Friday the 13th: The Game is coming this year, and it promises a serious bloodbath. The trailers so far have shown off a number of brutal executions featured in the asymmetrical multiplayer game, and while some fans of the series are excited about the level of violence, many haven't reacted as favorably. We sat down with co-creator and designer Ronnie Hobbs and Executive Producer Randy Greenback to learn more about the game's violence and what horror fans can expect.
GameSpot: Could you tell us a little more about how this project got started?
Ronnie Hobbs: We grew up Friday the 13th fans, and we always wanted to see the slasher genre come into the video [game] market, because it really hasn't. We're like, "Okay. If the Friday the 13th guys aren't going to make a game, let's just do it ourselves." We got Kane Hodder, the guy who played Jason [Friday the 13th Part] VII, [Part] VIII, [Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday], and [Jason X]. He did our mo-cap and our stunt work, so we got Jason. Then we hired Tom Savini, who is a legendary special effects makeup guy. He was the one who designed all our kills in our game.
The rights holders [of] Friday the 13th, so Sean Cunningham and his team, saw the game and gave us the license for free. Which does not happen ever in the history of anything.
We went to Kickstarter trying to raise some money, because buttloads of money didn't come with it. Just the license. We still had to take on the burden of making the game. We just needed some more money, and here we are.
There was a pretty strong reaction on the internet to the Kickstarter. You guys got funded relatively quickly. Were you expecting that kind of support?
RH: Horror fans are the most loyal in the world. They're almost like sci-fi fans. They're almost like Star Trek and Star Wars fans. They'll stick with you forever. We kind of expected that, but it was still great to see. The stuff you believe in, that other people believe in that as well.
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I wanted to ask about both the fans and those who protest against the violence, starting with the fans. How do you serve a fanbase that is clearly very devoted to a franchise and has certain expectations that are going to be probably difficult to meet? How do you manage those expectations?
RH: I think they would be difficult [to manage] if we weren't fans already. We were the kids watching Friday the 13th. We were the kids that were looking up to Tom Savini and Kane Hodder. We had their posters on our wall. We were hiding under the covers watching Friday the 13th when we were kids, so we know everything about the franchise just like the hardcore fans do. If you're in that select group, you know that Part III and [The Final Chapter] kind of look the same, but they're not at all. You know that every little hole in the mask and every little scratch mark and the color tone and which rips in the clothes need to be there. You know all the actors who played him. We had that luxury of already being in that position. That's why we wanted to make Summer Camp, because we wanted to [create a] tribute to Friday the 13th.
Pleasing the hardcore fans is actually pretty easy for us. It's convincing the rest of the world that this multiplayer experience where you have this killer who is a man, seemingly--even before he's dead in the films, he's a grown man--he's vicious, and he's doing bad things to 20-something-year-old camp counselors or counselor leads. That's the image that people can't get over. He does brutal things to people who may kind of be innocent, just like the films. We couldn't stray from that. We couldn't just let Jason give you a spanking when he finds you. It wouldn't be right.
We couldn't just let Jason give you a spanking when he finds you. It wouldn't be right.
That's sort of your response to people who protest the violence?
Randy Greenback: We say the films are the roadmap. We're honoring the genre of films that we grew up on in the '80s. We're not doing anything different. If we did, then we wouldn't be what we are. We are probably one of the most authentic horror games out there to the source material. Probably the, I would say. We're excited about that. To be able to get the license, that was a dream come true.
But then to sit down with the production team and Ronnie, I can't tell you how many hours he's been meeting with the guys at Illfonic as they've reviewed all the different movies frame by frame, trying to get the Higgins house perfect. Trying to get Packanack Lodge perfect. They're pretty much dead on exact. You feel like you are a counselor in the movie, and that's one of the driving forces and the goals that we had going into this.
RH: Yeah, it's funny. The Packanack Lodge is from Part 2, and the Higgins house is from Part III, in the films. Those houses don't exist anymore, and the floor plans don't exist.
You have to scour the internet for fan photos who happened to sneak in before it was torn down. Then you have to scour the movie, and they do a good job of hiding camera angles and making them seem bigger, so you don't even get the floor plan. We had to watch the films about 200 times for each frame, and do floor plans. But we have them in the game, and they look 95 percent accurate. That's just something that goes back to pleasing the hardcore fans.
With regard to the violence, is there a line you won't cross? How do you decide what's the appropriate level of gore and violence for the game?
RH: The ESRB is the line that we can't cross. We don't care. We don't have a line in our heads. We're like, "Whatever. The gorier the better." But the ESRB obviously monitors that, and we're working with them to try to get the right balance.
RG: We don't want to end up with an Adults Only rating.
RH: We can't, so it won't be. Tom Savini designed these kills, so once again, we're responsible for fulfilling his ideas. Whatever he comes up with, which [was] the best in the industry in the '80s and '90s, that is Tom. He was the most creative killer in the world. We have to do what he says. We don't have to, but we want to. If we take his kills and neuter them, or water them down, fans are not going to be too happy.
How do those meetings tend to go, when you're pitching ideas for kills? Do you ever feel reluctant to be like, "Everyone's going to think I'm real fucked up if I suggest this"?
RH: They already do. You should see our Google searches. I'm sure we're on some kind of a watchlist. Dead bodies, just the whole thing. You've got to get it right. You have to make it look right. It's a very interesting setting for sure.