Daylight isn’t your typical survival horror game. Considering that it comes from the makers of the Saw franchise, you’d think it’d deal with the typical blood, gore and torture. But Zombie Studios takes a more psychological approach. You can’t fight back. The game is completely randomized in its level layout each time, so you have no clue what to expect around each and every corner. Did we mention there are freaky ghosts around trying to get you?
It’s also the first game to utilize Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 4, which is catered to the next-generation consoles. GamingBolt spoke to studio director Jared Gerritzen about what inspired Daylight, the development process behind the game, how the previous experience of developing Blacklight Retribution helped when creating Daylight for the PS4 and much more.
What was the inspiration behind developing Daylight?
Jared Gerritzen: Our whole team is a fan of the horror genre and we really wanted to create a game that could not only scare you, but was a true experience every time you played. Movies/shows like Silent House, American Horror Story and The House on Haunted Hill have all shaped our ideas and turned them into something really cool and creepy with Daylight.
Why did you decide to go with Unreal Engine 4 as opposed to say the CryEngine 3?
Jared Gerritzen: Zombie has heavily invested in Unreal technology over the last few years. Throwing all the knowledge away to transition to a different engine represented a significant amount of cost without an obvious award.
"The procedural creation of content is definitely something that is new to the genre, and it gives the game a huge replayability factor since you’re not experiencing the same scares over and over. The player will never truly know what’s lurking around corner."
Will the PlayStation 4 version run at 1080p/60 fps?
Jared Gerritzen: Its our target, but 1080 is our first priority. Being the first UE4 game on the first cycle of the PlayStation 4 dosent give us the leeway that the last genaration has with with lesser known tech, some parts will have to have balance.
What sets Daylight apart from other previous or upcoming horror games?
Jared Gerritzen: The procedural creation of content is definitely something that is new to the genre, and it gives the game a huge replayability factor since you’re not experiencing the same scares over and over. The player will never truly know what’s lurking around corner.
Why did you pick an abandoned hospital as the main theme/levels for Daylight?
Jared Gerritzen: The hospital is an important part of the storyline as you get into the game, but it’s not the main level. It’s definitely the first place you begin exploring, but there is so much more that you will find as you wind your way through the halls.
" Creating a game that continues to scare you is also about creating a good story. Daylight is a psychological horror game that can really get into your head and make you feel what the main character is feeling. The things you encounter won’t be the same, and the environment layouts won’t be the same, but the storyline will be the same."
How are the procedurally generated levels have been working out so far for Daylight?
Jared Gerritzen: Procedural generation is a huge part of what makes Daylight so different. There is no way to map out a path in your head after the fact, because it won’t make sense when you start the game over again. Our own team gets lost in the game, and that is a true testament to how crazy the Daylight world is.
How do you keep the game fresh despite the fact that everytime you start it over, you’re put into new encounters/level layouts?
Jared Gerritzen: Creating a game that continues to scare you is also about creating a good story. Daylight is a psychological horror game that can really get into your head and make you feel what the main character is feeling. The things you encounter won’t be the same, and the environment layouts won’t be the same, but the storyline will be the same. You’ll want to keep coming back to get more elements of that story you might have missed earlier, it’s very compelling.
Will there be any sort-of story DLC that might include a continuation with completely new levels themes such as a forests, or maybe even an abandonded facilities?
Jared Gerritzen: Initially we considered releasing the game in episodes, but after partnering with Atlus we thought we would just go for it, so you’ll be getting the full game on release and it’s definitely worth it.
"Currently we have no plans to put Daylight onto platforms other than PlayStation 4 and the PC."
How long does it complete one entire session of Daylight on average before starting over for a new experience?
Jared Gerritzen: That truly depends on the player, but we estimate that each playthrough could be 30-40 minutes. Since the player is unable to memorize where they have already been.
What is your personal favorite thing about Daylight?
Jared Gerritzen: Daylight actually really freaks me out! I almost wish I knew what was going to happen so I didn’t jump out of my seat, but that is part of what makes the game so great.
The ID@Xbox policy seems to be gathering pace in the last few months. Are there are plans to bring this game to the Xbox One?
Jared Gerritzen: Currently we have no plans to put Daylight onto platforms other than PlayStation 4 and the PC.
"We recently announced a Twitch Chat Stream integration that will allow viewers watching a live stream of Daylight to spook the player even further by typing out a word that corresponds to a sound in-game."
You guys already have a game for the PlayStation 4 in Blacklight Retribution. What kind of development lessons have you learnt from that experience and used them in developing Daylight for the PlayStation 4? Have you been able to push it further this time around?
Jared Gerritzen: Developing on the PlayStation 4 is great, and since Daylight is the first Unreal Engine 4 title to come out on the console, we’ve been really pleased with the entire process. We recently announced a Twitch Chat Stream integration that will allow viewers watching a live stream of Daylight to spook the player even further by typing out a word that corresponds to a sound in-game. We obviously had to time this to prevent spamming, but this interaction is yet another way Daylight creates a very cool (and creepy) experience.
What kind of benefits does the Unreal Engine 4 bring when used with the unified memory architecture of the PlayStation 4? Furthermore how has the PS4’s architecture helped you do things that would not have been possible, say on the PlayStation 3?
Jared Gerritzen: Very direct access to texture memory is a major advantage of having unified memory. This access allows us to work with render targets easily without being forced to write a bunch of specialized code desgined to simply move data between buses.
Is there anything else you want to tell our readers about Daylight?
Jared Gerritzen: We are absolutely looking forward to seeing all your streams and scares, and can’t wait to see what you guys do with the Twitch chat integration!
Thanks for your time, Jared. It was great talking to you again.