Dead Space

This game's Isaac equivalent looks like he needs to be defrosted in a microwave but the demo, while hopelessly derivative, does make me want a new Dead Space game quite badly. 

Negative Atmosphere is the result of just five months of work, and the demo was shown at EGX Rezzed last week. It has all the trappings you'd want: blood smears, cool floating HUD elements, strobing sci-fi emergency lighting, and angry stamping.

Negative Atmosphere is being funded on Patreon where you can find more information, including background info: "It is set in a universe in the midst of a cold war, in which A.I has been achieved via the use of organic processing cores, you play as a 49-year-old ex-combat medic called Samuel Edwards, aboard the long-range cargo and haulage ship the TRH Rusanov."

There's no release date at the moment, but the team is planning to release a playable demo and a Kickstarter campaign sometime this year. Expect that to be announced on Twitter and the game's Subreddit.

Dead Space

Photo by Eric Fischer via Creative Commons.

A lot of games, sound design was sort of the thing that came in last... But right from the start, we said sound design and the music and the audio are key.

Glen Schofield

For all the terrifying scares in Dead Space—necromorph babies, giant tentacles, and ghostly whispers—one of my favorite moments is one that has no monsters at all. A few hours into the game, you navigate a zero-gravity section of the Ishimura on your way to the engine room. During this entire sequence, there's barely any sound—everything is muted by the vacuum of space to the point where even your shotgun sounds like a distant thud. Then, after re-compressing at an airlock, you open the door to one of the most horrifying sounds known to humankind: the ungodly wail of the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system.

Though it's been a fun fact that's been circling the internet for a while now, I only just learned that the source of this awful noise is none other than the train millions of California Bay Area residents commute on—as if I needed another reason to think of San Francisco as a nightmarish hellscape.

You can watch the video above to see the exact scene that I'm talking about. The sudden shift from dead silence to metallic screeching and flashing lights is so jarring, I vividly remember having to pause the game and muster the courage to enter that room. I was convinced something was going to maul me the moment I stepped inside, but Dead Space plays an even nastier trick. There's nothing in the room. It's a brilliant subversion of expectations.

This story comes from the most recent episode of Ars Technica's excellent video series War Stories, which explores the untold development stories of beloved games. This particular episode focuses on Dead Space and how creator Glen Schofield and his team turned it into a horror masterpiece. The whole episode is worth watching, but the BART story comes as Schofield talks about how important sound design was in achieving that palpable sense of dread in Dead Space.

"Sound is so important in a videogame, to me," Schofield says. "A lot of games, sound design was sort of the thing that came in last... But right from the start, we said sound design and the music and the audio are key."

When audio director Don Veca rode BART, he was stunned by the unbelievably awful noises it makes. Bay Area residents are all too familiar, but for someone who has never used the train before, it's almost hard to overstate what a nightmarish experience it is. If you want a taste, watch this video with the volume cranked.

After telling Schofield about it, they sent an audio team with studio microphones to record samples of BART that they then turned into the nightmarish squeal used in that room. "What we were looking for was, how can we scare people with just sound? No monsters," Schofield says.

It's one brilliant little moment in a game full of them, but watching this War Stories on Dead Space helps crystallize some of the things that made it so good. As Schofield explains, the team at EA Redwood Shores would go to extreme lengths to perfectly execute scares in even the smallest scenes, sometimes spending weeks of development time building new systems in the process. And it pays off. Dead Space is great and I now have a newfound appreciation for one of its more memorable scares.

Dead Space - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Samuel Horti)

The first Dead Space turned 10 years old last month. It took me a month to get through the first two hours when I first played it. Every time I jumped back in and clumped down one of the USG Ishimura s dark corridors, a monster would pop out of the vents and I d jump up, smash the pause button and find an excuse to do anything else but play it. Many fans loved that sense of dread, but for some players it was simply too stressful.

All our data showed the number one reason people bought Dead Space was that it was scary, says Ian Milham, who was developer Visceral Games art director at the time. And the number one reason people didn t buy Dead Space was that it was scary.

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Dead Space

Dead Space is 10-years-old today.

EA Redwood Shores' (later known as Visceral Games) sci-fi horror came out on 13th October 2008 for the PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, and was praised for its stunning visuals, tense atmosphere and alien design.

In Dead Space you played Isaac Clarke, an engineer who found himself fighting for survival on the Ishimura, a spaceship infested with horrible aliens called Necromorphs.

Read more…

Dead Space

New information has emerged detailing Visceral Games’ aborted plans for what would have been Dead Space 4.

Speaking to Eurogamer, former Dead Space creative director Ben Wanat revealed Dead Space 4 would have placed greater emphasis on exploration and scavenging resources for survival, blending the previous games’ tightly scripted action with larger, more open areas that the player could explore freely.

"The notion was you were trying to survive day to day against infested ships, searching for a glimmer of life, scavenging supplies to keep your own little ship going, trying to find survivors," said Wanat, who is now creative director at Crystal Dynamics.

Dead Space 4 would have expanded upon the “Lost Flotilla” chapter of Dead Space 3, in which Isaac drifted through a graveyard of destroyed spaceships on the trail of an SOS signal. “The flotilla section in Dead Space 3 hinted at what non-linear gameplay could be, and I would have loved to go a lot deeper into that," Wanat said.

The concept was that the player would hop from ship to ship, seeking out equipment and battling the horde of Necromorphs that undoubtedly would have lurked inside. Wanat planned for these ships to be highly distinct from one another. “Imagine an entire roster of ship types, each with unique purposes, floor plans, and gameplay. Our original prototypes for the Dead Space 3 flotilla had some pretty wild setups that I wish we had been able to use.”

