Our resident writer Ian "eulogy" Norton had the chance to sit down with a few of the key members of the Visage development team, the minds behind the upcoming horror survival mod for Half-Life 2. Whether you're already aware and eagerly awaiting the mod's release or this is the first you've heard, you'll find lots of great information from the team themselves below.
Planet Half-Life: First off, I'd like to thank you for the exclusive screenshots and taking the time to answer a few of our questions.
Milo: Thanks for having us. We're four people who'll respond to this interview.
Milo: Project leader, game director, game producer, lead level designer
Ian: Writer, voice actor
Robert: Writer, voice actor
Geoff: Writer, voice actor
Before we'll go on with the questions, we'd like to tell you a small bit about what Visage is all about.
Two American journalists arrive in a forgotten town called Hovgård, situated in the northern parts of Sweden in Scandinavia. They explore the whole town, looking for any evidence of what went wrong, why and how the town was abandoned fifty years ago. Just as they are start to get a glimpse of what lies below, they are dragged into a compelling and terrifying mystery to learn the horrible truth of what happened to the once thriving town of Hovgård. Is it cursed? Or is the truth even more complicated than either of them could possibly imagine?
Let's get started!
Planet Half-Life: Is there anything else you'd like to elaborate on about the game?
Milo: Visage is a survival horror game. We have a strong focus on the game-play since we want to make a game which looks amazing and also is really entertaining. We also have a very deep background story which will unfold throughout the game.
Robert: Parts of the game-play in Visage is still being deciding upon, as we only have just started it not too long ago. We do want to focus a lot on story and background story, with the player finding little pieces of information everywhere in letters and such that people have left behind. There will be some shooting but we're not ready to go into full detail about that yet.
Planet Half-Life: What are some of the influences and inspirations for your mod?
Ian: I'd say we've taken ideas from Resident Evil, Silent Hill, some bits of the Ravenholm map, Twilight Zone Tower of Terror concepts, and some thoughts from our sick and twisted heads.
Milo: I'd have to ditto Ian on this one. I'm the game director/game producer of the game but a lot of the story material come from both Robert and Ian. We share the overall vision of what we want Visage to unfold into.
Planet Half-Life: It seems like there is a lot of well-written story to the plot of the mod. Will the story unfold in-game, or is it just back-story?
Robert: That depends if you're referring to the actual story or the storyline being released along with the weekly updates. The gameplay of Visage will follow Adam Reed as he explores the town, while the short story is based in the perspective of Roy Marshall, so things could be interpreted differently. We're hoping that things the player does affects how the story will unfold but only time will tell if we can implement it effectively.
Ian: But rest assured, it will not end up like Dear Esther where the game is solely about story. It will be a delicate balance where the story will fuel the action, the action will fuel the story. Expect some nightmare moments alongside some action people are accustomed to in Half-Life 2 mods.
Planet Half-Life: There isn't a whole lot of information on the mod yet, what kind of enemies can we expect to face, if any?
Milo: We really want the player not to know about things like what weapons he'll get to use or which enemies he'll get to beat up before he actually sees them. The game will have weapons in it, it will have monsters in it, you just wont see them before they've already scared you.
Geoff: In other words, we have no idea. No, I'm joking, of course... If you look at the screenshots more closely, you'd be amazed at what number of horrors are hiding in the shadows.
Planet Half-Life: What is going to make Visage a unique mod, other than the obvious mapping and writing talent?
Milo: I'll take that as a compliment, thank you! Visage will be very deep. It has a deep background story, the written dialogues, letters, notes, etc that the player will be exposed to throughout his journey through Hovgård and will be mixed up with breathtaking visuals and eventually form a great big pool of awesomesauce in which the player can swim around in.
Robert: Milo said it best. Pure awesomesauce indeed. In addition to that, we've recruited some of the best voice actors around (and hired them as writers as well) including myself, so the voicing in-game will be of the utmost quality. The amazing visuals combined with the superb writing and dialogue will make Visage stand out from the rest.
Planet Half-Life: How long do you expect the play-time to be when it's finished, or is it too soon in development to say?
Ian: We're not entirely sure yet, since we're still in development, but if I were to eyeball it, the game should take roughly 8 hours.
Milo: Visage will be about 25-26-27 maps long. It's hard to say how much play-time the mod will give to the player, but the rough estimate that Ian gave you is quite accurate to what we're aiming for.
Planet Half-Life: On the subject of progress, do you have a ball-park estimate for the release date?
All in Harmony: When it's done! Milo: We're aiming to release before the end of 2010, but we cannot promise anything. Within the period of time that we've given ourselves, we've taken eventual set-backs into account.
Planet Half-Life: Is there anything else you'd like to add?
Milo: Keep your eyes peeled for new stuff from us. Happy holidays!
Ian: Watch your step while you're in game! Merry Christmas.
Robert: Bring your Swedish/English dictionary. You don't want to miss a single thing in this place!
Geoff: I love you, Noah Antwiler.
Many thanks to Milo, Ian, Robert, and Geoff for taking the time to answer our questions and sending us the Planet Half-Life exclusive media. For more information, you can check out their ModDB Profile and, of course, keep an eye on our news page for their updates as they become available. Happy holidays, everyone!
The original interview can be found over HERE!