Solving the Mystery of the Emerald Dragon

Salutations, everyone, I hope that you’re all well. Three years…! It’s been too long. :anjou_sad:

I found an extra tidbit of content recently which may provide an official verdict on my old “Mystery of the Emerald Dragon” article about PD’s pre-alpha development phase. This month’s Retro Gamer (no. 57) has a substantial article on the development of Eins and Zwei, informed by an interview with Team Andromeda artist Kentaro Yoshida. When discussing the game’s aesthetics, he refers to the team’s inspiration from Star Wars, from which they drew their mission statement:

“The concept is completely different, but I’d say the production style of Star Wars was definitely influential - you know, how it made an unearthly world appear so real…” (my emphasis)

A corollary of that is the desire to adopt a distinctive scheme that wasn’t comparable to established styles:

"…Also, we were determined to avoid going down the same path as the sci-fi anime that was considered cool at the time - Gundam, for example, with its big robots - and we certainly didn’t want to follow Final Fantasy’s lead, where you’d have characters waving impossibly big swords. Kusunoki was adamant that he didn’t want any Final Fantasy-esque unusual haircuts [gestures a Cloud-like spike] or purple hair or anything like that."

The same principle was applied when the preliminary “3D Shooting Game” came under review:

The first presentation video we put together featured a classically European-style green dragon, a pretty typical kind of dragon. However, we later changed the look of the dragon completely because we wanted to make it more sci-fi. Kusunoki decided to push the art-direction in a slightly Turkish-looking, Ottoman style, because everyone was already familiar with the more European aesthetics

Well, there’s the official word on the matter - 3D Shooting Game and the Emerald Dragon display the game only in a formative, embryonic state, before any conclusive art direction was finalised. The changes we saw between the Emerald Dragon of the CES show and the Zero Wing Dragon of the final release were the result of a consistent aesthetic approach, and not the product of any radical disputes over how the concept would be realised.

Maybe this information can be edited into a postscript at the end of the original article? Then we can dispel some of the amateur speculation and formally declare it “case closed”. :anjou_happy:

Panzer Dragoon also initially started life as a 32X project, so it is quite possible that “Emerald Dragon” was running on a 32X.

Infact, word has it amongst the prototype community that it was running on a 32X, contrary to what some magazines were printing (that it was Saturn).

Some of you may have noticed the graphical similarities between the CGI intro of Panzer Dragoon Eins and Silicone Graphics Technical Demonstration for the N64.

Not only because of the artistic similarities, but both pieces of footage were actually rendered on the same chip.

Yes… Panzer Dragoon’s introduction FMV was rendered on the same SGI chip used inside the N64, albeit not in real-time!

It’s true that Team Andromeda actually didn’t have a Saturn to start out with in early development, but are you sure that 32X hardware was being used? Kentaro’s own words give the impression that they were working on ad-hoc builds until they could secure a console kit:

It transpires that Team Andromeda only received a prototype Saturn partway through the development of Panzer Dragoon; initially, Andromeda’s programmers had to get along by anticipating how the console was likely to perform. … “…Saturn hardware wasn’t finalised and we didn’t have any prototype consoles to test with. The artists were using Silicon Graphics’ SoftImage, and the 3D graphics were programmed on workstations using OpenGL. After a while, we were finally able to send things across to the [debug] Saturn we’d received, but the transition was really difficult for the programmers… They used both of the Saturn’s GPUs in tandem, but I’m not sure how well that really worked out… [laughs]. Early on the frame rate was terribly low , but eventually they got it up to 20fps.”