Game designers Ben Wanat and Wright Bagwell reveal that the release of Resident Evil 4 swayed Visceral Games from making System Shock 3 towards creating Dead Space.
It goes without saying that Dead Space is among the best horror games from the past decade or so, so much so that fans are still desperately hoping for the return of the franchise. While Visceral Games’ sci-fi horror title is undoubtedly a classic entry into the genre, it could have potentially turned out to be an entirely different type of game had a few things gone slightly differently during its development.
In a new interview with PC Gamer, Dead Space designers Ben Wanat and Wright Bagwell revealed that Visceral Games had originally planned to make System Shock 3. However, it proved to be a big challenge when the development team realized that it now had the pressure of creating a modern System Shock title that lived up to high fan expectations.
“Originally, we were pushing around this idea of maybe we could make System Shock 3. And you can look at the Dead Space blueprint and be like, ‘Oh, this is kind of like System Shock.’ To do a System Shock 3, you’re really tackling a monumental task, to make people happy with a sequel that wasn’t made by the same team as the original.”
However, Viseral Games’ plans for a new System Shock title were soon thrown out upon the release of the critically-acclaimed Resident Evil 4, a game that proved to be such a huge inspiration for the development team that it helped shaped the Dead Space series. In fact, Wanat went as far as to admitting that what ultimately became Dead Space was the development’s team’s attempt in making a Resident Evil 4 game set in space.
“It was like, ‘Everybody, get your System Shock 2 copy, play it start to finish, and let’s figure out what we’re going to do. Then Resident Evil 4 came out and we were like, ‘Oh. No, this is the shit.’
It’s pretty obvious when you play Dead Space, to look at it and go, ‘Yeah, it’s almost like they decided to make Resident Evil 4 in space,’ which is exactly what we were doing.”
While the development of Dead Space meant that a new System Shock game was halted, this change in plans ultimately turned out for the best for everyone. Not only did Visceral Games manage to create a classic sci-fi horror series, but there is currently a new System Shock 3 project and a System Shock remake in development.
Following release of Dead Space 3, Wanat and Bagwell left Visceral Games to co-found Outpost Games, a video game developer that’s currently working on a new multiplayer survival-horror title. While very few details have been released about Outpost Games’ mysterious new game, there is little doubt that it will contain elements of Dead Space and other sci-fi horror, something that Wanat concedes is now part of his creative process.
“Personally, I’ve got so much of that stuff in my system, that one way or another I will make another survival-horror game because I can’t stay away from that kind of creative expression. That’s just part of my DNA now.”
As for Visercal Games, it certainly appears that the development team have moved on from the Dead Space and System Shock franchises. For the past couple of years, the studio have been hard at work on an untitled Star Wars game and have enlisted former Uncharted director Amy Hennig to take on the role of creative director for the still-in-development title.
With hopes that Dead Space 4 could still happen, as well as a promising new Resident Evil entry in the form of Resident Evil 7, perhaps Visceral Games might get inspired once again and deliver another gripping Dead Space game once the studio’s Star Wars game is released.