Man of Medan's art director talks about scaring the player
From anticipation to misdirection, Supermassive has been thinking about how they're going to spook players in The Dark Pictures.
The Dark Pictures Anthology from Supermassive Games is set to kick off next month with Man of Medan, and when we were in Hamburg recently for a preview session, we got to talk with art director Robert Craig and marketing director James Scalpello about what exactly they're doing to scare the player throughout.
"I think the one important thing about scares is there's not just one formula," Craig explained. "You have to kind of look at every scare in isolation and figure out what you're trying to do, and really go into detail and test that. So we kind of did that. We have scare meetings, we talk about a bunch of them and figure out what's working and what's not."
"One thing, for example, is misdirection. You want to make them think it's about something in the scene and then surprise, it's actually something else that's either gonna jump in or pop in at you. In terms of cinematography there's so many ways to do that. There's a lot of reference out there, and I think it's important not to fall too far into formula and just go with something like big and bright that jumps in the screen. It's kind of about the buildup to it sometimes, it's about that anticipation as much as anything, you know."
"One thing we can do that's quite interesting is we can add the element of agency and control that you can't do in the movie. You're always the passenger in the movie, kind of watching, but we can go 'come into this creepy new room on a ship' and then you've got control back, like do I really want to move forward here?"
"We don't just rely on jumpscares as well, there's a whole lot of other things," Scalpello added. "And then jumpscares are pretty hard to put together as well, because you have to set the scene, and almost misdirect as Bob said."
Craig also adds that some of the scares here are more psychological, "ones in this that kind of get you thinking a bit more, like 'actually, what's going on, should I be doing this?' And that making the player think and question - that psychological aspect can be a nice element of the horror too."