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You just referenced "immersion", and this is a word we hear a lot, specifically usually with big console games, but it's not that well-defined. How do you define it from your perspective, as a developer?
TB: Well, it's about you feeling that you're really inside the experience, and that in some way this world is coherent and believable for you, and the logic of the world is not taking you out of the experience.
And we have been discussing this a lot with the heads-up display, and the intrusion into the world that it has, and how cinematic a game would be the more you remove it from the game.
But sometimes it also seems like adding these elements, because you very quickly abstract [information] from these things, that it will not necessarily take you out of the immersion. It will just suddenly help you to live yourself truly.
But it is, as you say, an undefined word. It's difficult to say what it does to you, and sometimes it can be not necessarily the drama or the animation that will make it immersive, it will be the mechanics of the game that you just start to understand, and you're looking at the clockwork more than you're looking at the production values, so to speak. So I think you can have games that are very minimalistic that are extremely immersive experiences.
I think for a game like this, honestly, having a HUD that lets you quickly check all the information that you need to know is actually more immersive than trying to take it away.
We've had games in the past where people experimented with things like more blood on the shirt, or whatever, he starts limping, that kind of stuff. That gives me another layer of decisions I have to make, another kind of information I have to process. I think a bar that just tells me how hurt I am is the quickest solution.
TB: Yes. That's why we also reverted back to a more, you could say "classic", heads-up display. While seeing games like Dead Space, of course everybody's really envious of them. They have this really cool suit, they use that actively. They have the very cool menu system. You just look at it -- it's so sexy, you know? And everybody wants it.
But it would never fit this game, right? Having his barcode [on the back of the main character's head] fill up with blood, for instance? [laughs] So we can't really use that. Everybody has to use their own way, I guess, to see what fits. You have to see what fits your game and your mechanics best.
Speaking of Dead Space brings me back to something you mentioned earlier. People are very much getting used to linear games. Dead Space is a pretty linear game. How do you let players know they have options?
TB: This is also something we've been working with. And this is also a big problem, or it's a big challenge for us, because our fan base are very diverse. Some people, they resent being told anything in the world. They just want their target, and they want to find out by themselves. Other people, they actually want to be told the options that they have and the opportunities in the world.
We found out that yeah, one thing is explaining the mechanics, so that you know that you have these different options in for your character. We have this new feature called "instinct" that's been a big debate, which seems to go down very, very well when people actually get their hands on it. But you can also use that to find things in the world that might not be directly linked to gameplay, but more kind of conceptual areas.
If I press my instinct button, you see these little sparks rippling up different places in the world, and this is just simply telling there are these points of interest that might be few spots down -- kind of subtly telling you that there are these opportunities in the world.
But this is a real tightrope for us to walk, because the players have to define themselves, in a way, as they approach the game. If they want to play on normal, they will get more information. If they play on easy, they will get even more. But we really try to restrict ourselves from telling you a solution, because we want to say, "There are these opportunities, and you always have them available, and you should find out for yourself which one is the best one."