At the time of Ryu ga Gotoku's release, what drew the attention of many people was the realistic townscape of the red light district, Kamurocho. At the time, no other game had used 3D CG to realistically reproduce an actual town before. So how was it done?
First of all, a 3D model of Kamurocho was constructed using computer graphics. In Ryu ga Gotoku, because the player can move about freely from main roads to the back alleys, each building had to have a front and back carefully created. The staff visited an actual red light district and measured out the buildings. Based on these measurements they calculated the proportions and height, then reproduced them as 3D models on the computer (see below).
If the buildings were left this way they would be plain, so graphics called "textures" were applied. This process is similar to wrapping the buildings in wrapping paper to give them their design.
The buildings were placed on asphalt, and props like street lights and trees along the side of the road, traffic cones and illegally-parked bikes were added. These kinds of roadside props were important for producing the mixed air of a red light district. They also added special flashing effects to the twinkling neon signs, and placed passers-by to complete it.
Also pay attention to the camerawork that shows the town. In spacious areas, the camera shows the protagonist from a fair distance. This is to convey the hustle and bustle of the town and show the people to the player. Upon entering narrow areas, the camera will switch to a tight close-up on the character, giving you the feeling of actually having moved from an open area to a cramped one. From Kenzan! onwards the camera angle can be freely changed, increasing the feeling of realism.
What Nagoshi was thorough about was capturing the feeling of actually walking about a red light district into the game. Because of this, sometimes there are elements that don't entirely match up with a real town. When you become Kazuma Kiryu and walk under Tenkaichi St.'s gate, make sure you take in the twinkling neon townscape. You will feel Nagoshi and the development team's fastidiousness.
The way the town looks before the application
of textures.You can see the intricate detail of
its creation, and how carefully it has been reproduced.