Dying Light – An interview about fear, the rush of adrenaline, fans and … Zombies!8 min read
Interview with Tymon Smektala, Lead Producer of Dying Light.
[dropcap]?[/dropcap]Dying Light is a promising mixture of zombie survival and parcour game. How did you think of combining those two elements?
When we started this project we went through a marathon of brainstorms about things lacking in zombie survival games. We had lots of different, often crazy ideas, but one thing kept popping up on a regular basis – the awkward, limited mobility of the main character, a staple for the genre. We decided that improving that should be a step towards realism – if zombie apocalypse happened, most people would rather run than charge headfirst into zombie horde. As the wheels kept spinning we kept adding and adding to the idea; we started inventing scenarios which should scare or challenge the player without limiting his movements; we started seeing new things that we could do with first-person games in general. It didn’t take long until we were confident that freedom of movement should be a pillar of Dying Light.
[dropcap]?[/dropcap]How rich in variety is Dying Light? To combine both elements in a single mission seems to be very difficult.
It’s so rich and deep, that I almost can’t believe it myself. When you work on a game, you focus on its segments on its different features; of course you try to design them in a way that works with elements of the experience, but it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. But now, where the game is almost finished, it’s clear that we’ve created a very unique, addictive game: a game in which everything interlocks with everything, where combat supports movement and movement supports combat; where all of the systems work in synergy creating hundreds scenarios of second-to-second gameplay. I can’t wait to give this thing to the player, because I’m sure that they will appreciate what we’ve achieved.
[dropcap]?[/dropcap]How dynamical are your missions? Is the course of a mission strongly scripted, mostly random or do you modify the mission at certain checkpoints?
They’re really dynamic and it’s almost guaranteed that playing the same missions a couple of times will yield different stories. It all boils down to the second-to-second scenarios I’ve mentioned earlier – the starting, the ending and the turning points of our missions are mostly scripted, but the things happening in-between are dynamically generated by AI spawning systems, the weather cycle and the day/night cycle.
[dropcap]?[/dropcap]How much time will it take a player to play through Dying Light? I don’t think of all achievements, just to finish the normal storyline.
A safe answer is 15 hours, but I doubt there will be many people who’ll finish the story by doing only what’s required. There are too many side quests, additional activities, dynamic encounters that lure you from the main path to follow only the story. Our previous zombie game kept people playing for 50, 70, 100 hours and I don’t see why Dying Light shouldn’t repeat that feat.
[dropcap]?[/dropcap]How big is the difference between gameplay at daytime and gameplay at nighttime? Just use pictorial language!
The pictorial language is the best way to answer this – it’s like two games crammed into one experience. During the day you are the master, you are the man. You are armed, you have lots of cool gadgets at your disposal, you are intelligent, and so you can easily outsmart the Infected. But when night falls everything changes. Now you are the prey. The night Infected – the regular Biters transformed by the darkness and the Volatiles, vicious killers looking for something to devour, the Night Hunter controlled by other human players – these guys really push you to your limits. It’s dark, you don’t see much, but you can clearly hear the sounds of these monsters looking for you, closing in on you. Trust me, it’s scary!
[dropcap]?[/dropcap]Just in prompts: What is Dying Lights right to exist under this flood of zombie and survival games?
Prompts, you say? Here you go: revolution in first-person player movement; the rush of adrenaline when the night falls; intoxicating, addictive gameplay; dynamics of our emergent game world; graphics so good that they will make your screen pop. Sorry for sounding like a hype man, but I’m extremely proud of what we’ve created!
[dropcap]?[/dropcap]How complex is Dying Light compared to you masterpiece Dead Island? Are you afraid, that your work does not stand a chance against the expectations of your fans?
It’s the game that Dead Island fans were waiting for. We took the foundation of our previous zombie game and then kept adding layer after layer of new stuff to it. We tested all of the additions to see if they fit – and we didn’t have any problems with removing features that were only average. But the most important thing is the Natural Movement system, which is our umbrella name for everything that gives player almost limitless freedom of movement. The difference is so big. It’s like going from 2D to 3D.