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AvPGalaxy Interviews Alien: Isolation Writers

After the release of Aliens: Colonial Marines in 2013, the fans of the franchise were distraught. It was a complete bitter disappointment in nearly every single facet. Then news of Alien: Isolation trickled down. Early on, weary of the disappointment of Colonial Marines, fans were skeptical of some of the early revealed aspects of the game. And then October 2014 rolled around and Creative Assembly released Alien: Isolation, blowing fans (and critics) away and reminding us all that it isn’t all doom and gloom.

Alien: Isolation is now racking in a slew of awards and it was recently announced that the game had sold over 1 million copies. AvPGalaxy recently had the chance to ask Alien: Isolation writers Dion Lay and Will Porter about their work on the game, on creating the vast and engrossing world that Alien: Isolation takes place in:

“When we started we knew we wanted some android antagonists in the game, but that they would be very different to the advanced Weyland-Yutani androids from the films. I thought if they were going to be simpler versions then maybe Seegson would try and turn a negative into a positive and sell them on the idea that they were more ‘honest’ androids – they weren’t pretending they were humans and shouldn’t be treated as such. Of course, this also ties into the class theme from the films and so it seemed natural to call them ‘Working Joes’.”

What are you waiting for?! Head on over to our interview with Will Porter and Dion Lay in full! I’d like to thank Will and Dion for taking the time out of their busy schedules to answer our questions.

Do you have any comments about our interview? Then let us know down below.

030215_02 AvPGalaxy Interviews Alien: Isolation Writers



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Comments: 18
  1. Jman
    Personally, I thought Aliens:CM was a decent game. If the alien animations and ai from 2010's AVP were used, it certainly would have been better. But, as a virtual tour of the Aliens movie scenery, I thought it did well. Doesn't make much sense that the nuclear explosion didn't completely destroy Hadleys Hope, but maybe the blast wave radiated more up into the atmosphere instead of spreading out, thus preserving some of the colony. And, I think that the captive colonial marine should have been Apone or Hudson, that maybe wey-yu somehow found one of them still alive on LV-426 and took them prisoner.
  2. The Cruentus
    Great interview. Their enthusiasm really jumps out at you, you can tell they loved working on the game.

    The world building aspect was one of my favourite things about the game. I found it to be so completely immersive due to things like that. The care and attention put into all of the locations, into their purpose and their past really made it seem alive and lived in.

    Same here. Sevastopol seriously reminded me of Rapture from the first Bioshock, in terms of how it felt like a real, lived-in environment.

    Agreed, you look around and you can just see that this was a full, living community once, even it was about to go under. About hundred or more people lived on the station. I loved how they paid attention to detail, you just see funny decorations on desks just like in the first film.
    I would liked to have seen the station before the events of Isolation. If you look at the floors, namely the smooth ones, they always have smudged shoe marks from where people have walked about, now that is good attention to detail.
  3. HuDaFuK
    Great interview. Their enthusiasm really jumps out at you, you can tell they loved working on the game.

    The world building aspect was one of my favourite things about the game. I found it to be so completely immersive due to things like that. The care and attention put into all of the locations, into their purpose and their past really made it seem alive and lived in.

    Same here. Sevastopol seriously reminded me of Rapture from the first Bioshock, in terms of how it felt like a real, lived-in environment.
  4. Vertigo
    PC Zone was the best gaming magazine in the world, I miss it very much. Glad Will Porter's landed on his feet though.

    The worldbuilding in Isolation really is extraordinary, they did a fantastic job, and it sounds like all the little info nuggets they tucked around the game evoked the exact response they intended. Great interview!
  5. Space Sweeper
    I would just like to say, I was very vocally off-put by the idea of having Amanda be the protagonist of this game, what with having Hicks survive through an Looney Tunes-eske bout of deus-ex machina fanwank, I was fearing this would be the same thing... yet against those expectations, Amanda came out easily being one of, if not my favorite character in the Alien series, as I found the way she was written, as well as her performance by Andrea Deck, to be outstanding, and one of the most surprising elements I took away from the experience.
  6. Corporal Hicks
    - Actually, a lot of fans liked it, as it happens. That did surprise me too, but it turns out, it just happens to be that the ones who disliked it, were very verbal about it.

    Metacritic and our own reviews thread would disagree. Metacritic has the gamer votes as being lower than the media reviews so... I think there's very few people who enjoyed that game.

    Quote
    - Yeah you'd think they would have been wouldn't you.

    It was the case. No end of complaints about Amanda Ripley being included. Thankfully it all fit very well within the narrative and didn't feel forced at all.
  7. CelticPred97
    "After the release of Aliens: Colonial Marines in 2013, the fans of the franchise were distraught. It was a complete bitter disappointment in nearly every single facet."

