bit-tech: Right, so, first things first – who are you all?
Jonathon: Well, I’m Jonathon Burroughs and I’m the writer and designer at Headstrong Games and I wrote House of the Dead: Overkill.
Nathan: I’m Nathan McEwan and I’m the producer for Headstrong Games.
Gwilym: I’m Gwilym Hughes, producer for Sega.
BT: Cool, question time then. This is a fairly different game to the other House of the Dead titles. Lots and lots of swearing and politically incorrect stuff. How did Sega and Nintendo respond to that, given that Nintendo once censored Mortal Kombat?
J: Well, it was kind of a joint venture. We started off by throwing around different ideas and themes as a group and Sega came up with the idea of a Grindhouse kind-of theme and we just latched onto it and ran with it. They seemed to like where we went with it from there actually and the idea of it just opened up so many avenues for us in terms of music, levels, bosses and story.
BT: It’s weird that this kind of Americana Grindhouse kind of presentation is something that’s not really ever used in games. I can’t really think of any others in this style.
G: Yeah, I think Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodgriguez really opened it up as a style in itself. It’s more of a pastiche on the exploitation, grindhouse genre. We could have done a game like this beforehand, but people might not really have got the joke.
J: Definitely, the Grindhouse films really made the whole genre very self-aware and...well, I want to say post-modern, but that makes me sound kind of wanky.
N: I must admit that all the way through development I was kind of thinking that this was a great way to present the game, in this kind of vibe. I was petrified that someone was going to beat us to it, but I was amazed that nobody else did. Maybe they’ll all copy us now!
J: It would be great if people said that, but we definitely went to great lengths to research all this and get the feeling right.
BT:Were you at all influenced by Left 4 Dead though, because although that goes in a different direction, it is pretty similar in the whole zombie-film-game connection with the movie posters and everything? Or are they still copying you?
G: Ha, no. By the time we saw anything of Left 4 Dead we were well down the line.
J: We were influenced mainly by films themselves. We have a couple of DVDs laying around, stuffed with trailers, and we liked that way of presenting the intro to the level. The way they entice you with violence, gore and sex was greatly inspirational.
G: That’s the thing about an exploitation film, isn’t it? If you watch the trailer then you’re promised so much that you actually don’t get in the film. The best bits of the trailer are by far the best bits of the movie. They get you in the cinema and then they follow it up with nothing – the main difference for us is that we actually try to follow it up.