EA's Executive Producer Glen Schofield on Dead Space admits to getting a thrill out of putting the fear into gamers.
In this interview he talks about the challenges of pacing 16 hours of game play with enough scary moments and staking claim to the sci-fi horror-survival genre.
Das Gamer: As the creator of a horror game, what actually scares you?
Glen Schofield: Spiders. I hate them. Not sure its fear, probably more hate, but I don't like them.
What scares you when it comes to games?
Glen Schofield: The atmosphere, the unknowing. What's around the next corner, the adjacent room, that closet? With games I know it can come at you from any angle. In movies it's going to be where the camera is pointed.
What do you think the difference is in creating something that scares a gaming audience versus an audience going to see the next edition of Saw?
Glen Schofield: With a movie the director can frame the scene, point the camera and set everything up just perfectly for the scare. In games you have to be prepared for the player to miss moments, to come into them differently than you planned or just see a glimpse of it. We have to think out every scare moment from a hundred different perspectives and scenarios.
In addition, a movie is, at most, two hours long so they have a few great scare moments and a relatively short amount of time to keep the pacing up. In games we have to keep that going for 16 to 25 hours, depending on the player. We have to constantly come up with new ways to scare the player and keep them guessing.
It is takes thousands of iterations and trial and error, but the rewards of seeing gamers totally freak out because of what we've put in the game are totally worth it.
Why do you think the horror game genre has been so successful over the years?
Glen Schofield: It's just a completely different experience than a watching a horror movie. You expect there will be a story but you go in expecting surprises, something that will make you jump, cringe, close your eyes and just scare the crap out of you. Its like a wild roller coaster, you're there for the thrill. People just want that adrenaline rush. It's almost a dare to-can you scare me?
What's the best part about putting the fear into a new victim?
Glen Schofield: Seeing them react-the jump, startle, yell out and close their eyes. I love seeing their reaction and having them tell me the game scared the piss out of them. Now that's a rush.
Did you have any particular inspirations that helped you create Dead Space?
Glen Schofield: Just being a life-long, huge fan of horror and sci-fi. I've been immersed in these genres my whole life. As a gamer, there are sci-fi games and there are survival horror games, but nobody has really put the two together before. Sure, there are a couple scary sci-fi shooters, but not the survival horror kind- the pacing, the ammo and health conservation and just pure horror in space.
We're unique here. And we also some very different, innovations like zero-gravity, strategic dismemberment, no HUD, extremely unique weapons and enemies that will definitely stand out. We are creating nothing less than an interactive horror movie focused on terrifying the player.
Can you share a little more about "strategic dismemberment?"
Glen Schofield: Strategic dismemberment is a big combat feature for us - when we came up with the feature, there are tons of things that naturally got designed from that basic concept.
The weapons are designed to cut rock, and so are great at shearing off limbs. Our enemies, the Necromorphs, are all designed with dismemberment in mind, so their parts split off, and remain in the environment with full physics. They can even be picked up with Isaac's telekinesis (TK) ability and shot back to do even more damage!
Are you cool with killing off major characters in horror games-something we see more often in films than in horror games?
Glen Schofield: Absolutely! That's horror. That's the surprise. Who are we going to kill off, and just as important, how are they going to die? We've got some great deaths that will keep you guessing.
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