Still looking back at EGX, Creative Assembly gave us a really good look at Alien Isolation, out next week, so I wanted to walk you through the last few new bits you might not be aware of from the video, plus not everyone likes wasting time on videos so it’s a good written summary for you. I want to start out by saying that this developer is passionate about Alien as a series, and they really wanted to do it justice with their game, which is why I think it’s going to be the best Alien game every created.
The world is the first thing that gets mentioned. The real challenge with creating it for the developer was actually figuring out how it was built. They needed to recreate the materials used in the original sets in their game engine, to then create the environment that the best Alien game deserves. thanks to the three terabytes of archives from the films, the developer has been able to do an epic job in creating new areas within the Alien world. The original concept art aided them in building new areas, because there wasn’t much to go on from the films of course, and even the technology in the film was listed in the archive, allowing them to create it all accurately. The video even includes alternate view points for the movie sets, which is cool in itself, but also gave great direction for how large spaces should b, and how well-lit they should be as well.
The video drifts to the bonus Nostromo content that the game will ship with, showing some Ripley gameplay on the recreated Nostromo, truly epic. The real challenge for the team when building this content, was putting the characters in the game as they looked in the film, not as they look now. The shots used to ensure continuity of makeup over several weeks were actually key to creating the characters for this DLC, and I can tell you now that you won’t be disappointed.
The next challenge was the environment. The Nostromo was a ship, small and claustrophobic, whereas the game is set on a space station, meaning there are more open areas to wander around in, all of which have been created by using concept art from the Alien film. After creating the spaces, they needed to be filled. If you remember the film, each space was just filled with stuff, no matter where it was, because it needed to looked lived in. The developers meticulously recreated this filler content in all their new areas, meaning the player can be fully immersed in the game, never thinking about a space that’s been poorly designed.
Now we move onto the sound of Alien Isolation. The developer starts by saying that games are split into three things ultimately, looks, sounds, and gameplay. Sound is incredibly important to all media, particularly games, as developers need to use it to make you feel certain emotions at certain points in time, which is hard! Sound also creates immersion and realism, which is basically the whole point of video games, think how bad a game would be if objects didn’t crash on the ground. Finally, sound can also lead, and mislead the player, making them think their enemy is in front of them, when there is in fact nothing there.
The gameplay element of the Alien is non-linear, which is really hard to work with for the sound team. How do you build tension and suspense with an AI that isn’t linear? They built systems that worked with the Alien, helping the game make you feel terrified as it became apparent that the thing was in the room with you. Jerry Goldsmith himself has even been involved with the sound design, concentrating the 2 hours or so of music into moments that create pure terror when necessary. The score couldn’t be static, it need to change based on player and Alien actions, but the system running all of this together works really well at achieving that level of tension required for a great Alien game. The system uses inputs such as stealth, how well-hidden the player is and how noisy they’re being, threat, how close the Alien is to you, and mixes them based on these factors to create the perfect soundtrack to your terror. Most-importantly, the sound engine isn’t noticeable, because that would shatter immersion.
Finally, the sound team chat about the world’s sounds. Originality was what the team were going for, but it’s hard when everything used in the film is on analogue tape. FOX went into their archives, underneath their building, and sent over the original sound effects that were recorded 35 years ago, which turned out to be a gold mine for the team. The sound engineer played out something called the Space Whale for everyone, and just that brings back the feeling of dread that the opening screen for the movie came with.
To end their presentation, the developers showed off a clip from the start of the game, drawing everything they just talked about together. The rooms are broken, with wires falling out of the ceiling and walls, the space station rocks and shakes, and there are terrible messages scrawled on the walls. Ripley moves slowly through the room, clearly aware that something dreadful happened, but not sure what. As she explores, you can see the planet from the film obscured by a passing ship, Ripley’s ship, and she now needs to get a message to them to show that she’s still alive. The clip ends and the intro screen appears, it’s amazing.
That’s all for the video, check it out here. I’ve got to say that I’m just so impressed with this game, I hope it lives up to and surpasses the hype it’s been receiving. Let me know your thoughts in the comments.
Image Source: VideoGamer