Subverting common tropes is only half the mind games recipe. While a general common experience can be assumed, we haven’t all played the same games and internalized the same mechanics. A good horror game needs to also break its own rules. Which, naturally, requires that it establish rules in the first place. The player needs time to sink into the world, adapt to its ambiance, and (presume to) understand what makes it tick. This doesn’t have to mean “give them peaceful explore time before jacking it to hell” either. To steal an example from Brian Gomez, the first window in RE2 explodes with crows. Any time after that, when the player walks past a window, they tense up and fully expect avian horrors to emerge. It doesn’t happen again—but the fear is established. Windows become a symbol of danger. That’s an established rule that is broken to great effect.
Destructoid’s Interview with ex Silent Hill producer Tomm Hulett
What do you guys think about Tomm Hulett leaving Konami and the Silent Hill franchise as producer?
What do you think will become of “Team Silence” and Silent Hill? Is it a bad move for someone who was so involved for so long who claims to have loved the franchise leave? Do you think the franchise is better off with a new producer, team leader or even a whole new team? Who should this new team be? Are fans mostly to blame or is Konami to blame? What do you guys think about the future of Silent Hill? Good or bad?
[At WayForward] I’m a Director, which means I set the creative vision for the game, and then work with everyone else to make sure we surpass it! In layman’s terms, I get paid to talk about games all day… When the Konami teams of yore left the company, they gravitated toward Treasure – and I’ve long considered WayForward their western equivalent – so I’m keeping tradition alive. [Tomm Hulett looks forward to being] even more involved in game development – my calling, you know… While I do hope to get back to horror someday in the future, I’m an avid fan of most genres… During my time at Konami, I spearheaded Rocket Knight, and of course Contra 4 – with WayForward! – so I’m looking forward to escaping Silent Hill for a bit and exploring the rest of the gaming landscape again… The Silent Hill fanbase is quite varied, and most of them truly love the series and just want to know the people in charge of it love it too, It was always a joy to interact with them. Obviously I was disappointed that a small segment of fans disliked me enough to dedicate several hours of video to slander and discredit me. But! Now I’m back to being part of the fanbase; I know I’ll be optimistically looking forward to whatever is next for my favorite horror series… Overall I’m proud that we could retain Silent Hill’s unique focus – away from action and more toward atmosphere and mystery – during my tenure at Konami, In a time when most horror franchises started depending on loud Hollywood-style action, Silent Hill held onto its Lynchian/Jacob’s Ladder roots… [Shattered Memories] tells a mature story with a great ending in a unique way, all without bludgeoning monsters with a pipe. It really takes horror back to its point-and-click roots… Of course I couldn’t have done any of that alone, and so I’d like to thank the development teams for pouring their hearts into the games and putting up with my annoyingly detailed fix lists.
Tomm Hulett on Book of Memories
Finally! Book of Memories is now available (in the US) and you all finally get to play it. That was quite the development cycle, and I definitely sensed a little friction from the fanbase (sigh).
Making such a “weird” Silent Hill was something I knew many players would balk at, and could cause a lot of heartbreak if handled improperly. So, since the general idea was to make a gameplay-focused SH I maneuvered into the writer’s chair for this title and resolved to do something unique. My first order of business was to create a compelling SH story. Yes, the game was to have a lot of fanservice, but I wanted the story to be new and different so it wouldn’t just feel like a rehash. We’ve had Origins and the movie, and all these things that make a point to “tie things together” so I didn’t want to go down that road again–I wanted to share a brand new story (with a hopefully compelling premise).
Second, I wanted to do something in the spirit of Shattered Memories. Not to the level of reimagining a previous game, but to take the actual “storytelling” and twist it a bit, all while allowing the player to control it to some degree. I wanted the story to be married entirely to the gameplay, so the player would feel like an active participant. While in Czech for Downpour, I spent most of my downtime (any moment I wasn’t out taking pictures) composing and writing BoM’s story. They were very Silent Hillful trips. (There’s also a lot of Order stuff in the game, so I spent my time stuck in airports reading up on cults and how they work)
Now, we were somewhat limited on what we could do, given a tight schedule. So the challenge was coming up with a way to tell a complex story with a ton of moving pieces (so there are things for the player to move) on a budget? Well, SH is known for note collecting, so much of the story is told via 100+ Notes that you find while exploring your nightmare. Many of these notes represent memories of various people, and you’ll need to ponder what it all means as you play–something I really wanted to accomplish to bring back those good times of SH1 obfuscation. These memories take many forms, from outright diary entries to movie stubs, newspaper clippings, and the like. It’s challenging telling a story in snippets of text, but it’s a skill I honed in college trying to cram meaning into freewrite sessions–so I was thrilled to be back in my element. (I got into a graduate-level class writing an argument between ex-lovers in a sci-fi setting.) Speaking of which, remember all that digi-ink I spilled talking about voyeurism? Relevant!
