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Beaver, Chuck (Dead Space)

Chuck Beaver Talks Dead SpaceRarely do we get excited for a game as much as we have for EA Games‘ upcoming survival horror epic, Dead Space, and it’s not without good reason. How could we not back a game that features a gameplay innovation known as Strategic Dismemberment? Color us all over it!

The game hits stores next week, but we wanted to get you guys some early word so we headed straight to the source — senior producer Chuck Beaver!

Dig on the interview below! And don’t forget to VOTE FOR US ON PODCAST ALLEY!

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    Uncle Creepy: Hey everybody Uncle Creepy here for Dread Central. Joining us today is the senior producer of the upcoming game Dead Space, Chuck Beaver. Chuck, how are you, you lovable sicko you.

    Chuck Beaver: I’m all good! We just let go with our disk and we’re into manufacturing so we are about to have a little party!

    Uncle Creepy: Dude, you know I’ve covered a lot of video games, I’ve covered a lot of movies but this is one of the few properties that every time I hear something new about it, it makes me sit down and go “Holy fucking shit.”

    Chuck Beaver: It’s awesome.

    Uncle Creepy: Just today, the news broke that Dario Argento, the legendary horror director is doing one of the voice work for one of the characters?

    Chuck Beaver: Yeah, he obviously big in the horror genre. He is doing one of the characters for the Italian localization skew.

    Uncle Creepy: Unbelievable.

    Chuck Beaver: We were really excited to get that as a matter of fact; that’s a real cool kind of thing that have happened for us because were kinda big fans of his and he’s a great presence to have as I said, but it’s a game and that he’s kinda of a big horror so it was a good match.

    Uncle Creepy: One of the most unusual things that you’re doing with this game and it just, it’s such a no brainer in retrospect as you’re really going the extra mile in terms of creating a mythology for it. I mean we got the DVD coming out down fall. There’s the graphic novel and now the game so my first question is where the hell do you start man?

    Chuck Beaver: Well we do it in three properties, we sort of actually started with the game and we did the whole story just for the game and then as we finished it, we figured out a little bit too much story and we were like well we don’t want to not tell all this so Glenn Skullfield, our executive producer, decided that we would pursue other media and so he went after the comic book and he went after animated feature. We got these all lined up and ended up telling the whole story that we have come up with the game.

    Uncle Creepy: Wow.

    Chuck Beaver: It was a lot a of cannon and a lot of mythology that had to get established even to tell that story so once they had those three pieces together, we still had all these other facts surrounding all those events as well and if you’re reading the comic series and watching the animated feature, you’ll sort of start to get hints about that. You like the red marker mythology and the Unitology religion and everything that’s happening on the Ishimura. The things all are persistent to all those properties.

    Uncle Creepy: For those who maybe a little overwhelmed; first we’ll start with the graphic novel stuff right and then we go to the DVD “>Dead Space: Downfall (review) and then finally we go to the game and we’re all caught up on what’s happened before the game started.

    Chuck Beaver: Yeah and it’s not like the properties are dependent on each other. If you do just read the comic series, you get a whole understanding of what that is and that’s the story of the colony and how it fell to the Necromorph infection and that is sort of a wrapped up story as well. Then if can start you got to the animated feature; it picks up where the colony has left off. It shows you how the Ishimura becomes infected from the colony infection and you follow that all the way through it. You follow those characters and follow all their arts and those are all independent of what was happening in the game and they don’t have dependency of the comic series but you’ll get what’s happening on the Ishimura a little more, it’s a more robust story you seen in the comics already and then the same thing happens by the time you get to the game so the time you get to the game all the stuff you’re seeing there you understand all the back story about how it came to be but you don’t have to have it to get what’s going on in the Ishimura going forward.

    Uncle Creepy: Now, I got to tell you I saw Dead Space: Downfall, I watched it just the other night and allow me to say “Holy shit!” You’re not pulling any punches; I mean this was the real deal man. It’s violent, it’s dark, it has creatures, and it has things in it. I mean you even went; you guys took this even farther than I though you would and you know.

    Chuck Beaver: Yeah could you believe some of the scenes in that thing?

    Uncle Creepy: Holy cow dude, I mean I’m watching going, alright they’re not going to do that and the boom they do it and I’m like.

    Chuck Beaver: A couple of times, yeah.

    Uncle Creepy: Yeah and I’m like this is glorious.

    Chuck Beaver: Is it glorious? It really is, it certainly I like that it’s well like the gore and the shot moments, very well placed and then not overused but when hey happen you’d literally just thrown back in your seat.

    Uncle Creepy: Yeah, there was a couple of moments where my jaw just dropped and like wow.

    Chuck Beaver: I don’t give away but they’re pretty spectacular.

