PS3 News: Downpour Producer: "Shoddy Gameplay Can't Be A Feature Forever" - PS3 News

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Downpour Producer: "Shoddy Gameplay Can't Be A Feature Forever"

The survival/horror genre is kinda teetering on the brink of oblivion, especially with the upcoming Resident Evil 6 looking all sorts of action-y.

The recently released Silent Hill: Downpour was definitely survival/horror, but it wasn't quite up to snuff. Now, Downpour associate producer Tom Hulett says the days are gone when the genre really "clicked," and now the future is a little hazy. In speaking to Strategy Informer, Hulett made it clear that clunky gameplay really can't continue to be a "staple" of the series. After all, that's a flaw, not a trademark.

"Survival Horror is in an interesting spot these days. I think the genre was lucky, to an extent, when it started out. A lot of horror elements “clicked” such as clunky combat, confusing cameras, and so on.

However, shoddy gameplay can’t be a feature forever, and so everyone fixed the combat—resulting in action games with creepier monsters. If Horror games are going to be 'scary' in the future, it’s going to take careful game design to do it. It can be hard to convince people to spend money/time on 'scare design' since it doesn’t show very much progress until it’s final and working perfectly... but it’s vital."

Hulett added that if you have "tense, frightening gameplay happening naturally," you could have a "very memorable horror game." But don't worry about the Silent Hill series embracing full-on action elements; the franchise should remain very distinct.

"I think Silent Hill has established it’s own unique subcategory of “Psychological Horror” within the Horror genre. Silent Hill was a pioneer in 1999, and still remains true to it’s roots with Silent Hill Downpour."

He says other franchises can go the action route if they wish, but he doesn't want to see that happen with Silent Hill. Well, if they could just fix the gameplay and technical issues that are definitely outdated, we have no doubt we'd be interested in a new entry. For now, I Am Alive just hit the PSN - and that seems very promising - and let's face it: The Last Of Us may have very significant ties to the unique survival/horror genre.

Tags: silent hill, survival horror, scary games, survival/horror games

4/4/2012 12:26:03 PM Ben Dutka

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Legacy Comment System (13 posts)

Wednesday, April 04, 2012 @ 1:56:11 PM

Some things need to stay. Others have to go.

It's true that combat in survival horror games needs to be refined. But to balance things out they would then have to make the enemies more challenging.

Demon's Souls scared the living daylights out of me even though it's not a horror game. Why? Because the enemies were extremely tough. Every fight actually felt like a life or death struggle.

Another dread inducing factor was the limited save feature, where dying means losing all of your progress. This needs to stay ,since constant autosaves and checkpoints only seem to dilute the tension.

Lastly I think it's important to retain the perspective based controls where your character's movements are based on the direction they are facing. This allows for the effective use of cinematic camera angles which really adds to the atmosphere.

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Thursday, April 05, 2012 @ 2:29:29 AM

A true horror game should have monsters that you literally cannot defeat, at least without special circumstances. The correct response to monsters is to run and/or hide. Monsters which can be defeated are no different from Orcs or Nazis. The combat can get your adrenaline pumping, but it's not really scary.

Judicious use of split-screen "inserts" would allow cinematic angles to co-exist with a functional camera system, which fixed camera systems are not.

Last edited by Fane1024 on 4/5/2012 2:34:15 AM

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Wednesday, April 04, 2012 @ 2:25:47 PM

Dead Space was a perfect blend of action and scary survival horror and did not feature shoddy gameplay. I think good pacing, which the Dead Space series has, is key to a good survival horror game these days. It doesn't seem that the developers making these games are looking to Dead Space for inspiration IMO.

Last edited by Xombito on 4/4/2012 2:26:40 PM

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Wednesday, April 04, 2012 @ 2:36:26 PM

Dead Space had too much action in my opinion. That and Isaac was just too well equipped to deal with the necromorphs. It's unnerving at first when you are still dealing with unknown enemies. But once I learned the most effective way to deal with each type of Necromorph, the fear factor was gone. It also doesn't help that I don't find sci-fi horror scary at all. Films like Alien elicit nothing more than a big yawn out of me.

Last edited by Cole on 4/4/2012 2:38:22 PM

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Wednesday, April 04, 2012 @ 3:14:50 PM

I'm sorry you feel that way. I love sci-fi horror.

