The news about the incoming Friday the 13th video game has set the gaming channels of DC on fire, so we thought it appropriate to get in 13 MUST-ASK questions for co-creator and designer Ronnie Hobbs along with executive director Randy Greenback.
DC: When making Friday the 13th, how do you balance taking control of an unstoppable powerhouse like Jason Voorhees while still making the game a challenging experience for players?
Randy Greenback: You’ve hit on something right there. Jason is really the ultimate predator. He stalks his victims, waiting for the perfect moment to strike, catching counselors off guard and ending their lives in an instant. It’s up to the players controlling camp counselors to find a way to survive, that’s the challenge. Jason is OP, we’ve embraced it, that’s where the fear comes into play, and the fun. Counselors can wield weapons too, but going toe to toe with Jason is never a wise move, no matter what you are armed with. Jason can be stunned or he can even be killed, we’re just holding the method for getting the epic take-down close to our chests. Trust us though, it will be amazing and create moments to remember!
Of course, Jason can’t be everywhere at once which is his biggest weakness. With 7 camp counselors trying to survive and escape, it can be a race against the clock for Jason to eliminate them quickly. Counselors can use numbers to their advantage, which adds a lot of options for how they play the game. They can buddy up and stick together, or go solo and sneak around more effectively. They can hide, set traps, collect items, or push for one of the vehicle escape goals. It all ends up just working out and feeding into our global goal of ensuring players feel like they’re living inside one of the Friday the 13th films. Our goal is to have each game session play out differently, and so far it’s been a blast witnessing these emergent scenarios and seeing how both the camp counselors and Jason adapt to solve them.
DC: Jason has had several looks throughout the years. From the sackhead look in Friday 2, to the more humanoid look when he first put on the hockey mask, and then moving on to the undead, rotted look that defined later movies. What Jason can we expect to find in this game and, more importantly, will we be able to choose between these classic Jason looks?
Ronnie Hobbs: I can say without a doubt that there will be multiple Jasons to choose from, which ones exactly is still being kept a secret. More importantly, our goal is provide a nice unlock system and make sure each Jason looks and plays differently with their own unique weapons.
DC: When this game was announced as Summer Camp, it was touted as an asymmetric multiplayer game, which is where players occupy the same game but one (or some) have a very different role than others. In this case, that’s killer versus victims. Is Friday the 13th an online-only experience, or is there a single player mode?
Ronnie Hobbs: At its core, Friday the 13th: The Game is an online-only asymmetrical experience, but one of our stretch goals is definitely to include some type of single player experience. Once the community and fans decide if they really want single player, we can slowly start to define what that experience will be like. We’ve already discussed to great lengths internally, so we have a pretty good idea of what we would like to see.
DC: How do the stalk and slash elements of Friday the 13th work here? Does Jason get to pick his victims off and hide the bodies so that the rest of his prey remain oblivious, or are they very much aware that Jason is out to get them from the start?
Ronnie Hobbs: The match begins when the “shit hits the fan” so to speak, so everyone is aware that Jason is out there, and will start hunting and killing very shortly, so there’s definitely not a whole lot of time to stand around. We are actually still working on how the start of the game is introduced to players controlling camp counselors, but we have some pretty good ideas that have been tested internally.
DC: So much of Friday the 13th is about creative kills. When this game was called Summer Camp, there was already some emphasis placed on our ability to choose between a traditional slasher implement, like knives or axes, or use the terrain itself to finish off a victim. How much choice does Jason have when choosing how to kill the teenagers invading his wilderness?
Ronnie Hobbs: Jason will have multiple ways he can perform kills, which fall into three basic categories: weapon, grapple, and environmental. It will be up to the player to determine which kill is initiated, as we also think variety and creativity is a huge part of what made the films so special. Also, as you well know, Tom Savini is an integral part of our project so his expertise will definitely be noticeable in this department.
DC: Let’s talk about the poor teenagers for a second. How can they defend against Jason’s attacks? What chance do they have?
Ronnie Hobbs: The Jason vs. Counselor dynamic is something we will be tweaking throughout our development, but I can tell you it is a major gameplay aspect that is very important to us. There’s something extremely terrifying about knowing Jason Voorhees could be anywhere on the map at any moment, and not really having enough tools, weapons, or abilities to escape him if you had to. Essentially, that’s what made the films so special and tension-filled. We are going to replicate that feeling of helplessness, but at the same time give the camp counselors just enough options to survive, or even fight back if they choose. So yes, you can find weapons that can be used for self-defense or assault Jason directly… though that approach will be far tougher to pull off. If fighting back isn’t your preference, you can always try to escape by locating and fixing one of the vehicles, or search for a landline and call for help. We’re still not revealing the specifics on how that works, at least for now.
