Interviews

Dead Space 2 Pt. 2

Visceral on scares, EA culture and... Pixar's Up

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There's no formula to game development - it's a matter of having the right types of people that are passionate and motivated about what you're making. That applies to anything you do in your life, if you love what you're doing it is going to show itself in the end result.

If you're passionate about it and care, it's going to yield better results than if you're grumpy. It's a special thing to be able to work with the creative team back at Visceral and see that passion and energy that they put in to the game that we're making for the players. Hopefully it pays off when the game comes out and people will enjoy it.

Do you think it's fair to say that other EA studios are looking at you as a role-model in that regard? The whole company seems to have been revitalised around that passion...

It's hard to say, I don't know. I think we've got some great studios all over the world: DICE and BioWare are two that just immediately pop to mind where they're making top titles. Battlefield is an excellent game, Dragon Age and Mass Effect are excellent games. I think there's a lot to learn from every EA studio, in terms of best practices, what works for them and what doesn't.

Zoom

I think culture plays a lot into it, the way that you build the team. I've been on teams before where everything is from the top down; there's one guy making all the decisions. One of the things about the Dead Space team is that everybody cares so much about it. They [all] have an opinion, so we try to talk about things and factor that in as we make our decisions.

There ultimately has to be somebody to make the final call and that is the way it works - but promoting more of a collaborative nature in the team is very cool and works for us.

You've had very little competition over the last few years in the survival horror genre. Why do you think that is?

I don't know. It's very difficult to make survival horror games... there's so much that has to go into each moment and planning out each thing, understanding that at any moment a player may not even see what you want them to see. There is a lot of work that goes into that.

Also, I think some of it may even be demand in terms of what games you see that are the big blockbuster games that are selling gangbusters - that may be a motivator. For us, we're doing this game because we like horror, science-fiction, so it makes perfect sense for us but I don't know what other publishers thoughts are on that.

They're challenging - they're not easy games to make by any means. There's twitch action elements that need to be really good, then there's all the atmosphere and tension building, story, character design, all those elements that go into it that aren't as formulaic as some other genres of games.

Do you think the success of your series can help revive the genre?

That would be great. I think it would be awesome to see more games like Dead Space out there, there would be stuff for us to learn from and keep the genre going. I think there are a lot of people that enjoy it and it would be great to see that so I hope that happens.

There were some comments earlier this year about a Dead Space 2 demo...

We're not really talking about that yet, but stay tuned!

How would you say Dead Space 2 compares to the competition in terms of scares?

Horror is very subjective. I play Dead Space 2 every night. At work I'm looking at it all the time and it's extremely difficult to evaluate the horror part of it.

That was one of my duties on the last Dead Space - the horror element. When we shipped that game I was convinced it wasn't scary at all and nobody would think it was scary, because that's all I did, I was so focused... so on it. So It's hard for me to say.

So you're desensitised to it?

(laughs) Well it's difficult when you see something every day. The times when I get the best idea if we're on the right track is if we show it to other people, whether it's focus testers or guys like yourself and seeing their reaction. Once you see one guy banging his head against a wall in Dead Space 1 a hundred times, it doesn't have the same reaction as the first time you see it - you get a little bit clouded.

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