If there’s one thing Steve Papoutsis wants you to know about Dead Space 3, it’s that it’s all about the story. Gaming Trend had a chance to speak with the Executive Producer of the Dead Space series on Thursday he wanted to make that explicitly clear: “The story comes first, then we start roughing out all the environments, and then we start roughing in all the combat.”
Papoutsis was adamant that every aspect of the game was fueled by the series’ plot threads, even leading the development team to skip the expected competitive co-op. “It just goes back to the story,” he says, claiming competitive multiplayer made sense in Dead Space 2’s heavily-populated Sprawl. “ It made a lot of sense: There’s the [human] security forces, there’s the necromorphs, and hey! You’ve got two factions, and you can have multiplayer here.” But when it came to Dead Space 3, Papoutsis and the rest of the development team decided that competitive multiplayer didn’t fit into world, based on the game’s lonely, isolated setting. “It just didn’t fit naturally into what we’re doing, so we opted to do co-op.”
One of the striking features about the latest Dead Space game is the change of scenery. Dead Space 3 trades the previous games’ dark, claustrophobic corridors for a more open setting, on the icy planet Tau Volantis. When asked what about the arctic environment attracted his interest, Papoutsis replied, “The conditions of that planet just speak to survival. If I took one of you guys, or if I was dropped off in the middle of Tau Volantis, the first thing I’d be thinking is ‘How am I going to make it?’” The environment will affect the game, allowing the devs to use different tools to affect the player, including blinding snowstorms that reduce visibility, deep snowdrifts that serve as spawn points, deep snow that will impede movement. The team even considered a survival mechanic such as that seen in Capcom’s 2006 title Lost Planet: Extreme Conditions, but decided the story limited its use except for a specific segment of the game. Papoutsis says the team thought it non-sensible, considering the advanced suits the characters are wearing. “The suits are created to allow people to go out into space, and space is freezing. If you landed, you should be fine. If your suit is intact, you should be fine.”
Papoutsis was very quick to distance Dead Space 3 from similar games and movies. When asked about similarities between Dead Space and Lost Planet, he claimed that it was players that were drawing the comparison, not the developers. “That was never anywhere on our radar—it never really came into conversation,” he said before adding, “We don’t measure ourselves by other games…we take our story and our universe very seriously, and we want to deliver against that.” Papoutsis was willing to admit a bit of influence drawn from the The Thing, John Carpenter’s bloody masterpiece. “ Clearly we love that film,” he said, adding that he was also a big fan of the works of H.P. Lovecraft.
The last major new feature for Dead Space 3 that Papoutsis wanted to discuss was is the addition of Kinect support. The game will respond to voice commands such as “Give Player Health.” “It can be fun to bark commands at the screen, it’s a little cathartic.” Papoutsis then added that the game will recognize cursing. Papoutiss claimed that one of the bigger challenges for programming the game with Kinect in mind was realizing that the commands would have to work recognize various accents. “We had never really considered that ‘Oh boy,when an Australian uses the Kinect it will have to recognize his accent.’”
Papoutsis was cagey about revealing any plans for the future of Dead Space and Visceral Games in general, declining even to speak about DLC for Dead Space 3. He expressed interest in creating a sequel to Visceral Game’s 2010 brawler Dante’s Inferno, but when pressed replied “We’re just worried about good old Dead Space 3 right now.” He did pause a moment when asked what he would like to do with the franchise if he were given unlimited resources before conceding, “I could see an awesome open-world game, or an MMO. A Dead Space RPG could be sick.” He was quick to add, “The story needs to support it. It has to feel like a legit Dead Space game.”