Bloody Disgusting’s Silent Hill retrospective.
A Talk With Silent Hill Homecoming Director Cordy Rierson
Check out my interview with Cordy Rierson, the director for Silent Hill: Homecoming along with some concept art for what became the atmosphere and aesthetic build for the locations in the game!
Silent Haven: How did you get involved in Silent Hill: Homecoming and what was your role as a director?
Cordy Rierson: We got involved with Konami for the development of Silent Hill: Homecoming when they decided they wanted to work with western developers to create something that would appeal to westerners and broaden the fan base.
Cordy Rierson: My role on Silent Hill: Homecoming was to motivate and direct the team on a timeline and budget that allowed them to make the best product that they could. All of the wonderful elements in it really is a testament to the awesome team I had of creative artists, designers and programmers. They deserve all the credit.
Silent Haven: Do you have much experience directing or producing within the psychological horror genre or was homecoming a first for you in this type of environment?
Cordy Rierson: Homecoming was my first psychological horror game but I had worked on similar entertainment IP’s in film such as Clive Barkers, Lord of Illusions and Russell Mulcahy’s The Shadow. It was definitely different though to make an interactive experience. With film you can stage the points of terror for the audience but in the game the player had freedom to go where ever they wanted which made setting up those points much harder.
Silent Haven: One of my favorite aspects of Homecoming is its visual presentation and effects, but the game’s aesthetics really seemed to have pulled a lot of its direction and art design/mapping from past Silent Hill games and even more so from the first Silent Hill movie released back in 2006. Was the Silent Hill movie a natural influence when directing Homecoming or was this something you were consciously trying to achieve?
Cordy Rierson: Influences for Silent Hill were all around staying true to the franchise and not turning off fans while at the same time introducing new elements for more compelling gameplay like the combat… The art direction was driven through a collaboration with Konami but led by our art director at the time, Brian Horton. He is really good!
Silent Haven: What would you say to these critics or fan who down-talk homecoming saying it was unoriginal?
Cordy Rierson: Well, art is a subjective experience. Everyone will walk away with an opinion. I think it is better to create something that evokes enough emotion for someone to have an opinion that not to have one or care at all.
Silent Haven: True art is beautiful to those who naturally see its beauty. Its the wonderful thing about art. What were some challenges you experienced while working with Konami on Silent Hill Homecoming?
Cordy Rierson: My favorite challenges and experiences in working with this franchise was the character development, the atmosphere of the environments and the real time transitions we did with the visual effects. I am actually a pretty big scaredy-cat so it was a challenge.
Silent Haven: Were you a fan of Silent Hill before Homecoming and are you a fan of Silent Hill today?
Cordy Rierson: I would not have considered myself fan before working on the franchise but once you spend so much time, energy and effort on something, you can’t help but become fond of it . So I would say I am a fan today.
Even though Cordy Rierson’s answers were short due to her busy schedule her input on the questions I had are very much appreciated. I want to thank her for taking the time to discuss her work on Silent Hill: Homecoming.
Silent Hill Producer Has Left The Franchise’s Publishing Company
After producing 5 Silent Hill games it was confirmed and announced yesterday by Rely On Horror that Tomm Hulett has resigned from his position at Konami to work as a game Director for WayForward Technologies, who worked alongside Tomm and Konami on the PS Vita title Silent Hill: Book of Memories.
The question that still lingers here is why did Tomm leave behind such a franchise and publishing company he loved? Last year Tomm was blamed and hounded for much of the technical failures that existed within the HD Collection and Downpour as well as the controversy that surrounded the HD Collection with its change in voice overs. Could all this stress and blame be why Tomm left? Or could just have simply been a personal choice to further advance his career? No official statement has been publicly made from the former SH producer but im sure there will be one expected.
In my personal opinion on this I think Tomm left Konami not because he was fed up with the SH Community or was unhappy at Konami, though he absolutely had every right to be. Much of the games failures in the past 6 years that Tomm worked were due to lack of good publishing on Konami part as a whole. With that said I do not think Tomm is right for the job as Silent Hill producer. Does that mean he isnt a passionate fan like me or you? No. Does that mean he didnt try his hardest as a producer for Konami? Of course not. What I mean is Tomm and a group of other people (Double Helix, Vatra, Climax…) made games that were unique to them that didnt carry, in my opinion the dark scary atmosphere we remember from the early games. I think it could have made its way in the right direction as I saw the franchise getting just a little depper and deeper towards the creepy psychological horror that made us fall in love with this franchise, but regardless that Silent Hill essence just seemed to be missing and Tomm made his choice and maybe it was the best decision for everyone?
