes of an object to another object in just a few clicks. First, the team members saved rig data for the lead character, Ryu, which used 54 bones, on the server. Then, when they wanted to set up a rig for another character, they loaded Ryu’s facial data, aligned its size and applied Shrink Wrap. Then all they had to do was run GATOR. Normally, creating the basic facial setup for a character takes as long as three days, but with GATOR the team reduced this work to about two hours.
After putting it through its paces, the head designers chose Autodesk® 3ds Max® software as the main tool in the background production pipeline for the Street Fighter IV project. For them, the deciding factors were the higher quality of radiosity during render map creation, greater ease of managing large-volume materials, and the customized environment for output data. But it was the higher stability and greater speed of the real-time viewing environment using custom shaders that really won them over.
Street Fighter IV character models, animation and environments were created in Autodesk Softimage and Autodesk 3ds Max, then converted and output directly to the console. The game production was performed in a PC-based, multi-platform development environment that was compatible with both the Xbox 360 and PLAYSTATION 3. This meant artwork created in Autodesk Softimage and Autodesk 3ds Max could be checked immediately in its final game condition on the PC without having to export it to the console, helping save valuable time.
Hiroshi Waki, head of the Software Technology Division, made his feelings clear. “In the future too, we want to make full use of Autodesk’s products, namely Softimage, 3ds Max and MotionBuilder, using them in right place and at the right time. We hope that this will bring success to our projects and pleasure to all the people who buy our games.”
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