Interview With Choi Hyung-Geun, Cinematic Team Leader!
Posted Mar 14, 2012 - 2:11 PM
What is one of the elements that bring out Blade & Soul’s story to its full potential? Cinematics of course. Many will remember the 7 minute cinematic of Master Hong Suk-Geun dying and the two female beauties Jin So-Ah(The gunner) and Dang Yuh-Wol(Blade Master) fighting it out at the To-Moon Inn.
Cinematic movies which can be seen around console games and PC games aren’t used as much in Korean MMORPGs, but Team Bloodlust has its own cinematics team to show its dedication to them.
The cinematic team works on the Cutscenes(excluding combat), environment. and directing of the npcs. We’ve had a talk with the Leader of Cinematic team in Team Bloodlust.
Cho Hyung-Geun the Cinematic Team Leader of Blade & Soul.
"Growth of immersion with the help of cinematics."
First introduce yourself to us and what kind of role you do around the Team.
I was hired by NCSoft back in 2002 and worked on the Lineage 2 environment art and cinematics of Lineage 3. Right now I am on the Cinematics team in Team Bloodlust and it is something that is seen around other game developing companies.
There’s a lot of different cinematics in-game, how many minutes of cinematics were included with the 2nd CBT?
The 2nd CBT had about 60 minutes worth of cinematics and we focus mainly on story and the flow as well as the emotions between characters. That is why we have a lot of close up shots of characters and their gestures.
2nd CBT had about 60 minutes worth of in-game cinematic footage.
60 minutes sounds like an awful lot, wouldn’t too much cinematics ruin the flow of the gameplaye?
It really varies on the play style and people tend to watch the cutscenes in the beginning of the game but tend to skip them as they spend more time playing the game. However, the amount of enjoyment a player gets from skipping the cutscenes and watching it all through will be completely different. We hope everyone will watch our cutscenes as we do our best to make them engaging for players.
Other Korean companies generally do not have cinematic teams, what makes Blade & Soul stand out from other games with this team?
The most important thing is immersion and how the in-game cinematics really aid with that. When a player connects to the game and sees the world and the NPCs react as he/she walks by, it will become clearer.
Blade & Soul has a lot of close-up shots to bring out the full emotions of the characters.
"The Cinematic team is like a Cheerleader for Blade & Soul."
How do you make an in-game cinematic?
When we receive the scenario the quest creating team takes that scenario and makes a quest out of it. When the suggestion of thinking that a certain quest and the certain section needs emphasis, we go ahead and include a cutscene.
That’s basically how we decide on how much content we make for the game. We first get the character & environments added from the character creation team and the environment team and make a cutscene out of that. Once that’s done we send it over to the sound team to have a voice over then add in the various other sound effects.
What was the hardest thing you had encountered during the creation of cutscenes?
Since this is not a CG and instead a real time rendered clip, it is hard to include massive amounts of crowd. For that reason when the Choong-Gak crew invades the Risen Dragon Village it was kept to a small crowd.
Also we have to work with a lot of other teams, since we work on the camera directing and the animation, it is hard to really get everyone sync’d up to their schedule. Since the development team wants the gameplay done and we want the cutscenes done, it is hard to schedule it all perfectly.
Lastly, since the finishing touch is made by the sound team, it is hard to see the process of the whole thing. Sometimes we sneak in late at night to see how it turned out(laugh).
Certain main story plot NPCs are handled with voice support and directing.
What do you think the cinematics have in terms of meaning to the game’s content?
I think the cinematics should be like a game’s cheerleader. We take on the role of letting people know of the story unfolds and help players feel immersed within the game. The 1st generation games lacked this aspect and we welcome the thought of Blade & Soul incorporating cinematics.
We’ve heard you guys take care of the environments as well as the NPCs, what does that mean?
We help the environment and the NPCs feel more alive by adding little details of animation and how the world interacts with the player.
With a close-up dialog system, they add character gestures and action to express the character.
"Depending on the environment it goes in many other Genres."
There were many references in the cutscenes from certain movies or animations, was it intentional? Especially the one with the Blade Master and the Gunner fighting in the Inn, it looked a lot like the gun scene in the movie “Wanted”.
