Z.O.E staff interview: Part 2 Nobuyoshi Nishimura character designer / art director
Part 2 of the Z.O.E development team member interviews is Mr. Nobuyoshi Nishimura - character designer and art director.

: As the person who designed the characters and directed the demo movie sequences, could you talk about the highlights of the game?

I always kept in mind to convey the animation feel while using 3D. "Animation = toon shade" was not the equation for myself. I introduced animation elements mainly in the expression in the demo scenes.

A lot of the 3D CGs in many games go toward realism. I went in a totally different direction. I'd be delighted if players catch that and enjoy what they see.

: Was it tough to design the characters?

Making sure that everything worked in 3D and coming up with designs that would not be distorted when moved in the game was what I tried to pay special attention for.
For example, trying to avoid parts that interfere with each other when making a particular 3D model move.

And to maximize the benefits of animation-style effects, I tried to avoid realistic designs while creating characters for a realistic-style robot animation.
Another thing I kept in my mind was to come up with relatively orthodox face designs so that facial expressions and acting could be assigned easily to the models.

: What are the differences with direction and camera angles in games and animations?

As for directing the demo scenes, I tried to move the camera as often as possible to take advantage of the 3D models. I avoided long cuts.
However, the bottom line was to do things "a la TV animation."
Since the mechs were cool enough in the playable portion of the game, I tried not to go overboard with things going on in the demo scenes.

Since I always thought in 2D regarding the cut scenes, when I did things with the camera, many times I did not get what I expected.
For example, with the cockpit scene, the camera should be inside the cockpit. I wanted to use a wide-angle camera view, but such a view distorted the 3D model too much, and this idea had to be dropped.
Things like this could be done quite easily with animations by drawing the characters so that they look natural. That could not be done in 3D.

I worked on the storyboard as if I was working on a normal animation. Therefore, not too many of my sketches incorporated depth. The other staff helped me on that by working with the camera. Actually there are many scenes are turned out more dynamic than the original storyboard.

: Finally, could you give us your message for those gamers out there longing for the release of the game?

I think this is the first time this much "TV animation feel" was incorporated in 3D CG sequences. The end result is not exactly 2D or 3D; it is something you've never seen before. Hope you enjoy it.

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