‘It would have been easiest to use data from the 3DS era’
A few months ago we had the good fortune to speak with Ryozo Tsujimoto of the Monster Hunter team about various aspects of their (then) upcoming Switch romp; and how the RE Engine was ported. Now director Yasunori Ichinose is back with Nintendo Life to shed a little more light on how difficult it was to get that engine working on the system.
One of the most interesting tidbits is how Ichinose explains how it “would have been easiest to use data from the 3DS era,” but given how high Monster Hunter: World set the bar, the team wanted it to “look as modern as possible.” Ichinose continues: “From a processing standpoint, it is better to have fewer joints, softness of the movement and a high degree of freedom of expression. That was an element that we did not want to cut, so I was working closely and consulting with the programmer. Characters from Monster Hunter: World are kept as they are as much as possible, while some new characters were created by consulting with the model team and we cut the joints up until the very last minute.”
Fascinatingly, they attempted to port over animation work from World, but also needed to do a ton of extra work on the wyvern riding aspect of the game for RE Engine, which was new. Ichinose also explains, “On the player’s side, we included a lot of aerial actions involving Wirebug actions and additional actions using walls, so in addition to internal captures, we also had the help of Katsugekiza (action mo-cap team) to improve the quality. For the NPCs, we focused on the placement and relevance of each NPC in this game.”
This is all done without texture streaming during gameplay, but it is done “during cutscenes,” so that NPC textures are “loaded only in the highest-resolution minimap portion” to ensure that they’re of a higher resolution. Ichinose enlightens us, stating: “Since there is no G-Buffer in Forward Rendering, the techniques often used in Deferred Rendering (SSAO and SSR) cannot be used as they are, but they are implemented in a creative way. SSAO (Screen Space Ambient Occlusion) was implemented using a method that calculates it using the ‘normal’ recovered from the Depth Buffer depth values. SSR (Screen Space Reflection) was specially supported by adding a dedicated drawing path only for the water surface.”
Like he told us recently, optimizing the game on Switch was “very difficult, but challenging and rewarding.” I’d say tall that hard work paid off!