How hard/costly would it be to make an independent Resident Evil style game?

My favorite PS1 game is probably Resident Evil 2, and I have spent countless hours playing it ever since I was in middle school. Every year, when the weather gets cold, I usually play through it as a tradition. I love everything about this game - the look of it, especially. I absolutely love the old-style survival horror games with pre-rendered backgrounds and fixed camera angles - one of the most hated styles of game design, I know, but for me, it’s the best. With those pre-rendered backgrounds, every scene is like a cinema shot. It heightens the tension and suspense SOOOOO much to not be able to look around at will in all directions, to instead be constrained in what viewpoint you can see. It also allows for better lighting, shading and color effects to be accomplished - since each background is like a painting.

My question is: since I love this style of game so much, and it’s so obvious that it’s never coming back (especially in today’s gaming world, where multiplayer and FPS rules), would it be possible for an independent game programmer to make a similar survival horror game, in a visually identical style, with the same kind of fixed camera angles and pre rendered backdrops? How hard is it to make a game like this? It seems like it’s pretty easy for at-home tinkerers to make 3D games, using the “engines” of other games. But I’ve never even heard of someone attempting to make a fixed-camera third-person game.

Are backgrounds like this extremely difficult to create? This screenshot illustrates the basic concept of fixed camera angles and backdrops - it looks like creating the character paths (essentially a one-dimensional line) would be the easy part. Is the backdrops the hard part?

Say an effort was made to get hundreds of die hard Resident Evil fans to donate small amounts of money to pay some out-of-work programmer to create this game. Would that be possible?

Come on - someone must know something about this.

I’ll take a stab at this, with the qualifier that my opinion comes from playing through hours of Game Dev Story.

One problem could be that programming isn’t the only thing involved with game production. You would also need someone to write the game, do the graphics and do the music. Now, even if Game Dev Story takes liberties with the process of making a video game, it seems sensible that programming the gameplay would be different than programming the graphics and music, so you would need someone who could do all three to a satisfactory level. You don’t mention what system you’d like the game for, but since RE2 was a PS1 game I’ll assume you want it to be Playstation game. Creating the game for money might involve needing the license to do so from Sony and I’m guessing that wouldn’t happen for a previously out-of-work programmer working on a very limited budget.

But, this is just my opinion and a pretty uninformed one at that, so who knows. I completely agree with you about the awesomeness of Resident Evil 2, though.

THANK YOU for at least attempting to answer the question.

Forget about the writing and the music for a moment. I’m speaking only of the graphics and game engine. The graphics would not need to be any better than the graphics of Resident Evil 2 for PS1. In fact, they shouldn’t be any better, since the game would ideally be heavy on the nostalgia value.

The game could be played on the PC. No need to make it actually for the PS1.

So you’ll need a professional coder and a graphics artist. Figure at least $40,000 per year for each, licensing a game engine and development tools will set you back $50,000 to $100,000, let’s say $10,000 for 3D software and other miscellaneous tools, and… Yeah, sorry, pocket change isn’t going to get anything done.

I think you under-estimate how expensive and time-consuming game development is by about a factor of 100. Even indie games have a budget well into six figures these days (And the people developing those generally do most of the work themselves.), so unless you can get it done cheaper than people who, you know, do this for a living, it’s just not going to happen.

There are a bunch of free game engines. You don’t need to spend $50+k on a game engine license. RE doesn’t require any fancy physics or rendering that couldn’t be accomplished by the Doom 3 engine, for example. Similarly, you certainly can write code in free development environments. Depending on what platform you’re targeting, MS Visual C++, various GNU stuff for *nix, or Apple XCode are all free or very cheap options.

RE is a pretty simple game at it’s core. You’ve got a maze, a dozen or so kinds of monsters, a bunch of partially scripted encounters, and a really clunky asset management system. I’m not saying it was easy to do 14 years ago, but the free tools available have come a long way since then.

By far the most time-consuming and expensive thing to do here is the art. All those different rooms have to be designed and drawn. All the characters and enemies have to be animated.

