Interview: Invader Studios talk Daymare 1998, Resident Evil 2 Reborn and their love for the genre
We got a chance to speak to one of the most promising indie studios in the industry at this time; Invader Studios. I asked Co-Founder, PR and Business Developer Michele Giannone all things Survival Horror, Resident Evil 2: Reborn and of course Daymare: 1998, and its KickStarter campaign.
I’ve been covering your work since I discovered Resident Evil Reborn back in 2014 and as a huge Resi fan, I adored what I saw. How did that come about? Was it simply an idea from a group of friends that grew into something much larger then you imagined?
Exactly what you just said. We were just a group of friends, passionate for the Resident Evil saga and excited to understand if we could also be a team of developers. What happened after the switch on Unreal Engine 4, after the millions views of the first gameplay trailer and, most of all, after the Capcom meeting, was really unpredictable when we were just a group of friends with a big dream. Luckily, it happened!
It looked like that Resident Evil Reborn was using a similar engine and assets as Resident Evil 4, out of curiosity, was that the case?
Not completely. Our first reference (for Remake and for Daymare: 1998) is the original Dead Space. In our opinion this game is the perfect survival horror when talking about the gameplay and game mechanics. We just design our gameplay with lots of influences from Resi 4, The Evil Within and, like I said, most of all from Dead Space.
Resident Evil 2 Reborn gathered a lot of positive attention that helped put you on the map, particularly with Capcom. What did it feel like to have so much interest from the gaming community and of course Capcom?
Amazing! It was a great moment and for this reason we would like to thank again and again Capcom for their kindness and all the fans that are following us from years believing in our projects. That period was incredible and really important for our group and for our company, but now we have a great chance ahead.
I like to think that Resident Evil 2 Reborn inspired Capcom to develop their own Resident Evil 2 remake (whether they admit it or not). It must have been a doubled edged sword knowing that you may have inspired Capcom to create an official remake, but ultimately your project was put to a close. It was sad from a fans perspective watching from the outside, how did the team feel about Resident Evil 2 Reborn coming to an end?
Yes, our project has been important for us but also for Capcom, our job helped to increase the teasing for the official Resi 2 Remake. After all, also when we received the call from Capcom and the order to stop the works on the remake, we were really happy, because our aim is also the chance to have feedback from them. The consequent meeting was really a great honour, personally and professional.
However, it must have been great to be invited to the Capcom studios. How was that visit and what did you learn from that experience?
We can’t say much about that meeting, but they treated us in a special way, really professional. We talked a lot about our projects, and they showed us a Resi 7 exclusive, months and months before the E3 first presentation. After that meeting, we have an amazing friendship with them, proven also with the special message for us posted on the official Resident Evil Facebook page in the last months.
Knowing what you learned from your visit at Capcom HQ, what did you take from that visit and implement into Daymare: 1998, how much did that experience influence its development?
Yes, a lot. But we can’t say more about that. They supported us not “only” about Daymare: 1998, but also with important contacts, which would have been impossible to reach for a small, indie studio like us.
When you announced Daymare: 1998, I couldn’t have been more excited with you bringing us an original, but yet old school inspired Survival Horror game. For those of us that don’t know about Daymare: 1998, but are fans of the genre, what can we expect to see from the game, from a gameplay and narrative perspective?
We love the survival horror genre; we love the story driven games; we love the nostalgic mood and atmosphere of the 90’s and we love the modern gameplay and mechanics from other games like Dead Space. Daymare: 1998 is a summary of all these points, with more original points that we are putting everyday in the project. Daymare: 1998 is something original and classic at the same time.
Daymare: 1998 also seems to be inspired from Resident Evil 2 and RE2 Reborn, were there any ideas, new and old that made the transition? And likewise, were they elements that you thought were better removed to help enhance Daymare: 1998?
Daymare: 1998 is inspired from Resi 2 for the narrative structure and for the mood, and from Dead Space for the game mechanics. All the other parts of the game are totally new, planned during the pre-production of the game.
The Survival Horror genre has had resurgence of late and as my favourite genre, I’m over the moon and I know that you are huge fans of the genre too. With had fantastic games in recent times such as Outlast, Alien: Isolation, The Evil Within and of course Resident Evil 7. Even fellow indie projects such as Allison Road has gained a lot of positive attention after being inspired from the likes of P.T. How does it feel to be a part of the Survival Horror resurgence and how excited are you for the future of the genre?
