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Producing Silent Hill: A Chat With Konami's William Oertel
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Producing Silent Hill: A Chat With Konami's William Oertel

August 14, 2006 Article Start Previous Page 2 of 4 Next

GS: With the inability of the UMD movie format to really penetrate any kind of market, are non-game products like Silent Hill Experience risky?

WO: There's been a lot of news on the UMD movie format's weakness. They're a media company, I'm sure they've got plans and solutions in place to try and take care of that. The device is still very capable, you can do a lot of stuff with it. Of course there's a concern, we're going to have to wait and see a) how well my product does, and b) how do users end up using the PSP? Are they treating it as a game machine and that's it, or are they going to be using it for other things?

GS: Why was Origins outsourced? Why wasn't it done in Japan?

WO: Well, the Japan teams work on many different products, and this was one particular one where the bandwidth was available here to work on it, so that's what we're doing. That's the primary reason.

GS: Is there a concern about playing scary games on the PSP? Like, if I'm playing in direct sunlight on the bus, I'm probably not going to be all that freaked out. Is there a concern that making Silent Hill portable detracts from the fear factor?

WO: Oh, yeah. Big time! It's one of the things that you look at and say, is this going to be able to be everything for everyone? And it might not be able to work everywhere, because of the nature of the product. First and foremost we want to make it a Silent Hill game. If we find a way to do that encompassing all kinds of environments, both lighting in sunlight and lighting indoors, great. But if we can't, ultimately it has to be a worthy successor to Silent Hill. So in terms of making it scary, I think there's ways to do it, because you have music players and you listen to your MP3s with your headphones and you're totally cut off from reality. It's the same thing here, plus visuals. So the tools are there, now it's a question of whether we can execute on creating a compelling story and compelling environment that people can lose themselves in. If we can, then we've done our job, and I think that's independent of the platform. If they don't get lost in it, if we somehow fail to recreate that suspension of disbelief, then people will know right away, and it will have an effect.

Preview artwork from Silent Hill Origins

GS: What about in terms of pure brightness. I mean, this is a dark game, visibly. Are you having to adjust the original looks of it?

WO: We're looking at different lighting schemes, and it's hard, because we take into account flashlight. If you want to keep scenes dark, the flashlight serves as a nice contrast if you have to use your flashlight to see. But that makes everything else dark. And during sunlight, even the flashlight could be very dark. So the solution would be to light up everything, kind of like in the movie. Make everything look like it's nighttime but still visible. But then you see everything around you. You go into a dark room, and then what's the point of having a flashlight? So it's going to be a hard balance, and personally my thought right now would be to err on the side of keeping it dark.

Above: A scene from Silent Hill Experience in its native light.
Below: That same scene, with its brightness and contrast enhanced. Is it still scary?

Article Start Previous Page 2 of 4 Next

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