Shattered Horizon Interview

Written by Joe Martin

September 10, 2009 | 09:21

Tags: #interview #lighting #moon #shattered-horizon #space #zero-gravity

Companies: #futuremark

One Giant Leap

BT: You mention working with other developers - why do you think other developers haven’t tried to make a game with this true zero-gravity setting before? Do you think they’re intimidated by it all?

James: It’s a good question. It’s hard to say what goes through the heads of other developers. We were watching Dead Space very intently last year, for example, because that seemed to be a game which very much added on zero-gravity. It was never part of the core gameplay, it was just something that was in the game – and the actual implementation...I mean, you’ve seen it. You know how it works.

And there are plenty of other games which try it too, but it’s always just one level that they add in to say they’ve done it and it’s never really made into a big thing. It just seems that there’s always going to be a better experience you design from...we have to stop saying from the ground up, that doesn’t work.

BT: From space outwards, maybe?

Shattered Horizon Interview One Giant Leap
Click to enlarge

James: That’ll do. When the very core of the game design is ‘make zero-gravity fun’ and it’s not just for this one zero-gravity bit that’s added on then you end up with a very different experience. You’ve seen what we’ve done, you know how it feels and maybe that’s why...I dunno. I can’t speak for other developers.

Antti: There’s a first for everything and multiplayer FPS zero-gravity combines a lot of different elements. Combinations like these – it could have been something else we added to the mix. Who knows, we could be starting a trend here.

Jaakko: It’s important to stress that we approached the game this way from the start too. We actually started out being careful not to give players too much control because we didn’t want them getting in trouble, but we found out that the more we give players freedom then the more meaningful the game becomes.

Antti: Just as an example, we’ve broken the gimbal lock. FPS games have always been frustrating to me because you lose the freedom of camera control. You point the gun up or down, but can’t do it totally freely. In our game that’s not an issue. You can track any target. That freedom is what Jaakko was talking about.

Shattered Horizon Interview One Giant Leap
Click to enlarge

BT: It’s interesting you mention Dead Space. Were there any particular games you drew inspiration from or referred to when designing Shattered Horizon? While you mention Dead Space, the comparison I was going to draw was to Mirror’s Edge. That kind of freedom of movement.

Jaakko: Not really either of those, they both came a lot later and we were quite far along before we got there. I’d actually have to say that there wasn’t any particular game or reference point at the start. After the fact, of course we can point to various games in history.

Antti: Yeah, because there just aren’t that many zero-gravity games. We had our inspiration from team-based multiplayer shooters and the gameplay mechanic of having teams was the driving force. Zero-gravity, when we’d been working on it for quite a while, meant that any game claiming that as a feature would grab our attention. We were both relieved and disappointed when Dead Space turned out to be a corridor shooter with just a few zero-gravity bits.

BT: It was very much a gimmick in that game, I think. It seemed to be a game that was made up out of some very interesting features and ideas, none of which were fully explored. When I played it though, the feeling and the sense of freedom that I got made it feel like Mirror’s Edge – that kind of ‘everything is a surface’ feel.
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