In the latest edition of its Inside Dead Space developer blog, developer Motive Studio has this time around focused on talking about the development surrounding the primary setting for Dead Space—the “Planet Cracker”-class USG Ishimura.
The post talks about developing the interiors and exterior of the Ishimura for the upcoming remake, the challenges in doing so, and how the studio arrived at some of the choices it is making.
The core idea behind the Dead Space remake is keeping the Ishimura true to what it represented in the original game—its oppressive atmosphere and tight corridors making the ship feel like a character of its own.
“The Ishimura is an iconic ship because it was treated like a main character,” says associate art director Roy Tuazon in the post. “So much detail and thought went into creating it. They did an amazing job of keeping the player immersed in the ship, and left us wanting to see more. I personally think the Ishimura is as iconic to the gaming world as the Nostromo from Alien is to the film world.”
The post also talks about how Motive Studio went about updating the Ishimura for the Dead Space remake. Project technical lead David Robillard talks about having to make use of the Frostbite engine’s streaming solution to ensure smooth gameplay, letting the game stream content in and out as the player progresses through the Ishimura.
Lead level designer Catherine Stewart also talks about being lucky in having the layout files from the original release of game game.
“We were also lucky to have the layout files from the original game,” says Stewart, “even though they were in a very outdated format. One of our designers salvaged what data he could so we could put these completely hacked assets into the game as an initial reference point.”
Tuazon talks about the unique challenges in making the older layout files fit in the physical space of the Ishimura, having to move some rooms around and even add in new hallways to make game’s level design feel more natural. Stewart expands on this, talking about updating the Ishimura’s rooms for new gameplay mechanics, like the new zero-G experience.
All of these talking points lead the developers into talking about the most important aspect of Dead Space—its atmosphere. Senior game writer Jo Berry talks about making small visual additions to help intensify the game’s atmosphere. The first room on the Ishimura, for example, will now feature signs with safety warnings, customs declarations, and scanning stations.
The game will overall also feature more minor touches, like advertisements from across the Dead Space setting and mentions of locations from Dead Space 2, for example.
Dead Space is coming to PC, PS5, and Xbox Series X/S on January 27.