Im not here to hate on Tomm, in fact im here to thank Tomm for his efforts and work on the franchise. Shattered Memories and Downpour are some of my favorite games ever and are actually up there in my SH list of games. I hope your new work over at WayForward rewards you greatly, I dont think I could have stuck around with Konami for six years even for a franchise I love. If the publisher doesnt love their own products being produced why stick around? I know some people will either love this news or find it a bit of a sad story either way I hope this wont hurt the franchise or Tomm Hulett.
What do you guys think?
I want to thank Patrick J. Doody and Chris Valenziano, writers for Silent Hill Homecoming, for hooking me up with this promo poster signed by Akira Yamaoka, who did the score for Homecoming as well as 6 other Silent Hill games as well as the films! Patrick gave me some tidbits on Homecoming:
"Eye Of The Storm [Name of the band on the Shepherd’s Gen 150th Anniversary Celebration poster] was for real the name of my high school band. In fact, there were a few references to other high school moments. I’ll give you another.
BLANKMANinc: How did you guys get involved with “Silent Hill: HomecomingCHRIS:We were first approached for the project by a friend of ours, Marwan Abderrazzaq, who was producing the game. He mentioned the title and we seriously flipped. We were big fans of the series and wanted to be involved in any way possible. We went in for a meeting and just geeked out for a while about the game with the designers. We ultimately received the job because we not only understood the lore of the previous games but had a lot of ideas as to where Homecoming’s story could go.”PATRICK: After we met with the game studio, which was at that time was The Collective before it became Double Helix, we had a meeting with Konami. That meeting was three hours long and was literally spent walking through the entire canon of Silent Hill. We were smart enough to have spent the previous week playing ALL the games again. I know, it’s hard work.”
BMi: What was your direct role in its production?
CHRIS:The general story points had already been developed when we first came on board. We helped the team flesh those points out and tie up all the loose ends. Then we worked on writing the in-game cinematics. Those were the closest things we did to “traditional” screenwriting. What followed next was an almost endless amount of writing, from dialogue trees to journal entries to news articles to character backgrounds… even the names of stores in the town! It was very in depth and many moments had to have multiple variants to account for game play.”
BMi: Were you both fans of the “Silent Hill” series before working on the game?
CHRIS: Absolutely. I remember going over to Patrick’s apartment and watching him play the original game in the dark, with the sound turned way up, jumping at every single scare. It was a revolutionary game.”
PATRICK: Oh yes. I bought the first game the week it came out without a clue what it was. I just though the title sounded cool. For weeks, me and another buddy of mine playing the game traded hints. It was insane. I have never been so affected by a video game before. Well, maybe Miner 2049er, but nothing like that until Silent Hill.”
“Years later, there I was in meetings saying “well, what if Pyramid Head did this?” and then it would HAPPEN. Talk about catharsis.”
BMi: What were some of the challenges you both faced during the writing process of “Homecoming”?
PATRICK: “We had never written a video game before. It a very collaborative medium and we had a short learning give as to how the process worked.”
“Between the lead designer, art designer, level designers…it’s an insane amount of logic tracking, managing information as well as generating ideas in a team environment. It was a two year process filled with months of us going off, writing and then delivering to make our milestones. (Milestones are the times in the schedule when the studio has to deliver game elements to be looked at and discussed with the publisher.) Many times in the middle of those milestones, the designers would change things. We’d return with entire finished scenes and they’d be like, “oh yeah, we combined that guy and that other guy into THIS guy.” Or, the level designers would add a prop somewhere for a puzzle. We’d then have to figure out how to reverse engineer the prop in to the story to make it feel organic.”
“This is the nature of game developing. The flip side to that little frustration was that the designers were ALSO off making stuff in those months. When we’d come back to the studio, they’d show off amazing new environments, character art and level designs. The team was incredibly talented.”
“I really enjoyed hiding personal easter eggs in the game’s environment. For example, the doctor’s name on all of Alex’s charts in the hospital is actually my doctor. He isn’t a gamer AT ALL, so when I presented him a framed picture of a screen grab with his name in there, he was confused. It hangs in his office somewhere.”
BMi: How do you feel about the direction the franchise (Silent Hill) has headed in the last few years?
Patrick: “I’m going to be completely honest with you. I haven’t played any of the games since Silent Hill: Homecoming, for two reasons.”
“One. I have a five year old son. 100 Levels is more up his alley.”