When you play a game there are many concepts depending on the environment. Like the first starting zone, the concept of that zone is revenge and promise, the Bamboo village is invasion of foreign powers and the Grand Desert is like the Wild West.
We try to take reference to those concepts and parody or create homage of the certain clip. The grand desert was taken in reference to a Korean movie “The Good, the Bad and the Weird”.
Anything you’d like to try as the cinematic team?
Unlike movies, games can take on many genres and games tend to have many genres within it; Sci-fi, Fantasy and Eastern Fantasy, it can go around it all. I want to be able to improve the quality of cutscenes for future MMORPGs.
If there aren’t certain motions you want from the game, do you create new ones? Also you are doing voice overs for the Korean edition, are you doing the same for the Foreign release?
Characters and environments are taken from the resources but we tend to make our own animations. When this happens we use motion capture, and 80% of the fighting moves were done by motion captures. Other stuff like flying around were done by a key animation process.
Most in-game cut-scene movements were made by motion capture.
Before you said you tried to increase the player’s immersion with cutscenes, are there any special steps to this?
We have an employee that only does the facial animation, we try to add different facial animations for fitting situations.
What was the one clip that made you question possibilities?
It was something that couldn’t have been done. A cutscene that contains massive crowd is something we still avoid to this day. What sticks in my head the most is the 7 minutes clip that handled Hong Suk-Geun’s death. When this was first made there was a lot of talk amongst the team.
Some said it was too long and people would skip it and others saying it would increase the immersion of the game. Thankfully the whole 7 minutes of the clip went in and the players received it well so it sticks with me the most.
The clip that handled Hong Suk-Geun’s death was 7 minutes long.
"You can expect greater things from us."
Console games always took advantage of the real-time cutscenes but for an MMORPG it is something new. Are there different perspectives depending on the platform?
Consoles have a set hardware spec so it is quite easy to create a cutscene for it, but the PC has a wide variety of PC specs so we tend to set the minimum. This is why there are some scenes with high quality that can’t be maintained, it is something we feel sad about.
If you look at the console games from the directing perspective, the player is just yourself so you can carry the cutscene out from the player’s perspective, but since Blade & Soul is an MMORPG and it has many races, so we tend to carry the cutscenes out from a spectator’s perspective.
Third person view of the Blade & Soul cutscenes.
Any cutscenes you remember fondly of from other games?
Something like God of War 3 really is amazing. The seamless transition of game player and the cinematic is almost perfect. We also want to try and make the cinematic go along with the game play.
How long does it usually take to create a clip and how many people does it take?
If I were to make a 30 minute clip, it would take about 6 to 7 months. We also do outsourcing so we need our schedules to be tuned. Since the cutscenes can’t be done only with the cinematic team, we take about 50 ~ 60 people to create one clip.
As of now you can only see the cutscene once, does this make you sad?
The replay function is being talked about with the development team and also we would like the players to watch fully through the clips but I think it is okay to skip it if it interferes with the gameplay. Even if just one player watches it all we will be grateful.
It seems whenever a really popular clip from Blade & soul comes out, it always involves a woman in revealing clothes.
I like women in revealing clothes(Laugh). To be honest it is something we take from Kim Hyung-Tae style, our Art Director. Since the characters we use in the cutscenes are all from original artwork we have to follow what he created.
Lastly, what would you like to say to the players that are waiting on the 3rd CBT and the OBT?
We are creating better clips than we have previously shown on the 2nd CBT and you will be able to see them once the testing begins. Also we have large amounts of clips that still remain unseen and we look forward to the day when everyone can watch them.
Screenshot of the Cutscene that will be shown during the 3rd CBT.
Source: ThisIsGame. Article translated by Yuan and Nayami.
Posted Mar 14, 2012 - 4:57 PM
Posted Mar 14, 2012 - 10:26 PM
A corny music video? That would be lol
Posted Mar 15, 2012 - 9:21 AM
The only man who doesn't give a fuck about Miss Mascot here. He's even got his arm around her and he just looks like he'd rather be out brooding somewhere.
Standard "beautiful woman with an entourage of infatuated men" pose. I'm sure the writing there is the name of their group.
Nice interview. Just don't have much to add to it.
This post has been edited by Demonare: Mar 15, 2012 - 9:22 AM