Is incredible, we are really happy and excited, also because we are often considered a team with an ambitious game put besides triple A productions and amazing games. But the differences between Daymare: 1998 and the games you just listed is not only about the size, but also about the fact that Daymare: 1998 is a third-person survival horror, that is really more complicated to produce than a first person game. This is another hard challenge for us, and a challenge that we relish.
Speaking of P.T, I loved that game and it genuinely terrified me, even my wife asked me why I’m playing this game. So it was sad to see Konami bring it to a sudden and premature end, a sad day for fans of the genre, especially a game with such pedigree and potential. Did you play P.T and were you just as disappointed when Konami pulled the plug?
We played the game and I think it should be a really interesting production. As we only had the demo, it was probably is a little bit too difficult judge an entire game, but Kojima is a great Game Designer, and probably that game could be a new landmark of the modern survival horror. Unfortunately, we’ll never know.
Going back to Daymare: 1998, I was very excited to see the launch of your KickStarter campaign. Your goals were admittedly high and rightly so, especially if you wanted the game to fulfil its potential. I even pledged to the campaign myself. So how much of a blow was it to see you not reach your goals with that campaign and despite the disappointment, what positives can you take from that whole experience?
The campaign was important for us and for Daymare: 1998. Also even with it failing in that respect, we learned a lot and now we are working harder than in the past to make a great game. It was also important to present to the world our amazing supporter like Kazuhiro Aoyama and Satoshi Nakai who had backed the campaign.
When the KickStarter campaign was ended, you quickly set-up a new campaign on Steam Greenlight, which was successful. Thinking of the positives and negatives of each, how does the Steam Greenlight campaign effect from the development of Daymare: 1998, in comparison if you were successful on KickStarter? Can we expect Daymare: 1998 to spend a little more time in development, assuming that Steam Greenlight doesn’t have the same financial benefits as a successful KickStarter campaign?
Editor Note: Since the time of conducting this interview, Daymare: 1998 is now a member of the ID@Xbox Program, congratulations Invader Studios.
The game will be released in 2018 anyway, and now that we have also the approval of the Microsoft Xbox One program, we are also more stimulated that in the past weeks. A great moment is coming!
What was the most important or challenging thing you’ve learned about developing horror games while working on Daymare, and Resident Evil Reborn?
Astounding the community with something new, while connected to the past. Classic and nostalgic, but also fun and modern to play. This is probably the harder challenge for us.
With Daymare: 1998 now being on Steam Greenlight, which is of course primary to the PC platform, how does that affect its prospects of coming to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One?
Editor Note: With Daymare: 1998 now a part of the ID@Xbox Program, the title will be coming to console.
It will come also on console, we are working on it.
Speaking of funding, not that I expect names (as great as that would be to know), have you spoken to any publishers to form a partnership? If not, what would you say to any would-be prospective publisher partnership who might be reading this?
We are doing it every day, but we are talking with them knowing that we are able to produce the game by ourselves and release it on 2018 even without a publisher.
Speaking as fans with a passionate love for the Survival Horror genre, Resident Evil 2 and the original Silent Hill are among my earliest and most fondest memories of the genre, as well as Dead Space and The Evil Within to name but a few. What games inspired you to get into the business of videogame development and what made you fall for them?
Resident Evil series and the first three in particular. There are also other games like I said, but the RE saga is without a doubt the reason for why we are doing this job today.
In your opinion what is the fundamental aspect missing in today’s survival horror that made the classics so great?
The care of the details. A good story, really immersive, and a true empathy with the characters and, why not, also with the enemies. A game must be (even if it’s a short experience) able to satisfy the player and to keep them entertained throughout.
Alternatively, what do you believe today’s technology can offer horror games that yesterday’s couldn’t?
Everything. All is changed from the past years, regarding the hardware and the software. You can have everything you need to make a videogame. You only must the idea and a good team with skills to make that happen.
Thinking of the future, whether its within or outside the horror genre, what games are you most looking forward to this year and what are you currently playing?
Regarding the horror genre we are currently playing Resident Evil 7 and also Outlast 2. The most awaited game for us is obviously Resi 2 Remake from Capcom.
Finally, if you could revitalise any one game from within the Survival Horror genre, no matter if its one-off game or any one instalment from a franchise, what game would it be and which developer would you love to work with and why?
Probably the first Dino Crisis, one of the most amazing and modern survival horror of the 90’s.
Editor: Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, I really appreciate and I can’t wait to play Daymare: 1998 and more in the near future. Daymare: 1998 is expected to release for PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One sometime during 2018.