The article reveals a couple of other interesting details. Dead Space 4 likely wouldn’t have featured Isaac Clarke as the main character. There were no solid plans for who the player would have controlled, but Wanat’s preferred choice of protagonist was Ellie, a side-character featured in Dead Space 3.

In addition, Dead Space 4 would have introduced a new range of Necromorphs that were more dangerous in Zero-G environments, and reworked the controversial crafting element of the previous game, “I love that it gave players creativity in putting together their weapons, but it became very difficult to tune when you allowed players to break the primary and alt-fire pairings,” Wanat said.

Visceral of course never got the chance to put these ideas into action, having been added to EA’s own studio graveyard late last year. Nonetheless, the revelations form yet another chapter in the series’ fascinating history. Last year, Eurogamer also revealed that Visceral’s original vision for Dead Space 3 was very different from the final product, while PC Gamer contributor Mat Paget learned that the original Dead Space began life as System Shock 3.

Dead Space

When it comes to Dead Space, what dies doesn't stay dead for long. Dead Space 3 launched in February 2013 and EA has said nothing since to indicate it's ready to revive the science fiction horror series. We've already explored the Dead Space 3 the developers wanted to make, but what about Dead Space 4? It turns out Visceral had ideas - some properly exciting - for a fourth game in the series. Unfortunately, Visceral never got the chance to turn them into reality. After Dead Space 3 flopped, EA put the studio on the Battlefield series with spin-off Hardline before assigning it a Star Wars game that was eventually cancelled. Now, Visceral is no more.

Visceral is dead, but those early ideas for Dead Space 4 live on in the mind of Ben Wanat, who was creative director of Dead Space and is now creative director at Crystal Dynamics. We spoke with Wanat to find out more.

By the end of Dead Space 3, humanity is facing its doom. It's in this hopeless situation that Dead Space 4 was to be set. The idea came from the flotilla section in Dead Space 3, and had the player scavenge supplies in order to survive. "The notion was you were trying to survive day to day against infested ships, searching for a glimmer of life, scavenging supplies to keep your own little ship going, trying to find survivors," Wanat explained.

Read more…

Prey - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Brock Wilbur)

gears_of_war._art

Occasionally while surfing the interwebs, you’ll stumble upon a Cool Thing from a few years back that you absolutely missed in the moment, but is both fascinating and painfully applicable now. I failed to notice that this post I love is from 2014, so while some of the examples are slightly dated, playing the associated game is still a frustrating experiment in awareness.

So let’s play Male Protagonist Bingo.

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Dead Space - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Dominic Tarason)

Dead Space

Ah, Dead Space. A few flaws aside, Visceral’s grand tribute to sci-fi horror tropes was a rock solid little game that, nearly a decade later still holds up very well, especially in terms of visuals. Two parts Resident Evil 4, one part System Shock and with a twist of Event Horizon to taste, it’s a stern blend that still has what it takes to mix it up and leave players feeling a little shaken.

As part of their continuing On The House range, EA are giving away the first in the series completely free, so long as you buy it via their own storefront, Origin. Once you’ve tagged the game, it’s yours to keep forever, and it should be available for the next month or so if you’re not feeling too quick on the draw. Still, best to click that button sooner rather than later.

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Dead Space

Dead Space, EA's 2008 game of weed-whacking in space, is really good, but the PC version is a little wonky, specifically with regard to the mouse control. Disabling vsync and futzing around with the sensitivity can dramatically improve things, but out of the box it often suffers mouse lag, weird sensitivity, and other issues that can make it feel anywhere from "off" to nigh-unplayable. Keep that in mind when you snag it from Origin, where it is currently yours for the taking, for free.

Developed by the sadly now defunct Visceral Games, Dead Space tells the tale of Isaac Clarke, a heavy-handed sci-fi reference and engineer aboard the USG Ishimura, a massive "Planet Cracker" spaceship that falls foul of the Marker, a mysterious relic of Unitology—basically the Scientology of the future. 

Trouble is that the Marker actually has power: It turns people into ravenous, hideously-deformed zombie-type creatures called Necromorphs, which of course doesn't keep the brainiacs in charge from bringing the thing aboard the sealed environment of the ship.   

Things go predictably sideways, and it falls to ol' IC—who by the way is also suffering from hallucinations and appears to be in the midst of a total psychological breakdown—to clean things up, with nothing more at his disposal than a futuristic Black and Decker set. 

It sounds silly, but it really is good stuff —and you can't beat the price right now. As with all of Origin's 'On the House' offerings, it will be free until it's not (it will eventually go back to $20 but EA doesn't say when On the House freebies expire) and if you grab it during the giveaway, it's your to keep forever.   

Dead Space

EA's classic sci-fi horror game Dead Space is currently free on PC via Origin.

For those poor souls unfamiliar with Dead Space (no judgement - it did come out ten years ago, after all), it's an honest-to-goodness big-budget, single-player horror yarn - the kind that pretty much never gets made any more. It follows the exploits of unfortunate space engineer Isaac Clarke on the stricken USG Ishimura - a vessel with a rather serious... infestation.

What transpires is a genuinely nerve-wracking third-person horror escapade, which tonally lands somewhere between the straight-up terror of Ridley Scott's Alien and the gleefully gruesome haunted-house-in-space hijinks of Event Horizon.

Read more…

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