We’ll talk about moving this genre forward, life after Triple A, and whether the death of single-player games is exaggerated.
Callisto Protocol It’s not the game many of us expected from Striking Distance, but it’s no surprise.
The studio was founded last year by Playerunknown’s battleground maker PUBG Corp and is headed by Glen Schofield, a veterinarian at Visceral and Sledgehammer. Costume said he is working on an “original story experience” set in the same world as the company’s battle royale hit.
So I was a little shocked when the trailer for the Callisto Protocol for my debut project, the SF Survival Horror Project, was released at The Game Awards. But again, it’s not surprising given that many of the studio staff previously worked in the Dead Space series at EA’s Visceral studio.
I met Steve Papoutsis, Chief Development Officer of Striking Distance and former General Manager of Visceral, to find out a little more about this new project.
VG247: So what was your central idea when you started using the Callisto protocol?
Steve Papusis: Here’s a passion for horror games for me, Glenn, and the great team we’ve come together with. We wanted to do something single-player-led, focused on the story, and offered plenty of horror opportunities. On Jupiter’s Dead Moon, Callisto’s Prison Colony, there were some cool ideas on the subject in terms of where it would take place. It was literally the top line lift pitch.
VG247: Isn’t it an exaggeration to say that you are doing an unfinished business in the science fiction horror genre? The trailer has a huge dead space atmosphere.
Papoutsis: It’s not surprising given that many people working on the project were also working on the Dead Space series. It’s interesting that people put it together. We are passionate about the games we are working on, and it’s nice to hear people reminisce about games that many of us have nostalgic memories of.
VG247: Schofield states that the studio is working on a story game set in the same universe as Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds. I think it is no exaggeration to say that the Callisto Protocol was not what we had in mind when we drew it. Did you change your plan?Is it this game or is there another project? In the work?
Papoutsis: I’m not going to dig deeper into stories or anything other than what I showed you the other night. stay tuned. In the future, we could dig into one more thing.
VG247: How do you promote the sci-fi horror genre with the Callisto Protocol?
Papoutsis: What we really want to do is tell a story that uses the background in a way that supports the story, rather than immersing the player and spoiling the story. So to speak, it is about the total of that part. It’s all about combining all the different aspects of game production to do something truly memorable. That is what we are focusing on. Envelop the intersection of art, design and technology, all in a cool environment with a great story. Hopefully it will move the genre forward.
VG247: Where do you get the inspiration for this game? In almost every SF horror game it’s hard to escape from aliens and, especially in your case, something like dead space.
Papoutsis: Science fiction and horror are great. There are many derivatives there, such as settings and themes. We are looking at how to take a cool setting that is not only relevant but also scary in itself. Our setting is a prison, but it’s certainly scary to me. It’s a dangerous place. We set it up with such a background and all the other kinds of traps we want to reveal as we progress. We hope that the combination and relevance will lead to the tension and excitement that someone feels when jumping into the story and investing. Along the way, without giving too much, we hope there is a lot to stand out and probably not as expected.
VG247: How is the development of the Callisto Protocol compared to something like Dead Space? The impression many people had about the project was that Visceral had a lot of interesting ideas, but publishers like EA wanted to make something safer. By comparison, Krafton seems a bit more laid back and not risk averse.
Papoutsis: I was very fortunate and grateful to have had the opportunity to work at EA for many years. As you pointed out, Krafton is very different. They are really great and really want to support the creative in their efforts and what they are doing. It’s a great experience. They are very interested in the creative vision of what the team wants to do. Not to mention other places, Krafton certainly shows a real affinity to support creative processes.
VG247: What does Striking Distance have to do with PUBG Studio? Again, you’re intended to work in the same universe, so you’re curious about what kind of conversation you’re having with them.
Papoutsis: So far, it’s great to work with the PUBG and Krafton people. They are very nice and supportive. That is wonderful. As for space, next year we’ll talk more about folklore and stories.
VG247: There is ongoing debate about the state of single player games. Whether they are dying varieties as multiplayer projects and Games-as-a-Service projects become more popular. What do you think of the so-called death of single-player games?
Papoutsis: I’ve read a lot of articles about this, but from my point of view, there’s always a place for storytelling and story-driven games. One of the best ways to do that is with a single player type experience. While there tends to be a lot of great kind of multiplayer-based games, I think there are always story-focused title spots. It dates back to the origins of storytelling. It has been around for so long and I think it will continue. I enjoy the wonderful story and am very much looking forward to it.
VG247: Do you think there is pressure on the game for all conversations about death in single player games?
Papoutsis: From that particular topic, I don’t think there is more pressure than we already have on ourselves. We’re gathering together as a new studio as Striking Distance to launch our first game. While having a good time, everyone understands that stakes are quite high. There is one chance to make a first impression. We want to do a great job and enjoy it. I want to enjoy my trip, aiming for a great game. There will always be some pressure, but that is not necessarily the result of a decline in single-player games.
VG247: You and developers like Schofield obviously want to work on new and different projects that are interesting. Now that you’re working in this new studio and you’re looking more free, do you feel at ease?
Papoutsis: The exciting part about what we are doing is people. It was about getting another opportunity to work with Glen. We have been working on and off together for almost 23 years. It goes back. I started working with him again and the many people we gathered in were a big motivation. The ability to play the type of game we absolutely wanted to do was absolutely at the top in terms of motivating what we were doing. I’ve been doing this for so long that it’s about traveling. It’s about the experience of making something with great talented people who enjoy working with you. Sharing a vision or goal can be a lot of fun. It’s a great opportunity to grab something that players can enjoy and hope to make it memorable.
VG247: What lessons did you learn from your time at Triple A?
Papoutsis: Making games and this kind of experience is all about the people you make them and the people you make them. That is very important. A person who prioritizes people. More specifically, you really need to respect and respect creative processes and give people the opportunity to do things, experiment and see where they go. Finally, I didn’t learn anything to speak. The more you can hear, the more opportunities you have to learn.
VG247: How did you react when you heard that Visceral would close at the end of 2017?
Papoutsis: I was sad. I had a lot of wonderful memories. We had a lot of fun and a lot of great games were made there. Indeed, when that happened, I was sad and disappointed by my colleagues.
VG247: Do you think you are carrying a built-in torch at an impressive distance? As I said, the Callisto Protocol has many of the same features as some of the games you worked on in the studio.
Papoutsis: Every project is a new opportunity and Striking Distance is a new opportunity for all of us. Rather than shrinking either studio, whether it’s built-in distance or striking distance, each of these moments of building the game must really be about it. That should be the only focus. If you start to have the weight of what came before, you really don’t respect the group and the efforts that are currently being made.