When Visceral unleashed Dead Space upon the world a new standard was set for the survival-horror genre.
Visceral's biggest challenge with Dead Space 2 is creating a sequel that has the same impact as its predecessor. Always a big ask.
PSM3 took Dead Space 2 executive producer, Steve Papoutis to one side and asked him about the success of the first game, the challenge of the second and scary stuff in general.
Tell us about the PS3 version of Dead Space: Extraction?
With Move controls people will get to experience Extraction in HD for the ﬁrst time. We'll also support the Dual Shock and SixAxis controllers.
The Church of Unitology level is intense... how can you top this later on?
Our goal is to keep players on their toes. We want each chapter to feel unique. Part of that is how we will keep the players guessing and we'll set up some good scares.
What's the scariest moment of your life?
One of the scariest moments I've had was when I was in Germany on tour with my old band No Use For a Name. Some of the local folks took us to visit a Napoleonic Castle. I'm a huge castle fan so I was super pumped to check it out. We had to walk up this very tight spiral staircase to get out to a balcony that overlooked the grounds. I'm not a huge fan of heights and crazy tourists were pushing their way up the stairs. It was cramped, dark, and very high up. I was sweating and pretty freakin' scared. Once we got to the top and saw the view it was worth it but I'm not sure I'd attempt the climb again.
What's the 'secret' to the tension in Dead Space?
I think the key for setting up horror and terror in a game hinges on pacing, relatibility, and believability. You want players to feel like the situation or location they are in is something they could imagine or have been around in real-life. Then you start to tweak it a bit, you add some elements that feel slightly off, you use sound, lighting, VFX to set up a moment, and then you scare the crap out of them.
Are you making up the plot as you go along?
When we made Dead Space, we did an extensive timeline of events. We had to understand the universe. By doing that we were able to have concepts for the Animated Feature, Comic Series, and Dead Space Extraction. Focusing on deﬁ ning the universe kickstarted the events that could set us up nicely for Dead Space 2.
How do you balance the puzzle difficulty?
We are constantly putting the game in front of people around the studio and in focus tests to see where folks get frustrated or stuck. One idea we have talked about is having Isaac speak suggestions if we notice players are stuck and not progressing. That's an idea we've have talked about that might not make it into the ﬁnal game.
Why does Isaac have a face in Dead Space 2?
Isaac had a face in Dead Space; you saw it at the start if you moved the camera and in the ﬁnal sequence. The big change in Dead Space 2 is we have given him a voice; much of the story requires him to react through speech. Isaac will also encounter different folk along the way and we thought it would be odd for him to never say anything. Lastly, given all of horriﬁc shit Isaac went through, it made sense for him to share his thoughts.
Do you worry about killing what was special in the ﬁrst game?
It's a ﬁne line you have to tread when attempting a sequel. We want to remain true to what folks enjoyed in the ﬁrst game but we also need to evolve so people feel that Dead Space 2 is a good investment.
Will Dead Space's ﬂash-frame ending be explained in the sequel?
You have entered Spoiler Town. Sorry, I cannot comment on this right now.