My bona fides are: In college about 8 years ago, I was on a team of three people, and for one class we built a 3d mini-golf game, another 3d game, and a 2d side-scroller, using several different game engines and (for one) raw OpenGL. I can’t have spent more than 10 hours a week on this, and one of the guys on my team did almost nothing, so call it ~200 man hours to build those three games. They were limited games. We didn’t have time to add all the levels and features we wanted, and we took longer to get them working than I would now: but, then, we were learning. Neither of us had ever built a computer game before (and I haven’t since, apart from some simple little side projects like building a former girlfriend a Tetris clone because she didn’t like how the other ones played. I’m a software developer, but not a game developer).

One of the other groups built a quite-passable first-person shooter game in < 100 man-hours of work. The art was limited, but the everything else worked.

A lot of the trickiness of making the original RE games would have been due to the constraints of the original playstation. To make a similar game run on reasonably modern hardware over a decade later removes a significant amount of risk and cost.

I think on a bare-bones budget, you could get this done for < $100k. Here I’m budgeting about one man-year of work, with about 3/4 of it devoted to the art and 1/4 to the software.

There was a recent post-mortem by the lead dev on indie hit title “Frozen Synapse”.!

The art style isn’t similar to what you’re asking, it’s definitely more abstract, so even your background might require more work.

It was a 3 man team. All the art was outsourced.

It took them over 4 years to create and cost over $200,000.

So apparently, it would be fairly difficult.

Frozen synpase does have a very polished, professional look and feel to it though. I suppose you could do a Resident evil clone for cheaper by cutting corners, though that would likely hurt market viability.

It looks like Frozen Synapse has a lot of fairly complex physics and AI. The game I am proposing wouldn’t need that. I’m not talking about making a state of the art game - I’m talking about a game with 1998-level graphics and programming.

I think your best bet would be to find other die-hard fans of RE2 with graphics and programming skills and form a team which works for free on this as a hobby. Do some research on how open-source games like Free Civ are created and see if you can replicate their model. Cost should be very low; mainly web-hosting and that could easily be raised by donation.

True, they built their own engine for the game, I believe.

The other thing to consider is that Frozen synapse isn’t like most other games. It’s not a basic 1st person/3rd person shooter, or a side-scroller, or an RPG. It’s a different sort of thing entirely. That means that they had to spend time experimenting with control systems, notification systems, AI, etc. to figure out what made the game balanced, fun, and challenging.

Making a RE clone is going to be much easier not just because RE is a simpler concept to begin with, but because it’s a completely-defined concept. You don’t have to figure out how to control the camera, or which sorts of controls to use, or whether it’s better to let the players shoot while running, or any of thousands of other implementation details, all of which take time to prototype and test. If you’re making a clone, all those choices have been made for you. You’re essentially just implementing a known spec.

I don’t know anything about designing video games (in a practical sense. I have some ideas from playing lots of games, but almost no experience). For me to make something like Frozen Synapse would require a tremendous amount of effort to learn what makes a game good, how to balance it and make it fun, etc. But I’m confident that I could bang out a perfectly functional RE-clone in a few months. All I have to do is play the old RE games and make it do that. Taking an existing engine and tacking on some known gameplay just isn’t that hard.

The weakness of the Free Civ model is art. It’s not terribly hard to find people who can code and like to do it for fun. It’s pretty hard to find artists who want to do all the really small detail work that’s required to make a game look good. It’s been around for years and I believe it’s been functionally complete for a long time, but the art still doesn’t look professional.

The rendering in RE2 was limited by technology, but the art is top-notch. Take a look at some screenshots. Sure, things are pixelated. But look how well-designed the lighting in each scene is. Look at all the different textures on the entry to the police department in the first picture, and at the patina of rust under the paint on the vertical beams in the second picture. Not to mention the excellent mood music and sound effects. RE games live or die by the mood created by the setting. They are like being inside a horror movie. That quality of experience doesn’t come cheap.

In fact, I’ll revise my estimate of the artwork upward. There’s well more than a man-year’s worth of art design in an RE game.

I’m planning to get a grassroots effort started among original-Resident-Evil fans. If enough attention could be generated, I’m sure it could be done.

You’ve got my interest, you’d get my money if it were truly feasible. I wish to God someone would give us that sort of game again. I love every aspect of them, especially the ones you rightly noted as being notoriously hated.

But I hope the responses to this thread have made you realize it can’t be done for cheap. And fan projects like this typically take years to come to fruition, and most fall apart well before the end.

Look at GoldenEye: Source, a mod team’s attempt to recreate just the multiplayer portion of GoldenEye took more than six years.