The cancellation of Castlevania: Resurrection for the Dreamcast was an unfortunate disappointment to many fans, some of whom
bought Sega's ill-fated system just to get the next installment of Konami's vamp-whipping series. Greg Orduyan, the art director for the project,
was awesome enough to take some time to answer some questions about how the game was turning out
and the circumstances surrounding its cancellation.
Q. What role did you play in the development of Castlevania Resurrection?
A. I was the art director.
Q. How did you get started on the project?
A. I had worked in NY. Konami recruited me, they wanted somebody who would make intro cinematics.
Q. What other projects have you been involved with?
A. The team I was a part of was The Bottom of the Ninth team, the baseball game. At the time, our team was the only reliable game development team that American operations had available to them. We were able to ship titles within a deadline, within budget, and were able to do it release after release. When an opportunity came about to develop Castlevania, we were the best they had available to them.
Q. How far along was the game before Konami finally pull the plug? Approximately how complete was it?
A. Pretty far, we had the game was actually on a very good track, we were making great progress. It was really a matter of balancing and tweaking and putting it all together. We had a working version of the game, that still needed to be optimized, physics to be finalized, and additional art designs. When the game was cancelled, it was eventually sent back to Japan so they could look at it for reference for future 3D Castlevanias.
Q. What did you think of the actual game? Some press pointed to the game not being very good in the early stages.
A. The game was very eagerly anticipated. The negative reaction was based off rumors leaked by some people within Konami who had their own agenda. Afterward, we worked together to create a working prototype, and the press loved it - everyone said "Wait a second, it looks pretty good." The rumors were put to rest. Then it was cancelled, and everyone assumed, "It must be crap."
Q. The game was going to be strictly action based, not exploration based like Symphony of the Night, right?
A. There was no free roaming. Definitely from point A to point B. Basically it was trying to give it a feeling of a side scroller.
Q. There were several noted reasons why Resurrection was cancelled. Some noted strife between American and Japanese teams. Others pointed out that the game simply wasn't coming along very well. The most popular reasoning seems to be the fact that the Dreamcast just wasn't do very well. From your perspective, what did you see as the reasons for the cancellation?
A. Everyone loved the demo. It looked and played better than most of the titles for the Dreamcast at the time.
The game was cancelled the same day that Sony announced the PS2. The reality is, Sony was very secretive about the PS2. Then they said OK, this is a definite date we're releasing the PS2. This did not affect just Castlevania, it affected every single DC game Konami was developing worldwide.
Any company has conflicts. You can find this anywhere, in any job. So the point is people not getting along, that type of stuff happens, but it had nothing to do with the cancellation. Why Konami went so trigger happy that day, that's a whole other conversation.
Q. If it was mostly done, why not port it to the PS2 instead of scrapping development completely?
A. This goes to the intricacies of game development. If you want to port something, you need to plan it early in development. Otherwise, you would need to rewrite it. Sometimes it's easier to build from scratch than to retrofit. But we recycled some of the team members to work on the Japanese games.
Q. What do you think of series artist Ayami Kojima?
A. Nothing really. She's okay, she can draw.
Q. Was it hard trying to fit your artistic style to that of the Castlevania universe?
A. That's what art directors do. We did research, went ahead and nailed it. It took a little time, that's we do.
Q. Did you draw upon any of the previous games for inspiration on the look of the game?
A. Oh yeah. We checked older CV games, but the game which is my personal fave was Symphony of the Night. We looked at that, and didn't want to copy it, but capture the spirit. We wanted the game to be as innovative as Symphony.
Q. Have you played any CV games before or since?
A. There are other games like Katamari Damacy that are groundbreaking. Castlevania, I'm sorry to say, there's nothing innovative anymore.
Q. The plotline involved a theme of time travel - did this ever affect any of the designs? A lot of people bring up the example of the skeleton motorcycles from the N64 game and how horrible they were.
A. Well, it affected the story, but as far as game design, I'd have to say no. It was scorned for life by those skeleton motorcycles. We looked at CV, we sort of debated ideas with the time travel. I like things to be different. We thought of a level where it's black and white, monochromatic, like the old Dracula 30s movie, with film grains and everything. We kind of left that behind. In game development, you create tons of ideas. But because of limitations in the time and budget, you fill it with the core ideas, and the stuff that cannot be shed.
For the story, Victor, the hero, was basically sucked into Sonia's world, and needed to deal with Dracula. But from that point on, it was like any other Castlevania.
CV is very eclectic in artstyle. It's a mixture of all historical styles, starting from the Rennaisance, going through medieval ages, from Roman and Greek, and even went into Classicism, it's very mixed and matched. We have monsters inspired by Greek mythology, some were inspired by Christian lore, some were completely made up. We tried to capture this. Castlevania creates its own sort of cosmos, all so different but still connected. Those skeleton motorcycles were not part of that.
Q. Can you confirm that the music contributed to the Dungeon is the real deal, and was going to be used in the game? What about those crazy cartoon tracks? They were included when they were initially sent to me.
A. It probably is. The music fit the look and feel of the game perfectly. There was all kinds of music. The composers were very big Castlevania fans and knew many of the the themes by heart. They added in sound effects like doors creaking, wind blowing and wolves howling.
As for the other cartoon tracks, we included music on several discs we sent to the press. Those other tracks probably got mixed in.
Thanks for your time Greg! You can visit his website, including tons of illustrations and
renderings from Castlevania Resurrection, at www.orduyan.com