Cliffy B Is Okay With Dead Space 3 Being More Action Than Horror

By William Usher 2013-02-13 14:25:48 discussion comments
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Cliffy Bleszkinski, former lead designer at Epic Games and frontman for popular shooter series Gears of War, wrote at length about the transition that Dead Space 3 made from its horror roots to its now action-focused gameplay and he thinks that Visceral and EA did right by the brand.

Now if you all could just refrain from booing or skipping to the comments section to state your displeasure and hatred for Cliffy B for just a moment, let me indulge you with what the good chap actually had to say on his blog, courtesy of GameIndustry.biz....
"Generally speaking, the scarier a game is the less empowered a player feels," ..."Controls are often clunky on purpose, and the pacing is quite different from an action movie. It feels as if Visceral consciously gravitated the franchise more towards the 'action' elements over the 'suspense/horror' ones, and I'm quite okay with that.

"We look at the target audience for your average console game and it's often a cocky young male who doesn't want to be scared, unfortunately, he's the guy who wants to get in and 'f*** shit up.'"

Oh little boy, you seem to misunderstand the point of games being in different genres. Heck, even if you want to crossbreed a genre you still have to respect the roots. Gaming Blend's own Pete Haas wasn't too thrilled with Dead Space 3 because it not only abandoned its roots but it did so by marrying itself to an inadequate blockbuster shooter motif. It was the worst of both worlds.

The Cliffster, however, unfazed by the nagging whims of fanboys hoping that the horror genre isn't further sterilized, goes on to write...
“Horror is hard, and suspense is even harder,"... "It requires a true director's hand. A nudge this way and a moment plays as comedic, a nudge too far the other way and it's not scary at all. To compound it all, making a scary moment is kind of like trying to tickle yourself. You think it's scary, but you're never sure until you test it on someone who has never seen the moment.

"At the end of the day this franchise feels like it's starting as a solo experience, a solitary and confined horror game, and now it's evolving into much more than that. You can either fight it or embrace it. I choose the latter, as at the end of the day it's fun."

Basically, Cliffy is saying that survival-horror is hard to do and instead of trying to do it right, it's best to just cut the corners and throw in some Michael Bay 'Splosions™ to round out the experience.

A few quick notes and then I'll wrap this article up:

1.) You don't need piss-poor controls to make a good horror game. Slender has nice smooth, fluent controls and still manages to churn out the scares.
2.) Limited resources creates a feeling of realism and the more realistic the experience the scarier it is. Placing a pack of shotgun shells in a destitute nursery makes no sense and instantly turns down the scares.
3.) Co-op can still be scary (i.e., Slender: The Arrival, DayZ, etc.,) but surviving needs to be difficult and health shouldn't instantly recharge or else it becomes another Gears of War.
4.) Suspense is based on what you don't know is coming. Creating cues kills suspense. Again, DayZ is open-world and it's very suspenseful because there are no cues, there are no directions, anything can happen at anytime and this creates suspense.

It's not terribly hard to make a decent horror game, and Capcom managed to do it for a few games in a row with the original Resident Evil games. Many horror titles back in the day, however, relied more-so on atmosphere and limited resource management, such as Clock Tower. It seems pretty pathetic that indie devs still understand how to small horror titles become popular, but big budget publishers don't have a freaking clue.

You can check out the rest of Cliffy's thoughts on the matter over on his blog.
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