Resident Evil Resistance is a one-of-a-kind game with a unique personality. Following the previous Mirror Media interview, Neobards also had the honor to be interviewed by Gamer.com! Curious about how our team of Resident Evil fans tried to stay true to the spirit of the IP, while creating a new type of gameplay? Click the link below to read more!
【Gamer.com GNN News】Made in Taiwan! Special Interview with the Developers of Resident Evil Resistance at Neobards
Capcom released the remake of classic survival horror Resident Evil 3 (PS4 / Xbox One / PC) bundled with Resident Evil Resistance on 3 April, 2020. Resident Evil Resistance is an asymmetrical multiplayer online game. In fact, the game was a result of close collaboration between Capcom and the Taiwanese company Neobards Entertainment. Therefore, it’s not a stretch to say that it is a game “made in Taiwan.”
After the game was released, the Gamer.com website was honored to have an interview with some leading figures at Neobards Entertainment, including the CEO Jean-Marc MOREL, COO Wonder Lin, game director AL, game producer Albert, and CVO Julien Proux. In the interview, we invited them to share their experiences and thoughts on developing Resident Evil Resistance from the perspective of being the development team in Taiwan.
From left to right：AL, Jean-Marc, Julien, Albert, Wonder
Resident Evil Resistance (originally Project Resistance) is an asymmetrical multiplayer game included in the Resident Evil 3 bundle, but its plot and system are entirely independent. Players can choose to be a Mastermind and use various strategies at their disposal to manipulate the situation or be a Survivor and work with others to fight against the sinister Mastermind and escape from the experiment successfully.
The Mastermind are characters behind the cruel experiments, and Survivors are the experiment subjects aiming to escape from the facilities after being kidnapped. The mastermind can monitor the situation by controlling cameras and deploying traps and bioweapons to prevent Survivors from escaping. Survivors need to work together to fight against bioweapons and pass through dangerous zones within a time limit.
Game producer Albert responsible for managing schedule and various aspects of the project
Game director AL responsible for the overall direction and design of the game
GNN: First, please talk about what kind of a company Neobards is.
Jean-Marc: Neobards was established in 2017 and is still a very young company if you look at its history. However, most colleagues in the core team have been working together for a long time. Take myself as an example, I have known some of my Taiwanese colleagues for more than ten years. For some other colleagues, I’ve worked with them in various other companies, and we’ve been making games together for as long as 20 to 25 years.
All Bards (employees at Neobards) are putting a lot of effort into looking for high-quality projects to work on. Although Neobards have not yet released any original IPs, we value internationalization tremendously. Neobards is dedicated to making 3A games that attract players around the globe.
I think Taiwan is a very good place since it is a melting pot of various cultures. Taiwan is very close to Japan and not far from Europe and the U.S. As a result, it creates a conducive environment for the game industry.
GNN: Please talk about how Neobards came to co-develop Resident Evil Resistance with Capcom, and the collaboration process.
Jean-Marc: Neobards has been maintaining good working relationships with companies in other countries. We also have many employees who worked with Capcom before and left a good impression with their excellent performance. Therefore, everyone was thrilled to hear the news when Capcom proposed to us to see whether we can make a Resident Evil multiplayer online game.
Wonder (COO) : Neobards had the opportunity to develop the game not long after the company was founded in 2017. Neobards is a new company, but it is composed of a group of experienced professionals, each with outstanding experiences of developing games in the past. The performance and contributions of our employees who have collaborated with Capcom before were also highly recognized. This time, Capcom happened to approach us to see our willingness to collaborate, and it turned out to be a good match.
GNN: When developing Resident Evil Resistance, what was Neobards mainly responsible for?
Wonder: The relationship between Neobards Entertainment and Capcom can be described as a developer and a publisher. Neobards was responsible for all aspects regarding game production, such as game concepts and direction, gameplay, visual production, scripts and dialogues, trailers, music and sound effects, quality assurance and control, and version management. During the production process, Neobards was also constantly communicating with Capcom.
