Chrono Trigger: Resurrection InterviewExclusive Chrono Trigger: Resurrection Interview With Director, Nathan Lazur
Do I have a treat for all you VGProfessionals and Stag-minions alike. Nathan Lazur, director of the famed Chrono Trigger: Resurrection project, answered a few questions all of us, "the uninformed," have been wanting to know! Be warned, this interview may cause unintentional joy-gasms and whole-hearted respect and admiration for Resurrection Games. Stagbeetle: First off, how about an introduction of everyone on the team?
Nathan Lazur: Luis Martins, our Art Director/Lighting/Concept/Texture Artist. He's a jack of all trades. A true artist and a very knowledgeable guy. He usually re-touches all areas of art, whether it be models/textures/lighting/etc. He is also our very talented concept artist. Without him, this project wouldn't look anywhere as good as it does now.
Moise Breton is our main character 3D artist. Having previously worked on films such as "The Matrix Reloaded", he has quite a bit of experience that has proved to be essential to our project.
David Ying is our main background 3D artist. He's primarily responsible for all of the base textures and geometry that you see in any screenshot. He was the first 3D artist to work on the project since it started in April 2003.
Michel Cadieux is our main character animator. He's responsible for all of the animations for the playable characters. He's been in the industry for 3 years while working a Microids. It's been very enjoyable seeing his animations bring the character models to life.
Michal Demirel is our enemy/background animator. He's responsible for enemy animation and scene animation. Before Michel joined the team, he was also doing the Crono animations for the E3 build.
Then we have our master musician, Mathew Valente. Believe it or not, I used to listen to his music before I even knew him. That's how good this guy is. I am very proud to have him part of the team.
Our newest team member, Xavier Dang is a famous remixer that offered a helping hand on our sound effects. Already, his sound effects have inspired us to new heights.
And lastly, you have me, Nathan Lazur. I am the director and programmer of Chrono Resurrection.Stag: What's the history behind Resurrection Games and how did the idea of remaking Chrono Trigger come about?
Nathan: Well, I remember wondering back in 1999 what a 3D Chrono Trigger would look like. I realized, at the time, that I had to learn a programming to accomplish my dream. So, I started researching programming, which I had no previous experience with. In the process of learning how to program, I also learned a lot about console programming thanks to extensive research and development on Nintendo 64 and PSone. And so it began... I started to create a demo of Chrono Trigger on the Nintendo 64 as an application of what I learned.
Unfortunately, I stopped development of "CT64" in mid-2000, for various reasons. One of those reasons was to brush up on my skills. A year a later, I received a phone call to work at DC Studios up here in Montreal. This is relevant because working 3 1/2 years in a game development studio has really helped me to develop, as a programmer. If it weren't for the experience I've gained at DC, I probably wouldn't be as knowledgeable.
Chrono Resurrection didn't start until April of last year (2003). I was just recuperating from a pretty serious surgery, so I had 3 weeks off of work. I had much time to collect my thoughts and I was thinking how I didn't like not finishing projects. So, I messaged my long time friend (and former CT64 musician), Mat Valente, and asked him what he thought about resuming the project. He seemed enthused, so we began the planning of the project.
It's pretty amazing to think that we have 8 people on the project now.Stag: Ok, let's clear up some mess. Are you remaking all of Chrono Trigger or is this a demo?
Nathan: Ok, we have received this question many, many times since the E3 Web site launch. It is just a demo. We are not re-creating the full game. The reason why is because We don't have the amount of resources required to remake the whole game.
We have received MANY requests to remake the entire game from fans and it would only happen if Square gave us official backing, which is very unlikely. We think Square would do a much better job than us at remaking their own game, after all.Stag: Will all of Chrono Trigger's characters be playable?
Nathan: Playable? Well, we are planning on allowing the player to play through the demo with the default party, at first. If they progress through the demo in a different order, they might unlock certain characters, which they will be able to use if they play through the demo again. We're trying to find ways to add replay value to even a small demo such as this and unlocking characters will be one way.
It is not guaranteed that all characters from Chrono Trigger will be playable, though. We stated earlier that there is a 50% chance that Robo and Ayla won't make it. This is due to time constraints, of course. We believe in what Nintendo has stated time and time again -- "Quality over quantity".Stag: Do you think there was something going on behind the scene of Chrono Trigger with Marle and Magus? You know.... quick sessions in the Epoch? Or, was there a hidden scandal between Frog and Crono?
Give us the dirt.
Nathan: I wish I knew. :)Stag: Technically, what are some hurdles Resurrection Games had to over-come in recreating this classic?
Nathan: That's a good question. We've had many different types of problems that we've never encountered in the game development process before.
Anyone involved in the graphics/animation department had to overcome the inconsistencies of the source art material. For those who are unaware, there are 3 different types of Chrono Trigger references: Original Game Sprites, 1995 Original Concept Art, and the 1999 PSone remake movies/concept art. These all have quite different styles and it was challenging coming up with a common style that represents all of them. Needless to say, we've been trying our best to congeal them into the best looking style possible and I, personally, think we've done a very good job.
Developing an entire cross-platform engine with the tools was also quite a challenge, especially for one person. Over a year was spent developing the prototype engine and tools, in parallel with the E3 demo everyone saw in May. What made it particularly challenging was the art pipeline. We wanted to make it as flexible and non-intrusive as possible. I think we've succeeded in that respect, but there were always the exporter-related bugs that kept on creeping up. We pretty much have them all resolved now, but it was a very grueling and tedious process to fix them. Our exporter is complete now -- It exports Skin and Bones, Character Studio, and all of the standard trimmings.
The biggest hurdle, by far, is the lack of time. Most of the team members have full-time lives... Girlfriends, jobs, etc. Most of the team also works in the game industry, professionally, and let me tell you that this job usually takes a lot of energy out of you. Sometimes, when you get home, you want to sleep or relax away from a computer. Even so, pretty much for everyone on the team comes home and works on the project until they fall asleep. It's been very challenging to develop even a small demo such as this in our spare time. I can honestly say that we are putting our soul into the project.Stag: What do you hope to accomplish with this project? Notoriety, or just practice?
Nathan: Well, I speak for myself when I say this, but I'm doing this just because I love Chrono Trigger. I thought it would be cool to see it in 3D. It was weird -- Just yesterday, Luis and I were playing Final Lavos as research and we noticed that our demo was starting to look like the original game. It was very exciting to see that we are getting closer and closer to the original look and feel of the game.
It's interesting that you brought up the subject of practice. We have learned many other aspects of game development that we wouldn't have learned if we didn't do it ourselves. Many important qualities such as: Leadership, marketing, scheduling, professionalism, etc. And, of course, we have learned new development techniques and refined our old ones even more. This is a chance to show off our potential as well as create something we've always wanted to play.Stag: Who do you think would win in a battle, Lavos or Kefka? Why?
Nathan: Easy, Lavos. :) Why? Because he can control time.Stag: What are Resurrection Games' plans after Chrono Trigger: Resurrection?
Nathan: I can't say for certain, but we are knocking the idea around of developing an original concept based in Feudal Japan. We have no plans to remake another game. Stag: Are there any issues you want to clear up regarding inaccurate information about Resurrection Games or this project posted on other game sites?
Nathan: In case anyone has missed the blatant text pasted just about everywhere in any asset of our project, we are not part of Square or affiliated them in any way. While we are flattered that some have thought that we are part of Square, let me assure you we have no affiliation with the masters of the RPG genre.
Thank you to Nathan Lazur and all the guys at Resurrection Games. Keep up the good work! For more informationon Resurrection Games and Chrono Trigger: Resurrection check out the "Related Links" section below.