Also, as a token of appreciation, I managed to convince the team to release a brand new wallpaper! Download the wallpaper right here and read below for my interview with Alex Tintor, designer at Blue Isle.
Daniella, Community Manager
Daniella: I’ll start off with the most frequently asked question, when is the game going to be released?
Alex: We are working really, really hard to finish the game as soon as we can. With that being said, we can’t give an exact date until we are completely sure that the game will be finished on time. Games development takes a huge amount of work and a lot of unexpected issues and bugs are popping up all the time. As a team, we do our best to stay on schedule but we often underestimate how much time it will take to implement a feature that works well. In the end, the extra development time is really worth it to make the best experience possible. The best I can say right now is early 2013, first quarter.
Daniella: Tell us about story in The Arrival, what can players expect?
Alex: We’ve chosen to tell our game’s story in a subtle way; nothing is forced on the player. Part of the magic of the original game was the idea that you could be playing as yourself. You become the character and step into their shoes using your own relatable experiences as a backdrop. The forest in the original game could have been your own friendly neighbourhood park.
In the new game we do have some really interesting, interweaving stories running throughout for players who want to dive deeper into the game world. Everything in the game is there for a reason. Each level has collectible objects that help advance the story in some meaningful way. It’s pretty cool because you can play the game however you like. If you want to ignore the story and simply get to the scary parts, you can do that. If you want to spend time exploring, learn more about what is going on and really immerse yourself in the world, you can do that too and have a really rewarding experience.
Daniella: Can you tell us about the actual storyline?
Alex: We’d rather not tell people much about the story before we release the game; I think players will agree that it is much more rewarding to uncover this on their own. The Marble Hornets guys wrote it, so you know it’s going to be good.
Daniella: The original game had two objectives; stay alive, and collect all eight pages. What else will players be doing in the new game?
Alex: This is a tough one to answer again without giving away the story from the new game. There is a lot more to do than simply collect pages. This is a survival horror game, so a lot of your actions are driven by your characters need to simply survive. A lot of players have asked us if there is a reason that you were collecting pages in the original game and I can say that, yes, there is a good reason why those pages were there, and why you had to collect those. There is more than one character chasing you this time around as well.
Daniella: Can you confirm who this new character is?
Alex: The character that players saw in our teaser trailer is a new enemy. A lot of players have guessed it is someone from the Marble Hornets series; that isn’t true. This is a brand new enemy that has a very good reason for being there. We’re really excited because it adds a brand new dynamic to the game that players haven’t seen before.
Daniella: What about players that want the classic gameplay from Slender: The Eight Pages?
Alex: People who were fans of the original game will be happy to know that we have entirely redone that level with our updated graphics. The level looks a lot better, but plays nearly the same and is just as terrifying, if not more so than before. We’ve found a way to work that level into the game and storyline; it all makes sense why you are in that forest collecting pages.
Daniella: Tell us about game pacing; is it one big scare from start to finish?
Alex: I’ll answer that question with a yes and a no. The game is really scary. With that being said, however, there are a number of times where we let players take a rest and soak in the scenery. We’ve taken some inspiration from other great games that were paced perfectly. We spent a lot of time carefully planning out the frantic moments and the calm moments, and where to place those in the game. Player’s will often become fatigued if you bombard them with too much intensity non-stop, so we’ve made sure to give them a rest every so often.
Daniella: You mentioned being inspired by other games; can you talk about that more?
Alex: We’re all big-time gamers here so we are definitely inspired and influenced by other great games out there. All of us on the team are big fans of Amnesia: The Dark Descent. Personally, I just finished playing Journey on PS3 and that was a truly spectacular game, well deserving of all the accolades it received. Of course there’s other favourites like the Half-Life series, among others that we draw inspiration from. All of these games share one thing in common; it’s an amazing vision and cohesiveness. We look at these as examples of where we need to be as developers.
Daniella: What about replayability, is this a game you can play over and over again?
Alex: One of the first things we decided as a team was that the game has to be replayable. The enemy behaviour, for example, is procedurally done. Nothing is pre-scripted at all; this means no two playthroughs are the same. We’ve taken it one step further with our levels as well; everything from your location in the game world, to the location of pickups is often randomised.
Daniella: Any final thoughts you’d like to share with everyone?
Alex: I’d just like to say thanks to all of the fans out there who are eagerly anticipating the new game. With The Arrival, we strive to build a game that gives players a really genuine gaming experience, and one that will be memorable years down the road. A lot of people have been asking about release dates; we are doing the absolute best we can. This stuff takes an incredible amount of work and we do this to make sure the game is going to play great. I don’t want to make any promises, but we should have a release date to announce a couple weeks from now. Fingers are crossed!
Thanks for your time Alex!