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Summary
Plot
Gameplay
Development
Marketing
Reception
Credits
Gallery
Translation errors
Further notes
Americanlogo

The initial logo of "Resident Evil Online

Resident Evil Outbreak is a 2003 Survival Horror game developed by Capcom Production Studio 1. The game is known for its problematic background development, which led to much of the game being cut, and the five completed scenarios requiring alterations to reach the deadline. It was first announced in February 2002 at a Sony press conference, then known as "Biohazard Online".[1] It would later become "Biohazard Network".

Pre-production

Outbreak started off as an early concept sometime after Resident Evil 2. Developed by Noritaka Funamizu, it was a multiplayer minigame that pit the players against various mutants. Funamizu took notice that the Capcom developers playtesting it behaved differently when playing, with some running away to save themselves and others tackling the mutants head-on. Ammunition could also be hoarded by one player, which had reputations elsewhere when another was in need of help.[2][3] Over time, this concept evolved, and Funamizu would turn it into its own game. Rather than implying allowing the players to express their character, it was decided it would take on RPG elements, with the player able to pick specific characters with their own stats and abilities.

Programming

Using the power of the PlayStation 2, Outbreak was designed to load 3D backgrounds which would be explored with a dynamic camera fixed onto a rail. This concept was also shared with 2000's Resident Evil CODE:Veronica and 2001's Devil May Cry.

In each level, the player would begin with two partner characters, dubbed "AIPCs". These partners would play the game autonomously, picking up items and fighting enemies. Through the use of the "ad-lib" system, the player would be able to communicate with these partners, ranging from simply instructions such as "help" and "go", and even request an item trade, but could even lead to scripted conversations giving plot insight. Due to concerns that players having trivial conversations might make the gameplay less appealing or scary, it was decided that online gamers would also be limited to communicating via ad-lib.[2]

Each playable character has its own stats that affect it. The most significant is the Virus Gauge, which dictates how fast the t-Virus is spreading in the character's body. Once the gauge reaches 100%, the player will collapse and get a Game Over in offline mode. In the online mode, the player will become a Zombie and get the chance to attack the other players before being killed.

In terms of enemy mechanics, Outbreak was unique in the series for having enemies placed on their own programmed paths, allowing them to travel from one room to another. An extreme example is the "Searching Researcher" of Decisions, Decisions, that would walk a circle around the east wing of the university faculty building. Enemies could, therefore, appear as if seemingly at random in a room the player previously saw was empty. Another take on this concept was one where an endless number of Zombies would make their way into a room until the player finds out how to escape.[2] One of the earlier ideas for Outbreak, this mechanic was used repeatedly in the level "Outbreak".

One gameplay mechanic that was cut-out of the final version was one where the player could move their character in cutscenes. This was still in its prototype stages in October 2002.[2]

Online capability for the game was based on an HDD expansion for the console, which would be able to download the game's data to improve loading times. As there was no dedicated server provided by Sony, Capcom had to shop around for servers in Japan, Europe and North America. Problems developed in the European hunt for the game,[4] and further problems were realised due to the PAL/NTSC running speed differences. Ultimately, it was abandoned and the game finally released in September 2004, nine months after its initial release.[5]

Script

Having been inspired by his work on Mobile Suit Gundam: Federation vs. Zeon, Funamizu commissioned a large RPG-like script for the game that would vary based on which characters the player wanted to use.[2] Continuing on with these mechanics, each level included its own subplots involving NPCs that could be talked to via the Examine button, with their own unique conversations triggered via the ad-lib. In some cases, talking to an NPC could also reward the player with an item.

Design

Studio 1 took 40,000 photographs of various real world locations. This served to get the correct textures and object positions for a realistic city, and so that each level would look like it was set elsewhere in the same city.[6]

Late-development editing

  • A screenshot of "Flashback", released in 2002. While shown heavily in promotions, this level would be cut from the game, and appear instead in 2004's "Outbreak File #2".
  • The character "Mickey" reads a newspaper in his motel. This scenario was also heavily advertised, but was never released at all.

In 2003, Studio 1 was met by two serious problems in the game's progress, both relating to its over-ambitious nature. Firstly, the approaching deadline; secondly, the storage capacity. By October 2002 some eighteen scenarios were in development with more in early planning.[2] In terms of storage capacity, the size of a PlayStation 2 DVD was limited to 4.7GB. While it is theoretically possible many of the scenarios were to be DLC, using the HDD's 40GB capacity, this hypothesis is unproven.

In terms of the deadline, the work Studio 1 was doing meant that there were few if any finished scenarios in the final weeks of development, even though game show content suggested a number were close to completion. By September 2003's Tokyo Game Show, the level count dropped to only five: "Outbreak", "Below Freezing Point", "The Hive", "Hellfire", and "Decisions, Decisions".[7] Of these five, there are signs that heavy editing had taken place to complete them, as promotional content before the cuts showed how the player could leave the Raccoon General Hospital.

Sources

  1. Varanini, Giancarlo. "Resident Evil Online reconfirmed", GameSpot, 15 February 2002. Retrieved on 2012-07-15. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Hamamura, Koichi (25 October 2002). (in Japanese)Weekly Famitsu (Enterbrain, Inc.) (#725). 
  3. SurvivHor translation of the Weekly Famitsu interview.
  4. Calvert, Justin. "Resident Evil Outbreak online doubts for Europe", GameSpot, 3 September 2003. Retrieved on 2012-07-15. 
  5. Calvert, Justin. "Resident Evil Outbreak offline in Europe", GameSpot, 26 March 2004. Retrieved on 2012-07-15. 
  6. BIOHAZARD OUTBREAK FILE 2. biohazardoutbreak. Archived from the original on 2004-09-01. Retrieved on 2020-04-20.
  7. "新シナリオ"零下"のカギを握るのはヨーコ!? 『バイオハザード アウトブレイク』", Famitsu, 23 November 2003. Retrieved on 2012-12-10. (in Japanese) 
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