Frictional Games founder and creative director Thomas Grip has had a rather interesting few years. His studio debuted their breakout horror title Amnesia: The Dark Descent before working with The Chinese Room on Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs. From there, Frictional would return with a sci-fi thriller/horror title called SOMA. However, anyone who’s ever had some kind of connection with the company’s works started with Amnesia.
PS4 players will finally get to see what the big deal is when The Amnesia Collection releases on November 22nd. It will pack together The Dark Descent, A Machine for Pigs and the little known Amnesia: Justine into one terrifying package. GamingBolt spoke to Grip about his experience working on the game and whether Amnesia would be taking advantage of the PS4 in interesting ways.
"We have tried to get it on consoles for quite a while, but always ran into problems or never had the time."
I have always wanted to ask you this question. Why did you scare our pants off with Amnesia The Dark Descent?
Initially we had a very different game planned. It was supposed to be a sort of bite-sized horror game, similar in structure to Super Mario 64. When that didn’t work, we had to do something drastic and we decided on making something like Penumbra (our previous games), but much scarier. That is sorta how it came about! I also like to evoke emotions in our players, so I have to admit it was quite satisfying to terrify players.
The game launched way back on the PC in 2010. Why are you bringing back this horribly scary game back on the PS4?
We have tried to get it on consoles for quite a while, but always ran into problems or never had the time. And now, finally, after releasing SOMA, we figured we had both time and experience, so we went at it. We also found a good team, Blitworks, to do the porting for us.
What kind of control changes have you implemented in the PS4 version of Amnesia The Dark Descent?
Not much. The PC game already supports a gamepad so we are just slightly tweaking that setup.
So the game won’t feature any graphical improvements on the PS4. Will the game at the very least run at 1080p and 60fps on it?
The Dark Descent and Justine will run 1080 and 60fps. Some annoying physics issues might force us to do 30fps on A Machine for Pigs. We will have to see.
What about the other two games? Will they run at 1080p?
A Machine For Pigs might be 30 fps, because of some engine issues. Did you guys managed to run it at 60fps on the PS4?
Still working on it.
"A Machine For Pigs lack these and is more straightforward. I think that is one of the main reasons people might find it less scary."
A Machine For Pigs was scary in its own right but compared to the original, it’s generally considered less scary. Why do you think that is?
The game as a bit of a different focus. The Dark Descent is more focused on systems, like keeping your sanity and staying our of darkness, which adds a lot to the sense of stress. A Machine For Pigs lack these and is more straightforward. I think that is one of the main reasons people might find it less scary.
You are also bringing a lesser known Amnesia title called Amnesia: Justine. For our readers who are unaware about this title, what can you tell us about it?
It is a small experimental game that takes 1 -2 hours to complete. It was made during a Portal 2 promotion where it was a released as a secret to be found. The game has a story that is sort of a mix of Saw and Portal, and it also features perma death. If The Dark Descent is a novel, then Justine is like an extra short story taking place in the same universe.
With more and more horror games being set in first person mode (example Resident Evil 7), how proud do you feel given that Amnesia was one of the first few titles that revolutionized the horror genre with its first person camera?
I am not sure how much we contributed to it, but whatever we did, it is really amazing. There has been quite a resurgence in horror games the recent years and it feels cool to have been part of the start of that.
So, be honest with us. When is the next Amnesia game happening?
Not sure we want to make another one. There is so much other stuff we would like to explore. If we have a good idea we might return to it though. We’ll see.
What kind of improvements have you planned for the PS4 Pro version?
Afraid nothing special at all.
"For a horror game: I would say stuff like light levels. Handheld games are often played in bright places and that can be very hard to take into account when calibrating your game lighting."
How do you rate Sony’s relatively more conservative approach with the PS4 Pro versus Microsoft’s more radical overhaul with the Xbox One Scorpio? Which excites you more, from a development perspective?
Have to be honest here: I am not fully up to date on this, so don’t feel I can give a good answer.
What is your take on Sony’s Checkerboard technique for 4K rendering versus native 4K rendering that Microsoft are espousing with the Scorpio? To the naked guy, what will the difference be? And what are the differences from a development and programming perspective?
Again, don’t have enough info to comment.
The Xbox One Scorpio is being touted as the most powerful console ever made. And yet, given Microsoft’s diktat that all games have maintain parity with standard Xbox One systems, and that there can be no Scorpio exclusives, do you really think that the Scorpio’s power will be able to be put to any meaningful use?
I think there is still a lot to be done. As long as the biggest difference for a more powerful machine is not in gameplay-related stuff (such as map collision RAM use), then you can easily tweak. For instance you can make simpler lighting, etc. This is what you do for most PC Games already.
Do you have any plans to develop for the Nintendo Switch?
Depends. I would like us to be on as many platforms as possible. Just a matter of what we can manage.
What are your thoughts on the Nintendo Switch? With it being a handheld-console hybrid, what are the unique challenges a system like that would pose for game development?
For a horror game: I would say stuff like light levels. Handheld games are often played in bright places and that can be very hard to take into account when calibrating your game lighting. We already have issues in regards to different types of room setup. If you have to take into account that the player might be playing it outside, it could get really hard.