Sunday, 26 May 2024

Dissecting The Bloody Carnage Of Until Dawn

With Until Dawn, Supermassive has created a captivating teen-horror adventure filled with life-or-death choices. We had the opportunity to speak with creative director Will Byles about the game’s major development challenges, twist-filled narrative, and what’s next for the up-and-coming studio.

Until Dawn may not have generated much buzz prior to its release, but it quickly gained acclaim from critics and players alike, with some even dubbing it as the sleeper hit of 2015. While we cannot comment on specific sales numbers, we have been overwhelmed by the positive reception from the community. It’s truly been a remarkable experience for us.

Originally conceived as a first-person Move title for the PS3, Until Dawn underwent significant changes in terms of perspective, platform, and control methods. The decision to shift away from the Move-based mechanics came after a series of fortunate events. The overwhelmingly positive response from the PlayStation community, the stunning visuals in a third-person view, the imminent release of the PlayStation 4, and the presence of a compelling story all contributed to this decision.

One might wonder how Sony, as the publisher, reacted when we proposed reworking the entire game. Fortunately, the conversation with Sony was incredibly collaborative. With the success of Heavy Rain and all the factors aligning, we all shared the common goal of making Until Dawn the best it could be and reaching a wider audience.

Throughout the transition, the fundamental story of Until Dawn remained intact. However, we made significant efforts to incorporate meaningful branching paths, choice-based conversations, and consequential character development. Working with talented writers Larry Fessenden and Graham Reznick, we rewrote the entire script to infuse a darker tone while preserving the charm of the original narrative.

Our actors played a crucial role in shaping their characters. By allowing them to bring their own lenses and filters to the role, we achieved much deeper and more authentic performances. This was made possible by a new recording and rendering technique that captured every expression and blended them together, resulting in a level of subtlety rarely seen in games.

Unlike many story-driven adventure games that quickly resolve player choices to bring everyone back to the same path, we wanted Until Dawn to have long-lasting consequences. To accomplish this, we employed the concept of the Butterfly Effect to highlight significant decisions and their subsequent outcomes. By using a program that incorporated the story, script, interactions, and gameplay into individual nodes, we were able to track and follow every possible thread and consequence.

Throughout playtesting, we were consistently surprised by players’ choices. One particular decision that stood out was the Ashley/Chris choice with the gun. While we initially believed players would shoot Chris, the results were much closer to a 50-50 split. It’s always fascinating to see how players interpret and respond to the choices presented to them.

Emily, despite her initial superficial and irritating demeanor, possesses one of the most intriguing character arcs in the game. Her position within the group and her unresolved feelings for Mike make her journey a compelling one. Depending on the player’s choices, she can become one of the saviors of the night.

Until Dawn represents a significant leap forward in terms of depth and production values for Supermassive. We are committed to continuing to explore this style of adventure game in our future projects. The positive response from both gamers and critics has been incredibly encouraging, and we believe there is a space for more experiences like Until Dawn in various genres.

While there are no specific announcements at this time, we want to express our gratitude to the fans of the game who deeply engaged with Until Dawn. The overwhelming support and understanding of our vision have been truly remarkable. We appreciate each and every one of you.

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Q: Will there be an Until Dawn 2?
A: We have nothing to announce at this time.

Q: Anything else you want to tell fans of the game?
A: The best result for us is seeing the fans connect so deeply with the game. We are truly amazed by the positive reactions and the level of engagement on platforms like YouTube, Tumblr, and Twitter. Thank you for giving Until Dawn a chance and for truly understanding what we set out to achieve.