I sort of feel like Resident Evil 4, as good as it was, was this kind of turning point where horror games changed into, "we need to have action, because RE4 was popular, and it had more action." But it wasn't really popular because of the action per se.
CB: Well, what happened is that it ceased being a horror game; it became an action game. And as much as the player was [handicapped] by pivot controls, he's still a badass dude with a laser sight and he's wiping out hundreds of zombies, right? You know, we weren't a scared girl running away from a giant guy with scissors anymore [Ed. Note: a reference to PS1 horror game Clock Tower], and that's okay.
Again, though, I would be terrified if suddenly, the doomsday scenario came along. Tim Sweeney says, "Hey you, you're fired!" and then Capcom's says, "Hey, come work for us and do the next Resident Evil game!" I'll be like, "Oh my God." When you look at action and horror the two are really, really hard to pull off, because in one scenario you're Rambo, and you're killing tons of things, and in the other one you're the scared little girl.
And I think the proper way to do that -- if I were to work on an RE game, hypothetically -- would be to alternate between those moments. Maybe do an RE game where there's two kinds of characters -- you know, you've got a Leon-type guy, and then mix in a scared little girl, and so you alternate between the empowerment and the fear. We had a little bit of that, actually in Gears 1, right?
And I think you can pull that off, and then maybe have a choice, even, and you can appeal to two types of gamers. You know, if you're the guy who wants to be the badass and you don't even want to do that little scared girl stuff you can, or if you're the person who just wants the scared girl sections, you can play as that character. But then you're building two types of games, and I think that's what might be necessary to maintain that horror DNA strictly, and not full-on become [a Resident Evil action game]. And please be careful how you word that, because I have nothing but respect for that franchise and those guys.
Resident Evil 4
I know that you really like Resident Evil 4 because it was a big influence on Gears, and of course Gears is an action game, so that makes a lot of sense.
CB: You know what else I would consider, from a production standpoint, is what if I was running Capcom? I would split Resident Evil -- and this may be a mistake but I'm just throwing an idea out there. I would do the Resident Evil, you know, "Merc Ops," where you're these badass soldiers who clean out zombies and you're just like "the guys."
And then do Resident Evil: Special Victims Unit. Where it's the stories of the ordinary people, where you see one zombie and that's scary and maybe you can fend that one off, but you get more than two or three and you do nothing but run, Walking Dead style. And see it from both sides.
Yeah, I think they're sort of trying to do that right now, but they're not really going as far in either direction as they could.
CB: The RE6 trailer was amazing, but I look at that and I'm like, "That thrills me; that doesn't scare me." Fear is all about what's unseen; that's the root of all horror, right?
Another good lesson from Resident Evil 4 was the mini sandboxes for all the scenarios. There's this whole town area, and you have to figure out how to survive in this big area.
CB: Yeah, well that's Halo's combat bowls, right? We tried to get more bowl-like in Gears 3, and in the future we'll continue to get more bowl-like and just overall less linear. This is my thing I've stuck to -- the more replayable your game is, the better of a game it is, even if you never replay it once.
And that's the big block that people often use with replayability. They say, "Nobody replays games; don't bother making it replayable!" No, you're frigging wrong. You're wrong because the player has more decisions, and more ways to play the game their way, and then it just drives conversations and YouTube videos, and all that stuff.
Yeah, if two players can have a different experience, then even if they don't play it again they realize that there's a lot more depth, and the perception of that game is much higher. There gets to be a mythology about it.
CB: And then once you train players that that kind of stuff can happen, you make a sequel [that plays off of those expectations]. I've played Oblivion for example. Now when I play Skyrim, I'm going to try and be a werewolf, I'm going to try all this crazy stuff. People come back for the emergent stuff that feeds the internet, as far as message boards and, again, the videos. So that's where I really want to keep pushing things.