Donate to Codex
Putting the 'role' back in role-playing games since 2002.
Donate to Codex
Good Old Games

System Shock 2 Roundtable Interview Podcast at IncGamers

Click here and disable ads!

System Shock 2 Roundtable Interview Podcast at IncGamers

Interview - posted by Infinitron on Fri 23 August 2013, 14:28:35

Tags: Irrational Games; Looking Glass Studios; System Shock 2

The folks at IncGamers recently hosted a roundtable interview with System Shock 2 developers Jon Chey and Dorian Hart. It's a great interview, with a surprisingly large amount of time dedicated to SS2's mechanical aspects, such as weapon degradation, monster respawning and resource scarcity. Here's an excerpt:

Jon: We were all fans of the original System Shock, and obviously a very large amount of inspiration for the game comes from that. The way we envisaged the game was a little bit of a cross between System Shock and Ultima Underworld, which of course were other games produced by Looking Glass.

So it has the setting, the characters and the claustrophobic feel of the original System Shock. But it has the roleplaying stats system from a more Ultima type game. Those were probably the biggest influences for the game. What do you think Dorian?

Dorian: I would be in general agreement with that. I personally wasn’t really a big horror game or genre fan, I was much more into the roleplay stuff. I was a big fan of Ultima Underworld and all the Ultima games. From my own numbers balancing point of view I knew on an intellectual level I was making it scary via resource scarcity, but I’m not a horror guy.

Jon: I think a lot of the horror comes from that though. For me the important part ofSystem Shock 2 is the difficulty and the resource scarcity. I would probably describe it more as being about tension than horror. There’s a horror element to the story and characters are terribly disfigured or in pain or whatever, but that’s actually less important to me than the fact that the game is really, really hard.

It requires you to constantly be very focused and intense. There are a lot of things that can go wrong. That’s the most interesting aspect of it for me, and is also the thing that’s hard to find these days. That’s why I mention Dark Souls because it’s one of the few modern exceptions.

Tim: Yeah, I’ve got to agree with you Jon. It comes down to the resource scarcity and also the fact that you never really feel safe.

Jon: Yeah, the respawning I think is really important.

Tim: The horror aspects for me aren’t really down to, you know, the corpses everywhere and horrible monsters roaming the corridors. It’s more down to the unknown and this general sense of dread because you never feel safe, and because you have such scarce resources every encounter actually matters.

It’s a very fine balancing act and it seems to do it really, really well, which is something that a lot of games that purport to be horror games these days don’t tend to do. They focus more on jump scares, but as soon as you get your hands on a few weapons they suddenly aren’t scary any more.

Jon: Yeah, I think they focus a lot on the props, the visual stuff. Games that have horrific characters, or horrific fictional things happening, I never really find scary. You start playing the game and figure out very quickly whether it’s going to hold to the standard game contract that they make with players these days. Which is: don’t worry, this game’s not going to be that hard. [Laughter] We’re never going to punish you. If you get things wrong you’ll get to try again. If you want to just leave the game, if you’ve cleared out an area, it’s safe, don’t worry, you can hoover up all the stuff that’s there and nothing’s going to hassle you. We’ve made sure the game is a little bit challenging, but I absolutely guarantee you that nothing’s going to be too hard.

Once that contract is made, I don’t feel scared. And it doesn’t matter if you show me, you know, “oh my god, look at this guy he’s got tentacles coming out of his head, doesn’t that freak you out?” [Laughter] Well, not really, no. I’ve seen it before and I know he’s just another guy with a bunch of hit points and a gun or whatever. You can do some tricks like turning out the lights, having people jump out of closets … but it doesn’t do it for me. It’s the unknown, it’s the fear, the unsettling notion that the game is prepared to screw around with you and set you back, that’s what makes a game scary to me. At least provide some tension.​

Good stuff. You can listen to the original audio here.

There are 3 comments on System Shock 2 Roundtable Interview Podcast at IncGamers

Site hosted by Sorcerer's Place Link us!
Codex definition, a book manuscript.
eXTReMe Tracker
rpgcodex.net RSS Feed
This page was created in 0.043138027191162 seconds