Developer Talks Dead Space: Extraction

EA's "Dead Space" was one of the most critically acclaimed games of 2008, earning high praise for its atmospheric presentation, great gameplay, and a story that extended into a comic book series and animated feature. "Dead Space" put players in the shoes of Isaac Clarke, an engineer of a crew that is responding to a distress call from the stranded USG Ishimura, a mining ship that cracks planets and drains them of their resources. After crashing into the Ishimura, Issac and company find out the ship has been overrun by Necromorphs, organisms that reanimate dead flesh into grotesque creatures that must be dismembered to be stopped. In addition to finding a way home, Isaac must try to find a way to stop the Necromorphs, whose origins are tied to a strange marker that was found by the mining colony Aegis VII on the planet below.

In 2009, the "Dead Space" universe will expand once again, this time on the Nintendo Wii. Coming this fall, "Dead Space: Extraction" will explore the events that preceded the original game, and answer some questions about what actually happened to the mining colony of Aegis VII.

Visceral Games' Steve Papoutsis is the Executive Producer on "Dead Space: Extraction," and this week he answered some of CBR News' questions about the upcoming game.

CBR: "Dead Space: Extraction" serves as a prequel to "Dead Space." How much of what happened on Aegis VII will be explored in the game, and will we see the USG Ishimura as well?

Steve Papoutsis: "Extraction" is broken into three acts. Act 1 takes place on the Aegis VII colony. The game starts as the Marker is being extracted and follows a party of people who attempt to seek sanctuary on the USG Ishimura.

Isaac Clarke was the protagonist of "Dead Space." Who will players be taking on the role of for "Extraction?"

Players will get to play from a variety of POV's in "Extraction." We will be discussing our characters in more depth soon. Look for info on them to show up on our "Extraction" blog soon.

You've chosen to go with a more guided experience than in the original game. How would you describe "Extraction's" gameplay?

"Extraction" is played from a first person perspective. The core gameplay retains the mechanics found in "Dead Space." Strategic Dismemberment, Stasis, Telekinesis, and Zero-G areas all return in "Extraction." All of the original tools / weapons return in "Extraction" plus three all new ones: Arc Welder, Rivet Gun, and one other that we are not talking about at this time.

"Extraction" is different from "Dead Space" in that this adventure follows a group of people who are forced together during the initial outbreak on the Aegis VII colony. The story unfolds as the game progresses through conversations between these people and various logs that are discovered in the game.

In some ways, it would seem the Wii controls would lend themselves better to some weapons than a gamepad would. How are you taking advantage of this?

The biggest difference in "Extraction" is the way you fire your weapons. You take aim with the Wii Remote at a Necromorph and simply press the B button. As in "Dead Space" each weapon will have an alternate fire mode and this is activated by rotating your Wii Remote 90 degrees. I'm really digging the way the Ripper works with the Wii Remote, its great fun ripping apart Necromorphs with it, it has a very visceral feeling.

From a tools standpoint, did you have to create the engine and assets from scratch for the Wii game, or were you able to use anything from the original game?

We are creating new environments, enemies, and weapons for "Extraction" but have been able to leverage our past assets as well.

Can you give us an example of something you are doing with on the Wii that hasn't been done before?

One of our primary goals with "Extraction" is to nail the atmosphere and look that the original "Dead Space" had. So far we are happy with how the visuals are turning out. As far as mechanics our Alternate Fire mode is different as is our "Glow Worm" mechanic. In low light areas the player is able to shake their Wii Remote to charge up the "Glow Worm" a light stick like device. This creates an interesting risk reward opportunity for the player in that they must briefly take their reticule off screen in order to charge the "Glow Worm". They can always choose not to charge the "Glow Worm" and take their chances in the low light areas but they may sacrifice accuracy in these circumstances.

One of the ways "Dead Space" kept the player immersed was the absence of a HUD, using Isaac's suit to give cues about health. How have you taken that a step further for "Extraction?"

Given that "Extraction" is played from a First Person perspective we are working hard on retaining an in-world HUD design. Players can currently see how many stasis shots and how much ammunition they have by simply looking at their reticule. In addition to an onscreen effect when taking damage we have introduced what we are calling our "Mini Rig." This is a UI element that can be toggled on and off by pressing a button on the Wii remote. The "Mini Rig" will contain a Rig, as well as additional weapon information such as total number of ammunition the player is holding, number of upgrades on the currently selected weapon, and if they are carrying a revival pack.

A highly anticipated feature of "Extraction" is the co-op mode. What can you tell us about it?

Co-op is super fun. Our goal with the mode was to make sure it was easy for people to play with a friend without sacrificing their single player campaign. When a person wants to jump into your current game all they need to do is hit a button on the Wii remote and they instantly jump into the game. There is no need to jump out to another menu or restart your single player game.

With the unique mechanics in "Extraction," co-op also allows for a lot of strategy between players. I like to use Stasis and Telekinesis while the other player focuses on dismembering the Necromorphs. Another crucial goal with co-op was to make sure that player two has as many opportunities to interact with the game as player one does. Our puzzles and camera look around moments alternate between players; this is one of the ways we are hoping to keep both players equally engaged throughout the game.

Some might argue that adding co-op will take away from the atmosphere of the game. What are you doing to make sure the feel of the game doesn't lose anything when another player jumps in?

"Extraction" follows a group of people, so having co-op does not detract from the overall atmosphere at all. Co-op feels very natural in the game.

Being able to upgrade weapons in the original game allowed players some ability to tailor their experience. Will you be using the same system in "Extraction?"

Players will be able to upgrade their weapons on the fly in "Extraction." Throughout the game Upgrade Nodes will be found, that when collected are immediately applied to the appropriate weapon. Finding the Upgrade Nodes will be one of the many challenging elements in the game.

Will there be other game modes in addition to the campaign mode?

I can't say much about it at this time but Extraction will have a new mode we are calling "Challenge Mode." We will be talking more in depth about this in the near future. Hopefully I can show it to you very soon.

"Dead Space: Extraction" is slated to release on September 29, 2009 for the Nintendo Wii. For more information, head over to www.deadspace.ea.com.

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