Nintendo 3DS

Senran Kagura Producer Describes Developing A Game In 3D For The First Time


Something that one tends to notice while playing Nintendo 3DS games is that there are a multitude of fascinating ways to use the 3D effect. Some games utilize it to make characters pop out of the screen; others use it to give the game a better sense of depth, almost as if you’re looking “into” the world.


As we’re still in a very early phase of the 3DS’ life, there are also examples of games that use 3D well and games that don’t. In the case of the former, the 3D effect makes objects and characters appear more “rounded” and as if they have volume. In the case of the latter, it sometimes results in an odd “paper cut-out” effect that makes some objects look flat.


Clearly, there’s a difference in the way that art assets in games need to be optimized to achieve the best 3D look. I asked Senran Kagura producer, Kenichiro Takaki, how the development team approached developing a game in 3D.


Joking about the generous bust-size of the game’s female ninjas, Takaki shared: “We have more than sexual reasons for inflating our characters’ breasts! Simply put, it’s easier to achieve a 3D effect if you add some distance between the top of the chest and the torso. Clothed or not, well-defined breasts are better suited to 3D.”


“We decided on a few simple design rules setting out,” he elaborated. “These would be things like you couldn’t over-decorate the chest or butt, because we’d be applying 3D effects to those areas, or avoiding designs that clothed the girls in trousers because you can better render a sense of space with skirts fluttering in the wind.”


Despite these design guidelines, the team had to go through a lot of trial and error to achieve the final desired look. “We considered a number of different patterns… how do we move the camera, where and when do we switch to a different camera, do we move the character or not,” he revealed.


This was because every person perceives 3D visuals differently. “Even depending on how I was feeling a certain day, I’d see things differently,” Takaki shared. Because of this, the game’s 3D look was being adjusted up until the very end of development.

Ishaan Sahdev
Ishaan specializes in game design/sales analysis. He's the former managing editor of Siliconera and wrote the book "The Legend of Zelda - A Complete Development History". He also used to moonlight as a professional manga editor. These days, his day job has nothing to do with games, but the two inform each other nonetheless.