We know that the Resident Evil IP is not something brand new. Instead, it is a classic global IP with 20 years of history. Therefore, we understood that the project would not be an easy task, and we must proactively communicate with Capcom, the creator of the IP. It is of crucial importance to have constant exchanges since an external developer may approach ideation and design differently from the IP creator since Capcom knows the likes and dislikes of their fans extremely well. More importantly, a pleasant and smooth cooperation experience is only possible by having frequent and mutual exchanges.
Neobards started the game production of Resident Evil Resistance in 2017, and team members were fully dedicated to making the game with a total of around 120 members from the Taipei and Suzhou offices. Besides, various teams were involved during the early planning and production stages. For instance, the production management team led by the game producer Albert amounted to 5 people, and the art director Julien also led a large-scale art team to work on the environment, levels, and visual effects. Other teams involved in the production included game design, programming, sound effects, QA, etc.
Neobards Taipei Office
Neobards Suzhou Office
GNN: How did the team in Taiwan divide responsibilities and communicate with Capcom’s team in Japan?
Wonder：Our team at Neobards is composed of people from multiple cultures, it is a challenge to communicate with a Japanese publisher in their Japanese-speaking environment. Actually, English is considered to be Neoboards’ “official language” of sorts, so we put a lot of emphasis on how to faithfully communicate our coworkers’ thoughts and emotions across all languages. We have in-house English and Japanese translators, as well as a mostly bi-lingual production team to ensure mutual understanding on all sides.
Albert (Producer): We are very honored to have the opportunity to work with Capcom on this project. Capcom is a company that puts great emphasis on gameplay, which matches Neobards’ core values. During this collaboration, both sides communicated very frequently and closely regarding the content of this game.
During the initial stages of development, Capcom even assigned one of their creative directors to stay in Taiwan for long periods of time to work with the team on things like game background, setting, character stories…etc. As a publisher, Capcom gave us a lot of space and freedom, and did not rule out or limit our ideas. After we proposed our design, they would give us invaluable feedback during each stage of production. When the game was at a playable phase, we even played online against each other.
I feel like this game combines the best of both teams. They are the creators of the Resident Evil IP, and we have many fans of the Resident Evil franchise. Although it was not easy to design an entirely new type of PvP gameplay, the love our two teams have for the IP made us want to make the game as good as it could possibly be.
GNN: You mentioned “ the best of both teams,” what would you say are the advantages of the two teams?
Albert：As CEO Jean-Marc just mentioned, our company focuses on online multiplayer games, something past Resident Evil games have put less emphasis on; which is one of the main reasons Capcom decided to work with us on this project. The advantage of the Capcom team is how they are very good at creating playability, establishing atmosphere, and expanding the IP universe. I believe we combined the strengths of both companies to make a game that will satisfy the players.
GNN: Why did the team decide to make this game an asymmetrical PvP?
AL (Game Director): We were all very excited to get the opportunity to work with Capcom. When engaging with Capcom’s senior members, it felt like I was meeting my childhood heros, very inspiring. Initially, Capcom approached us to help them develop a PvP Resident Evil game. We came up with many different proposals, and Resistance’s design was the one they accepted.
The reason we chose asymmetrical gameplay is because we wanted to respect the IP. No matter what game we make, the thing we have to respect the most is always the fans and the IP. Resident Evil has its unique type of gameplay and features, so when we were brainstorming ideas, we knew we couldn’t just make a generic PvP game, we wanted to create something refreshing that also felt like a RE game. Looking back at multiple generations, RE1, 2, or Code: Veronica, there is always a mastermind, or an Umbrella official, behind the scenes manipulating everybody.
Players know that in Resident Evil games, human characters don’t fight against each other, they fight against zombies. The “villain” in this game is the Mastermind, controlling everything behind the camera, and the actual enemies players need to face are all types of gruesome creatures and threats in the environment.
As for why the Mastermind controls everything through cameras, this is a throwback to the “fixed camera” era of Resident Evil games with a modern twist. We did not want to let Survivors fight against Masterminds directly, but rather have the Mastermind control the game world through surveillance cameras and set up a haunted house of sorts for the Survivors to escape from.
GNN: Was there anything you had to be especially aware of when adjusting balance for an asymmetrical game?
