Siren Maniacs - From the start of planning at the location shoot, until the testing stages
Before full-blown development began, the Siren creation team decided to go to locations all over the country, such as abandoned villages and mines. Also, in order to solidify a sense of the game, they created a single test stage for a different version of "Siren" to the retail version, preparing every last detail in development. Here are the opening stages of Siren that must be known.
08 & 09 - A party exploring locations of abandoned villages and mines across the country. Some of these areas appear "almost as they are" in-game.
10 - The test version of Siren, created to test out the game style. The one appearing as Kyoya Suda is Mr. Toyama, the director. From the bottom of the screen, you can see that at this point they had planned to include over 70 characters.
11 - A character created without using a real actor. The impression is quite different.
The test version used a different "vision" system to the retail version. By entering Vision Mode, vertical lines would be displayed according to the number of characters. Each of the lines would be displayed for a short time as a still image, from which you would choose the character you wanted to sightjack, which was the first time the idea of seeing another person's viewpoint through a video was brought up. The way the controller's left analogue stick is rotated like a radio tuner in the finished version is a more polished control scheme.
The setting of the game in the test version was Siren's familiar rice fields. However, while it was still filled with blood-like red water, it takes a completely different form to that of the one in the final version. At the start of development, in order to get a grasp on the complicated levels of the fields, they created a clay model of the area that is about three metres in length. It is like this in an archive item, too - do the Siren development team like arts and crafts!?
From the early stages of planning, the staff concentrated quite hard on bringing a closer sense of realism to the player, reproducing this deserted Japanese village. A heavy atmosphere, thick trees and still fog... To paint a picture of the fear of the Other World that comes from stepping away from "normality", first of all it is important to create a setting that would feel almost palpably real to a Japanese person.
The Siren staff's method of doing this is making the abandoned village feel realistic by using their thorough research. To most Japanese people, unseen abandoned villages lying in the mountains are unfamiliar. However, in this place where time appears to have stopped, the wooden buildings rotting away inside, the metal signboards and red postboxes that appear somehow like Japanese genes, bring back familiar memories. For this, the staff diligently went around abandoned villages and mines scattered nationwide. The one who guided the staff around is a certain person who is said to be the "premier ruin investigator". Naturally they also took photos of the abandoned buildings to later use as textures, but there are some things you open your eyes to upon actually being in that space for yourself. And the results of their diligent research can be seen by anyone who plays Siren for themselves. Hanuda Village in the game is eerily realistic.
Furthermore, the unique "vision" system at the core of the game is due to the Siren development team's careful preparation. The main project began in 2002, and by June of the preceding year they had already created a single playable stage. This test version, created to trial the concept and gameplay, feels quite different to the retail version. The construction of the levels in which it is set and the very "vision" system itself are still in the formative stages, and combining their research of character modelling you control a player character created by the development team, showing you a slightly different Siren.
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