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

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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

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The book room

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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.

Automatons hangar

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Library Lab

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Interior station

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«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 !

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Plan of the dock and port area (see illustration on the left)

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Original drawing of Nino Sapina by Stephane Levallois (amphitheater))

The development team couldn't make the game they wanted to make because of their limited gameplay skills. As the company grew quickly, there were some tensions, differences of opinion. It doesn't help but at the same time what company doesn't have this kind of problem ?

«At the beginning we wanted to be able to switch from Jekyll to Hyde or vice versa as we wanted»

Surprisingly, this feature is present in one of the prototypes (technical demo) of Jekyll and Hyde discovered recently on Dreamcast.

One of the game’s biggest flaw was the game/level design. At the time, these professions were new. The critics of the journalists were not kind to this aspect of the title. However, they praised the creative side of the software.

With hindsight, and 20 years of experience at Ubisoft, if he had to do it again, Jocelyn Tridemy would correct some of the game's flaws such as the handling of the characters and the camera system.

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Interface Concept Art

«There should be a better separation of tasks, focus people on what they do best, spend more time on the 3C's of the character (two main characters, with potentially different C's) and differentiate the two characters more»

3C : Camera, Control, Character, it's what makes a main character pleasant to play or not, if the camera allows you to do and see what you need, if the character is reactive or in any case in adequacy with the game, and if it's comfortable to use for the type of game you want to play (I learned this specific term while writing this article :)).

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«We didn't know what the 3Cs were, we did a lot of things on instinct.»

For the anecdote, an Easter Egg is hidden in the level of the cemetery. One of the mausoleums is built on 2 floors, on the second floor "Evil Twin" and on the first floor "Jekyll". The developers were sneakys, by examining the tombstones, the names of the members of In Utero or their friends are engraved in the stone!

The cemetery level

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The music is magnificent. They were composed by Bertrand Eluerd. He also participated in the soundtrack of Evil Twin. Unfortunately, he died in 2005 at the age of 40.

Playstation 2 and Dreamcast versions were considered. The porting had started. They didn't have time to release In Utero as it filed for bankruptcy in 2001.


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The "Smokehouse" level (first mesh)

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The partnership with Cryo Interactive

Cryo Interactive, a long-time partner of In Utero since "Virus: It is aware", took care of the edition of Jekyll & Hyde. The French publisher trusted them with small-scale projects.

«The other games than Evil Twin also allowed/forced us to recruit other talented people, that's how we grew. And became ambitious, maybe too much so.»

It should be noted that at the beginning, In Utero was only a graphic service provider. The beginning of a partnership between the publisher and the development studio, which will later include 3 games ("Odyssey: The Search for Ulysses", "Jekyll and Hyde" and "Shadow of Zorro") starts with the project "Virus: It is aware" for Playstation 1. In Utero will take care of the cinematics, the scenery and the level design of the game. During this time, a small part of the company's staff is working on Cyprien, the first name of Evil Twin.

«Evil Twin was the first game where In Utero did everything from A to Z. It was the baby of the studio's founders, and a lot of people among us. So it took more time. We had to earn money and do other projects: The Odyssey, Jekyll, Zorro, etc. »

In Utero logo animation for Jeckyll and Hyde

With the work on Virus turned in on time, Cryo is pleased with their first experience with the Paris-based firm. As the little guys from In Utero needed a way to make a living, Jean-Martial Lefranc, one of the founders of Cryo Interactive Entertainment, proposed to the studio to write pitches (summary of the story, themes, type and main features of the game). Among the 3 proposed, Cryo retained the one that became The Odyssey: The Search for Ulysses.

«The Odyssey is a great experience, we're in a small group, we do what we want, what we can, we use Cryo's Omni camera (engine) system but  tweaked it, to make it more dynamic. We were supported by programmers from Cryo, but also by some of their testers.»