Zone of the Enders

Zone of the Enders 2 (ZOE 2) [PS2 – Beta / Concepts]

Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner is an action game with mechs that was developed and published by Konami for the PlayStation 2 in 2003. Most mecha were designed by Yoji Shinkawa, the character and mechanical designer for the Metal Gear Solid series, with the exception of Lloyd and Inhert who were designed by Kazuma Kaneko of Megami Tensei fame.

From the official Konami website we can read a series of interviews with ZOE 2’s developers and artists, in which to see early designs of the mechs (some of wich were designed by Shinkawa in his school days).

Please let us know if there were any obstacles you had to overcome when working on the animation look.

Shinkawa : What was tough was deciding in the very first days of planning in which direction we would like to proceed. Initially the models had clearer outlines and looked more 2D. The modellers came up with many test models and then we boiled them down.

Unique charasterics of the Orbital Frames are the flowing lines and the silhouette along the legs. How did you come up with these ideas?

Shinkawa : As for the silhouette, I looked over sketches I did as a student, and we were like “Why not go with this!” The energy lines were expressions of shadows used in those sketches. Then Mr. Kobayashi (modeller) and I chatted as said “Let’s make these into grooves!”, “Let’s make them glow!” When we incorporated this in the game, we made the energy lines change color to indicate how much damage you have incurred. It comes down to coming up with logical explanations to make everything work and enjoyable.

I would like to ask you things about “Anubis”.

Shinkawa : As I said last time, it is basically the sketch I did in my school days.

If we look at your old sketched, Anubis hasn’t really changed much.

Shinkawa : It did not have wings, but it always had its spear. (bozzetto)

I guess Anubis was evil since your school days. It now has a really intimidating face.

Shinkawa : The face was not intended to look like this. In my school days, it was a simple dog face. The face on the bottom (energy line face) was actually a bug of the texture screwed up when I viewed an early model of Jehuty. That screwed up texture face is what you see on the bottom. We were like, “Hey, this bug…looks cool!” (laughs)

This is the new Orbital Frame “Ardjet” whose motif is “Geisha”. Why “Geisha”?

Shinkawa : In the rough sketches for the previous gamewas a coffin-shape mech. Director Shuyo Murata wanted to include this in this game. And he wanted the heroine of the game to pilot it. The original sketch I did really looked like a coffin with a skinny fellow like a zombie or mummy inside. It just wasn’t a mech for the heroine. I tried to modify it and turn it into a girly mech. But then I didn’t want to turn it into something too girly. After some trial and error, I ended up with this design that looks somewhat like a Geisha. Its hairstyle and long cape — I hope this looks like a Kimono.

Thanks to John Doom for the contribution!

Images: