You'll Be "Completely Blown Away"
Afterfall: InSanity exploded onto the gaming consciousness thanks to its exceptionally brave $1 pre-order strategy, but it's also shaping up to be a viciously scary and viscerally satisfying game in its own right. To find out what Intoxicate Studios has in store for us, we sat down with gameplay designer Miki Majka... who spilled the beans on how they plan to make us soil ourselves in abject terror later this month.
Jonathan Lester (Dealspwn): Thanks for talking to us. First things first: can you give us the 'elevator pitch?' What is Afterfall InSanity all about?
Miki Majka: Afterfall: InSanity is about a struggle against confinement. Albert Tokaj, the main protagonist, seeks a way to cure the confinement syndrome, an ailment that is haunting most of the dwellers of Shelter ‘Glory’, a place where many people have found refuge when the apocalypse struck. Accidental detonation of a powerful fusion bomb called Entropy triggered worldwide launches of nuclear weaponry and devastated the globe. Poles were in luck as their government had already started the Afterfall Project, a program that gave birth to the Shelters. But people who survived within are now haunted with the syndrome - they are restless, worried, depressed, feel their lives are pointless etc. - who would want that? So Tokaj, as he’s a psychiatrist and pharmacologist, tries to stop the syndrome. But things are gonna get out of hand pretty soon...
Dealspwn: Most recent triple-A horror games have done an incredibly poor job of actually scaring their audience. As an Indie studio with the freedom to innovate, how do you plan to terrify us with AfterFall: Insanity?
Majka: That's a good question, in our opinion, anxiety is a key to the atmosphere of a survival game. Not fear exactly because that is momentary. We tried to build a hounded, psychotic and claustrophobic atmosphere. Of course the whole story circulates around inexplicable situations which are a strong stimulus to increase fear. Also the creation of monsters and types of audio will be your trigger to going insane.
Dealspwn: Fear is set to play a major part in the experience - as a gameplay mechanic rather than just a theme. Could you explain how the FearLock system works, and how it sets Afterfall apart from similar experiences?
Majka: FearLock is a system of... well, fear measurement. The in-game explanation is simple: Albert has a special gadget in his PDA. He wanted to use it to measure the stress level of his patients, but for now he tests it on himself. The measurement takes some factors (heartbeat, blood pressure, temperature, hormones etc.) and calculates the level of one’s fear.
If too scared, Albert starts to lose it: his accuracy will decrease, so using firearms will become more difficult. And his healing factor will decrease as well. But then he can use melee weapons with increased effectiveness: he’ll smash a target with more speed, more damage and with and increased chance of success.
Dealspwn: From what we can see, you're planning to deliver a strong melee focus on top of regular gunplay. What sort of action, weapons and enemies can we expect to encounter?
Majka: Action? Whole lot of action. Shootouts, chases, mini-games and exploration. As for the weapons, we have a wide variety of them to offer. First, guns. Not dozens of them, but just the perfect number. Forget about rocket launchers or plasma guns - we have firearms that a psychiatrist would be able to handle. Albert’s not a soldier. But he can defend himself and that’s where FreeFight comes into play.
Many objects scattered across the game could be used as a melee weapons, both normal and improvised: from regular truncheons to tools and even garbage - anyone should find one’s favorite weapon, each with a different damage rating and... well, style. Enemies? Well, the game’s about insanity, right? So we’ll deal with a lot of madmen. And what would be a post-apo setting without mutants...? Yeah, we’ve got those, too. And some other opponents you’ll have to see for yourself.
Dealspwn: We like to ask developers this question at every opportunity: what (that you can tell us about) is the most awesome, badass and brilliant thing players can do in AfterFall Insanity?
Majka: Smashing mutants with our beloved fire-axe! And from another aspect: story. Story is a very important feature and if you finish the game you will be like “wow” and completely blown away.
Dealspwn: What major challenges have you encountered during development? How have you circumvented them?
Majka: During every production you have to face some challenges and we did, but they also gave us a lot of great experience. Animation was one of the biggest challenges and we knew that from the beginning of the project, but after few months we organized and developed our animation and motion capture team. They were really into it and thanks to their unimaginable efforts we came out of the animation hole. The speed of dealing milestones was much more difficult to resolve, but we tried to use Brute Force Teams (teams dedicated to only one problem at a time). Actually that works fine but in my opinion, we’ve finished this game thanks to our ambition and hard work. We all knew what our goal was. We wanted to finish our first huge game and we did it.
Dealspwn: The AfterFall universe is shaping up to be an extremely intriguing setting. What were your inspirations, and what other projects do you have planned in the same canon?
Majka: Wow! We found out that we can find inspiration wherever we want. So of course from some other games like the Fallout series, but we wanted to create a game that takes place in our own backyard. We took thousands of photos from around whole country and wrote enormous amounts of documentation.
Even with all that as a base we just started what proved to be a long design process.
But at the beginning we have to say that Aftrerfall was designed as a massive RPG, however, it became so big that it was impossible to put all of this into one title, so we decided to split it out into a few titles. The first as a prelude is InSanity. We wanted to make different genres of games so you should be prepared for more post-apocalyptic titles showing you what the Afterfall universe really is all about. You have to remember InSanity is only the beginning of a long, wonderful, but mysterious story about the rising of human civilization from the ashes.
As a gameplay designer, Majka was not in a position to answer questions about the $1 pre-order scheme. We'll follow it up after the November 25th release.