AreaGames Interview: Alone in the Dark (englisch)
15:05 Uhr - We had the chance to do an interview with Nour Polloni, producer of Alone in the Dark.
AG: After the very popular first episode of the series, quality combined with success were decreasing sequel per sequel and the supremacy in the survival genre was taken by new series like Resident Evil or Silent Hill. How do you plan to give the crown back to “the franchise that gave birth to survival gaming”?Nour Polloni: Through doing what the first Alone in the Dark did so well – innovating, with a focus on the gameplay. We’re using new technology to drive forward innovations in the gameplay to completely change what players expect from action games in terms of how you interact with the game world and the level of immersion.AG: Right from the beginning of the development the freedom of choice was a very important feature to you. Does Edward really has more than one way to solve problems/puzzles, or is it more a sort of trial and error Gameplay to find the correct way?
AG: For a videogame you chose a pretty new way of story-telling. Inspired by TV-shows like 24 and Lost the game will be separated in chapters, often ending with cliffhangers. Can you tell us some more about the decision to use this episodic structure and the mechanics behind it?Nour Polloni: A lot of games have a story diluted over 10-15 hours of gameplay which means you end up with filler and dips in the narrative. When we were working on the basic design for Alone in the Dark we were all spending our evenings watching shows like 24 and Lost and we suddenly realized that we wanted the player to have exactly that kind of intense experience with our game. So we took the TV season-style structure and made sure the distribution of action, plot twists and cliffhangers kept the player gripped throughout. Then there’s the coming next and previously trailers which play each time the player leaves or comes back to the game to keep then firmly in the story. Through applying these techniques we’ve achieved a new level of narrative intensity for games.AG: By using chapter-based story telling you intend the game to be more thrilling and to keep suspense on a high level, throughout the whole adventure. Suspense, fear and shocking moments are elementary ingredients of the survival genre. There are a lot of ways to create suspense (i.e. lack of ammo, ugly gruesome enemies, shocking moments, a big gore factor and so on). Can you describe in which way suspense is created in AitD?
The look of the game world is a big part of creating the atmosphere and this sense of immersion, and our photographic rendering system lets us play with lots of effects more normally found in films to generate a highly effective ambience. We also use other methods to immerse the player in the game such as the inventory in real time in the player’s jacket, wounds shown on the body with real-time degradation affecting his senses and physical performance, and other physiological conditions such as blurred vision.AG: As a more action-orientated game the melé and range combat system are pretty important. Can you describe how combat-mechanics will work? How is the ratio between action and tactics?
AG: The central park is a mixture of open space and the surrounding dense of buildings. Will it be an exact copy of the real central park? Why did you choose this setting?Nour Polloni: The first reason is that the lead game designer went to NY a few years ago and late one night took a rather ill-advised walk in the park and got scared out of his wits! This actually gave him the inspiration for the game. Also we wanted to violently disrupt a well known and normally tranquil place, as this makes for a heightened sense of unease and dread in the player, and on top of this it’s a massive area containing lots of different type of environments making it a game designers paradise.
AG: The visuals one could see at the E³ were pretty impressive. Do you use your own engine or did you license one? How important do you think are the visuals, the quality of the graphics, for the whole game-experience?Nour Polloni: With the new generation of video games coming through there is a rendering benchmark which is the norm – the basics such as normal maps, specular maps etc. To really differentiate Alone in the Dark from everything else on the market we’re implementing a system of photographic rendering which is more like something you’d see in films and uses effects like depth of field, camera focus, moisture, detailed reflections, multiple real-time lights and high dynamic range, which is a simulation of how the eye reacts in different levels of light.
AG: Despite the visuals, the audio-performance is important, especially in this genre. As in Silent Hill the atmosphere profits a lot of the creepy soundtrack and effects. The music in the AitD trailer and the official homepage seems very atmospheric as well. How important is sound, especially music to Alone in the Dark? Who did compose it?Nour Polloni: While we’re moving away from the traditional genre where you’d expect Alone in the Dark to be to more of an action blockbuster style experience, music is just as important in creating the atmosphere and immersing the player in the game world.We’re working with an incredibly talented guy called Olivier Derivière who can not only write evocative and illiant music, but also completely understands the difficult task of making it work dynamically within the game. Using our Twilight tool and the music Olivier has created we’re able to apply the music in a highly sophisticated way which perfectly matches the gameplay and goes far beyond simply triggering certain pieces of music at certain points. The music flows with the gameplay experience of the player.The style of the music is highly original – we worked with a Hungarian choir to create a signature style of vocal alongside the full orchestral score which is enough on its own to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up!AG: Is there anything else, you want to tell our readers?Nour Polloni: Ask yourself, why is there such a huge park in the middle of such a crowded city as New York? Why has it not changed one centimetre for 150 years despite having an estimated real estate value of $528 billion? Is it in someone’s interests to keep it that way? Is Central Park hiding a secret?AG: Thanks a lot for your Time.Alone in the Dark will be released on Microsoft Windows and Xbox 360 in Q4 2007.
- Alone in the Dark – Trailer E³ 2006: