Frictional Games, the developer behind the terrifying first person Amnesia and Penumbra series, has released a new in-game trailer for its next project, SOMA, which shows us its deeply creepy atmosphere, as well as a detailed break down of what the team is focusing on during development.
To set the scene, I recommend the trailer first. Make sure your volume is turned up; it won’t make you jump, just unnerved:[yframe url=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oC9x6Ri8jQk’]
So with that sort of environment in mind, what are some of the things Frictional really wants to get right with this game?
- Everything is story: Doing away with the old trope that action and puzzling has to be separate from the story (Bioshock Infinite is a late one that’s very guilty of this), Frictional will use every moment to advance the plot. Similarly monsters won’t attack for no reason, meaning almost all of them have their own unique AI.
- Take the world seriously: Everything should be thought of in relevance to the story, so an audio log’s placement is as important as its contents.
- The player is in charge: No corridors to the next plot point, SOMA will be open and let the player progress how they want. That means no handholding too though.
- Trust the player: This one is two fold as it not only means allowing the player to play the game their way, but it means not catering to the lowest common denominator. Instead of forcing you to listen to dialogue, you can skip elements that might be very important to the story. If you don’t want to listen to it that’s your choice, but it will fundamentally change the game. You won’t have hints again later to remind you either.
- Thematics emerge through play: No cutscenes, no forced perspectives, let the players play it and figure out what it means. It won’t work for everyone, but for those it does, it’ll be profound (at least that’s the plan).
KitGuru Says: So what do you guys think of this design ideas? It’s certainly a very different way to look at game development than most major studios do.