DC: You had Kane Hodder and Tom Savini involved even before this was publicly called Friday the 13th. How has their involvement shaped this project?
Ronnie Hobbs: Honesty, without the trust and support of Kane and Tom, along with Harry Manfredini for that matter, I’m not sure Summer Camp would’ve garnered the attention that it did, or captured the attention of Sean Cunningham. It was one incredible string of events after the next that ultimately led to us becoming Friday the 13th: The Game, and as you can imagine, we are extremely lucky to be working with those guys. They are masters at their specific crafts, and we expect that to shine through on this project.
DC: Will we hear any of Harry Manfredini’s classic cues on the soundtrack?
Ronnie Hobbs: If you’re referring to “Ki Ki Ki, Ma Ma Ma”, then yes… absolutely! We couldn’t make a true Friday the 13th game without it. The rest of the soundtrack will be revealed slowly over time, but rest assured you will absolutely recognize Manfredini’s patented style.
DC: Is there any chance we’ll be seeing other fan favorite characters from the movies? Mrs. Voorhees or Tommy Jarvis, for example?
Ronnie Hobbs: Well, I can tell you that we currently have Tommy Jarvis and Pamela Voorhees both as Stretch Goals on our Kickstarter campaign, but how we are going to implement them is still being kept a secret.
DC: How big is the Crystal Lake map? Can Jason roam all over the campground as he plots his attack, or does the game limit him to specific sections of it at various times in the game?
Randy Greenback: The maps in the game are actually quite big, so there is a lot of ground to cover. They’re mostly open and can span across multiple campground areas with forested areas or the lake in between, but there are pockets of cabins spread around where interior exploration can occur. Both Jason and the camp counselors can traverse the entirety of the map at any time during the match. If it looks like you can reach an area, you probably can.
There aren’t really any limits on where you can go to hide if you’re trying to keep away from Jason, and often it can be a good tactic to stay on the move. Our initial prototype maps were massive in scale and we’ve been working on dialing them back so they provide enough space to explore and get lost in, can have a mix of open and more densely populated areas, but not be so overwhelmingly large that encounters with other counselors rarely happens.
DC: Jason will hunt teenagers, but are there any other obstacles for him to overcome?
Randy Greenback: Yes, most definitely. Moment to moment, players controlling Jason will need to deal with the sheer amount of space there is to cover on the map and keeping an eye out for all the potential hiding spots that camp counselors may utilize. Camp counselors can also use noise to their advantage by creating distractions, so if you’re the killer, tuning out the noise in the environment to help isolate the location of counselors is a great skill to have. That’s only one small aspect of the moment-to-moment dynamic gameplay that will have to be overcome whether you are controlling Jason or the camp counselors.
Over time as the match plays out, there are different things that Jason needs to be paying attention to. If he slips up and spends too much time stalking one victim, others could be calling the police at the call box, repairing the boat, getting the car running, or successfully escaping via either vehicle. Jason needs to be all over the map, keeping the counselors on the defensive until he can corner and kill them. Once there are 4 or less counselors left alive, things get a bit less manic for Jason.
DC: What were you able to do differently once you got the Friday the 13th license that you couldn’t do when this game was Summer Camp?
Ronnie Hobbs: Well, as you know Summer Camp was an homage to 80’s slashers, specifically Friday the 13th, so now that it’s official we can finally do it the right way. This of course means traversing Crystal Lake as Jason Voorhees for the first time ever. Think about that… Jason is arguably the most famous horror icon of all time, and we still have no idea what it’s like to fully become him. To strap on the mask, grab the machete, and systematically hunt down a group of Camp counselors across Crystal Lake… it’s almost hard to believe this opportunity hasn’t existed until now. So it’s not necessarily a specific feature that gets me excited, it’s the realization that a childhood dream of mine, and fans worldwide for that matter, will finally come true.
DC: To flip the last question: What’s something you wanted to do with Friday the 13th and couldn’t but would consider in a sequel.
Ronnie Hobbs: How about we wait until Friday the 13th: The Game ships, and then I can answer this question more effectively without spoiling everything!
Look for more on the Friday the 13th video game soon!
Friday the 13th: The Game is being developed for PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4, for release in Fall, 2016.