    - Actually, a lot of fans liked it, as it happens. That did surprise me too, but it turns out, it just happens to be that the ones who disliked it, were very verbal about it.
    I also liked it. Sure it wasn't what we were expecting, but I didn't think it was that bad. It was quite good actually. Not amazing. But pretty good.
    I was sensible enough to not pre-order it, as I remained a bit sceptical, and I had no interest in paying £65 for the Collector's edition (and I don't see a point in paying £40, just to get it in the first month-ish of release, anyway. I can wait. I ended up getting it that Christmas for about £25. From all of the negativitiy I had low expectations. But it turns out it was pretty decent.
    So all of that ^ contributed to why I don't hate it.
    The worst thing about the game I think (that I can remember) is the lip-synching in all but the first cutscene (despite the great graphics). It was good to see that that, as well as the poor quality textures in some places, was fixed up well in the dlc, 'Stasis Interrupted' - a pretty good dlc by the way, as well. Good length, and a decent story.

    "Then news of Alien: Isolation trickled down. Early on, weary of the disappointment of Colonial Marines, fans were skeptical of some of the early revealed aspects of the game."

    - Yeah you'd think they would have been wouldn't you. But certainly from what I saw that wasn't the case. I read comments on various sites, and to some of the many saying how really good it looks/will be, I reminded how much of a disappointment 'Aliens: Colonial Marines' was, yet most insisted that this was different. Which, obviously it was, but that's not the point here.

    “When we started we knew we wanted some android antagonists in the game, but that they would be very different to the advanced Weyland-Yutani androids from the films. I thought if they were going to be simpler versions then maybe Seegson would try and turn a negative into a positive and sell them on the idea that they were more ‘honest’ androids – they weren’t pretending they were humans and shouldn’t be treated as such. Of course, this also ties into the class theme from the films and so it seemed natural to call them ‘Working Joes’.”

    - The androids were really good. Debatably scarier than the Alien.

    In terms of my opinion on 'Alien: Isolation' in general:
    I thought it was a good game. I would say really good, but, I do think it went on a bit too long. Not that long games are bad, but I felt, from Mission 14, The Descent, it started to drag on. And it kind of felt like, okay, when is this going to end, by about Mission 16 (Transmission).
    My other negative points are all story related ***Spoilers***:

    Firstly, and mainly, too many aliens. They couldn't resist just leaving it at 1. When you get rid of the first, I thought, that one's either going to come back somehow, or there will be another 1. But no. THey just had to put loads of them in.
    Secondly, the game is destructive of all films after 'Alien'. Guns can't kill aliens now apparantely. Flamethrowers scare them, which is fine, although I'm not exactly sure why, since it can survive extreme heat ('Alien 3'. Even without 'Alien 3', it's not like the flame actually catches on the aliens in the game, no matter how close you are, and no matter how much fire's being used). But shotguns, pistols and bolt guns have no effect.
    Thirdly, no alien queen. This is a debatable point. The makers said in an interview that with the hive, they didn't want to include an alien queen because players would expect a boss fight, but they knew that not including it would cause players to take issue with it (as I am doing now). But, they decided it would be better to not show it. The fact that a creator of 'Alien: Isolation' has said this has made me feel a bit better about it.
    Fourthly, the facehuggers - They spray acid when shot, which only hurts you at really close range. I'm not sure why they couldn't have made the acid they leave behind painful to step on. They managed it in 'Aliens vs Predator (2010), and had it as a special ability of some aliens in 'Aliens: Colonial Marines' (2012) (I just realised we've had an Alien/Predator game every 2 years since 2010. Hopefully there will be something [non-destructive to the franchise] in 2016). Also, it's a bit undermining, when it's supposed to be like the other games, that the acid on the floor, from the facehuggers just disappears after about 15 seconds (not sure exactly).
    Finally, the ending - It was silly. They ended it so that they could easily make a sequel, as I'm sure they will, although  I'm not sure what else you can do with that now. I'd think a sequel would be rather samey - unless they radically change the setting (as in, not just LV426 - a different planet in other words. Anyway, I think the ending would have been really good, if they'd simply gone with the 'Alien' ending (roughly), as in, ending with her going to hypersleep. That would have been fine, or rather, very good. Yes, it leaves it open for a sequel, but it's not a direct "right you're getting a sequel".

    Other than that, it was a good game.

    Oh and another thing - aliens can now definitely survive in space. It was suggested that they could at least briefly survive, in 'Alien'. But now it's as if they are fully functional to just live in space. I just thought the space bit, with the aliens about to attack Amanda Ripley, was a bit too much; overpowered, they are now somewhat.
  8. Corporal Hicks
    The former editor of PC Zone, Will Porter?

