Dead Space 3 action focus a 'necessary evil' says writer

Original Dead Space writer Antony Johnston says latest entry taking more of an action approach required to broaden the fan base.

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Original Dead Space writer Antony Johnston has chimed in on Dead Space 3. Speaking to NowGamer, the writer--who had no involvement with Dead Space 3--said the game's focus on action was a "necessary evil" to attract more gamers.

"I'm personally a big fan of old-school survival horror, and that was one of the main reasons I wanted to work on Dead Space. So the greater emphasis on big action in the sequels means they're not really for me," Johnston said.

Johnston added that Dead Space 3's new focus on action is a "necessary evil in order to broaden the fan base," and noted that "it's a very difficult balancing act to pull off. So far, I think Visceral has done an admirable job of maintaining that balance."

For Johnston, Visceral Games' decision to "go bigger" in Dead Space 3 came as no surprise. He said it was a logical progression for the series, and in fact one that was needed to keep the franchise from becoming stale.

"I know the developers always wanted to go bigger, in terms of scope. And I’ve mentioned before that the universe we created was huge, with lots of elements, which simply didn’t make it into the first game," he said. "So to get that story told, to round out the universe, it was inevitable the settings and environments would open out a bit, become a bit more epic in scale…otherwise you’d just have the same game on a different ship each time, and that’s pretty dull."

Dead Space 3 launched this week behind a largely positive critical reception. For more, check out GameSpot's review.

Discussion

676 comments
Alucard_Prime
Alucard_Prime

Too bad the original writer was not on board in part 3, but having finished DS3 twice already, I did not feel they sacrificed much of the horror, simply that they added more action to the mix.    

cloudstrife75
cloudstrife75

A quick look at the Halo and Call of Duty franchises proves that you can grow and sell titles yet still keep the basics of your franchise intact. EA didn't need to sacrifice horror to add more action...

codeman101360
codeman101360

It wasn't a "necessary evil", unless by that you mean "pathetic (and, as it would seem, unfruitful) attempt to make more money by alienating loyal fans, likely at the behest of EA."

wyan_
wyan_

These guys are getting the same brain disease that Capcom has had for years now. It creeps in slowly with each game installment until the series is unrecognizable. It's quite contagious, though it seems to affect upper management and corporate executives the most. There are also prominent symptoms of greed, denial and deafness. It's known as Cholovdoodieitis and there's currently no effective treatment or cure. :(

mddma
mddma

I can get over more action-oriented gameplay but they didnt have to put so much health packs and ammo, thats just lame

D1nePenn
D1nePenn

Haven't completed the game yet, but as a fan of the series DS3 is still a great game.  I do miss more of the survival horror elements - for example I haven't even come close to running out of ammo yet, and b/c of the "universal ammo" system, I always have ammo for my most powerful weapons.  That almost never was the case in DS 1&2.  That may be one of the most significant changes that weakens the "survival" portion of the game.  


pilferk_basic
pilferk_basic

See, I fundamentally disagree with both the premise AND the execution.

First, the premise: By all accounts DS and DS2 sold well.  They obviously sold well because there was an audience for that type of game.  Sure, there might be a BIGGER audience for 3rd person shooter/action games...but that's not what the franchise was built on.  So, now you change DS3 into an action game.  The people that follow the series are not all that interested in a 3rd person action game...so you've now left a large portion of them out in the cold.  And the audience for 3rd person shooter/action games likely do not have any "investment" into the series....so you're essentially selling them an original IP, but with a backstory they have not had any involvement in.

Does that seem to make sense?  Not to me.....

Second, the execution:  Isaac was built as a large, unwieldy, almost tank on legs in those engineer suits.  That worked in the original story of DS and DS2 quite well....and the game was balanced on that concept.  Enter DS3.  Now, first, we're supposed to buy into the fact that suddenly Isaac's suit is not nearly the encumbrance it was in the previous games, and his movements are quicker and more precise.  And the necros have, suddenly, completely changed their movement style, mechanics, speed, etc.  But here's the kicker:  They didn't balance it well.  The necros seemed to get a lot more of an upgrade than Isaac did...the aiming mechanic isn't quick enough.  The firing mechansim isn't balanced well (even considering the rate of fire upgrades).  Quite frankly, it's not a very well done action game and I suspect that's largely because of the legacy of DS1 and DS2.  So now they've broken both the story AND the game mechanics in their execution.  

If they wanted to do an action game in the same universe...fine.  Do one.  But don't call it DS3. 

aero_kinetic
aero_kinetic

It also makes sense with Isaac's progression as a character. In DS1, he was a simple engineer, and therefore it makes sense for the game to be scary, as he didn't sign up for fighting Necromorphs. As the games progressed, when it gets to DS3, it makes sense for the game to be more action-based, as Isaac is now a stone-cold badass when it comes to killing Necromorphs. You guys are just whining because they changed the formula.. game studios, just like bands, are damned if they change things up, and damned if they don't change things up.