AL：A lot of things need to be taken into consideration when creating an asymmetrical game, and it’s very difficult to produce a game that is fully balanced. Both sides need to feel like they have the upper hand, while keeping gameplay fun for all players involved. Actually, no matter how developers design the game, or how we want players to use the mechanics, things don’t usually go according to plan, that’s why we say players create the meta. We observe how players play through the open/ closed beta, and make adjustments accordingly.
For example, when the closed beta was first online, players were complaining about how “the Mastermind is OP” for the first few days, but near the end of the closed beta, the majority of feedback shifted to “the Survivors are OP,” that’s why we need to give players some time to explore the game. Another good example is how in fighting games, long range characters are always considered top tier at launch, but after a week or so players get used to their attack patterns and they become lower tier.
When designing games, I like to use something I call “LEGO blocks design.” Don’t offer players a set type of gameplay, give them many “lego blocks” to arrange into shapes that they like, it can be any weird shape or size.This isn’t to say we offer an unlimited amount of strategies, there also needs to be a “rock paper scissors system” put into place, which means that all characters, no matter how powerful, need to be able to be countered by another character.
GNN: Were there any memorable events during the art development process that you would like to share?
Julian（CVO）：Like other people have already mentioned, for the art team, communication is very important. First we make sure we understand what Capcom wants, make sure both sides are on the same page and have the same vision. Actually, during production, both sides were able to propose ideas and opinions, in my experience, it’s very rare for both teams to be able to freely voice their thoughts. The interesting universe we have built is a product of free-flowing, ongoing communication between the two teams.
During the initial stages of production, our 2D concept team would create concepts for a few key moments to explore the overall look and feel. After the key concepts are finished, we send them to Capcom. As it is their IP, they would best understand what the fans are looking forward to seeing in the game. We would ask them to review the key concepts to make sure we are on the right track.
AL: Even though this is a non-canon Resident Evil game, we still wanted to help expand the Resident Evil universe. When designing the levels, we’d reference Racoon City maps from earlier generations to see if there were places mentioned only by text, or parts of the city that were “on the map, but not accessible.”
We wanted not just to create an entertaining game, but also expand the depth of the Resident Evil universe.
Julien: We were working with a Japanese team with our own dev team consisting of people from Europe and locals in Taiwan, so we really had to make sure we all shared the same vision and established a common visual language to make sure we were all on the same page.
GNN: Did the team get data from “Resident Evil 3 Remake” when developing Resistance?
Albert: During the initial stages of development we did see a few RE3R concepts, and we used those to make sure our styles are cohesive. You can say that the two projects were produced in parallel.
AL: For example, when working on the levels, they would also show us references to explain how to create the sense of oppression Resident Evil games are known for.
GNN: Were there any memorable events during the development process of Resident Evil Resistance?
Albert：I briefly mentioned before that when the game reached a playable stage, we would play online with the team at Capcom to test the game. Well, in the beginning, the play sessions were really for testing purposes, but the more people played each other, the more competitive they became, there were even people challenging each other to matches, and telling the other team to send in their best players.
Another memorable event is when we held the closed beta for Resistance at the Tokyo Game Show, that was an invaluable experience. We wanted to observe how players would react to this game when playing it for the first time without knowing what to expect. Sometimes we would see players from Taiwan playing, or Taiwanese media like Gamer.com and get all emotional.
AL: What I found memorable is the original characters that we created. Most of the Masterminds in Resistance are high-rank Umbrella villains that have appeared in previous Resident Evil games. “Daniel” is a completely original character designed by our team, and we wrote his dialogue too. It’s very interesting to see how players from different countries react to him.
Original Mastermind “Daniel”
Speaking of this, our team would go on PTT (the largest BBS in Taiwan) and Gamer.com to read player feedback, and we saw many people saying how “the dialogue and achievements were translated really well,” “the text is very localized, the translator must spend a lot of time on the internet” etc. But actually, the Chinese text was not translated, they were originally written in Chinese.
Albert：Chinese is the main language we used during development, and our team wrote all the Chinese text. We also wanted to add in a few very “Taiwanese” elements that would resonate with local players.
AL：We wanted to really “localize” the game. If you look at the English and Japanese text you’d find that the text is not translated literally, we mainly focus on how to evoke the same type of feeling from readers of different languages. The words that were used might be different, but the feeling conveyed is the same.
