Jekyll & Hyde, the split personality, from PC to Dreamcast
Like Frankenstein, the story of "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" has become a cult favorite. Written and published in 1886 by Robert Louis Stevenson, it refers to the tug of war between good and evil. This horror novel can be interpreted as a work about split personality disorder.
In 150 years, this timeless short story has been adapted in all possible and unimaginable formats: in the cinema, in the theater, on television, in comic books, in board games and even in video games.
This article is complementary to the one about the history of In Utero and their biggest project, their baby, Evil Twin : The memoirs of Evil Twin: Cypriens Chronicles, the nightmare is within reach of the dreams of In Utero
The development of Jekyll and Hyde
At the beginning of the year 2000, while programming Evil Twin, a team of 20 professionals from the Parisian development studio In Utero, had the mission to create a PC game based on this famous horrific license. It will be called, at its release "Jekyll and Hyde".
«The budgets were not the same as now. There must have been about 20 of us (1/3 LDs GDs, 1/3 artists, 1/3 programmers). There was a main game designer, but the level designers could work on the GD as well from time to time, the same for the art side, if an idea seemed interesting we would do it, and there was less documentation to do on it»
Illustration of Jekyll's cabinet
LD : Level Designer
GD : Game Designer
In Utero was composed of young talents who are still working, for some of them, in the video game industry. They were a tight team and still are 20 years later. Who knows what games they could have created if the company hadn't closed !!!
«When In Ut' died, we didn't really get angry with each other. A good part of us went to work for Ubisoft, in Paris, Montpellier and Montreal, so we worked together again, and we saw each other occasionally. We watched the 98 French soccer team victory during the wedding of one of the founders over several days, on a Barco projected on a sheet in a barn. We had a real bond.»
The world of video games was not the same as today, it has evolved enormously. Production costs have increased along with the generations of platforms. Between fifty and a hundred people are probably needed for an average title. Like many professions, in the late nineties, employees didn't need thousands of qualifications, the know-how was acquired as you went along.
Jocelyn Tridemy (text in italics), who was the inspiration for a island of Evil Twin, was a Artiste3d/LD on the Jeckyll & Hyde project.
«I learned a lot on the job. I started with 3d, but I did some texturing, learned to animate, then did levels, then GD rules, and starting and tracking tools.»
Unlike ET, the development of Jekyll & Hyde did not last long, about a year. The deadlines were short. For the Parisian company, it was a way to make money while polishing their baby "Evil Twin". Doesn't it remind you of Yū Suzuki and his Shenmue ?
«As far as deadlines are concerned, we were beginning to have a bit of experience, but we were not in a hurry and we were having very long days, even weeks, at the time of milestones with the editor.»
3D modeling of Jekyll's cabinet
The book room
The book room in game
Jekyll and Hyde uses the same engine and the same graphic creation and integration tool (I.S.A.A.C) as the one used for Evil Twin. The models, the sets, the designs, the atmosphere of the places and the characters are inspired by the drawings of Stéphane Levallois (a French cartoonist). ET and Jekyll have an artistic and creative side in common, the graphic style of In Utero.
«Our references were the same and we tried to stick to Stéphane Bachelet's style.»
Anthony Lejeune, the art director, was in charge of respecting and visually recapturing the artistic approach of the comic book illustrator once the illustrations were transferred to 3D (volume, adding textures, character shapes, etc.) while maintaining overall consistency by supervising the other graphic designers. Using filters and Photoshop, the developers managed to find a type of texture that was a little trashy and not very clean to match Levallois' designs.
At the end of the adventure, once Jekyll and Hyde was on the shelves, all those who had worked on the project shared Stéphane Levallois' original illustrations. Who knows, maybe they will have something to showcase his work !