The Callisto Protocol’s director on his return to horror: ‘I don’t know what too scary is’

The Callisto Protocol’s director on his return to horror: ‘I don’t know what too scary is’


When Glen Schofield left Name of Obligation developer Sledgehammer Video games again in 2018, he wanted a break. The sport designer, finest generally known as the creator of the seminal sci-fi horror sequence Lifeless Area, determined to move out to the desert in Arizona for slightly R&R — which for him meant developing with numerous new sport ideas. “I might go on the market and draw,” he says. “And whereas I used to be drawing, I used to be developing with concepts.” He got here again with a 40-page guide that will finally flip into his return to the survival horror style: a sport referred to as The Callisto Protocol.

The sport — which is being developed by Hanging Distance Studios, a brand new crew below the umbrella of PUBG firm Krafton — was first introduced in 2020, and final week, a grotesque new trailer was unveiled at Summer time Recreation Fest. (It was lovingly known as the “Schofield reduce.”) Schofield says he’s been trying to get again into horror for some time, and the urge grew stronger whereas engaged on the zombies mode for Name of Obligation.

“I simply wished to inform a unique story,” he says. “I consider it form of like Ridley Scott; he did Alien after which got here again to do Prometheus. It’s one thing you love to do. I don’t see loads of films which are sci-fi horror as a result of they’re so costly to make. And it’s most likely my favourite style. So I assumed, ‘Let’s see if we are able to deliver it again.’”

The Callisto Protocol is about within the 12 months 2320 on a jail colony housed on one among Jupiter’s moons, the place gamers have to flee simply as the opposite inmates are turning into unusual alien monsters. (The setting was initially purported to be a far-flung a part of the PUBG universe, although that’s not the case. “The story was getting in a unique course,” Schofield says of the change.) This premise, together with quite a lot of different options — like gameplay that includes dismembering enemies and a diegetic interface that features a well being bar disguised as a jail barcode tattoo — drew fast comparisons to Lifeless Area. And that’s one thing that Schofield has come to phrases with over the course of creating the sport.

“At first, I might be like, ‘Oh no, that’s Lifeless Area,’” he explains. “However after some time, I’m like: I don’t need a HUD, so is that copying Lifeless Area? I would like him to have a stomp — is that copying Lifeless Area? Perhaps. Nevertheless it’s additionally my DNA. I didn’t need to simply reduce every thing out. So I obtained slightly extra open to the thought the additional we obtained into growth.”

The massive distinction this time round, he says, is the know-how, although it hasn’t modified every thing. “We’re already 3D, so it’s not prefer it’s going to vary the gameplay swiftly,” Schofield says. As an alternative, the present state of consoles and PCs means his crew can craft a extra plausible world — one thing that’s significantly necessary for horror. That features having extra plausible alien monsters, extra immersive sound design, and having the ability to throw much more visible results on display. However one of the vital necessary issues is how rather more element they will put on the earth.

“The realism helps the science fiction aspect, which loads of occasions individuals don’t imagine,” Schofield says. “However these days, you possibly can put rust on it or have water dripping out of issues, and the participant is like, ‘I don’t have any thought what that factor is, however man, does it look actual.’ It’s grounding the science fiction.”

The Callisto Protocol.
Picture: Hanging Distance Studios

One of many challenges, although, is ensuring the sport is satisfactorily scary. As a self-confessed horror fan, Schofield is rather more desensitized than the common individual. (The identical is true for a lot of different members of the Callisto Protocol crew.) “There are occasions after we don’t know if it’s scary or not,” he says. It doesn’t assist that Schofield sees the sport’s situations by means of a number of phases, from white field prototypes to completely fleshed-out interactive gameplay. That may take a few of the punch out of them. Hitting the best degree of scary, then, includes loads of testing and tweaking issues based mostly on participant suggestions.

Inspiration, in the meantime, comes from many locations, together with movie. “I watch loads of horror,” Schofield says. “And loads of it doesn’t have an effect on me. However, there are just a few that actually obtained me… and I’m like, ‘Whoa, man.’ In the event that they have an effect on me, you understand they’re going to have an effect on gamers.” (At one level throughout our dialog, Schofield mentions having lunch with horror director Eli Roth, the place the 2 mentioned the sound results concerned in reducing an eyeball’s optic nerve with scissors within the first Hostel film.) However outdoors of pulling from films, Schofield notes, “loads of it comes from the creativeness of our chief artistic officer, Chris Stone. I’ll generally say to him, ‘I want two extra [deaths],’ or I’ll say, ‘I would like the top taken off.’”

Nevertheless, one factor they don’t check for is whether or not a kill or scare goes too far within the different course. “The scarier, the higher,” he explains. “I don’t know what too scary is.”

The Callisto Protocol is because of launch on December 2nd, and it comes at a time when there appears to be a resurgence of sci-fi horror video games. There’s Fort Solis, the return of Routine, a brand new Aliens enlargement, and even a remaster of the unique Lifeless Area. Schofield understands there can be loads of comparisons, however he additionally appears assured that his newest horror enterprise will stand by itself. “You might go in like ‘Hey, that is Lifeless Area 4,’” he says, “however I feel once you come out, you’ll go ‘Nope, that’s Callisto Protocol.’”


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