Albert：Our team wrote both the Chinese and English text, and we did a draft of the Japanese which was then sent to Capcom to review, but the tone of voice and content were all done by Neobards. Other European languages were sent out to be localized, then recorded using the localized scripts.
Julien: What’s most memorable to me is how we were all very cautious in the beginning, and were feeling a huge amount of pressure. For me personally it was pretty chaotic, I just moved to Taiwan from Europe, was still getting to know the Taiwan team, was getting to know the Capcom team at the same time, it was also the first time I participated in meetings that were translated into 2 different languages. The creative process is difficult enough in just 1 language, 2 languages just increases the chances of misunderstandings. The interesting thing is how as the project grew, our fears and concerns transformed into strengths. As our CEO said, Neobards is a multicultural, open-minded company, we drew upon this corporate spirit and incorporated the cultural background and experiences of our members to establish our relationship with Capcom.
Tiffany (Assistant Producer): I’m a member of the development team that speaks Japanese, and am responsible for communications with Capcom. One very interesting experience during development was recording the mo-cap. There are many animations in the game that need to be mo-capped, and we were using Capcom’s mo-cap studio, so we had to take quite a few business trips to Japan for this task. The problem we faced was how to make this process efficient. We wanted actors that can commit to the character, but the tasks were split across two countries. We ended up holding auditions here in Taiwan, and found two actors, one male one female, and flew them to Japan to be recorded. Actually, besides the Taiwanese actors there were also Japanese actors, if you take a look at the credits you’ll see there are a total of 4 or 5 actors. There were a few combo motions that required 4 Survivors to interact with each other and it was very interesting to watch how the actors communicated to figure out their characters. In the middle of recording, one actor fell down by accident, and we thought that actually felt better than what was originally designed, so we asked all 4 actors to fall down together, it was hilarious.
Albert：Speaking of zombies, we found that capturing zombie motions is actually very difficult, and cannot be easily done by just anybody. Capcom has an actor that specializes in zombie motions, and we were all amazed at the moves this actor could pull off.
Tiffany：We watched him do back flips, fall on the floor, lean back on his hands then stand back up…just amazing core energy. No matter what difficult pose we asked him to do, he gave it his all and delivered. His performance was so precise we actually didn’t have to manually tweak too much of his animations.
GNN: Any thoughts on using Capcom’s proprietary engine “RE Engine” for the development of this game?
Albert: RE Engine is an engine that’s very easy to get a hang of, even for first time users. It also produces outstanding graphics, as proved in games such as RE 7, RE2 Remake, and DMC5. However, since it is not a commercial engine, there is relatively less documentation. But the engine team at Capcom provided us very good support, and there were basically no problems that could not be solved. Another thing worth mentioning is how Resistance is basically the first online multiplayer game built with RE Engine, so some of the network -related features were actually built during the middle of production when we voiced our needs to Capcom’s tech team. We hope that Resistance can be the first of many online games made with RE Engine.
GNN: Now that the game has been released, can you share with us what changes were made after the closed and open beta?
Albert: There are 2 purposes for both the open and closed beta; one, to make sure the game runs smoothly, and two, to recieve player feedback. We gathered a lot of data throughout the two beta tests, and are thankful for the players’ participation. We analyzed the collected data and made adjustments accordingly. Most of the changes were on the UI, increasing the amount of guidance given, and making hints and messages clearer. We also did some balance adjustments based on player feedback.
AL: We made a few minor balance changes after the closed and open beta, but because game meta is determined by players after they dig deeper into the game, even though people have been saying that the Mastermind is OP, we think there might be some things the players have not discovered yet, so we want to wait until the meta is stable before making bigger changes. We also test things like network stability, and whether or not the game can handle a larger number of players to prepare for launch. Last but not least, we also want to confirm whether or not players will play in the ways we’ve designed the game to be played, and see if the scenarios we think would happen will actually happen. For example, we initially thought that the game would be played at a much slower pace than it is played now. There were even ideas like having zombies make some noise all of a sudden to scare players, the original concept was a lot closer to an actual “haunted house.” However, players played at an unexpectedly fast pace during the tests, so we ended up adjusting the pace of the gameplay to match that.
GNN: What kind of updates can we look forward to? New characters / maps / weapons?
