Interview: Vivec Entertainment On Its High Quality PC And PS3 Horror Game, Shadow Of A Soul
Welcome to another exclusive indie interview where we’ll be taking a look at Vivec Entertainment’s upcoming, high quality horror game, Shadow of a Soul. Part of what makes this project exciting is that it’s in development for both PC and PlayStation 3, and it’s aiming for a top level visual experience. There’s a lot more yapping I could do about this one, but it would be best if you check out the creepy trailer for chapter one up above first. Then, if your interest is peaked, be sure to read our full interview down below, which I hope will get you excited about this title. Right then, let’s get into Shadow of a Soul.
eGamer: Thank you, Vivec Entertainment, for taking the time to do this interview with us. I understand that you’re just one guy! So to start off with, can you tell us a little about yourself and Vivec Entertainment?
VE: Well, my name is Ferzan Aygen, I’m from Istanbul, Turkey and before I founded Vivec Entertainment I was running a tiny VFX/3D Animation company. I’ve been interested in both storytelling and visual effects since I was a kid. Visual effects and game pipelines overlap quite a bit so I didn’t experienced any difficulties when I switched from creating visual effects to making games. Basically, I’m not a people person, so working with/for other people, especially when they’re trying to take advantage of you any way they can, rubbed me up the wrong way. I think it’s the same with most jobs. Most of the time people don’t mind doing their jobs; it’s having to deal with other people that really creates the stress. So, in the end, I took a fuck-it-all pill, closed the shop and started making Shadow of a Soul. I really love the process of creating a game because it’s a perfect marriage of literature, visual arts and science.
eGamer: Tell us, what is Shadow of a Soul all about?
VE: Shadow of a Soul, story wise, is basically a dark ghost story. At its core it’s a survival horror game. The first chapter revolves around a guy named Jack whose job it is to infiltrate an office compound and retrieve some information. It doesn’t take Jack long to figure out that something is very wrong with the place and story moves on from there.
eGamer: Right off the bat, what would you say is the biggest reason to play Shadow of a Soul?
VE: I’m going for an intense horror gaming experience. The player is expected to do various bits of stuff (solving puzzles for example) all the while hiding or running from a, let’s say, malicious entity. So if you like an intense survival horror game, Shadow of a Soul fits the bill perfectly.
eGamer: For a bit of background, tell us how this project came to life? What was your vision for Shadow of a Soul? How did you conceptualize it?
VE: Honestly, I can’t remember much about how Shadow of a Soul “came to life”. All I can say is that it was and still is an evolving project. In its very crude form, it was a 2d Myst-like, photorealistic game with a couple of twists to that genre. The current story is very different from what I started with and it’s still evolving. What I mean by evolving, story wise, is basically, me deciding to explore other parts or characters in the story. The changes were so small, so gradual over time that it never felt like I was changing my path. However, now that I look back at my earlier notes, the change of direction is very obvious. For me the story is as important as the game itself, so over time I’ve created a Shadow of a Soul universe in my head and I’m trying to tell stories from that world. All of this will hopefully be clearer once you play the game, I don’t want to give too much away now.
eGamer: Can you give us an overview of the gameplay?
VE: In a nutshell, the player is expected to search the environment and solve puzzles with the threat of death on every corner. As a result, the game places a strong emphasis on stealth. Making as little sound as possible is of the utmost importance since there aren’t a whole lot of places to hide in the game. I’ve introduced sound dynamics that serve a similar purpose as those used in the Thief games but mine are much more detailed and complex.
eGamer: The description of the game reads that you’ll need to solve puzzles and search for clues. What can you tell us about the puzzles in the game? And will the game be linear?
VE: Creating puzzles that make sense both within themselves and in the environment of the game has been an ongoing challenge throughout the production, and I think it’ll continue to be like that until the very end. The game will be linear but there’s the possibility of a feature that I’m trying to implement whereby some environments and the puzzles within them will change if the player dies and has to restart from the last checkpoint. This is to prevent the player from memorizing the environment and the solutions to the puzzles. However, the environments will not be procedural, as in “created by an algorithm”. They’ll be handmade just like any other environment.
eGamer: What makes Shadow of a Soul scary? What horror elements are you incorporating? And will you be able to die in the game, since many modern indie horror titles don’t feature player death?
VE: I think I answered the first part of that in an earlier question. You’ll probably die many many times in the game because it’s hard and intense. In most cases, one or two mistakes will be enough to get you killed.
eGamer: The game description also reveals that you’ll need to hide from various manifestations of ghosts. How will you hide in the game? Is it your only option, or can you run or fight back?