    Uncle Creepy: They’re pretty bad man. But what’s really cool about it is it never, and here is my biggest fear, I have to be honest with you. I mean, although this all sounded really cool, coming out my biggest fear was that the graphic novel and the movie were gonna feel like sort of a big commercial for the game and it never did…

    Chuck Beaver: There was actually a lot, yeah.

    Uncle Creepy: Yeah, and it never played that way for a second, this was a solid story that had a reason for being there other than to promote the game and it really stands as really cool parts of the mythology of this world, the Dead Space that you guys have created.

    Chuck Beaver: Outstanding, you know that was actually, our major intention with that was to expressly avoid doing just a marketing gimmick, the people would like there’s no value in this property, all you’re doing is just sort of pushing this IP. It’s sort of out there as a precursor in marketing materials. We really wanted these properties to be a part of the canon and to really be strong contributors to the Dead Space universe. So when we were out doing the deal and setting up how were going to get it done, Kate Latsford, whose our talent producer was out really pushing for the top talent in both of this field and so we got like ten temples and imagine Anthony Johnston. They got the Stars team and the great animation team, and they got Jimmy Pamiati to write so we really tried to made sure that the people that we got on with partners were gonna be able to bring the creative goods right and I think in the end, I’m pretty pleased with it and it sounds like you had a good time watching it.

    Uncle Creepy: Oh dude, I am so geared up for playing this game, I mean I want it like now.

    Chuck Beaver: You got to promise me you’ll play all the way through to the end because we put a lot of effort and angst into our end and the finale and it’s really, really satisfying and it’s very rewarding so when you got all the way to the end and then tell me what you think about it and how the experience pent out for you.

    Uncle Creepy: As a horror fan, I can guarantee you I’ll play to the end and as an Achievementor; I can guarantee I will play to the end.

    Chuck Beaver: I will probably go all the way to the end.

    Uncle Creepy: You know dude, I’m such an Achievementor, I make no bones about it, when that little thing pops I get so excited I don’t even know why. It’s so ridiculous. I never in a million years would have thought that would have been a good selling point, but I’m all over that shit.

    Chuck Beaver: Looks like it works!

    Uncle Creepy: Yeah, yeah, it totally does, now let’s get to the game. We have covered Dead Space Downfall, we’ve talked a little bit about the graphic novel now, here you make a survival horror game and there are so many on the market, what do you have to do to create something new that people haven’t seen before?

    Chuck Beaver: Right, right. So for us there’s a couple of things and it’s funny, there seems to be some confusion in the market that people think there’s a lot of sci-fi horror and were not a huge a saturation of that particular combo. There’s a lot of horror at which, you’re in a Mexican village or you’re in a haunted house or you’re in some very familiar scenario and there’s sci-fi but it just not a combo of sci-fi and horror so we’re using that for one of our major temples; that we have a sci-fi background, it’s not so crazy fantasy science fiction where you’re like force fields and you have unbelievable technology where you sort of disbelieve in what’s going on. We have realistic science-horror, horror-science is very hard and it’s very real. It’s protecting the future and it’s a canvass on which we then paint the rest of the horror, which is the other two-thirds of the game, which is the mood and the setting, and the lighting, and the set up in what’s happening and how the story and the events unfold. All of those things are horror so that is a pretty unique combination I think for what we were trying to do.

    Uncle Creepy: Totally.

    Chuck Beaver: The other pieces that rest in are the mechanics, they got this thing called the strategic dismemberment that you’ve played I think, even benefited from conventions.

    Uncle Creepy: Wait hang on I got to hold on to that just for a second … strategic dismemberment. I just want to hold on to that for a second.

    Chuck Beaver: I like that, it just sounds great.

    Uncle Creepy: Yeah all right you can continue now sorry I interrupted you but that’s just … I just love that!

    Chuck Beaver: Eventually what we take is the very conditional horror mechanic of the head shot which everyone is very trained to do, and used to doing. We’ve taken that around to that mechanic and extended that mechanic into our own where essentially it goes form not just your head, but it now plays to all of the limbs and all the arms and legs and tentacles that creatures are going to have and you essentially have to kill all those off before any given creature is actually dead for real, and even then they may not be dead, they may still find a way to revive and come after you. So with strategic dismemberment, that whole point is that you got to take those limbs off before they die and if you’re shooting just body shots, you’re gonna pretty much waste your ammo so you have this ammo conservation half of the equation that’s playing immature skill on being strategic with your dismemberment and then once you’re on the basics we also mess with you and there are some enemies that will reward you if you get it right, they might trick you or surprise you or punish you if you get what we thought was right so there’s a whole ramp that goes as a game that plays with that entire mechanic as you go.

    Uncle Creepy: Now one of the things that I really I’m digging about this property from the game play footage that I’ve seen, and of course the DVDs, you guys are unabashedly making a very mature game. Was there ever any worry that maybe you go too far, was there ever any concern that you should tone it down?

    Chuck Beaver: You know if you actually talk to Glenn Skullfield, our EP, about that it’s almost the opposites, I think that he is actually sorry that the game is not a little bit more gory.

