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Interviews

Alone in the Dark

We creep up behind the Eden Games man in charge of the latest title in the frightening action-survival series

Studio manager David Nadal fills us in on the return of the granddaddy of the survival horror genre...

Why are you so particularly keen to get away from the 'survival horror' label? After all, Alone In The Dark was the game that influenced Resident Evil...

Simply because we wanted innovation in the game. The original AITD was one of the best games ever on PC, and I want to at least try to give the same feeling of playing it - the investigation, story and pacey action. However, I didn't want to be stuck in a genre - we want to break the established ideas of 'find key, open door, walk down corridor'. Of course, there will be corridors, but the experience will be one of wide-open environments with the aim for you simply to survive. One of my major inspirations is a movie...

Zoom

Not Uwe Boll's AITD movie?

No! Don't talk about that one! No, the movie that's inspired us is Die Hard, because for me, it's the perfect survival model. You have Bruce Willis, who's alone, and he has nothing - he has to find a way to survive, using the items and environment around him, and this is exactly what we wanted to do. Everything is interactive, but it's more than just take your guns, ammo and armour and shoot at monsters. This is not the way we wanted to go.

I prefer to call them 'enemies' anyway - this is because they might not be bad; some people, for example, might be just scared - but it's your choice if you want to kill them. The game is full of these kinds of choices, and although there aren't branching storylines as such, there will be multiple endings when a major revelation about your character is revealed.

The way that you can pick up and manipulate objects in the game world - for example, swing them quickly to hit someone, throw them at something or just place them gently on the ground - works fantastically well. What kinds of interactive objects are there?

Everything logically that you should be able to interact with, you'll be able to interact with in the game. We've modelled hundreds of objects - some of which are not particularly useful, but you'll be able to pick them up, examine them and do what you want with them. They're your tools, basically, and we want you to feel like you're touching the objects and that you have them in your hand. Many years ago, the shooter Trespasser tried to do this - it wasn't a very good game, but it was innovative at the time.

As you've set the game in Central Park, does this limit you or actually open up more possibilities?

Well, Central Park is 4x1km, so it's huge - several hours' walking from south to north. We chose the park because you get the best of both worlds - there are busy, crowded NY areas, but in other quiet, forest areas, so you forget you're in a park. There are so many elements to it - we could make a game based just in the museum, for example. We've mapped the whole park with the same technology used in Test Drive Unlimited, with elevation maps - you can drive on every single road and so on. We didn't want to lock the player into a narrow path - it's extremely exciting to have a game of this kind in a free-roaming environment.

AITD will be 'episodic'. Can you explain what you mean by this?

We'll release the game episode by episode with a possible season DVD box set released afterwards - it's a huge amount of work. In a standard game of 10 or 20 hours of gameplay - and I'm generalising here - you have a cracking first few hours, then a lot of hot air, then a good ending; the storyline is diluted. This can't work with an episodic structure, as each episode has to be self-contained, with different supporting characters and intensity - a full experience in 40-60 minutes, addictive and memorable, that you'll talk about with your friends and will make you want to play the next episode.

Finally, what scares you?

Ah, well, this is why we're talking more about the enemies than showing them - blood and big monsters isn't frightening any more. We've shown an enemy with a skull face, but you don't know anything else about it. The best bits of Doom are where you're in a corridor, and you hear sounds and you don't want to open that door! Fear is in your mind.