Dead Space 3 is 'Better with Kinect' - how did that Kinect integration come about and how did you find working with the device?
Getting a chance to use Kinect was something that was pretty cool for us. We've explored motion controls on some of the other platforms and that was fun and informative, but we hadn't done Kinect. So when we got the opportunity to sit down with Dead Space 3 we asked, "Well what can we do with Kinect?" "How can we make that feel like an addition to the game that makes it fun and really leverages the strengths of Kinect?"
So being able to do certain things without changing the grip on your controller is really advantageous. Add in co-op and now you can do things with simple voice commands like give your partner ammo or items - things that would normally take a couple of extra clicks on the sticks. That was really cool. And we've had fun in the team when we're sitting down playing and I'm in the room with you and I can mess with you a little bit. That's fun.
So you see Kinect as an opportunity to grief others, also?
Weeellllll... just your friends! Kinect's actually working out really well and the team's done a great job with it.
We saw Kinect's voice capabilities come into play in Mass Effect 3, also. Being under the big EA umbrella did you guys talk to Bioware about Kinect implementation at all?
Nope. Huge fan of Mass Effect and BioWare but we didn't actually talk to those guys about it. We dove in and figured out what would make sense for us.
And what of Kinect's cameras? Did you consider any gesture-based inputs?
No, because people at this point with the third one are very used to the experience we have when kicking back on their couch with the gamepad, so it didn't make sense to put that in. When we have approached things like motion control we've done that from the ground up, such as with Extraction on the other platforms. We were allowed to think of it as an integral part of that experience. So with Dead Space 3 it didn't make sense to put that in.
When we think of horror games we think of people screaming and swearing... will Kinect pick up on our feedback?
Yes! We actually have some commands that people will need to figure out. But there are commands where you might be in a certain situation and you might yell a specific expletive and it might behave in a way that you want it to. We definitely have done some things there...
In co-op there are going to be areas where Isaac and Carver see different things. Did you see these moments as an opportunity to really deliver on Dead Space's focus on metal instabilities?
Yeah, so that was one of the things that when we were kicking around the idea of co-op we really wanted to innovate and make it feel different and unique to Dead Space. Dementia has been an undercurrent throughout the Dead Space games: it's always been there and has always been a big cornerstone of the franchise, so we were able to utilize dementia in a way that allows Carver and Isaac to see different things from time to time.
That creates an interesting dynamic when you're sitting in your house, I'm sitting in my house, and now I'm saying, "What are you doing man? Help me out here - what are you doing!?!" And you're saying, "Are you crazy? I'm seeing something totally different, you're not seeing this?"
You start to have a little argument and it's like you're having real-life dementia when the characters in the game are having dementia and it's different, nobody's done that. We're very excited to show that off.
Can you give us an explicit example of dementia in action?
Carver sees an item in the world that triggers a specific memory in him. And when he sees that item it leads him to an area that's now accessible to Carver and Isaac. So previously, in single player, that area's not accessible, but now Carver's there and he sees this iconic element he's able to access that area.
When that moment starts Carver's seeing the face of somebody - I won't tell you who - but he's seeing their face and Isaac's just seeing Carver look at nothing: he's just reacting like he's seeing something weird. When the duo go into that area Carver has even more dementia fits and starts having conversations with people that Isaac's not seeing.
Fans are familiar with Isaac. They like Isaac and they want to stick with Isaac. How tough was it to introduce this new guy, Carver, who immediately needs to be equally as important as the guy we've spend dozens of hours with already?
That was one of the things everyone on the team was worried about - just like when we gave Isaac his voice. How do we do this without making everyone freak out? And the answer is we're going to do it with care, and we're going to be sensitive to what our players want and we'll make sure the character is integral to our universe, has an interesting and compelling back-story, has strengths, has weaknesses, and throughout the game goes on a journey where we see him grow. And we felt as long as we followed those key tenets of good story-telling that people would enjoy it. He's actually in another Dead Space graphic novel, too.