    Uncle Creepy: Really?!

    Chuck Beaver: He did. Can you believe that? He wanted to be really, really just a very bloody, very scary game that was just really at the heart of the horror genre and really embraced it. We went do you want to go over the board and be tasteless or grotesque or something really silly or campy or Quentin Tarantino-esque? But he really wanted it to be very true to the horror genre, to have a lot of graphic blood in it. So yeah I would say they were pretty close to what he wanted but we might have gone farther if we could have gotten there.

    Uncle Creepy: How about the creature design, there are some really, really crazy-looking things populating this game, where did they come from?

    Chuck Beaver: They actually came from Ben Monot, our production designer, and we went to probably a good three of four revolutions on all the enemy designs. We started with some vintage animals and insect forms that were just basically had meat tied on to them and they were just kind of these bloodied versions of the similar forms. Those were okay but they’re just mostly monsters and they’re kind of scary but they’re not as scary as he wanted and as we kept revving on the different ideas, the ones that were the most scary were the ones that were very human and very perverted grotesque human form. You had very recognizable elements like an eyeball or a jaw or a teeth or a hair or an ear and as those things were more and more part of the enemy design, they became much more creepy and that certainly just sort of solidified and became the general design. So you’re seeing all the creatures that have like broken bones sticking out all over the place so they got their lungs and their back or their babies with tentacles. There are all these really unsettling versions of humans.

    Uncle Creepy: Babies with tentacles! I love you guys! You know what else was really interesting about, I mean because we watch on Dread Central. I don’t even know how many stories we have done about Dead Space but we’ve watched the progression of this property from I guess as soon as it was announced and one of things that really is encouraging is the release date always gets bumped up to sooner rather than later.

    Chuck Beaver: I have had had the strangest thing I have ever experienced.

    Uncle Creepy: Dude I have never seen that happened before.

    Chuck Beaver: Yeah, it’s really astounding and I give a shout out to Michael Condry our senior DD who it’s my job literally to fight with all the time because he’s on the money side and I’m on the production side and were the two sides of the coin but he designed a really great schedule for us, there’s a lot of polished time put in. We were able to squeeze some time out on the manufacturing process. We were able to hit our alpha and the beta dates really strong. We wanted to pull in then we were able to make it happen and so it’s just been a really amazing team to work with. We really got a lot of stuff down there I have never seen them before.

    Uncle Creepy: Yeah men, as I said I am so jacked up to play this shit already.

    Chuck Beaver: If you do have like a big like gigantic 5.1 sound system and you’ve got a couch with a gigantic 52 inch TV, HDTV and you’re gonna be able to sit in the dark by yourself and crank it up.

    Uncle Creepy: And I’ve also gotten tubs of ice cream and many sit backs. Okay, so yeah I’m pretty ready man.

    Chuck Beaver: Don’t forget, it’s not only you have to play until the end, you got to play it again because all of your upgrades carry forward and you cannot get everything the first times you’re only gonna get about a third of what’s possible so you gonna make choices and stuff. So the fun part is then you get to play the game again the second time through and you got all the stuff you upgraded and then you can start tackling other things you had like make choices about so can pick another weapon, you can do your health more, do your stasis more so be prepared for a sort of a fun second and third round of the game once you get done.

    Uncle Creepy: Oh totally cool, are there various endings?

    Chuck Beaver: No, no, we just have the one, it’s not a branching story, we do have the one ending but the way you play the game is vastly different depending on what you’re picking out because the weapons are all different as you pick on some of them, they make you more powerful or have more ammo or have faster reload times, you can use them significantly differently as you go forward and your tactics, how you put a key situation can vary quite a bit.

    Uncle Creepy: Now, are there any differences or any major differences between the PS3 or the 360 version?

    Chuck Beaver: There’s some small differences in the achievements and some of the trophy designs but generally the game overall will look identical on both systems and have the same frame rates and have the same graphical quality, even through the PC, as well and the PC will of course have a different control scheme for the key board but generally you’ll find appearing across three platforms.

    Uncle Creepy: Perfect! So the game comes out October 14th right?

    Chuck Beaver: Yeah moved up all the way from October 31st!

    Uncle Creepy: Okay so you’ve gone gold. It’s time to celebrate and dude I cannot tell you how excited we are to get our hands on the game to be able to play through it and we hope that you guys succeed in scaring the shit out of us.

    Chuck Beaver: We do too. Thank you so much! We’re so looking forward to having it out on sales and having everybody get a chance to play all of our hard work for the last three years.

    Uncle Creepy: Yeah, were looking forward to it Chuck. Thank you so much for taking the time out of your schedule to join us now. Go celebrate and get drunk!

    Chuck Beaver: Absolutely! We sure will! Thank you guys so much.

    Steve Barton

    You're such an inspiration for the ways that I will never, ever choose to be.