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Interview: Alone In The Dark

Nour Polloni talks about Resident Evil 4, no keys and why it took so long...

At last, Alone In The Dark will be with us.

With a development that predates Xbox 360 and the tricky task of revitalising an old series while bringing more innovative ideas to the table than you can count, Alone In The Dark has been a long time coming.

So it's with a sense of relief that Nour Polloni can finally show off the game she has been working on for four years and see the genuinely surprised reactions from onlooking press - surprised that Alone In The Dark has not only come through the other end unscatched but looking damn impressive to boot.

OXM sat down with the Senior Producer to discuss Alone In The Dark, the competition and what took so long...

Eden Studios made its name with the V-Rally series and more recently, Test Drive Unlimited. Why make the jump to survival horror with Alone In The Dark?
Our first action adventure game was Kya: Dark Lineage on PS2. When we finished that game, we had the opportunity to propose a concept for Alone In The Dark. Since practically the whole team loved Alone In The Dark and were great fans of that, we really wanted to do Alone In The Dark and give our vision of what we thought at that time.

So we came to Atari and proposed to them that we wanted to do the project. We weren't that lost in terms of action adventure aspects because we had Kya, but of course we never did a survival horror game before. The core team was the Kya Dark Lineage team and we brought in a lot of talent that have worked on different action adventure games. We brought in their expertise and helped bring the project as it is today.

I would say the lead team, we've always maintained a vision of what we've wanted to do from beginning to end and the lead team was always there from the initial Kya project. We've added talent like cinematic graphics, we got talent from the film industry, we got script writers from the TV and film industry to get on board to bring their expertise.

So it initially was a decision to make an Alone In The Dark game rather than a survival horror game?
We wanted to do an Alone In The Dark game. We wanted to do an Alone In The Dark game that lives up to the legacy of the first Alone In The Dark and the innovation that it brought, the freshness... we kind of expanded the brand to touch a wider audience than just the survival horror fans and make the game more as an entertainment media than just a videogame.

That's why we implemented a TV series structure with the DVD chapter select menu to help people advance if they are stuck, the fact that we made it more action oriented, the fact that we're mixing a lot of different gameplay. It's not just a game where you're in corridors. You have free roaming environments to explore, the main story to follow, driving, puzzle solving, combat, tons of things to do. This variety and this openness that we wanted to have a wider audience, this vision we had for Alone, that's what we wanted to do.

With the episodic structure influenced by TV, was that an idea there from beginning of development or added halfway through?
No, that was from the beginning of development. This is what we wanted to do. We investigated different domains, like we investigated in terms of gameplay, how are we going to push the interactivity you're going to have with the environment? We based it on real world rules. How are we going to tell the story? Okay, we don't want to tell it like a film, we want to tell it like a TV series.

It was during the pre-production of the game that we put that down, all the different domains where we wanted to innovate. We said okay, even on the story foundations and the theme, we can't say much more Lovecraft, what we can say that is different for the brand itself that brings something new and fresh? We really tried to cover all these different ideas.

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