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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

How did the inclusion of co-op affect the decision process?

JC: We asked ourselves what happens if someone plays co-op and one player sees something the other player doesn't see. That was an idea and it turns out that it was really innovative. So we decided to apply that to our co-op campaign, and it's just one example of where ideas can come from the most random places. A sound designer might come up with a trick that plays with your mind in terms of innovation, and an engineer might come up with an audio trick. It all comes from the creative team that we work with on Dead Space 3.

How does the development team draw the line of what type of graphic content gets into the game and what doesn't?

JC: It's really up to the executive producer to decide what goes in and what doesn't. But our team is pretty good about knowing where the envelope is. We kind of have a sixth sense when it comes to "how far is too far." When we're making the game, in terms of the gore and graphic violence, the truth is that we often go too far initially. It is easier to make something too big, and then scale it back as you go through the production cycle. The same think has to do with gameplay. We make the game too difficult, as it is easier to remove enemies or add ammo at the last minute, than it is to make it harder in the last minute.

There has been a longstanding discussion about violence in video games. What is your thoughts about it in context with the Dead Space series?

JC: There is a fine line between just showing violence and gore for the sake of shock to showing graphic content because it affects you. The truth is that the less you do, the more is unseen, the more effective it is. So the first pass of any new feature that has a graphic element, whether it is a new enemy, attack or cinematic, is always the most extreme we're ever going to see, and sometimes it ships that way. Most of the time we're going to decide to pull it back because we don't like it or it's over the top. We don't want to be gratuitous but thrilling.

Visceral experimented with motion controls with Dead Space: Extraction. Was there any consideration to have motion control support in Dead Space 3?

JC: For motion support, the answer is no. Primarily, this is because it is a feature we have done before. I'll speak for the engineers here in that they like to do things that are new. So while we have done motion support, we have not done voice support. Even though I see the Kinect as a motion sensing device, the truth is our engineers really saw it as a voice supported device, since we had already gone down that path before. So we really explored the opportunities for using voice commands for both the single player and co-op campaigns. In fact, Dead Space 3 is the only game to feature co-op specific voice commands. So you can share ammo or health packs with your friends, or if you get lost you can find your partner. Little things like that really eliminate going into menus and slowing down the game while you're just trying to survive.


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