Friday the 13th the Game is the first in a long time since horror movies were attempted to be made into video games. Instead of a singleplayer experience, Friday the 13th the Game is combining cooperative multiplayer with survival horror to give players a chance to escape Crystal Lake, or be the infamous killer Jason Voorhees. With the backings of the creator and major names of the series, it’s set to deliver some brutal kills and interesting gameplay.
After the successful kickstarter and securing the IP, I knew I had to get in touch with them to talk about the process of creating a different kind of multiplayer game and adapting one of the most successful horror franchises at the same time.
The following interview was with the team at Gun Media, who provided a group answer to my questions.
1. To start things off, for people who are just learning about your studio and Friday the 13th the Game, could you talk a little about your background?
We are a publishing and design team called Gun Media, responsible for a game called Breach & Clear as our first project. That launched in 2013 originally and has since gained over 1.5 million downloads on mobile and Steam. Most of the team are creatives that have worked in marketing, advertising, game design and other aspects of the gaming industry. We partner with studios that would be a good fit for our titles and collaborate with new and veteran developers, artists and marketing people to create the coolest games we can.
2. When the game was first announced, it wasn’t titled Friday the 13th the Game, as you guys didn’t have access to the license at the time. If it’s not NDA breaking, could you go into a little detail about how you were able to get the rights to use the IP for the game?
It’s simple actually; they came to us. Sure, we had to make sure everything was good to go, but it really boiled down to making sure that they knew we were actually taking the game to the right place; Crystal Lake Entertainment (Sean S. Cunningham’s company) believed that our game would be a good fit to give it the proper license, and we rolled with it.
3. Let’s move on and talk about the gameplay. Friday the 13th the Game is about combining multiplayer with survival horror; where did the concept for the design come from?
Ronnie and Wes, co-creators for the game, have been working on and off for quite a long time with trying to bring a cool horror game to life in a multiplayer setting. That really began in earnest after the launch of Breach & Clear and we put together a full-on design document. It’s a passion project first and foremost that has been building up steam for a very, very long time.
4. We’ve seen several attempts at asymmetrical multiplayer in the past; with the success of Left 4 Dead and the not so success of Evolve. How are you approaching the design of the two sides to make sure that it’s as enjoyable being a counselor as it is being Jason?
The cool part is expectation. Every game gives you an expectation and the player either lives up to, or is disappointed by said experience. Jason Voorhees is a mean sonofabitch who will kill you and there’s very little you can do about it. So, we give you all the tools we can to escape, take him out or call for help. Each game will be different, and there’s no set way to win. We give you a lot to work with, but its all about your experience and your triumphs and failures.
Those games that give you the freedom to win or lose, rather than forcing you through a few set win/lose scenarios generally come out as better experiences for gamers.
You should never look at your play experience in Friday the 13th: The Game and say ‘bullshit, fuck this game.’ Every time you win was due to your awesomness, whereas every time you lose was because you goofed up somewhere along the way.
5. One of the challenges of any horror game is managing tension and player strength. If the player is too strong, then there is no fear, but if they’re too weak, then it’s hard to do effective build up and release of the tension. With Friday the 13th the Game, how are you balancing the options on the counselor side to give them some sense of power, without of course being able to just kick Jason’s ass?
You’ll be able to escape, call for help, hide or even try to take on Jason if you want. However, nothing you ever do is guaranteed and working alone or with a group is completely up to you. Jason is tough and he gets stronger as the game goes along, but he’s definitely not completely almighty. Each counselor will have strengths and weaknesses as well, so be sure to pay attention to what you like to play and use any advantage you have. You know going in you have a tough fight ahead of you, but you won’t feel completely helpless.
6. And then of course, what kind of balancing and philosophy are you taking with designing Jason’s moveset and options; making him powerful, but not so much that it’s an instant win every time?
We’ll have more on Jason’s abilities soon, but he’s been balanced to give you a challenge as Jason. He’s a hunter, and he’s going to have to track you.
7. To wrap up, I have a few questions considering the background in the horror genre of the members of the team. What do you think about the changes in the horror genre from a video game perspective?
How things have moved from survival horror, to action horror, to now more of a passive or storytelling experience.
There’s plenty of ways to make a horror game, and we’re here giving you the tools to basically create your own.
Are you going to be a ruthless murder machine? Will you stalk counselors and screw with them? Do you think you can survive against Jason where other’s couldn’t? Our game is all about giving you access to making your own horror movie, and each game has the potential to be something unforgettable.
8. That leads me to another question, as a studio of horror fans, do you have a preference for the kind of horror games you like to play?
We play everything, though a few of us love Alien: Isolation, while others are all about Eternal Darkness, and others love the original Resident Evil. Outlast, Amnesia, Evil Within, there’s so many games out there that have done exceptional work in the horror world.
9. Finally, do you have any final thoughts or something you would like to say to your fans reading this?
Guys. You get to play as Jason Voorhees! Are you as hype as us? Cause we’re pretty hype!
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