All this ties very closely into my own Book of Memories.
Some of you know, but after high school I started my own game development team and we set about the impossible task of creating a Japanese-style RPG for Gameboy Color. After assembling a team and securing licensed Developer status with NOA, then discovering MGS, I set about writing the story for Mythri. Somewhere beneath the anime cliches, game tropes, and hopeless fanboyism I completed the story I wanted to tell (a month before SH1 came out, fwiw). Mythri was my message to the world, spoken in the voice of an 18-year-old.
Five years, two failed publishing deals, a petition, and a GBA port later… we closed the doors of Team XKalibur, locking Mythri inside forever.
But a weird thing happens when a story you need to tell is denied release–it stays inside you. It simmers in your soul and evolves, changing as you do, pressing against the creative walls that trap it inside you. The characters change and themes mature as it’s melted down time and again, without a cast to be poured into. I’m sure anybody with an untold story can relate. You don’t even notice it, and there’s a certain refusal to acknowledge it because the reality of the situation is depressing.
So I was a bit surprised, a few months after completing BoM’s story, when I reflected on the tale as a whole, what I was trying to say, and realized I’d finally told that story. Mythri, aged 13 years, had snaked its way into the story of Book of Memories. In a way, BoM is the culmination of 14 years of my career; the irony of it being a portable RPG is not lost on me.
Don’t misunderstand, BoM is not just Mythri in Silent Hill. The two stories are entirely different (or else I wouldn’t have posted Mythri’s entire story online–feel free to compare). You actually can’t go back and tell the same story you wrote over a decade ago. It feels old, tired, childish. I guess it might be impossible to understand the comparison I’m making if you aren’t me… basically, in BoM my “message” is finally being shared. It’s very exciting.
So if anybody remembers Mythri and wonders what the essence–the point–of that story was, don’t worry about what could have been. Just give BoM a shot to experience the final draft.
Or at least listen to Love Psalm. You’ll get the idea.
Source: Tomm Hulett
Tomm Hulett’s Experience Through the Silent Hill Maze at Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights!
So 13 years ago (and 8 months) I, like many of you readers, was introduced to the world of Silent Hill. I played it with my girlfriend at the time who was the perfect partner for such a thing because she scared easily. Very easily. So having her next to me freaking out freaked ME out, and added to things like Alchemilla’s otherworld and what have you. Then a few years later came Silent Hill 2 and its injection of personal meaning to the whole thing. The town became a very real place in all of our minds, and foggy days would remind us of it, and so on.
Then I was given the thrilling chance to be part of the series itself! Unbelievable. And, contrary to what you might read on the internet, something I take very seriously and am honored to be a part of. It was a huge relief when I met with Universal and learned that they took their contribution to SH history just as seriously–and as we all know by now they added Silent Hill to their annual Halloween Horror Nights event, which I went to last night.
Being there was very cool. I’d seen the maze set in the daytime, without effects, and without creatures–so I knew what to expect… kind of. Seeing it “working” was another story altogether. Here was Silent Hill, a place I used to visit as a player, a place which came to infect most of the creative corner of my brain–now a physical space that I could occupy and explore. Surreal. Adding to this effect is the fact that you have to descend down 4 long escalators to even reach Silent Hill–escalators which, by the way, feature classic SH music by Akira Yamaoka. It’s hard not to get into the Silent Hill mood.
The maze itself is incredibly cool. It stretches from the crashsite of a car, through the woods, the stretched corpse from the very first Otherworld, onto the streets and then into classic settings like Midwich and Alchemilla. There are several Otherworld transitions where the images of a wall literally melt away to a rusty metal world where Alessa appears to creep out visitors. Pyramid Head and Bogeyman scared the hell out of the people I was with, and it ends of course in Lakeside with the scent of blue cotton candy wafting in the air.
Astronomical production values aside, the maze isn’t even my favorite part. No, outside the maze (technically on the street that leads to Transformers The Ride 3D), is a scare zone. However unlike the other scare zones in the park (each one with a generic theme like “Klownz” or “Witches”) this one is a Silent Hill scare zone. this translates into an intensely foggy street where Nurses, Pyramid Head, and Bogeyman wander through the crowds, sneaking up on people to freak them out when they think they’re safe reading a map or buying a churro. There is no Halloween sight cooler than seeing Pyramid Head emerge from the fog, towering over attendees, brandishing his great spear. Most of these scare zones at Halloween attractions I’ve been to are generic. I assume the thinking is, people who aren’t familiar with a franchise are likely to ignore its maze, and probably won’t be as frightened of its creatures. But SH apparently rates above that. Nurses and hulking embodiments of Guilt can be as universally scary as chainsaw maniacs and werewolves.