“Two. As I said, we spent two years in Silent Hill. Before writing Homecoming, I had been a fan of the games and had played them for hours, in some cases, replaying them. Suddenly, I was living with the material day in and day out. After the game was released, there were a lot of mixed reviews with regards to the plot. After a certain point, it doesn’t really matter who was involved with which parts of the game, but as a writer, if people aren’t happy, you feel a sense that you let down the fans. And I’M a fan! This comes with the job, especially when you are dealing with something beloved. I know you can’t win EVERYONE over, that’s just a ridiculous expectation, but we did try our best to say as truthful to the franchise as possible. However, it’s my opinion that while many parts of the game are really effective, some parts could have been stronger.”
“That said, I’m passionate about the world of Silent Hill and always will be. I am excited for the new film and the Silent Hill maze at Universal Studios Hollywood Halloween Horror Nights. If it’s as kick ass as I hope, I may just live there for a few days. I’d fit right in!
To keep up to date on what Chris and Patrick are up to like them on their Space Zombie Films facebook and pleace be sure to check out BlankManInc's website where I got this sweet interview and poster from.
Since high school, I’ve been heavily influenced by Akira Yamaoka.
In fact, one of my few finished tracks (released just after I finished high school, actually) was directly inspired by him. Albeit, it’s much more electronic oriented, but I had tried to capture his essence in song had he been maybe a bit more accessible to the general public.
I did a terrible job at it. Haha. But I figured, being that he’s carved such a large hole in my musical preferences, I thought I’d isolate the parts of the song and show you why I did what, why I chose this/that sound, etc.
Ready? Okay, here we go:
Right off, you’ll notice the drum patterns are a bit reminisce of Trip-Hop (you can hear it all over Yamaoka’s work. SH4’s and Shattered Memories OST, in particular), but sped up a bit. The alterations and relative unpredictability of parts of the drums were taken solely from The Terminal Show. The break on the song, when the drums get heavier, was essentially a massive rip from the Three Voices Edit of Rain of Brass Petals. The last half of the song, after the break, tries to incorporate the more experimental/noise aspects of Yamaoka, while maintaining a consistent rhythm and melody; Something that I always thought would be really cool. Eerie, but still groovy. Lastly, the title of the track itself. It’s a bit of a throwback to the titles of Yamaoka’s work on the first Silent Hill, where some of the titles were clear-cut statements, or phrases taken out of context, and didn’t follow the more popular adjective+noun format of most song titles (Namely, I’ll Kill You, Tears Of…, and Heaven Give Me Say). He’s continued to do this since then, but it was a bit more obvious on the first soundtrack.
And that’s that! What am I doing now? Well, I almost dropped music entirely, in pursuit of an English degree (which I’m still going for), but a friend of mine convinced me otherwise, and we’re actually recording together and plan to start playing locally quite soon. I haven’t forgotten my origins, though. I still continue to dabble in experimental noise and thematic elements, and have a whole slew of other darker, less musical soundscapes for listening.
Try this one out for size: http://soundcloud.com/endzym3/fxokfwynix7w/s-vvrHx
Aaand, something that will really get under your skin: http://soundcloud.com/endzym3/ao2vk5bq1zxe/s-CQtlQ
Anyways, that’s enough from me. I didn’t exactly come here to whore myself out, so I should take my leave. I hope you all enjoyed a little slice of this ‘ol Yamaoka-addict, and continue to listen to his works. He’s the better man here, haha. The world is a better place, however slightly, because of his work, and that makes me happy. :) As far as video game composers go, he’s quite highly revered, but I’m sure I’m not alone in my belief that he’s in a league all of his own.
CALLING ALL SILENT HILL FANS (MUSICIANS AND ARTIST)
Hatoish from SaveRoomMiniBar here!
We’re doing something exciting in affiliation with Silent Haven!
A Silent Hill Tribute Album! Made for the Fans, by the fans!
A tribute album of original songs by real artists,
inspired by the ambiance, the feel,
the sounds and the music of Silent Hill.
We need musicians and/or artists to dedicate a new composition or artwork for the record!
Just compose a song, do some artwork channeling Silent Hill!
Send it to us and we do the rest!
We hope to stay in close contact to the growing number of contributors through the process, as well as take your suggestions and ideas towards the product.
To submit a song or official volunteer to the project please contact me and get my email address!
When we have enough tracks and track-art, we will compose an album and distribute to all the fans, perhaps even do a ‘pay what you want’ option and donate the proceeds to a charity, or give back to the artists themselves!
Just contact me @ my blog and we can talk some more!
You can click here to hear some current songs in the record (to get inspired)
You can read this for more information! (or, of course, contact us!)
Hope to hear from you all, Silent Hill Fans!