Deadlight is coming to the Xbox Live Arcade as an exclusive downloadable title… is there any specific reason as to why you opted for exclusivity – surely the more the merrier is the better option with downloadable games?
We reached a really good publishing deal with Microsoft Studios, and of course they prefer exclusive titles on XBLA. We keep our creative freedom and they make everything seem easy.
How have you found the process of developing downloadable games, and how does it differ compared to developing disk based projects?
Everything happens fast, really fast, and it requires you to be very agile. If Deadlight had to be a retail title, it would be a completely different type of game. Not better or worse, just different. Downloadable platforms allow you to experiment and offer things that physical formats cannot for obvious reasons. We are obsessed with a high attention to details, the asset creation and the production values are definitely the ones of a disc based project.
From a developer standpoint, what do you think of the future of digital distribution methods? Will it overtake retail sales, and could you ever envisage traditional retailers offering downloadable games as well to their markets to remain competitive?
They will coexist for a while, but ultimately the digital sales will surpass the retail ones. Users have the final word though. They want good value for their money, as well as a fast, easy to use service. The retailers will adapt and evolve but, do you imagine people going to an Apple Store to download and app? No, they just download from the App Store with one click. Downloadable or streaming games… that’s another question.
Can you tell us a little more about Deadlight’s lead character Randall Wayne?
Randall Wayne is a Canadian park warden. He was born the 19th of May, 1952 in Hope, BC. Randall has a passion for crime fiction and espionage novel and has an interest in animal biology. He is introverted and slightly paranoid. Before the Massive Mess, Randall Wayne was an ordinary man with no great aspirations, but also without a heavy load on his shoulders. He married very young, at the age of 23, and had a daughter called Lydia 2 years later.
Thanks to his long stays in the mountains and his job in the woods, Wayne acquired basic knowledge on weapons handling, survival skills and climbing. His abilities and lots of luck allowed him to survive long enough to become one of the last living persons in the Pacific Northwest.
Why the 80s? This loveable period seems to be popular, is there a story behind this decision?
Yes! We grew up in the 80s, and looking back, it’s amazing we survived it! We tried to capture the unique visual appeal of the 80s, not the stereotypes. Being born in the late 70s, we read things like 1984 magazine. There was this magazine in Spain, Cimoc. It was an almost forbidden gate to other deep, dark, creepy worlds. These apocalyptic and depressive worlds envisioned by authors like Richard Corben, deadly and beautiful, were a huge influence for some of us.
It may sound silly, but one of the initial visual references for Deadlight was The Goonies!. First Blood was also a major influence. We tried to avoid a «too synthetic» look and make Deadlight as «analogic», organic and gritty as possible.
The choice of the timeframe is not random at all. Most of the 80s were marked by paranoia and that allowed us to revive the old myths of the Cold War. Setting Deadlight and the Great Mess in 1986, we can take events from our history (Chernobyl, the Challenger disaster, Halley’s comet, the discovery of the ozone hole) and recreate an alternate reality inhabited by paranoia and fear. Deadight is a chaotic universe where society is gone; only individuals are left. Some individuals try to rebuild civilization, mimicking what they think is right and «normal»; others just try to survive by the law of the fittest. This universe is based on distrust and individual survival, just like the final days of the Cold War, which started to end in the 80s.
Deadlight’s just released teaser trailer looks excellent, how representative of the game’s actual graphics is it?
Around 80%. What you have seen is pre-alpha. We are working to improve the visuals and the general experience. We want the player to really feel alone and vulnerable.
The post apocalyptic world has been done to death last year, how does Deadlight handle such a common [in video games] theme?
Deadlight is a narrative driven experience set in an alternate past. The story doesn’t revolve around saving the world, who or what spreaded the disease. Randall Wayne is not interested in answers or a cure. The point of our narration resides in a character who tries to survive above all. The world is gone to hell and you cannot do anything about it. This is Randall’s story, his desires and dreams, his problems in this beautiful, deadly, ruthless world.
The trailer suggests there will be zombies, is this an accurate description of Randall’s foes?
Randall’s biggest foe is himself. There are zombies, but they are an additional piece of the puzzle. You won’t find many friendly neighbours in Deadlight.
Deadlight has been described as a cinematic action-platform game with action based puzzles; can you expand on the action based puzzle element?
Randall is alive, that’s his main advantage. His is fast and agile. One of the main inspirations for Deadlight are the classic cinematic platformers, like Prince of Persia, Another World and Flashback. The environment is a character itself; there are deadly traps and a mistep means death. Randall has a variety of navigation, combat and interaction with the environment that allow him to advance and solve the physics-based puzzles.
Will Deadlight feature any combat aside from evading enemies, and if so what sort of weapons will Randall be able to use?
Combat is always an option, albeit a poor one. There are more enemies than bullets, and noise is a key mechanic in Deadlight. Randall finds tools and small firearms during the game, but these are more useful as ways of unblocking paths than killing.
Can you tell us a little more about how diversions will work?
Noise and using yourself as a life bait. When you are in a dead world, every little sound is amplified. Zombies are tireless but they are dumb. The player must take care of that, but also it’s an ability at his/her disposal. For example, Randall can scream or taunt to catch the attention. It doesn’t sound very smart of him, but you will understand when you play the game.
Without giving too much away, will Randall be alone in Deadlight’s world or will he interact with other survivors? Is the story solely based around survival or will there be other themes?
There are other survivors. You don’t want to invite them for dinner. Randall is part of a group when Deadlight starts and… you’ll see. Randall’s odyssey takes him in a tragic quest beyond his own survival.
Can you give us some background information on the name ‘Deadlight’ and what it pertains to in-game?
Deadlight is a suggestive world of shadows. All the game is represented as backlit 3D silhouettes. This light on a dead world is a metaphor of the shadows that populate it, and Randall’s own inner fears. Lighting all the environments with this effect has been a huge pain in the ass!
Finally, if you were to sell the idea of Deadlight to the most cynical of gamer what would you say?
Deadlight is not a zombie shooter. You won’t kill anyone… without a reason.
We’d like to thank Tequila Works for taking the time to answer our questions. Be sure to look out for Deadlight on the Xbox Live Arcade in the coming months.