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Wednesday, April 04, 2012 @ 6:09:25 PM

I agree with Cole to an extent. That fear factor was gone half way through once I learned about all the monsters. The game was great nevertheless. One of my favorite franchises this gen!

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Thursday, April 05, 2012 @ 2:59:07 AM

Cole nailed it (for the most part). Dead Space was, at most, surprising, but not scary; the two are not the same thing. I can jump out from behind a desk and surprise someone for a moment, but it won't fill them with dread and expectation of something terrible. That's where Dead Space failed. It was so concerned with showing off it's highly detailed "scary" monsters, many times literally posing them in the middle of a spotlight, that they ended up removing the fear element, because you knew exactly what you were dealing with. The worst thing that could happen was something jumping at you from behind a door, which they did alllll the time. Every scare tactic was used up and old within the first hour.

Giving you enough weapons and ammo to take down an entire army didn't help anything, either, and having save points located every 20 feet just cemented the total lack of fright. A room full of monsters? Oh no, I'll just sit back and take pot-shots at them all day long, and if I die, so what? I lost a whole 45 seconds of effort.

(Don't get me wrong: I enjoyed Dead Space. But it wasn't scary)

As far as legitimate horror games go, the developers of Penumbra and Amnesia have it down to a science. Those are genuinely terrifying games, because they make proper use of horror tactics. You're not sure what might be stalking you next, or where it might be: scary. You are woefully ill-equipped to deal with any sort of violent encounter: scary. Dying is a serious set back of progress: scary.

You don't need tons of violence, spooky monsters, blood and gore, or guns to be scary. All you need is your own imagination let on the loose, which is what most horror games and movies fail to capitalize upon.

Last edited by ProfPlayStation on 4/5/2012 3:01:30 AM

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Thursday, April 05, 2012 @ 4:40:52 AM

ill never understand how people can call dead space scary!
how can a predictable game be scary?
for something to scare you then you cant be expecting things to happen.
every single time the game tries to scare you you already know exactly whats going to happen.
like the elevator parts, you get into the elevator, the doors slowly start to close, the camera swings around to watch them, the lights blow out.
ah here we go a nec is going to leap out and pry the doors open.
and what happens?
hows that scary?
if you know exactly whats going to happen and when its going to happen then it cannot scare you!

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Wednesday, April 04, 2012 @ 3:08:21 PM

Yes all very nice but they don't apply on his new game...theory is nice but practice what you preach.

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Wednesday, April 04, 2012 @ 3:46:48 PM

I was hoping they would do this with Downpour, all u need is the same formula and new scares without bad controls.

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Wednesday, April 04, 2012 @ 9:11:01 PM

Condemned 2 was incredibly scary, especially a certain part with a bear. And this game managed to be scary as hell while being a FPS

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Thursday, April 05, 2012 @ 4:37:54 AM

its funny how he says clunky controls and annoying cameras were not a feature of traditional games, but a flaw so developers fixed them up this gen.
did they?
go read ANY review for downpour and 2 of the main complaints are clunky controls and same cameras.
oh the irony of it all is killing me!

the part about fixing controls thus making them action orientated is a load of sh*t!
developers STILL dont get it!
a survival horror game is a game where its you up against a immeasurable opponent.
resident evil was not scary because it had wonky controls, people did not sh*t their pants when the dog dived through the mansion window because of clunky controls.
survival horror games were what they were because you were far weaker then the opposition and had very few tools to deal with them, and what you did have 99% of the time was useless!
so 99% of the time you run, and the 1% of the time you do have something helpful your reluctant to use it because its so rare i may never find it again!
THATS survival horror!
clunky limiting controls have NOTHING to do with survival horror!

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Thursday, April 05, 2012 @ 10:05:17 AM

C'mon..Horror isn't about not having enough ammo to deal with your enemy. Nor is it about running from an unbeatable enemy. I think horror comes from the story setup, tense ambiance in uncomfortable environment. It's not knowing what awaits you around a corner or next room. Dread comes from not knowing if your weapon is going to break in the middle of combat or if a item you need has been moved forcing you to explore further.

Limiting saves isn't dread inducing, it's just annoying. Oh wow, i used up my 1 or 2 saves and i start over knowing where every monster and trap is now.

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