Dead Space Hands-on Preview

So, it took 3 days to fly down to San Francisco from Austria, have a tight time plan and go back after 1.5 days. It wasn’t easy for me, but luckily EA made me forget my jetlag, because of the great game, time I had there, and the Stella’s I just “had to” consume. Of course, it was the game and the amazing guys working on and marketing it that made me forget it the easiest. You felt from the very beginning that these guys are so dedicated to their project, that this is a game which has to turn out to be absolutely brilliant.

 

Summary of the Dead Space Community Day Preview Event at the EA Redwood Shores Studio (August 2008)

Please read copyright info at the bottom

The first day was very tough for me as I’d completely underestimated the tiredness that crawled onto me as time progressed. I arrived at the hotel arround 2pm and actually planned to take a nap, but the bar was too enticing for me. I had to sit down for a few beers, and soon I saw some of the other participants in the community day arriving. After a while the group was slowly grouping together to later be taken by our guide and online marketing manager, to go over to the EA studios to get our passes and have dinner. The evening closed with a Horror double feature showcasing “Evil Dead” and “Sunshine” in EA’s own auditorium. I just wished Sunshine would have been shown before as either my jet-lag, enormous headache, the beers or everything combined made to fall asleep about 30 minutes before the movie ended. Apparently, my sitting neighboor from Aeropause had a hard time waking me up then.

After that double feature, it almost was time to go to bed to prepare for THE day tomorrow.
.
.

So here comes a summary of the 3 Dead Space presentations shown at the Dead Space Community day in San Francisco. The first presentation was started by producer Rich Briggs who introduced himself and production designer Ben Walat started to explain how they wanted to achive a reaslitic Sci-Fi environment. It already starts with the Ishimura. After a period of broad experimentation, the team settled on a look inspired by the ribbling and buttresses of gothic cathedrals. It was their main goal to create something fresh and not copy other spaceship designs that already exist in popular entertainment.

The team continued to follow the path with the interior of the spaceship. Dynamic lighting plays a huge role in the game, and they felt that these gothic structures do best with it.

.
.

The ship consists of various different environments such as the engineering deck, an oxygen farm, mining deck, flight deck, a medical deck and a crew deck. Ben showed us various different creature designs from concept art to the final stage of design.

The enemies also have a good AI. You have to fight them in various different ways, such as the stasis module, and telekinesis. They also mentioned how much fun they had creating signs on the ship where many of them appear to have a Japanese influence. They also had a lot of fun doing the crew deck, and and it really does make you feel as if it were a true home for all the Ishimura personnel.

Furthermore, a master timeline of the Dead Space story has been shown. The comics start the story with the animated movie following where the comics left off. The game itself may or may not close the story. More on that if you read on to the Glen Schofield roundtable.

.

.

.

.

There are about 150 scripted events in the game which according to the Production Team, fit in nicely as well as video and text logs from living and dead people that are scattered throughout the ship, to even get a deeper feel of the horror.

Briggs also pointed out how important it was to have focus groups testing the game on specific things and with focus on different things. They also didn’t want a normal inventory, and believe the Sci-Fi setting of the game makes it possible to have a hologram inventory and it works very well with the game. Briggs mentions how he was a fan of the Half Life games which may explain the lack of cutscenes and a mute hero being Isaak Clark.

.

We also got to find out why they actually DID implement a pause function in the end. It also was added due to focus group testing because the team saw people running arround with open inventory crashing against walls and it was a huge mess, so they decided to add a pause function even though many in the team were still against it. Additionally, a health button was added too, so players don’t have to open the inventory everytime they need health. You just hit X button on your 360 controller and it automatically uses a health portion.

There also was a presentation regarding the lighting in Dead Space, but it honestly was too tough for me to understand; especially as English is not my mother tongue, plus it was very tech orientated so I can’t really tell you more about it.

At the end, producer Chuck Beaver proudly presented an Isaak suit that was cosplayed at Comic-Con. Beaver apparently spent months to create the suit. Shows the dedication of the team since no one who told him to do that.

.

.
Later in the day, we sat down with executive producer Glen Schofield, a big guy and big fan of Sci-Fi and Horror in any form of entertainment. We had some sort of roundtable meeting with him and every journalist could ask one master question and I tried to write down the answers I regarded as the most interesting and important.
.

.

One of the first questions were what he was the most proud of within Dead Space. Glen glady explained how he and the team in general are proud that they were able to push the limits as far as they wanted to go. The whole project was very special and different than previous EA games. He explained how it all started with EA telling them him to pick 8 people and come back with an idea after 6 months. After these 6 months they presented all the ideas they’d gathered (and it was a lot), and EA gave them time to work on it. This is how the whole project got started and soon will lead into a worldwide release in October.

Regarding other countries’ rules and regulations over the allowed level of game violence, Glen also noted that EA’s European and German representatives told them to carry on with what they’re doing, and make the game they want to produce.

.

Glen got some inspiration from Wes Craven and went to his house to ask him what he thinks is really scary. He also met with Elli Roth. To him that was a bit more like “torture porn”. He watches”every single movie” and you could see him being a real huge fans of movies in general and also was watching japanese stuff. He said he always is looking for stuff that scares him and this is where he got a lot of inspiration for Dead Space from.

