In the beginning of the year, NC revealed the five IPs under development. A trailer of 〈Project M〉, one of the projects revealed at the time, was released for the first time on June 7th. 〈Project M〉 is known as a game of the ‘interactive movie’ genre focusing more on stories and hence, is attracting much attention already. In this interview, Producer Chasun Rhee who oversees 〈Project M〉 will share the direction of the game’s development and the interactive movie’s vision.
Venturing into a New Path: NC’s First Interactive Movie Game, 〈Project M〉
WORK IN PROCESS
Exploring New Possibilities
We could see there have been many progresses compared to the teaser first released in February. Could you explain about the progress that has been made in the development process of 〈Project M〉 ?
When 〈Project M〉 was first disclosed, we used proto-type resources. It is a project progressing fast, and the situation is changing every day. In particular, in the case of graphic and production, the situation changes fast every day. I believe things are better today than yesterday, and tomorrow will be better than today.
Project M PD Chasun Rhee.
Now, we have entered the ‘core production phase’, taking a step forward from the initially released version. ‘Core production’ is a phase where we would complete the technical parts before mass production. Since there have been further progresses in the development process, we could show actual playing in the trailer released on June 7th.
In the case of stories, we could complete improvement and edit the entire storyline and main events. We are currently improving the detailed design and small details related to game playing.
Could you explain 〈Project M〉 , a new genre introduced by NC?
Literally speaking, this is a new challenge for us. In the past, we used to focus on development of MMORPGs. All the processes to venture into new paths felt very new to us. Not only overall production processes, including team creation and development process, but also story development methods and verification of interactive games that would suit the genre of interactive movies had to be newly developed. Also, we actively introduced new functions to create realistic graphics that would suit the needs of interactive games. We had difficult times, but we expect that we could take a step forward through creating a great game of a new genre in NC.
You have just mentioned that new functions were used to create realistic graphics. Could you explain in which environment you are producing 〈Project M〉 ?
〈Project M〉 depicts the modern-day world. Therefore, we are producing it using Unreal Engine 5 to create more realistic videos. In particular, we are actively using Nanite 1 and Lumen2 , the new functions of Unreal Engine 5. Using the functions, we are able to create more detailed and realistic videos.
Also, we are putting much thought into ways to improve work efficiency in order to create quality graphics in a swift manner using functions like MetaHuman 3, face scanning, motion capture, and 3D background scanning.
1 Nanite: A function of Unreal Engine 5 where high-quality landscape image could be applied on a real time basis.
2 Lumen: A light source effect function provided by Unreal Engine 5, enabling users to express the changing daylight throughout the day on a real time basis. In case it is used with Nanite, realistic outputs like actual photographic images could be created.
3 MetaHuman Creator: A digital human production tool used in Unreal Engine. Using scanned data of actual human beings and samples, detailed and realistic characters may be swiftly created.
How Lumen and Virtual Shadow of Unreal Engine 5 are applied to the graphics.
Interests in interactive movie genre are increasing. What will be the most important elements of 〈Project M〉 that you would like to show through this genre?
Since 〈Project M〉 belongs to interactive movie genre, we focus on stories and characteristics as a game. In addition, we have focused much on playing itself as one of the most important elements of 〈Project M〉. In the case of interactive movies, the story’s direction shifts depending on which decision the player makes at each junction. The same principle applies to 〈Project M〉, however, I would like to say that 〈Project M〉 offers many options to players at each junction, rather than offering placing many junctions in the story itself. In other words, even if the players may reach the same conclusion, they may have different experiences depending on what decision they make. Through this, each player may get immersed in the game experiencing different emotions. We are trying diverse directing styles so that players would get new experience through new screen, lighting, and sound.
We plan to continuously share detailed information about various elements that we try to introduce to 〈Project M〉 and production process, etc. through NCing.
Taking a Deep Dive into the Trailer
We watched the trailer, and it seems that the story of the main character is related to a heartbreaking incident involving the character’s family. What kind of story would you entail in 〈Project M〉 ?
Background of 〈Project M〉 is the modern-day world and especially Korea. It indicates this immediate time and place that we are living in. As was implied by the trailer, 〈Project M〉 entails a story about a family. Please understand that we cannot disclose many details, since the project is still under development and the project is an interactive movie.
We wonder what you would like to show through this trailer.
We wanted to show the foreshadowing of the story, realistic expressions, and our directing ability. Actually, we wanted to show them all. (Laughs)
First, with regards to the story, all the lines used in the trailer would also be used in the game. It is safer to understand that the trailer includes much of the actual game stories. Even though the entire story cannot be understood since the trailer is short, I would like to ask you to make as many imaginations as possible after watching the trailer.
Secondly, we paid much attention to realistic expressions. ‘Realistic’ expressions cannot be made only through modeling alone. You may find an expression realistic only if a high-quality modeling is combined with natural lighting, animation, etc. Our staff went through many difficulties in order to enable such realistic expressions. In many cases, we have many exchanged feedback with each other to create a single realistic facial expression.
Lastly, we made many efforts for directing of camera angle, lighting, etc. in order to create and deliver more immersive stories and scenes. Many venues appear in the trailer, and we made sure that each venue would have a different tone of color.
How various camera angles like High angle, Dutch angle, etc. are applied according to the scene.
You have just mentioned that you paid much attention to directing of and expressions in the trailer. Could you give us specific examples?
It was more difficult than expected for us to create an animation where a female would turn her head and look straight ahead. Since it was a close-up, and we worked based on motion capture, we had to make sure that all body parts, including shoulders and head, would move separately in a natural manner.
The scene where a female turns her head and looks straight ahead.
At first, we created a dice looking shiny and smooth, but it did not look as if it was used. We modified it, and it look so old and rusty. After exchanging multiple feedbacks, we could create an image of a dice that looks used enough to be aesthetically pleasing.
Dice that appears in the 〈Project M〉’s trailer.
In the video, we have cross-cut various venues where the main character is threatened. To express the feelings of each venue in different ways, we applied different tones of color. We applied bluish tone to the character’s house and green color to the empty hospital aisle to create a creepy feeling.
Scenes where different colors appear depending on the space.
After replacing Unreal Engine 4 with 5, the lighting method was changed. We have to apply different light settings to the dark places where there are nearly no light and to the very bright places. It was difficult for us to strike the right balance, since we had to create noise or reduce frame rate if we were to optimize the screen.
We also put much thought into game buttons. Since 〈Project M〉 involved much directing and movement, we should make sure that the game buttons would be well displayed but would not obstruct the player’s vision. Since the screen was based on real photographic images, the tone and manner was different from those of fantasy genre and were difficult to be matched. However, we tried to preserve the vibes of virtual images.
<Project M>’s button design
Please refer to “Dev Talks” produced by NCing for further details about the experiences and feelings of the developers that participated in production of this trailer.
(*You may check more details about the stories of developers hidden behind the trailer through “Dev Talks”. (Link)
We are curious about the videos to be disclosed through NCing in addition to the Dev Talks that you have just mentioned.
In addition to Dev Talks, we have posted CCG (Comment Come & Go)(Link). In CCG, we answer the questions from the players that watched the trailer. I hope you could watch the two videos as well. We would like to ask for your continued interest and attention, since we will release videos about actual development processes and story through NCing.
Lastly, we would like to ask you to say a few words to the players that are waiting for
to be launched and about your plans for the future.
We still have a long way to go until the game is launched, but we are doing our best. Since all 〈Project M〉 developers are making their best efforts to develop this game, we would like you to ‘stay with us’ throughout this long journey.