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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

The Dead Space franchise is likely the most memorable new IP to come out this new generation. While EA has a habit of releasing yearly updates to its sports titles, the publisher has also shown a willingness to experiment with new IP. EA may not always have had a sure fire hit on its hands, with Mirror's Edge coming to mind, but that only made unique games such as Dead Space stand out even more. By blending cutting edge graphics, memorable weapons and terrifying enemies, Dead Space and its sequel showed that third person shooter can be as intelligent as they are fun to play.

PC World had the chance to speak with Visceral Games producer, John Calhoun, about the development of Dead Space 3 leading up to the local launch of the game.

Crytek recently said that it maxed out the current generation of consoles with Crysis 3. Is it the same case with Dead Space 3?

Visceral Games producer, John Calhoun (JC): We've definitely pushed it further than anything we've built in the past. I would never say we pushed it to one hundred per cent, because if the Xbox 360 is still around in three years and we're making games for it, I think we can still push it further. So have we maxed out the consoles? Yes. Is there still room to go? I think so, and I'm really proud with what our engineers have been able to do to really make this game look like it is future generation and not current generation.

What are some of the innovative things Visceral has done with Dead Space on a technical level?

JC: We've done a lot of innovative technology changes in our engine, which can be immediately seen when playing the game. We have also really improved the look of the graphics and stability of the gameplay. There is dynamic rendering in regards to depth of field, as well as on the PlayStation 3 if the performance starts to lag for any reason. So rather than dropping frames, the game starts to selectively turn off filters and other artistic layers that we've put on top of the game to ensure that it is running at peak performance.

Dead Space franchise is known for its horror and gore. How did the team ensure that Dead Space 3 maintained the scare factor?

JC: We have our weekly team meetings, where everyone on the team, whether they are an artist, animator, designer. In production, we really need to throw out ideas out there to make it really scary. We asked what movies we saw that kind out knocked us out of our seat. So we have entire libraries of ideas, looks and images that we come up with in the very beginning of the production cycle. Then we prototype these ideas, such as what happens if all of the lights go out? But if all of the lights go out, how do they affect the player? So it's scary, but it's a tricky one that you can't repeat too often.


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