#E32016: ‘Dead By Daylight’ Creative Director Ash Pannell Talks Future Support, Influences, and More
On my recent adventures at E3, I had the honor of getting up close and personal with the creative director of DEAD BY DAYLIGHT, Ash Pannell. Here’s what he has to say about this PC exclusive, asymmetrical, online game.
Always one killer four survivors. The survivors play as third person, so they have the ability to move the camera around objects, they can hide much easier. The killer is first person. The survivors every time have to find their objective which is generators in the world. If they power enough generators, they can open the gate–and all they have to do is walk out the gate to win the game. Simple in principle, but obviously goes flying apart when there is a killer hunting you down. You can see here that he sees the location of the generators, the red outlines. The survivors have to find them. So he goes under patrol. There are three different killers each with a unique power.
So he has a whole ton of perks. Outside of his powers, he has tons of perks that he can unlock to make it better. And it doesn’t matter which killer he has, he can have any of the perks for any of the killers. So you collect them for each one of the killers. Another thing you’ll notice when the survivors are making a loud noise like sprinting or running he gets visual cues to that as well. And this is the whole asymmetrical things is that their experience is completely different to his experience. And it’s through these asymmetrical interlocking mechanics that creates this very weird sense that the killer is always hunting you and how you have these movie like moments in the game all the time. From his experience, he’s doing what he’s doing and the survivors have this heartbeat that beats when the killer is closer. The closer he is, the more the heart beats. He gets all the visual cues from the sound. They get a proximity sound when the killer is close. It sounds like it’s an advantage to have the heartbeat but all it does is stress you out. When you’re stressed you panic, and when you panic you run, and when you run you give away your marks to him, which means he hunts you, which means you panic more which means you make more mistakes and it’s a vicious cycle.
Eight years – but realistically two. I’ve been trying to make it for eight years, but it’s never really been the right time. I mean asymmetrical games have been difficult to do, it’s a new genre. There’s other games that made asymmetrical things evolve, but all of us are learning a whole new way of being able to put it together to learn how to balance a game like this–it’s really hard. We are putting these two sets of mechanics together and hoping they work. When you play both sides you realize they are basically two different games working in the same rules and that took a long time for people to understand. It’s something that could be fun and then the balance that goes along with it to make four work against one with two different realms–it’s a never ending spiral of complexity. It’s only now with the digital distribution and right price point that we can get together and start creating something really interesting.
The game really does create those horror film moments that people like. So it wasn’t the pure motivation, but it was definitely a motivation. One thing we don’t want to be labeled only as, we can pick any horror genre we can. Horror is an evergreen thing. There are two thousand slasher movies, they are still as successful as they ever were. We remember the classic horrors, but they are just as big now as they ever were. We are not linked to anything, so we wanted to make sure that our killers could come from anywhere. We are okay with ghosts, we are okay with Japanese horror, we are okay with any trope we like. We can go in any direction we want. We are inspired by all horror not just the 80’s horror.
Yeah our goal is to be successful enough that we can just keep supporting this. I got a list of 25 killers I want to do. I know all the powers we wanna do, and there is more that’s coming in every game all of them are hilarious and fun. From everything – from crazy statues that move around, to shape shifting thing, to teleporting characters. It’s all okay for us we can pick anything from any horror trait we’ve seen anywhere and go “that was fun, let’s do that”.
That’s exactly what it is. Cabin in the Woods was a very big reference during the last push for this. Even though we are not going with the whole sci-fi type of thing. We are going with the much more actual horrific-fiction. But yeah, from a dev team perspective, that’s exactly what it’s like. We take ideas from the community, we take our own ideas we put them together, we sit with the designer and make something cool. The only thing that limits us now is the size of our team. We are about 30 people. We are a small to medium size team.
To work on this more. I don’t see us sleeping for a while. But it’s everything we wanted, it’s a unique experience and we’re really happy with it.
DEAD BY DAYLIGHT is available right now on the Steam Store for Windows PC. Check it out, and play with us!