Burnaby’s Blue Castle Games unleashes zombies in Dead Rising 2

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      The zombie apocalypse is upon us, and this time the studio formerly known as Blue Castle Games is to blame. The Burnaby-based video-game developer was selected by Capcom to make Dead Rising 2, a sequel to the Japanese publisher’s sleeper hit of 2006. The survival-horror game will be released on September 28 for the PlayStation 3, Windows PC, and the Xbox 360.

      Capcom is clearly pleased with the results. At the Tokyo Game Show on September 15, managing corporate officer Keiji Inafune announced that the company would be acquiring Blue Castle and renaming it Capcom Game Studios Vancouver.

      Blue Castle wasn’t the obvious choice to develop Dead Rising 2. All of the studio’s previous games were baseball simulations. But Capcom’s Shinsaku Ohara, coproducer of the game, told the Georgia Straight that picking Blue Castle was an easy decision.

      “We wanted to show a lot of zombies, and they had the technology to do that,” Ohara said in an interview in June at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles.

      “That’s one of the triumphs of our engine,” Rob Barrett said of the software that Blue Castle developed and uses to create games. “Thousands of zombies at the same time as we’re rendering hundreds of objects and hundreds of weapons. The world is just that dense.”

      Barrett, Blue Castle’s president, spoke with the Straight in his office in July. He was joined by studio general manager Robyn Wallace.

      Being tapped to develop the sequel to a hit like Dead Rising may have been daunting, but Barrett credits Capcom with being very hands-on.

      “It’s their franchise,” he said. “A lot of the guys that made that [first] game have been working with us right from the start. They have their own ideas of what is a game-killer for this franchise, and we brought to it some of our own.”

      Among the new gameplay mechanics in Dead Rising 2 is the ability to combine objects into weapons. A vacuum cleaner and a saw blade become an “exsanguinator”, while a hamster ball and a car battery can be made into a “Tesla ball”. The “freedom bear” is a weapon created from a machine gun and a stuffed bear.

      Making the transition from sports to the undead involved growing pains, though, and Wallace admits that there were some false starts. “It’s a huge game with huge dependencies,” she said of Dead Rising 2. “I think we believed we knew what we were doing when we started, and there was a lot of learning.”

      “It was the first action game for the studio,” Barrett explained.

      A case in point: when they started working on Dead Rising 2, the Blue Castle developers thought that one of the key elements of the game was the size of the world players could roam. “In reality,” Wallace said, “it’s the density within the world that defines the game.”

      Bring on the zombie hordes. “You’re never more than five seconds away from something in Dead Rising [2]: a weapon you can pick up, a goofy outfit you can throw on, a zombie to beat around,” Barrett said.

      Back in July, Barrett noted he wanted to continue making action-adventure games, and hinted that he wanted to keep working with Capcom. He declined to comment when reached by the Straight in Tokyo after the acquisition was announced.

      Next up for Capcom Vancouver is a downloadable epilogue to Dead Rising 2. Case West will be available exclusively on Xbox Live Arcade.