It’s absolutely mindblowing that Silent Hill has reached this point. For all the hand-wringing, mud-slinging fans who wish the series would have died 8 years ago I need to point out–if that had happened, it would never have reached this point. Normal, mainstream people who just enjoy horror-themed amusement parks would never have seen Pyramid Head, or Lying Figure. They would never have heard Theme of Laura! This is a big deal for your favorite Survival Horror franchise. You can’t visit Raccoon City. To most horror fans Wesker is just some throwaway movie character.
When you love a fictional world, I think the natural response is a desire to share it with as many people as possible in hopes they find what makes it so special to you. The hope they will share that, or find their own specific draw to that world and place–that maybe in the process you’ll learn more about one another. I’m honored to have played a part in sharing this wonderfully (horrific) world with so many people. Enough people to maintain a queue of 60-90 minutes every night for a month and a half, anyway.
Source: Tomm Hulett
The cool thing about our premise is that you have this book and you’re rewriting your life. So why should I have to re-roll the character when I beat the game, just to try something new? I should just be able to re-write this book. So that’s how we built the game. You’re not going to have all the story elements just by beating the game once. You’ll have a reason to keep playing: unlock everything, find every monster, and so on. The levels will start to randomize and the game will become crazy, and the enemies will keep scaling. I think the furthest our testers have gotten is zone 340, so that’s a challenge to any players out there.
I too was saddened there were so many issues present in HDC. I assure you, I do not hate SH2. In the quotes TP presented, they cut out the part where I said “SH2 is in my top 3 games of all time” and many times in that same thread I indicate it is the best SH title (yes, over my own). I definitely understand how you feel about the game (http://www.tommhulett.com/?p=404) and agree on its impact. It seems like the reason I’m being painted as a villain is because TP said I was the one responsible for HDC. Keep in mind they have no idea how game development works, no idea how large corporations work, and had no visibility into the development of HDC. They also never attempted to contact me–why? Because they could care less what I had to tell them. Their goal was a witch hunt.
I enjoyed [the VIDEO interview with Guy Cihi and Dave Schaufele] until the “do you think SH should have ended after 3” question. One, for obvious reasons. Two, Konami never to my knowledge went bankrupt. It certainly is not partially owned by a bank. The people in charge are the people who made the games we grew up playing. I’m not saying that Guy Cihi made that up / lied - but he certainly got his wires crossed in regards to Konami history. Konami is very successful in Japan. They own a huge chain of health/fitness clubs, and are the largest manufacturer of gaming (casino) machines not affiliated with the Yakuza. Given how many people take his words as gospel it’s frustrating he would tell an inaccurate story like that.
Published on Jun 13, 2012 by gamespot
Carlos rolls by Konami and gets details about the latest in the Silent Hill series at E3 2012
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There are tons of people working hard to get this patch done, to fix your complaints. Yeah, it sucks HD Collection had issues… so you’re going to get mad when “Konami” does the right thing? None of this is happening becaues you got ANGRY and PISSED and YELLED about it. It’s happening because there were problems that you made known were widespread and important. Negativity/cynicism accomplishes nothing. In fact it makes it harder to fix things because people can just shrug and say “you know that crazy SH fanbase!” We all know there were issues. But when you GET WHAT YOU WANT (a Konami statement about a patch in progress) …it’s cynical to essentially ignore it, and pretty frustrating for the people who are trying to take care of your complaints.
During the recording sessions for SH HD Collection, Mary, Akira, and Troy did some SH concerts and I remarked how I wanted to bring that live energy to our credit track. Since BoM was all about rewriting the past, I thought it would be cool to take Love Psalm and remix it, finally putting lyrics to the melody, and bring in Akira to do something as if he’d never left. Then during our BoM recordings, Troy wrote up the lyrics and worked on hammering out the song. Mary also brought in Eyeshine (band frontman: Johnny “the Stampede” Yong Bosch) to perform the track.
While many other games have gone the route of more action oriented game design, attempting to appeal to more mainstream audiences, we’ve taken a very careful approach to the pacing of Downpour to make sure it maintains that original ‘slow-burn’ and keeping the player off guard with less predictability.
You’re still off on the creatures - specifially Bogeyman. He is most certainly not a judgement figure. Not in the way you are thinking, anyway. A few things: Monacle Man is JP (or a form thereof) I’m sad nobody’s seen the pile of coins in the train ride. The bonus gallery text wasn’t written by Gomez, Waltz, or myself. So any weird points should not be taken as truth necessarily. Grains of salt please. EDIT: Murphy kills Napier in every ending EXCEPT A. Regardless of what the PS3 version tells you.