VenkmanPHD
VenkmanPHD

2 words. (and I never use this)

SELL OUTS.

norman69
norman69

Can see where he's coming from- let's be honest, if the Dead Space series had essentially been the first game done over similarly three or four times, people would start asking for something new. And lo and behold, they take a different approach with DS3 and not everyone's happy. Proof that you can't please everyone. 

Having played through just over half the game, I'll admit it's not as scary as the other games, but I've still had fun playing it and there's a lot to recommend it on. Just saying 'oh, I hear it's not scary like the others, I'm not playing it' means you might be missing out on a good experience- at least give it a try. 

And what's wrong with broadening your fanbase and getting more people to like your franchise? Maybe that was Visceral's decision to begin with- nothing wrong with sharing your franchise with other people. 

M-S-M-S
M-S-M-S

"required to broaden the fan base" or: We, EA, want to milk the money of as many people as we can while ruining yet another franchise, dumbing it down, and disappoint the fans.

Thanks EA, yet again...

YukoAsho
YukoAsho

Apparently nobody read the stupid article, because this guy had no involvement with DS3!  Says so in the first bloody paragraph!

Takeno456
Takeno456

You know it was not really that bad, I enjoyed it. I mean it did not have the fear factor of the first game or even the second but it was not really that bad in my opinion. I have seen other unmentioned horror games games sell their soul for more fans which ended up killing them. Dead Space is not at that point yet. Its more action then what was necessary but not series ruining. They just need to tone it down for the next game.

CaptainGamespot
CaptainGamespot

I'll get DS3 for $40 or less later this year. Looking forward to it, but not entirely enthused..

LiquidSifu80
LiquidSifu80

A necessary evil to broaden in order to broaden the fan base? Why is is necessary to broaden the fan base at all? It's such a shame that it's al focussed on creating shareholder value and not on creating a beautiful product. Maybe I'm getting old (already), but I feel commerce is killing a lot of the creativity and authenticity. Sure it created a lot of wealth and it allows for big budgets, which in turn make for fantastic looking and sounding games, but the industry is losing it's soul.

hunter8man
hunter8man

Wouldn't turning a survival horror game into a more action-oriented game make fans go away from the franchise? Thankfully, Silent Hill hasn't gone down this road yet.

kelborn3
kelborn3

I dont get why the fuss is all about. Its EA people. They always manage to ruin w/e good game they make. Who would have thought they would ruin Dead Space, after Dragon Age and Mass Effect. They always care more about profits, then legacy. Therefore i couldnt expect anything less from them this time. Now lets see how they will f u ck up Crisis...

tanerb
tanerb

and that is the reason i am not buying it

BelmontWolf
BelmontWolf

and lo and behold the game isnt selling as well as the previous probably due to the fact the game is more action than horror ffs games companies people want traditional horror has slenderman and blink taught you nothing?

Morphine_OD
Morphine_OD

Jeez, when you people will understand that actions sell same as thrillers, comedies, dramas and horrors. To move bigger numbers you just have to make a better game and market it more, you don't have to make a shooter of it.

DETfaninATL
DETfaninATL

All the haters can bitch and moan all they want, but Dead Space 3 is an excellent game by ANY standard......

krawmn
krawmn

capitalism gives you inevitable oligopolies and the product for the lowest common denominator.  that's the evolution of the "invisible hand."  for quality, for unique taste, texture, rhythm, shape, and perspective, things must be broken down or a company from a far away place must make something fresh.

krawmn
krawmn

the gaming industry is like Hollywood.  anyone want a 90 minute, PG-13, plot-driven film with scant character development, lack of slowed pace, lack of slow scenes, lack slow camera pans, maybe tonnes of special effects or stunt work, or some boring super-actress with curves?

naryanrobinson
naryanrobinson

The title and the subtitle completely contradict each other.

One says it's "necessary for the series", and the other says "they wanted to be even more rich".

He's acting like the series sales were dying.

ewjiml
ewjiml

Why do games have to get BIGGER and BETTER (with more action).  I was perfectly happy being part of a niche of gamers who love Dead Space.  So our numbers aren't as big as something like Black Ops but we bought enough copies of DS to keep Visceral going for more sequels.  I just don't get it.  I finished Dead Space 3 and while there were some creative scenes, I feel like the series is losing its steam.  The atmosphere from DS 1 and particularly DS 2 were amazing.  Who could forget the first encounter in Dead Space 2 when the Stalkers hunt you in that unitology church.  I still get the chills facing them.  But in the new one, Stalkers had no effect on me because of the amount of guns you can make.  Why am I scared if I can make a BFG9000 on the work bench?  The one thing that Dead Space 3 lost is its atmosphere.  I never got scared or jumped once.  Maybe it was the fact that I knew Carver would pull a Houdini and magically appear every couple of levels. Or the obvious COOP doors you can't go through.  DS never needed multiplayer but it seems to me every game HAS to have that component now which from a horror survival standpoint is ludicrous. 