    The very one.

    Good interview. Very well detailed and they seemed very passionate about the project. What other stuff have these guys worked on?

    Thanks.  :) Will is working on his own project at the minute. Dion is a Creative Assembly fella so I assume whatever they're working on. I had been speaking to Will for a while and he seems like such a cracking chap. Very interested, very enthusiastic.
  9. Corporal Hicks
    The world building aspect was one of my favourite things about the game. I found it to be so completely immersive due to things like that. The care and attention put into all of the locations, into their purpose and their past really made it seem alive and lived in.

    The way the game explored that kind of aspect of colonization and expansion was fantastic. Really added to the believability of the story and the location in the same way that the mundane/working man aspect of Alien worked for so many.

    I am glad they didn't go through with the Ricardo thing, continuity is very important, its good to see some folks keeping to it for a change.  :laugh:

    I like that too. It's very pleasant to see that kind of consideration put into it (looking at you, Anderson!).

    Thanks for the kind words all.  :) I really enjoyed this interview. It's definitely one of my favourites.
  10. Space Sweeper
    Quote
    Take our psychiatric facility in San Cristobal Medical for example. A lot of it is flavour of course, most of my job is, but rather than take the standard video-game trope of the ‘gore-dripped madhouse’ we could take Alien’s realism and use it to flag interesting concepts. Say, for example, the fact that the human mind isn’t built for the vastness of space – or even prolonged removal from the natural rhythms of Earth. Mix this in a touch of what we’d now recognise as the 1970s’ misapprehensions in mental health treatment, through signage and language, and all of a sudden you’ve got a space to explore that feels subtly different to where most games have gone before.

    (It could be readily argued that a lot of players wouldn’t notice this background detail as they’re being chased by a gigantic death-beast through most of the level and frantically trying to tap 1702 [my birthday!] into a door. This is, of course, true – but I very much believe that much of my work is for the player to absorb quite ambiently as they scan through terminals and half-listen to announcements. It’s a framing device that influences mood and expectation, and complements what one would hope is the cold-dread of the gameplay proper.)
    See, there's something brilliant about this...

    The deep space rehabilitation chambers were an entirely passable experience, but what is most likely to bring you to recognize them is being forced into one out of fearful instinct to hide... from the Alien. The way I stumbled upon one is that I was inching with Amanda's back tight against the wall of a hallway as I kept my eyes on the Alien through the glass window of the ER, and then the wall gave way and I backpedaled into one of the  rehabilitation chambers, a bit confused as to what happened, and then the Alien decided to come out of the ER, which turned this into my new hiding spot. I turned around and saw a mangled, pale corpse behind me and blood spattered against the wall. The lights were flickering and a pleasant voice read relaxation techniques aloud calmly... it was one of those defining moments in the game for me, one that worked on a meta level and a brilliant piece of thematic storytelling.

    I imagine others found these chambers by naturally moving toward any hiding space they could as well. Having the relaxation techniques spoken softly to you as you're under the pressure of hiding from such a terrible beast is like its own comment on insanity, and being out of humanity's element. Just as the body in that chamber was before you. If you want to really dig into it thematically, think of Amanda in relation to Ellen in that same way, or anybody who has become a victim of such a deep space, horrifying beast. Humanity isn't suited for the stars in this universe because they'll never be prepared for what they find, and such perverse pursuits of knowledge and gain, for which the stars could contain, will always bring them right back to it.

    That's what ALIEN is for me, and these guys have nailed it.

    Will, Dion, if either of you or any of the CA team are reading this, I thank you wholeheartedly for bringing this moment, or at least the potential for it to happen, and this entire feverish dream of a game to life. Excellent work, Hicks- only jealous that I wasn't the one asking the questions myself!
  11. The Cruentus
    Good interview, I like how they tried to recreate the feel of Alien with the low budget 70s tech but I hope it doesn't imply that the Alien series exists in some parallel retro-future world like Bioshock is because that breaks reality, the whole point of Alien is like what if some hard-working truckers in space come across an Alien life-form, something like that could be possible in the future....not the Xenomorph part, but you never know what you could encounter.

    I can get how spaceships and stations use old cheap tech in the future because safety would be more important than comfort and good cosmetics, and despite the fact its the future, I am guessing it still very expensive. The game itself also notes that WY is known to hoard its tech, so they would also be superior to others and to their lesser employees.

    I am glad they didn't go through with the Ricardo thing, continuity is very important, its good to see some folks keeping to it for a change.  :laugh:
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