Rise of Nightmares Lives Up to its Name
Seen the new Rise of Nightmares trailer yet?
I’d post it for you here but I’m not permitted to do so, not without an age-gate. Or, you know, A PRIEST. Because I’ll level with you, guys: you don’t want to see it. Even slightly dodgy 70s torture and (yawn) Silent Hill-esque sexy demonic nurses aside, this game looks wrong. Like, really wrong. The trailer I’m not allowed to post is only ninety second long, and yet it was long enough to make me never want to close my eyes again. Think I’m joking?
The Jack-in-the-Box to the left of me here? IT IS ALIVE, PEOPLE. ALIVE.
Yet while I can’t share the video here, what I can do is bring you an interview with the ingenious (and fecked-up) minds behind SEGA’s up-and-coming batshit crazy horror. So let’s do that instead, okay? At least this way we get an insight and still be able to sleep tonight …
Q. Many titles for the Kinect are family friendly offerings, why did you decide to create a Kinect game for the mature audience?
Ito: When I first saw Kinect, I immediately thought it would match up well with horror games, because it doesn’t require a controller when playing in front of the TV screen which gives players a sense of insecurity. So, I never thought it would be the first Mature title for Kinect.
Ueda: Also, this title is not solely targeting for core gamers. We believe that casual gamers who watch horror movies on weekends could very well enjoy the game as well.
Q. Rise of Nightmares is being created by the team behind House of the Dead, what similarities can we expect?
Ito: Actually, I’m the only one in the RON team who used to be a member of the HOD team, and I worked for the first original HOD title. As for “similarities” with HOD, there are lots they have in common; such as: having the player stand while gameplay, first-person view, and life-size zombies are coming closer, but the major similarity is that developing a Kinect title is much alike with developing an arcade game (AC), which is one of SEGA ‘s greatest talent. When developing a new title for AC, we usually think about what to carry (or to ride on), where to place the buttons, and how to play the game. At the first phase of HOD development, we have tested various things like implementing a mechanic where the player can kick by pedalling. HOD has ultimately turned out to be a simple game, but we have made use of those trial-and-error experiences for this title.
Q. Are you afraid of the dark? If yes: has this changed a lot since you started working on RoN?
Ueda: No. Not much has changed since working on this project, except that I became interested in alchemy, tarots, and histories of supernatural science, as a result of all the researches we’ve done for the game.
Ito: I’m OK with the dark too, but I’m not a very big fan of haunted houses. I especially can’t stand the ones with actual people walking around acting as ghosts, because you never know what they’re up to. But I came up with the idea to reproduce this insecurity by allowing players to freely explore the RON map. But even after developing RON, I still have difficulties enjoying haunted houses.
Q. What is the main purpose of the game : to scare players or to take them into a full live adventure action story?
Ito: The purpose of this game is “experience.” The protagonist of this game is an ordinary man, who becomes embroiled in an incident knowing nothing, forced to move forward in a situation where a mystery is followed by another. Our purpose is to have the players “experience” this bizarre and terrifying adventure.
Q. Why did you decide not to include firearms?
Ito: Like I mentioned earlier, the story is about ordinary people, and by our senses, firing around a gun is not very common. Guns don’t simply grow on trees, and we’re sure it requires lots of work to obtain one in an unfamiliar foreign country.
Ueda: And we can say that it’s more “challenging” and “terrifying” to directly fight with bare hands or using weapons rather than playing by firearms equipped. You might start off by thinking “Wish I had a gun…,” but there’s a chance you can end up obtaining something much better as you proceed through.
Q. What’s your favourite horror movie? And why that particular one?
Ueda: I have way too many favourites to answer this question. Well, if I must choose, I’ll go with the classic ones like ‘Night of the Living Dead’ and ‘Dawn of the Dead.’ The film isn’t simply about the monsters being scary, but it also depicts the human drama and culture.
Ito: I’m not a horror movie fan very much, but I do love zombie films. The ordinary life suddenly comes to an end, and the zombies keep multiplying, having your family turning into zombies one by one, and at the end, you join them…I just get thrilled with this unescapable despair.
Q. What’s part of RoN are you especially proud of? Why’s that?
Ito: There’s quite a lot, but I’d say “immersion.” This game requires no controllers while allowing players to explore the level freely, which should be a whole new experience that players find uncomfortable for the first few minutes. But I’m sure they will start walking around the world soon enough. Another aspect we’re proud of is that the game will gradually pull you into the world of ‘Rise of Nightmares’ by playing in the dark all alone.
Q. How long does it take to develop a game like RoN?
Ueda: As of RoN, it took about a year and a half to two years. It’s always better to have longer development period, of course. But in practice, it varies depending on the team organization, skills, and engines, so it’s hard to give a specific number for this.
Ito: Much of the first phase of the development will be spent experimenting with Kinect. It’d be excellent if I could lose weight while I keep playing this game.
Q. How important is the audio / soundtrack for a game like RON? Tell us something about creating/composing the score and the sound effects. Did you break real arms?
Ueda: We give substantial weight to it. Audio factors are great significance when it comes to horror. If you play the game on mute, there’s not much to be scared about, and you can complete the game faster than you’d expected. For this title, we had Ron Fish compose the game music. We had to communicate with the over sea co-workers, and I remember struggling to get across the image when the visual arts were incomplete, and retaking the scenes over and over, which was quite tough. But when the music perfectly fits with the game, the overall quality undoubtedly improves, and this is the part where our efforts are rewarded. I’m sure Ron had a tough time too, but he was always working positively, and we greatly appreciate him for that.
Ito: Plus, the game is set in East Europe, so the essence of the East European music is an exquisite accent. The characters of this title consist of various races such as German, Romanian, and Russian. The recording session was sure tough, but was also fun.
Q. What’s the best thing about designing a game that’s dedicated for Kinect?
Ito: The idea of “How will we involve people in playing Kinect?” is a subject shared globally, and we are now standing on the starting line. This is something very special for us, developers.
Q. Is there something you wouldn’t want to do in terms of violence in your game, any line you don’t want to cross?
Ueda: “A line we don’t want to cross” can be something sensory, and it can also vary depending on the theme and/or story. We’re not very conscious about the matter. Though, attacking or killing citizens indiscriminately without any reason is unenjoyable for me.
Q. Do you see RoN as the first of many adult experiences on Kinect?
Ito: Sure do. The characters are each burdened with their own problems, and they become complicated by intertwining with one another. This is definitely an adult issue children are generally incapable of working out, and such factors are contained everywhere in the story. We have designed the game so that players can discover a new aspect every time they play. Because this is a first mature SEGA Kinect title, we were especially particular on this issue.