VE: There is absolutely no fighting in the game. Your only options are to hide and, most importantly, to make as little sound as possible. There is also no jumping. And running is definitely not advised.
eGamer: Your website reveals that the game will be a trilogy, and Shadow of a Soul Chapter 1 will revolve around a character called Jack. Will Chapters 2 and 3 focus on different characters? Do they tie together directly or follow on from each other?
VE: Some of the characters overlap between chapters. Especially the characters in chapters 2 and 3. I don’t want to give away anything more at this point.
eGamer: How long will Shadow of a Soul Chapter 1 be?
VE: This is a rough estimation but it will probably take 8-12 hours to complete.
eGamer: Tell us, what were your sources of inspiration for Shadow of a Soul?
VE: Game wise, Call of Cthulu: Dark Corners of the Earth is an influence. I really liked that game. Story wise, I can’t say that there is a particular piece of art that inspired me.
eGamer: You’ve got a lot of competition on your hands in the indie horror genre. What is Shadow of a Soul doing to stand out from the pack? What makes it unique?
VE: I’m really not thinking about any competition at this point. There are already plenty of other things for me to get depressed about. I don’t want to waste brain cycles thinking about things that are basically beyond my control. I’m haven’t really followed the gaming scene for years now, so I know a lot less than other people. In this case, for me, ignorance is indeed bliss. On the other hand, since this is a one-man show, it’s 100% me doing all the work. As I see this, I’m simply doing my thing and *I* at least, can’t compare it to anything on the market.
eGamer: What are you most proud of in Shadow of a Soul? Which aspects of the game are you most excited about gamers experiencing?
VE: I like the intensity of the gameplay but most of all, I really like my story. That’s something that I’m definitely proud of.
eGamer: Can you tell us what’s happening in development right now?
VE: A lot things are happening. At the moment, I’m mostly trying to finish the first 25 seconds of the trailer. After that, I’ll get back to the game and work on level designs. Most of the assets are complete. There are still some hero assets (assets that players will interact with) that need working on. Some very specific sounds are also missing, like the engine sound of a 1960s van and things like that.
eGamer: Could you give us an idea of when the game will be released? Or what your target is? Your website reveals it will be out for PC, Mac and PS3. Will it be released on all of them simultaneously?
VE: The PS3 version will be released sometime in 2014, probably in the first quarter. The PC and Mac versions will be released simultaneously through Steam (and other digital platforms). There’s also a strong possibility of a retail release, but it’s too early to tell at the moment.
eGamer: What made you want to develop the game for the PC and PS3 together?
VE: It’s basically a graphics API issue. PC, Mac and PS3 all use variations of OpenGL API so it’s possible to develop for three platforms with most of the source code intact.
eGamer: Will you be releasing a playable demo for the game in future?
VE: I’ve got mixed feelings about that. On the one hand, I’d really like to release a 20-minute mini demo way before the release date to get some feedback plus some publicity (hopefully positive). On the other hand, I don’t know anybody who’s done anything like that when they were something like two and a half years into production. As far as I know, indies do that stuff at the beginning of their projects. The other thing is that I have a problem releasing stuff. Even when it comes to screenshots I’m very hesitant about releasing anything that might give any clues about the stuff in the game. There’s also the issue of time. I’ve a feeling it would take me ages to really do justice to a demo like that and I’m not sure the investment would be worth it.
eGamer: When can we expect the full trailer to hit the web, or to hear more about the game?
VE: I’ll release the full trailer shortly before the game itself is released, maybe a month before. Actually, I plan to release two trailers, one will be pre-rendered, like a teaser basically showing what happens before Jack arrives at the office compound, and the other will be the gameplay trailer.
eGamer: As a gamer, do you think the horror genre lacks squirrels? If so, what do you think would make a squirrel super scary?
VE: Well, apparently people pay a lot of money to play the games with pandas in them so squirrels might be the next big thing, who knows. If you strapped a dildo on a squirrel I bet it’d be a very scary thing to encounter.
That wraps up our interview with Vivec Entertainment on Shadow of a Soul. This is definitely a game to watch out for in the indie scene, especially if you’re a horror nut like I am. Hopefully, what you’ve seen and read here has gotten your attention. I’d like to wish Ferzan all the best with development of the game, and would like to thank him for taking the time to do this interview with us. Look out for more potential interviews and indie coverage in the near future. There’s plenty more to come.