Dead Space Extraction


posted 9/21/2009 by Sean Colleli
other articles by Sean Colleli
One Page Platforms: Wii
Last week I had the opportunity to sit in on a conference call for EA and Visceral Games’ upcoming Dead Space extraction. As one of several journalists present I had a few questions answered by the Visceral team. The conference was held in a call-and-response style with their PR rep, Stephanie Schopp asking the questions. Below you’ll find my questions, annotated by a Gaming Nexus “GN,” while the other journalists’ questions are simply labeled “Q.” The following developers were on hand, and their names will be abbreviated in initials as follows:

Steve Papoutsis (SP) – Executive Producer
Wright Bagwell (WB)- Creative Director
John Calhoun – (JC) Senior Designer
Jonathan Hackett – (JH) Art Lead / Direction
Shereif Fattouh – (SF) Associate Producer

GN - As a prequel, how does this game’s story link up to Isaac, Kendra and Hammond? Do we learn more about Nicole and what happened to her?
JC – First I’m going to answer that question more broadly, which is how as a prequel this game connects to the original Dead Space. Extraction takes place three weeks before Dead Space, and parallel to the events in the animated feature and the comic books. It does have connection to Dead Space 1 but the main character that appears in both Extraction and the first Dead Space is Nicole. We don’t get to see what happens to her the way our timeline connects to the first Dead Space, but we do get to see what she was like as a person before the infection broke out. Our characters will come across in a very expressive way, and we’re going to see how her story has just started in terms of the original game. But as far as Isaac, Kenrda and Hammond are concerned, we do have a very spoilerish connection that I can’t give away right now, but I can say that there will be a surprise for Dead Space 1 fans that involves those three characters in the game.

Q – What were the challenged of bringing the Dead Space experience to the Wii?
SF – The obvious part of that question is that you have hardware limitations on the Wii as opposed to the 360 or PS3, but on the flip side you have a lot of unique mechanics that work for a ground-up experience for the Wii. We’re really happy with the graphical fidelity we achieved on the Wii. Compared to other titles on the Wii we’re proud of what we were able to put out there. Of course the core experience of Dead Space is all about strategic dismemberment, horror, pacing, story, how we can bring all those elements to any platform is a unique challenge. We think we were able to do that with the intuitive controls we came up with, and really focusing on those core mechanics. So you still have enemies you have to shoot in a specific way, the pacing of the game is done in a special way that maintains the feel of the original Dead Space. Because it’s more of a scripted path we were actually able to do more in our setup, dictating certain situations where we were able to know exactly where the player is going to be, and create really cool experiences and scare moments that stand out. It was a nice tool that we didn’t have in the original game and it turned out really well. So there were challenges from a hardware standpoint but there were bonuses that we got from moving to the Wii, using a more scripted mechanic and the hardware that was there.

Q – Dead Space Extraction is a rail shooter that offers many mechanics that are new to the genre. This makes it more like a first person shooter than a rail shooter. Why did you decide to make a rail shooter instead of a straight FPS?
SP – We decided to go with a rail shooter or what we’re calling a guided first person approach because we had a few core focal points when we kicked off the project that we needed to nail. Those included creating a very deep, rich experience that resonated with Dead Space fans. We found the key things for making Dead Space originally were having great atmosphere, having great visuals and sound, and of course strategic dismemberment. Going with a first person on-rails as opposed to a third or first person shooter let us control where the camera was at all times, which let us maximize the visuals we could get out of the Wii. It also made strategic dismemberment feel really satisfying, and aided the players greatly in their control. So that was the motivation there.

Q – Were the controls always going to be the way they are now, or were there other options or perspectives considered?
WB – We set out from the start to create a first person experience, but for a number of reasons we felt that on-rails was the way to go. We did talk about bringing the controls from Dead Space 1 directly over to the Wii, but eventually we settled on the guided first person perspective that Steve and John mentioned. We were very conscious about what we could and couldn’t do with the hardware.
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