He went on to explain the 3 IP’s of Dead Space. They wrote the story first and it was way bigger than the game would turn out. Therefore they wanted to include that sort of backstory in some way and it turned out into the comic series and the animated movie that explain the story before the game starts. EA opened a lot of doors for them.

Survival Horror to him is the “ultimate fear of dying” together with a tense, horrific atmosphere, lighting and ammo conservation. They don’t want to frustrate the player, but find they got a good middle ground for scarce ammo. I can also confirm this from my personal experience playing the game.

.
.

There were other questions regarding a possible full length movie and Glen clearly explained the pros and cons of it, and that it would depend on the director as most of them want to have some freedom in creating their movie.

Of course it didn’t take long until the first journalist asked on future possibilities to move the story further as the Dead Space master timeline shown earlier ends exactly where the game starts. He said it’s not planned as triple feature in the beginning, but he surely has ideas on a sequel and it depends a lot on how well Dead Space does. He has an idea for DS2 and they wrote it down, but it’s not like they were originally planning a trilogy, but it still would have a lot of story to develop the universe further.

There were two things that didn’t make it into the game but he didn’t want to discuss it as “we’ll see it in Dead Space 2, *smiles*”. I’d say, from the dedication from Glen to produce “the game they wanted to play” its obvious that IF Dead space does well, there will be a sequel.

He loves it when he knows something will happen, but it scares the shit out of him over and over again. They tried to mix up the scares to not repeat the same situations again and again.

A question revolving around marketing possibilities for Dead Space got him saying that they are all one big team and they don’t just want the marketing people to like the game, they are actually part of the team so he is quite confident that the games’ marketing will be done in an appropiate way.

When asked for a demo before the games release, he said they’d rather put that time into polishing the game until it’s released.

As for my question on how they balance the action with horror to not turn it into an action game too much, he answered like this: “Screwing up the pacing” An example he pointed out: You have been in an zero-g area with action sequences and fighting, then you move into a “safe” area and then when you least expect it, “we scare the shit out of you”.

They want to shock the player when they least expect it. He loves to make the player think something’s going to happen but it doesn’t. At times, you move arround in an area and the audio makes you expect something to happen at any time, but then nothing happens in 10 minutes just to slow down the horrific audio later and just when you think you are safe, the action starts with a huge shock moment. They wanted to make it as unpredictable as possible (From what I’ve played, they did a good job on that too, lol)

.
.

From my gameplay sessions, I have to say I was really impressed. Myself not being that big of a gamer, I was in the past (simply due to limited time, actually no time to play games) I had a few difficulties to get started, but that may have been due to me skipping some of the tutorial as I wanted to use the time to play the game more, however that was a mistake I soon realized in the first demo, where an embargo lies over it so I can’t tell you more about it.

When we had our second gameplay session, I got really into it and tried to not rush through the game, preferring to watch the environments and get scared by the great audio effects. Sometimes I went through a hallway expecting stuff to happen only due to the audio but it didn’t. Then just when the audio slowed down a bit and you usually expect to be safe, a necromorph jumped from somewhere and scared the shit out of me. Then it all has to go quick as you end up in a “bad situation” once one of these things grab you and try to pull your head off, gushing amounts of blood included. If you’ve played classic Survival Horror games before though you know what to do and realize its better “to leave” an area rather than to try to take every enemy down.

Once your pulse is settled from the forgoing shock, you can always go back and cut them down using strategic dismemberment, combined with your stasis module. I loved to use that, especially when you had more enemies to deal with. You slow one of them down, shoot off any body part, use telekinesis to throw it at the other one and you almost got two of them out of the way. Sometimes “body parts” remained lying on the ground but “they” were still after me so I used the very cruel method of stamping your feet on it. The remains splatter, loads of blood included of course. I also loved to use stasis on enemies and simply taking them out with a series of punches. As you can see, if you’re clever you don’t need to waste the scarce ammo and I often nearly ran out of ammo.

.
.

I then entered a “zero gravity” area and at first had no clue what to do, so I asked one of the guys we could ask questions to and he explained how it works. First you need to find which way you have to head to, in my case a door on the roof of the room. So aimed at that point, pressed “Y” and Isaak does an anti gravity jump to that place. In the beginning, you can get lost easily in these levels, but it maybe took me 5 minutes and I was jumping around in these levels and it was hella fun; until the first enemies appeared in this area. I had a really hard time trying to take these flying buggers out of the anti-g rooms.

You also have to master sensible situations, such as putting in a battery into some space using telekinesis while a Necromorph is after you, adding even more panic and horror to the situation.

As a whole, I always got pissed when we were told to move to the next presentation again. I really didn’t want to move away the pad anymore and experience the game further. When I had time to further play it before my interview started, I suddenly said to myself: “Get outta that room, you’ll spoil yourself too much” and I left for a cigarette and remove some of the sweat that made my T-shirt sticking on my skin using the fresh breeze of the San Francisco bay area. The sweat on my skin was gathered by excellent audio, good gameplay and of course the scares and everything the game has to offer.

.

Images and concept art are property of EA Games and some are property of “DaMa”. Unauthorized use will lead to legal steps. Copyright 2008+ by deadspacehorror.com

               
Support Our Site and Staff on Patreon!
 
Support Us

COMMENTS

TOP OF PAGE

Advertisment ad adsense adlogger