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.

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.

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Eddie Makuch

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.
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673 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 :/

electronic_eye
electronic_eye

One final point - just because they added crouch, cover, and dodge doesn't make it any less scary either. i haven't used any of those features even once, just like the microtransactions.

Vodoo
Vodoo

Dead Space 1 was a fresh new thriller when it came out, with new enemies never before used in games. It had a few moments that made you jump, but nothing "scary." Dead Space 2, imo, was nowhere near as good. It was basically DS1 on a different ship. I finished it but it was more for the story than the gameplay. Dead Space 3 was forced into a new direction. There's no way they could've gotten away with another DS1-type game. 

I like they direction Dead Space 3 went in. I've only played the single player, but it's good. I definately dislike shoe-horning in multiplayer. Totally not necessary in a game like this. But don't short change the game. It's better than you think.

electronic_eye
electronic_eye

I personally am baffled by gamers who think Dead Space 3 isn't focused on survival horror anymore. To me, 3 has scares and raw survival elements galore, and I own the first 2 in the series. I don't know if it's because of all the EA haters out there, the largely outdoor setting, or some other silly reason, but I don't think there's more action in this one than the others, and just because it has more story and character elements doesn't mean that equates to less scary either. And keep in mind I don't care for EA much either.

ZOD777
ZOD777

I have gone a little over half way through the game and to me it doesn't feel like it is all that different than DS2.  Aside from the ability to crouch, roll, and craft weapons, the single player experience isn't that much different.  Sure at times there are sequences that are a bit more action oriented, but for the most part it feels like the other Dead Space games.  Maybe it has been too long since I beat DS1 and DS2, but it other than the stupid rappelling sequences, I haven't had much issue with the game thus far.

MW2ismygame
MW2ismygame

Ok, its this simple. You tried to get more money with as little work/innovation as possible, there is no "necessary evil" here,  just a blatant attempt at a market share grab. plain and simple.


And to ward off any stupid people, im NOT saying its a bad game, for the most part it seems like a solid game. 

DiscGuru101
DiscGuru101

The video game industry is not owned by gamers and artists. It hasn't been for a long time. It's primarily owned by corporate talking heads with greed as their only guiding principle.

vishisluv7
vishisluv7

I honestly do not know how anyone can still buy and support EA games. Everyone knows what they are doing to gaming, everyone complains, then 10 million of you go buy their stupid games. Hmph, gamers are dumb as voters.

Gankstar_VX84
Gankstar_VX84

this is why I didn't buy it and won't, i'll play path of exile instead.

gilaliz
gilaliz

You'll never get another cent out of me again EA, for how you've destroyed great games.

gilaliz
gilaliz

The first few minutes of playing Isaac in DS3 are painful.  A machine pistol.  Dumbass AI with guns standing around waiting to get shot.  Muddy visuals. A dive roll.


When I hit the key and Isaac dive-rolled, I knew the entire concept of what  made Dead Space worth playing was basically done.




Stesilaus
Stesilaus

I've seen an early alpha build of Dead Space 4.  You get to gather parts for a communicator device that gives you the option of engaging in friendly diplomacy with the Necromorphs instead of shooting them.  :P

ZoTrAcK
ZoTrAcK

it's like they call in every industry: becoming mainstream... you gain new fans, you lose old ones

kaikaikikit
kaikaikikit

Seems nobody can avoid taking the ammos that the game provides....haha are you ammo junkie?

 Just stop taking them. once evry 2 or 3  or 4 times...suddenly the game difficulty become very insane and this will be Dead Space Die Edition. I died  countless time just in the 15% beginning of the game....haha i took all the ammo on the ground and still get killed like a piece of Necromorph haha i'm not sure am very skillfull player... haha

I have an idea for the next Dead Space4 how about DS in stealth mode no ammos till you reach 50% of the game, you will only need to be Snake in Space..that would be a great game... really curious on the comments that will be leaved if something like this happen.


advancedcaveman
advancedcaveman

12-35 year old boys with hyper narrow interests and low IQs don't comprise the entire spectrum of gamers; there are other kinds of people who want to play games. They have money too. 

They aren't broadening the fanbase; they're just targeting a specific audience. That audience being the mongoloids I see in the game section of hastings saying things like "This game has like 50% better graphics!" and "crazy shit happens in this game bro!" and "Yo dis shit is tight as hell!" and "These are night elves and those are blood elves."

davor_25
davor_25

Lol and instead they put out worse rated game than Dead Space 2, just like RE5 and other RE games were better than RE6. Epic fail...

AyatollaofRnR
AyatollaofRnR

I hate how they stop making things for the fans, this is how publishers ruin everything by making it appeal to a lowest common denominator.  Capcom said the same thing with RE6. 

I like some action games, but I like diversity of experience.

Xenrathe
Xenrathe

One of the things that really got to me about this horror -> action shift is how fubared I got in Dead Space 2. I prefer to play my horror games on the hardest difficulty because it makes them SO much scarier; you get SO much more pulled into the story when getting caught unawares legitimately means game over.

However, there are certain sequences in Dead Space 2 that are frustratingly difficult on Zealot. I got ehhh 9 or 10 hours in without much trouble, but then encountered the horrendous elevator sequence which was punishingly difficult, if just because there's nothing to it but luck and absolute precision of movement and positioning. That was, however, followed by an incredibly difficult extended action sequence that finally did me in.

Very very frustrating to want to play the game on a hard difficulty to enjoy what that adds to the survival-horror elements yet then be forced into action sequences that are simply too difficult and unfun.

SuperDutchy
SuperDutchy

"In order to make more money, we have to make it worse"

Remember when this artform had merit? If they really cared at all about the series they would stand fast and keep true to the original.  

If game developers make something great, they will not have to compromise, because people will recognize how great it is and play it.

I feel bad for the EA devs who have to compromise their vision because some man in a suit says that if they don't, then they'll find someone who will.

Baldurs_Gate200
Baldurs_Gate200

Lol@ everyone getting mad. We should all just accept it folks, we are the minority. We can only really hope for the best from indy games, and with an open mind, I began to like Mass Effect 3 for what it was. Despite liking the first two games a lot better.


Times are changing folks, we really can't do much about it. I use to care, but after seeing Call of duty games break the record of sales each time, I pretty much gave up. Just accept it as "thats life". 

Peace.


hadlee73
hadlee73

And I'd retort that if you feel the need to talk to the press to justify your actions to the fans, you've probably made an error in judgment.

PoppyJerk
PoppyJerk

Man, that's sad to see. Making this game more action oriented. I'm only just now playing Dead Space one, and I can say with confidence that it's truly terrifying at times. The beginning of the game when you have no weapon was illegitimately stressful. Granted now that I'm nearing towards the end and have upgraded weapons and armor, the game is less scary overall, the until maybe the midway point, it was definitely a HORROR game. I went a bought 2 and 3 because I'm enjoying the 1st one so much, and it kinda sucks that the horror aspect may be gone.

berzerk0912
berzerk0912

My wallet say hell no to Dead Space 3!!!!

BlazingSpeed
BlazingSpeed

Resident Evil tried to make the RE series appeal to the masses by making the games more action oriented starting with RE4 and now the quality of the entire series has nosedived...

crashmer
crashmer

It seems to me they're trying too hard to appeal to the masses, they may end up derailing themselves.