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MARK-ing New Territory - Part Three

The final installment of our THE MARK OF KRI profile

By James Stevenson     July 25, 2002


Innkeeper from THE MARK OF KRI
© 2002 Sony

Last week, CINESCAPE presented part two of its profile on Sony's team behind the upcoming action-game THE MARK OF KRI. This week we talk about the animation and the most difficult challenges that faced the team.


While playing through THE MARK OF KRI, one can easily notice the fantastic animation that is prevalent. Throughout the inn (which acts as a makeshift hub-world) there is excellent voice acting along with amazing animation that is nearly on the same level as Disney films.


"The animation, as far as in the inn goes, we were pretty lucky. We got a great group of voice-talent and these guys gave us a lot to work with. So the voice-talent we chose pretty much stood out," says Eric Medina, lead animator. "They had everything we needed, which was clarity, they matched the characters really well, there was no confusion as to who was who when we heard the voices. Animating to that ended up being really simple, all of us listened a lot to the audio and went with it. We ended up with what you see. A lot of time went into a lot of the animation of the game, a lot of thought went into a lot of the animation of the game, just as much went into swinging the sword as it did the heavier animation in the game. We're hoping that ends up showing at the end."


The beautiful animation doesn't stop there, though. Rau's combat moves are smooth and look perfect as he decapitates and mutilates the different enemies.


"As far as on the fighting end, we watched some fighting videos as far as island fighting goes. Not too much though. A lot of it was made up on the fly," explains Medina.

THE MARK OF KRI

"Not many of us have history with the martial arts and couldn't fight our way out of a paper bag. We did end up just swinging stuff around the studio and making it up as we went. The acting we pretty much played on all the timing that the voice actors gave us. The gave us such great timing and personality that I was basically able to examine them and take it across and then just emphasize their timing so that it made it a better piece to look at."


Accuracy in the animation was very important in the design, down to the last decapitation and mutilation.


"When we first started talking the combat system we knew the combat and the animation would go hand-in-hand and be as important as each other. So we didn't want to sell it short. We didn't want blue sparkles to fly off the guy when Eric puts all this work and love into Rau swinging the axe and it looking like he's swinging this twenty, thirty pound piece of sharpened steel and that it bounces off the enemy and blue sparkles come off," says Jay Beard, executive producer. "We really felt we'd be selling ourselves short with that, so things like blood and decapitations we always essential to what we want to do. Sony was very very good and very understanding about where we wanted to go with this. But I think for a while, it probably got people nervous."


Getting people nervous made the game fairly difficult to sell in the early stages. It was the foremost obstacle in the way of the team.


"We always knew we were trying to do something completely different, with our emphasis being completely on combat I think that selling the fact that we weren't going to be a free roaming adventure game, selling the fact that we didn't need to have puzzles where you're sliding rocks around, selling the violence that we wanted," adds Beard. "I think that was the big [obstacle]."


THE MARK OF KRI

That big obstacle has also become one of Beard's favorite parts of the game.


"My favorite part is the axe," says Beard. "In one of the arenas where the characters are really really weak, and you can just cut through them like a knife through butter. I gotta admit, there's a sick side of me that loves that."


THE MARK OF KRI will be available in stores everywhere on July 30th. Check back then for our full review.

Questions? Comments? Let us know what you think at feedback@cinescape.com.

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