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Interviews

Looking Back... Prey

Peering through the sphinc-door with Human Head Studios

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DEATH WALK
Gerritsen: The Death Walk wasn't in our original design - it came out about a year or two into the development. We were trying to work out ways to maintain immersion into the game, and one of the ideas to keep the immersion was that when you died, instead of being put back to a checkpoint, you went to an underworld. We went through a bunch of different versions before settling on the one in the game. Basically, we just wanted people to be able to complete the game. That's not to say that we wanted to make it easy, we just wanted people to enjoy playing. Some people say that it takes away the fear of death, but that's no different to quick-saving. We never set out to 'get' the player. It's a story, a movie, an interactive fiction that we wanted everyone to enjoy.

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EVIL KIDS
Rhinehart: Originally, the kids' faces just changed a little bit when they got possessed, and their eyes would start glowing. The problem was that the change was too subtle, so part-way through the game we decided to make them into ghosts to see if that would be any more creepy. It definitely helped us, because we put the children in a lot of the darker areas, and it was tough to see them with just the glowing eyes. We didn't want to light the room too bright so that it wasn't scary any more, so as ghosts they were both creepy and visible. It wasn't necessarily any better or any worse, it was just different, so in the end we decided to go with ghosts. And I'm sure it helped the game to get released in Germany, too.

DEAD CAN DANCE
Rhinehart:The idea was that the children were being taken over by the dishonoured dead, who were following Tommy back from his Death Walk. He's upset the balance in a way - the fact they come back with him is causing this to happen to the children. There's a bit in the sphere where the ship's voice says, 'These abominations weren't here before your sudden return, human', which is implying that he brought them back with him. There were certain things we wished we could have explained a bit better, and with hindsight this is one of them.

Gerritsen: At one point, we had it so they could possess you, as well as the children. But it was hard to convey in first-person. What would happen was, you'd be forced to Spirit Walk, so you'd leave your body and the ghost would take your body and run away with it. It was pretty funny, but to people play-testing the game, it just felt like a bug so we had to take it out.

SEVEN TRIALS
Gerritsen: We actually had the seven trials planned for Prey. The idea was that Tommy would start the trials, and then the invasion of the spirit world would happen. Then we thought about it, and thought it would make more sense to have the invasion happen straight away. As far as his character is concerned, he's just killed his girlfriend. He's angry, he's ready to train with his grandfather, and he's been pulled into the spirit realm. From a pacing standpoint, we just couldn't have you go through puzzles - you're all revved up, so you have to keep on fighting. But we thought it would be kinda funny to make you think you had to go through seven trials. It worked really well with the play testers - when the invasion happened they were like 'awesome'!

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PREY 2
Rhinehart: We're discussing a lot of cool new ideas for Prey 2, but we can't really talk about them. There's the simple dynamic stuff, developing the Portal system and the improving the way the alien AI uses the portals. Plus, there's already a mod out there that gives you a portal wrench, just the same as in Portal. We don't want to give away some of the cooler new stuff at this stage. We have some ideas that are way beyond how far we went in the first game that we want to explore pretty extensively - we'll definitely be taking things in a different direction next time.

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