The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope is shaping up to be an enticing sophomore effort, with returning social features and hefty choice and consequence decision making. We interview Pete Samuels from Supermassive Games.
As a spiritual successor to Until Dawn, Supermassive returned to their winning formula with Man of Medan, the debut effort from this ambitious, multi game spin off series.
Mixing classic jumps scares with a deeply unsettling locale, the intriguing butterfly effect narrative proved to be a winner. The addition of multiplayer and alternative scenes made repeat playthrough's much more appealing, and with the imminent arrival of Little Hope, this anthology is going from strength to strength.
In our interview with Pete Samuels, Managing Director for the British based development studio, we cover their casting process for the lead actors, the rigorous nature of an overlapping development schedule, and whether or not the Curator is in fact a member of the Q Continuum from Star Trek.
When casting each protagonist for Man of Medan, did you already have specific actors in mind for each role? Or did you take the more traditional approach of auditioning / workshopping for each part?
In the early stages of the project a group of us get together and discuss the role and the type of person we are looking for. Some of us may have actors we think could work well and we discuss that also. We use an excellent casting agency that helps put us in touch with actors who they feel would suit that brief.
We also look at things like back catalogue and whether we can see that person in the role. Sometimes we’ll also have a simple audition process. This has definitely worked well for us so far - we couldn’t have asked for better actors to portray our Dark Pictures characters. They have all done an amazing job bringing our characters to life. Ayisha Issa who played Fliss in Man of Medan was recently nominated for a Games BAFTA for her role.
What is your process for deciding upon which sub genre of horror to explore with each new title?
It really starts with an idea of the story first. We look at how that can be developed into a game that fits into The Dark Pictures mould. The sub-genre isn’t necessarily something we decide on at the beginning but something that comes more organically as we progress on the particular story that we would like to tell.
We also like to subvert or mix-up the sub-genres such as ghost ship with home invasion for instance. We came up with 39 different sub genres of horror, so we aren’t worried about running out when deciding on the next story!
Did the inclusion of co-operative play produce any specific challenges?
The Dark Pictures Anthology was designed with multiplayer in mind. We looked at how people played Until Dawn and wanted a way to reciprocate that in our new games. Especially the shared story – the idea that you could invite a friend to play in the same story as you, sometimes together, sometimes apart and sometime seeing totally different things but both progressing within the same story.
Naturally, this has great challenges from a development and branching story perspective. We need to make sure that both players understand what is going on whilst at some points witnessing and playing in different scenes to that of their friend. Then we need to tidy up all the loose ends so it is a rewarding and balanced game for both players.
In addition, we have to make sure that all the timings are correct so cut scenes happen at the right times and key trigger events happen when they are supposed to for both players. It’s a very complicated process, but the feedback we have received has been very positive and it’s clear people enjoy it.
Do you have different lead writers / directors for each Anthology title? Or is the same team within Supermassive leading the charge on each new instalment?
We have different game directors, writers and producers on each of the games. Some disciplines are covered across all the games and we move staff across from project to project when they have finished on the latest game, but the game director is separate and doesn’t move on until their game is finished.
The development for these games run in parallel. Little Hope was well underway when Man of Medan was finishing and the third game is well into production whilst Little Hope is being finalised. In fact we are also currently working on game four and five too!
Is it true that the ever present, and omnipotent "Curator" in the Dark Pictures Anthology is in fact a member of the Q Continuum from Star Trek: The Next Generation?
Well that is a very interesting theory! But no. The Curator is a fascinating character – no one really knows his motivation, where he lives or even who he is! Apart from us, obviously. We know. However, The Curator does have his own story arc and we will be revealing a little more about him within each game.
The Dark Pictures Anthology: Little Hope launches Summer 2020 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC.
A huge thank you to Pete Samuels for taking the time for this interview, and to the team at Bandai Namco for helping set it up.