In Part 1 of our interview with Steve Papoutsis, executive producer of the Dead Space franchise over at Visceral Games, we talked about what it took to make a sequel to Dead Space and Extraction coming to PlayStation 3 with Move support, among other things. In Part 2, Papoutsis discusses giving Isaac a voice, the game's new mechanics, games that inspired Dead Space 2's development, and more.
Gaming Union: What's the overall vision for Dead Space 2?
Steve Papoutsis: First off, we really wanted to continue to develop Isaac as a character. In the first game, it kind of came out of nowhere that people really enjoyed him. So, in Dead Space 2 we're giving him a voice, because the game is going to be a little bit more centered around Isaac. The game is going to be focused around him and what he's going to do, how he's going to react to the situation.
GU: What made you decide to give Isaac a voice?
Steve: There was a lot of talk about it. There's something appealing about the silent protagonist and a lot of people do like that, but one of the things the team thought about was 'How do you make horror? What is horror?'. I think at the core it's all about believability and [being able to relate], and it's hard to relate to a guy that doesn't say anything. For example, if you just saw your best friend get destroyed by some Necromorph, you may have something to say about it, even if it's just 'Holy shit!'. In our effort to deliver the horror elements, it made sense to give him a voice, so he could express his feelings.
GU: Can you explain some of the changes to the core gameplay in Dead Space 2? For example, the quicker kinesis ability and the new zero gravity mechanic.
Steve: Again, turning it back onto the community and the gamers, we noticed that people mainly used kinesis for the puzzles or to move something out of the way, and we wanted to make sure that all of our mechanics were viable options in combat. With kinesis it was an easy one, because it was clear while watching people play that it was very slow - when you picked something up it was difficult to line up a shot. Now with the ability to actually impale enemies with discarded limbs from other Necromorphs and other pointy objects, it made sense to [speed up kinesis].
As far as zero gravity, we really wanted to do what we're doing with Dead Space 2 in the original Dead Space. Giving the player a full range of motion in the zero gravity spaces was really important, but it was also very challenging to get it to feel right. In the first game, we went with the simpler approach with the point-to-point jumping. Now we've created even more of a tool for the player to navigate environments. So, it's more fun to explore different areas and also gives us an opportunity to have combat mid fleet.
GU: There were also a lot of action packed, set piece moments in the demo. Is that representative of the overall experience? If so, what influenced that direction?
Steve: With Dead Space 2 we made it a priority to deliver on what we're calling "epic moments" or moments when the player feels very empowered, or super scared, those 'Oh my god! What the f**k?!' moments. I've been talking a lot about the pacing and how that works, and I think people had heard some comments about action and they got nervous about what we were going to do. However, if we go back to the premise of horror and how you set people up for a scare, you have to have highs and lows. You have to take them from one moment where they're terrified, off the edge of their seat, to a moment where they can't believe what they're doing, then bring them back down to another tense moment.
GU: What games have inspired Dead Space 2?
Steve: Well, you name it, the team plays everything. In recent memory, games that I've played over the last few months, I really enjoyed Heavy Rain. I thought that had some really creepy parts which made you think - the psychological stuff they were doing was fantastic. I've played a little bit of Alan Wake so far, I'm enjoying it...
GU: What did you think of Uncharted 2?
Steve: Oh my god! I loved Uncharted 2. I actually worked with [Amy Hennig] and [Evan Wells] back when I used to be at [Crystal Dynamics], back in the day I worked on Soul Reaver. They're great people, super talented, incredible game makers, so that's definitely a big influence [on Dead space 2].
GU: Thanks, Steve.
Dead Space is scheduled to hit store shelves on January 25th, 2011 - mark your calendars.