AL: Capcom’s gonna send someone over to beat me up if I say too much XD Jill has already been added to Resistance on 4/17, I personally think she is super fun to play. What’s interesting about her design is we had to think about how to add a character that was designed for a single player game to an asymmetrical game but maintain her personality and characteristics. Please keep a close eye on the official website for more upcoming information.
GNN: Which character do you like to use the most, and which one would you recommend to newbies?
AL: I love fighting games the most, so I like to use characters specialized in melee skills, like Sam who can dash to the front of an enemy. For background story, I like Martin the most and think that he is adorable. For the Mastermind, it was mentioned earlier that we have an original character “Daniel,” of which the setup is the “king of trash talking.” It’s interesting to see his lines in Chinese as well as in other languages. For newbies, I would recommend Valerie because she is easier to use, and she is a healer and can mark important items. I would also recommend Tyrone, who has more HP and is hard to kill even when captured by a trap or zombie.
Albert: I am quite the opposite, I like ranged weapons better. As a result, my favorite character is the firearms expert Becca. The Bullet Storm skill is quite useful in the game, and she’s quite pretty as well (smile).
Jean-Marc: I also like Becca the most, and I will not explain further. (Others: It’s because his wife is sitting right next to him!)
Julien: All the characters are my babies, and I love them equally. They are all my test subjects (laugh).
“Becca,”a popular character choice among the production team.
GNN: Lastly, do you have anything to say to players in Taiwan?
Albert: As Jean-Marc mentioned earlier, we are an international team that wants to make world-class AAA games. This collaboration with Capcom gave us the opportunity to create a high-quality Resident Evil game, and we are very much looking forward to seeing how players around the world react after they play the game. Meanwhile, as a development studio in Taiwan, we hope that players in Taiwan and around the world can see the hard work and effort put into this game, as well as notice the identifiable features and uniqueness of a game developed by a team from Taiwan.
AL: I was born and raised in the U.S. and just moved back to Taiwan a few years ago. Despite my background, I love Taiwan a lot. Taiwanese people have many original and creative ideas for games, and those ideas are also very universal. Most players in the U.S. are only interested in playing European or American games; however, players in Taiwan play games from Japan, Europe, and the U.S., so they have an extensive understanding of the game market. Therefore, Taiwanese people have many interesting ideas, and there are many possibilities for a Taiwanese team to evolve and develop. Although Resident Evil is a Japanese IP, for Resident Evil Resistance, one of the goals for us is to make players feel the presence of a “Taiwanese team” through the in-game dialogue and achievements.
Wonder: We really are a multicultural company, not just our team in Taipei, but our team in Suzhou as well. We think that high quality content can attract players around the world, so we do not restrict ourselves to a specific target market. We believe in the idea that a game will be recognized by the world as long as it is fun and interesting. In the past, people may hold the idea that Taiwanese teams rarely develop console games. In fact, it’s just that Taiwanese teams do not have the opportunity to do so. When we get the chance, we have what it takes to be seen and applauded by the world. We certainly hope that more Taiwanese game developers can be eager to step up to greater challenges, and we definitely want more talented people to join us as well (with a smile).
About NeoBards Entertainment
NeoBards Entertainment was founded in 2017 by an international team of industry veterans hailing from Taiwan, China, Europe, and the United States. NeoBards based in Taipei with an additional studio in Suzhou. As a team, NeoBards is formed by industry veterans, many with more than 20 years of AAA game development experience at well-known companies, including Sony, Activision, Square Enix, Capcom, EA, and Ubisoft.
NeoBards Entertainment specializes in international project coordination, AAA quality game development, and the imagining and realization of new worlds and IPs. Our passionate team of “Bards” learn and grow from each other, always striving to find new ways to express their love of gaming through their work.
One of our latest works, Resident Evil Resistance was recently published on 3 April, 2020 and bundled with Capcom’s classic IP Resident Evil 3 Remake. Other previous classics produced by the company include Devil May Cry HD Collection, Onimusha: Warlords Remaster (PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC), Resident Evil Zero, and Resident Evil Switch version.
NeoBards is united by a love of storytelling, a love of making games, an appreciation for the hard work required to deliver world beating quality.