When you make a 2D fighter you create so many sprites (in this case thousands upon thousands of HD artwork) artwork takes a toll on a system’s memory and disc space. Managing this is one of the main difficulties of making a 2D fighter and getting the backgrounds right was one of the toughest aspects in BlazBlue. The idea for BlazBlue was to have these grand operatic stages. Fighters brawling against lavish and theatrical backgrounds, but with so much HD work on the characters this posed a very big problem.
The original solution was to create 3D backgrounds and then have these "projected" behind the characters, like a backdrop, but after testing the idea it was rejected as it didn’t meet the required standards. The second approach that was tried was to create full 3D stages. However, with such a small amount of memory and space left, low-poly models had to be used which made everything look rather unsophisticated.
The final approach lead to the backgrounds you see in BlazBlue now and called on a number of approaches brought together. Higher polygon count objects were used around the edges of a scene or anything that was particularly close to the action. Anything that was central or further away used low-poly models and 2D layers were also applied.
With clever use of lighting and shading, these differing styles could be brought together to look as they were just one image. It was an approach that required compromise and although born out of necessity ultimately worked in BlazBlue’s favour giving real depth to the backgrounds and helping to accentuate BlazBlue’s distinctive looks.
BlazBlue’s stages are an intricate collage of high and low poly models as well as 2D layers blended and disguised with light shade and effects to create a coherent image with depth and focus.
There was, however, a rather unfortunate side effect to the depth of the backgrounds. Due to BlazBlue’s frantic pace, the developers found themselves getting motion sickness when they played. In order to counteract this, the backgrounds were made to move ‘too much’ – slightly distorting the camera perspective and giving the eye a more comfortable ride. Striking that delicate balance between adjusting the motion of the background so that it looked and felt natural and not making players feel nauseous was vital. No matter how pretty or intricate your backgrounds they’re useless if they’re a distraction to the player.
Speaking of distractions the player – this is a concept for the ‘Slums’ stage. ‘Home of Hype Dog’ aka Combo Killer. Arf! Arf! Arf! Arf! Arf!
Arc take their game worlds seriously. More than just a pretty backdrop for a one-on-one rumble Kagutsuchi, the hierarchical cities and environment around them, have all been given a purpose in BlazBlue lore. From the Seithir-free world of the past, to the discrepancy between the opulent heights and depraved lows of the mountain metropolis, you really get a feel that this is a living breathing world. It’s this kind of level of detail, this kind of richness to the game world then ensure fans around the world are crying out for an anime…
BlazBlue: Continuum Shift Extend comes out on PS3, Xbox 360, and Vita next week in North America and February 22 in Europe. And if you haven’t seen these before the BlazBlue fan page has BlazBreakfast cereals. Anyone want Bang Flakes?