Two games set on a frozen planet are slated for release next year – Lost Planet 3 and Dead Space 3. While Capcom didn’t invent ice planets, they popularized the setting with Lost Planet: Extreme Condition before switching to a tropical areas with Lost Planet 2. We asked Capcom producer Andrew Szymanski and Matt Sophos, the game’s director at Spark Unlimited, what they thought about the comparisons.
Andrew Szymanski, Producer at Capcom: Well, from the Capcom side, it’s a very much a situation of when I saw the coverage coming out of E3 for Dead Space 3, the first emotion was flattery. I felt flattered, because we’ve done snow and ice since 2006 with the first Lost Planet game and we felt we kind of own that space, and when we came out in April at Captivate to announce, LP3, one of our core concepts was to push that even further. Basically, “Hey, we want to be the game about snow and ice planets.”
All of a sudden, we see Dead Space 3 come in with the ice planet setting, and it’s kind of like, “OK, well, thanks for the nod!” You know, that’s cool. And in an interesting case of parallel evolution, we’re trying to be more nuanced with our gameplay, instead of just the old school third-person shooters with the Vital Suits.
Now we’re doing the new Utility Rig combat, which is up close and personal. We’re doing the narrative, driven experience with a strong protagonist who is not a faceless guy. He’s got a very clear backstory and motivation. He’s a guy you want to root for. And we’ve got our Akrid creatures, which we’re not only trying to bring back fan favorites from past games, but actually expand that. We feel like we’re pushing the boundaries of the franchise and making it a more nuanced experience.
From what I’ve heard of Dead Space 3, they’re going balls-to-the-wall action. They’re actually getting rid of some of their nuance; so it’s almost like this interesting role-reversal we’ve found ourselves in. But I think most of those references are really superficial and as people learn more about the game, and have the chance to play it, I think they’ll realize that once you get past the surface of similarities, they’re very different games.
Matt Sophos, Director at Spark Unlimited: Yeah, I can’t speak for the Dead Space crew or anything like that, but like Andrew said, the similarities are at the superficial level. The hallmark of their franchise for a long time has been the survival-horror aspect of the game, and they’re incorporating the ice planet and things like that. But our focus is on creating this level of variety of gameplay for the player, so you aren’t stuck doing this one thing for any specific length of time.
We have the on-foot stuff, the rig stuff, struggle, and things like that. It’s hard to tell from screenshots, because you look at screenshots from Dead Space and it is like, “Hey, it’s Isaac and he’s got beard growth and he’s on an ice planet!” You look at our character, Jim, and he’s got a beard and he’s on an ice planet. You look at that, and it’s like, “Hey! Similar game!”
But from the very, very little I know of Dead Space and the lot I know of our game, they’re going to be very different experiences.
AS: And it is an interesting case of parallel evolution. For some reason, different people come up with similar ideas at the same time, right. I mean, the examples I use in the gaming space are when Prototype and InFAMOUS came out, and they were both open-world games about ordinary guys that got transformed into superheroes. Or like when Deep Impact and Armageddon came out like a month apart from each other.
It’s less about cribbing from each other as it is about, when you reach a similar milestone or timeframe in the console lifecycle, you start to realize there are a lot of things you want to do. I have absolutely no insight into Dead Space, but I can envision in my mind’s eye a meeting where they were like, “We can do cool snow now! We can do cool visual stuff with now!” It’s less about curving than it is about, when you can do cool stuff, you want to do cool stuff.
MS: Our development on this game started over two-and-a-half years ago now, or something like that. We went with the mantra of returning to extreme conditions and wanting to really push that ice world and go prequel.
AS: They probably thought they were safe! Because they saw Lost Planet 2 and thought, “They’re not going back to ice! We’ve got ice to ourselves!” Nope, you don’t. Sorry! [Laughs]