Japanese films have used raven-haired children to scare us senseless for years, but it wasn't until Monolith's F.E.A.R. that a similar approach was used in a first-person shooter. The result was a psychologically creepy game that had a considerable impact. And predictably, that meant sequels.
F.E.A.R. 2 told the same story of spooky girl Alma from a different perspective. And now there's F.E.A.R. 3. This will be overseen by Monolith but developed by Day 1. And the story this time involves Alma's children Paxton Fettel and Point Man, who have super powers and will need work together in co-op.
Jumbled or genius? We sit Day 1 senior producer Dan Hay down for a chat, keeping the doors and windows open just in case he's a bit spooky.
Eurogamer: Please can we clear this up: is it F.E.A.R. 3 or F.3.A.R.? If you pick the latter, our readers will want to know why.
Dan Hay: The title of the game is F.E.A.R. 3 and the logo is F.3.A.R. If you're writing or talking about the game it's just like you'd expect - F.E.A.R. 3. However, if you decide to do a little drawing of the title you'll want to draw it as F.3.A.R. to be accurate. Joking aside, it is officially F.E.A.R. 3.
Eurogamer: Why reveal the game with a live action video? Do you have cinematic ambitions?
Dan Hay: There are many options in revealing a title such as F.E.A.R. 3 and it was decided doing something big was fitting. With the new direction of Alma's pregnancy story arc and such a momentous point in the trilogy, it called for a grand announcement to communicate the depth and range of the characters' motivations.
As far as cinematic ambitions go both the scripted events and cinematics in F.E.A.R. 3 are critical in truly conveying the position Point Man and Fettel have found themselves in. Both siblings have their own reasons to distrust each other. At the same time, they understand if they don't cooperate neither will be able to fulfill their personal agenda. This unique relationship could not be effectively conveyed without proper attention to the cinematic aspects of the game.
Eurogamer: The first F.E.A.R was creepy but subtle. How have the ideas behind the IP evolved with time?
Dan Hay: Day 1 has made sure the core foundation of F.E.A.R. has been preserved, these pillars being frenetic combat, horror and story.
That said, consumer expectations have evolved over the last several years and it is more important than ever to innovate. F.E.A.R. 3 is being created with Day 1's unique twist. The horror element is maturing with the generative system we created, which ensures that the appearance of scares, enemies, et cetera are randomised throughout the game. Replayability is higher than ever with the divergent co-op, and Day 1 is offering a new perspective on mechanised combat.
So in short, the game experience that players fell in love with playing F.E.A.R. is still intact while at the same time features are being evolved or added to make sure the game delivers a fresh experience.
Eurogamer: What's Hollywood director John Carpenter bringing to the table? Can you talk us through an example of how his Hollywood know-how has changed the emphasis of a scene or moment in the game?
Dan Hay: John Carpenter has been an invaluable resource throughout production. Horror is more than just scary moments. John has brought a holistic view to the table, offering advice for everything that plays into horror including crafting tension through light, shadow, sound, music and visuals. These elements are just as important as the horror moments themselves.John brings years of experience to the game and makes sure every method that mounts tension is utilised. With his expertise we learned that our toolbelt for scares is much larger than we first imagined. He has emphasised that t's not just about the horror moments, it's about the tension leading up to them.
Eurogamer: Writer Steve Niles (30 Days of Night) is on board too. How much of a starring role are you giving to story?
Dan Hay: Story is just as important to a F.E.A.R. title as combat. The deep engaging story is what gives the games depth and life. From the start of this project story was always a priority.
For us, we couldn't think of a better person to handle the task than Steve Niles. Not only does he have a great grasp on horror, but his stories have fully developed characters with great unique voices. The challenge of F.E.A.R. 3 is that is requires a personal story to be told in the midst of carnage and mayhem. Steve has a track record of doing just that so he was a perfect match.
Eurogamer: Let's rewind a bit to F.E.A.R. 2. What needed addressing?
Dan Hay: Monolith did an incredible job with F.E.A.R. and Project Origin. Working closely with them has been a rewarding experience and both teams have grown quite a bit from this collaborative venture. Most importantly, without their innovation the franchise would not exist. At Day 1 we looked to identify the best aspects of their titles and make sure they were preserved while we added an entirely new co-op experience.