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Dead Space 3 interview: Visceral Games producer, John Calhoun

Patrick Budmar | Feb. 18, 2013
Visceral Games producer, John Calhoun, talks about horror survival title

Dead Space 3 contains a number of added gameplay features over its predecessors. Which one are you the most happy with?

JC: I'm most impressed with our approach to co-op. It is a stretch to call it innovative, but it is really unique in the way that the story and gameplay change dynamically as player two drops in and out. We are not doing two completely separate stories. There is one story with one resolution, but the tone and storytelling is radically different in that it has a different feel at its core when you're playing co-op. When you are playing alone, the protagonist doesn't really speak much, because fans don't want to hear a "chatty cathy." In Uncharted, Nathan Drake will turn a corner and say something. He'll then look up and say something else. It all takes you out of the immersive experience, as you realise it is a voice actor in studio having fun.

How does this change in co-op?

JC: Dead Space 3's protagonist only speaks when it is relevant to the player's experience. All of this changes in co-op, as you have two people moving next to each other. It doesn't feel immersive if they are silent. If they solve a crazy puzzle, it would make sense if they would acknowledge that and feel relieved that they survived. So there is a lot more dialogue when playing co-op. The tone of the game is so different that it is something I am really proud of.

Was there any consideration for a PlayStation Vita edition of Dead Space 3, either as a port or a different game?

JC: The Vita didn't really come up in discussions. We have an engine that is so perfectly suited for the current hardware that is out there, that we really wanted to make sure that the game came out giving our all. With a lot of AAA games coming out, we joke around internally that we want to create a AAAA game. The only way you can do that is to stay razor focused on one game and not try to dilute the gameplay or technology by having a smaller scale, especially on handheld. I love the Vita and I'm not knocking it, but we would have to consider how to implement touch and motion sensing into the game, and that would have taken resources away from making the core game all it can be.

The Downfall and Aftermath animated films came out with the launch of Dead Space and its sequel respectively. Can we expect a third film with the release of Dead Space 3?

JC: There will be no animated film, but we are doing a graphic novel, called Dead Space: Liberation. It is a supporting piece of media coming out on the game's launch, and it is done by the same artist and writer that did the Dead Space 2 graphic novel. The graphic novel is really cool because it is all about Carver. I mentioned that Carver was not just an afterthought, and his back story and archetype is something that we've been developing for quite a while, but never found a way to put it into the game. Co-op was a perfect opportunity, because we could add to the game instead of subtract from it. In order to tell his backstory, we had to use the graphic novel for that.


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