Kingakarl
Kingakarl

I feel that this entire series has done exceedingly well(including dead space 3), and I love this series so so much. Although it does scare me when they say "necessary evil in order to broaden the fan base"... I feel many companies these days are trying to build games in ways to attract consumers, while letting quality fade away. My personal opinion is it started with Call of Duty, and has spread across the gaming industry. I just dont see a difference between MW1 to Black Ops 2, and I really dont want to see this happen to my favorite games. Survival horror is a difficult genre to perfect and dead space is ONE of the only games I have seen 99% perfect, I hope if there is a dead space 4 they really stick with survival horror and not slide into increasingly more action content.

Not trying to rant, just worried about the future for this game genre, like RE6 :/

gohangeorge
gohangeorge

@D1nePenn Try the Pure Survival NG+ Mode. Ammo might not be a scarcity if you mod your weapons right, but I guarantee you unless you use the microtransactions (bleh!) you'll be coming up short on medpacks a lot.

im-a-roustabout
im-a-roustabout

@pilferk_basic What aggravates me that nobody seems to be talking about is it seems like shooting at limbs does not have the same effect either. I used to have to aim for a limb and shoot it off, now it seems like you shoot them in the chest and they fall apart like rag dolls.

Midnightshade29
Midnightshade29

@VenkmanPHD yep ...same reason I did not pick up dS3 or RE6.... and never will ... it sucks as I love survival horror... if I want a 3rd person shooter, i have uncharted for that.

Midnightshade29
Midnightshade29

@M-S-M-S Funny how DS3 was being sponsored a lot by MS.  All the ads everywhere with that blasted phil collins song(wtf was that about anyway) showed the 360 logo at the end.  It was most likely a way to get gears fans wanting it..as DS2 had PS3 exclusive content. EA, probably pushed for it know who was sponsoring the ads.  Just a though... (probably not the case, but something I observed).


At any rate, I am getting so sick and tired of devs selling out (it's mostly EA published devs too..btw.. Bioware ring a bell?

kelborn3
kelborn3

@Takeno456 When i saw the necromorph holding a gun dunno about u, but it wasnt what i sighned up for...

gohangeorge
gohangeorge

@Takeno456 Knowing the necromorphs' modus operandi and how it works makes them... less scary. Overcoming that hurdle without just tossing more at us is what Visceral needs to figure out.

gohangeorge
gohangeorge

@LiquidSifu80 Once CoD: MW proved games could produce lucrative profits... remember, the bottom line of business is to make money.

aero_kinetic
aero_kinetic

@kelborn3 I don't know what you're smoking, but Mass Effect was, other than the ending, a magnificent series. DA2 was enjoyable to an extent, but by no means "ruined." Dead Space 3 is also enjoyable, far moreso than DA2, imo.

Baldurs_Gate200
Baldurs_Gate200

@Kingakarl  This is another reason why I think Call of Duty hurts the industry. It seems that so many games want to compete with it because of the sales it generates. Can't blame them, but still.

LiquidSifu80
LiquidSifu80

@gohangeorge @LiquidSifu80 Wel, true of course. But the bottom line for me is to have fun. I don't care about making a bunch of people I don't know rich at the cost of innovation.

garysingh34
garysingh34

@Baldurs_Gate200 @Kingakarl Yeah, I agree. The problem is the industry now. Developers obviously need to make money to survive so have to broaden their scope and appeal and publishers are forever breathing down their necks. This is having a negative effect on the gaming experience and something has to be done about it.

Kingakarl
Kingakarl

@Baldurs_Gate200 @Kingakarl Yes I do agree, thats why I think Dead space 3 has much more action. I feel all of these CoD players are buying into consumerism with the series, I have played afew of them online and I honestly cannot figure out why it is so much fun... the same shit every year. .....They are destroying the industry ;/ 

gohangeorge
gohangeorge

@LiquidSifu80 They don't care if you're having fun or if they're innovating. They care that they're making (or not making) a profit.

Game companies with souls are few and far between these days.

Baldurs_Gate200
Baldurs_Gate200

@Kingakarl @Baldurs_Gate200 Agreed, I've only tried Call of Duty 4 online, played it for about 20 minutes and stopped. Never saw what the fuss was about.

I got much more fun out of Team Fortress 2, thats for certain.