Video game storytelling can take many different forms. From voice acting, to text scrolling, to full-blown FMV (full-motion video), every game has its own way of propelling the plot forward. The upcoming Godzilla: Unleashed will tell its story of raging monsters with some cool-looking, graphic novel-style cutscenes. In our fourth designer diary, we hear from creative director Mark Crowe about the creation of these cutscenes, and learn a bit more of the backstory for the upcoming monster-fighting game.
Graphic Novel Cutscenes
By Mark Crowe
Creative Director, Pipeworks Software
Well, here we are, the fourth installment of our GameSpot designer diaries.
We're coming down the home stretch, and the team is working feverishly to get every last ounce of monster-bashing, city-stomping goodness into the game. For this developer diary, I'll be giving you a glimpse behind the scenes of our graphic novel cutscenes currently in production, along with a few more tidbits on the story.
As Simon Strange (our lead gameplay designer) talked about in our first developer diary, Godzilla movies are not so much about the monsters as they are about the humans underfoot. Since monsters can't talk, it's up to the human characters to convey to the viewer why the monsters do what they do--or in the case of our game, to provide motives for the player's character (the monster). This is the underlying function of our graphic novel cutscenes. Not only do they carry the story along from a human perspective, they also suggest to the player what goals they should be aiming for in each encounter.
There's been a lot written about the story already, and I don't want to give too much more away. But here's a quick overview of the setup and some of the key characters:
It's been 20 years since the Vortaak tried to invade Earth (Godzilla: STE). The nations of Earth apparently got their act together and formed the Global Defense Force (GDF)--a quasi-military alliance created to defend Earth from future alien attacks and to police Earth's monsters.
Our story begins when Earth is bombarded by meteorites. Soon, giant, glowing crystal formations erupt and quickly spread across the planet, causing all kinds of global catastrophes. We're talking Armageddon here: earthquakes, tsunamis, and extreme climate shifts, just to name a few. It's safe to say that Earth's cities become really messed up. In all the upheaval, Godzilla (and friends) escape Monster Island, fan out, and are drawn to these strange crystals.
Global Defense Command, shocked as to why they were unable to detect the asteroids beforehand, scramble their mecha units to subdue the escaped monsters and try to stem the tide of crystal growth across the globe.
This quite literally becomes the hub of our story, as it unfolds from the perspective of key Global Defense personnel stationed within the GDF Command Center. That's the setup early in the game. Now I'd like to introduce some of the main human characters.
Base Commander Tagaki
The base commander is the man in charge when it comes to evaluating situations and ordering GDF's mecha forces into action. He's the cool head in chaotic situations--always keeping his emotions in check.
Commander Tagaki began his illustrious military career as a young, hotshot G-Force pilot assigned to "Project-M" (Mechagodzilla). His mettle was put to the test during the Vortaak invasion of 2004 while piloting Mechagodzilla (II) into battle against the alien threat. It was then, in the heat of battle, that Tagaki witnessed firsthand how Earth's monsters seemed to join forces against the aliens to protect the planet. The experience changed his personal views on Earth's monsters being a threat to humanity.
Specialist Kenji Miku (Miku)
Miku is one of many GDF technicians who monitor the global defense grid and all monster activities. She reports directly to her superior, Commander Tagaki. Miku has been fascinated by monsters since childhood and has devoted her life to the study of Kaiju. Because of her knowledge and expertise, Miku has become the commander's top consultant and right hand in all monster-related matters. A mutual respect exists between the two.
Miku is among those who believe that Earth's monsters are noble defenders of the planet who rage only when their fragile world is threatened by human arrogance or extraterrestrial forces.
The admiral is a semiretired, hardcore military man who serves as military advisor on the GDF council. But he is a bitter man, having fought and lost many battles with Godzilla and having the scars to show for it. The admiral lost command of the battleship Atragon after a particularly humiliating defeat that resulted in the death of his crew. As a result, he harbors a deep-seated hatred toward all monsters. Though no longer in active command, the admiral has considerable sway within the council with his bombastic, overbearing nature.
A brilliant GDF scientist and the world's leading expert on giant monsters, Dr. Shiragami makes some "fascinating" discoveries regarding the properties of the crystal formations and the alien radiation they produce. There's much more I could say about this pivotal character, but that would be giving away too much. The name "Shiragami" will not be lost on Godzilla fans.
Deciding on an art style for the graphic novel proved to be a difficult task. We looked at several comic book illustrators, each with their own unique style. But, ultimately, we turned to our very own lead artist, Robert Caracol, to illustrate the panels. Robert, a devoted Godzilla fan, drawing from his love of comic books and work as an illustrator for Dark Horse comics earlier in his career, proved the perfect choice for bringing the graphic novel to life.
So there's your sneak peek at what's cooking here at Pipeworks as we put the finishing touches on the Godzilla: Unleashed graphic novel cutscenes. As I said, we are coming down the home stretch, and believe me, it is very exciting to see the team's efforts of the last 12 months coming together and shaping up to make the best Godzilla game ever.
Thanks for dropping in.