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Friday the 13th is an exciting asymmetrical multiplayer game that is currently being developed by Gun Media. It started off as Slasher Vol 1: Summer Camp before the team was able to receive a license for Friday the 13th. The team talks to us about meeting Sean Cunningham (director of the first Friday the 13th film), the Friday the 13th game that came out in 1989, their favorite Friday the 13th film and more (we know, we said Friday the 13th about a million times).
Randy Greenback: I’ve been in the game industry for over 21 years. I’ve worked at studios like Westwood Studios, Electronic Arts, Redstorm, Ubisoft, Insomniac Games, and now I’m working with Gun Media for Friday the 13th and I’m the Executive Director on it.
Ronnie Hobbs: I’m one of the co-creators for the game. The other guy, Wes Keltner, is the founder of Gun Media. I helped him start Gun Media back in the day, and we were a consulting firm for a lot of publishers like Sony, Microsoft, EA, Activision and others. We worked behind the scenes on a lot of games and we decided to make our own game. Our first title was called Breach & Clear which was an iOS game that did very well. Later we worked on Slasher Vol 1: Summer Camp which eventually turned into Friday the 13th.
FRIDAY THE 13TH
Randy: Being big fans of the movies, we wanted to give players the chance to play out their own horror film, making their own Friday the 13th movie. You never know what the next player is going to do as a counselor, what you’re going to be confronted with, or what decisions you’re going to have to make. You can try to keep a level head but when Jason shows up, you don’t know what you’ll do because when you’re scared, things can fall apart.
Ronnie: With our game, the beauty is in its simplicity. Everyone’s answer to making a Friday the 13th game was to create a single player narrative driven experience, but that’s not what we did at all. That’s the beauty of this multiplayer, everyone is human controlled. Everyone makes their own human mistakes, so we don’t need a story to drive our game. The one’s who make the right and wrong decisions are the story creators.
VOICE ACTING IN THE TRAILER
Ronnie: Everyone online was like, “that dude’s voice is horrible!” But that was the point. He’s a dumb teenager and he’s supposed to sound corny. But definitely everyone loved Pamela’s voice. We auditioned about at least 10 really good voice actresses for that, but her’s was the best. So we really had to narrow it down.
REASON FOR ASYMMETRICAL MULTIPLAYER EXPERIENCE
Ronnie: During our prototype sessions and play sessions, we’ve had people that have a plan in place, and when Jason shows up, those same people actually stick to the plan. I think that’s an internal thing, they aren’t afraid to sacrifice themselves for the team, they want to play the hero. On the other hand, you have people who say that everyone needs to stick to the plan, but then as soon as Jason shows up they freak out and turn on you. You’re trying to fix the boat or the car, and they have the weapon and they ran away. Either you’re a person who will abandon others, or you’ll stick to the plan and help your friends.
Randy: I’ve always wanted to create an Asymmetrical Multiplayer game for a long time and I guess it kicked off when Giants: Citizen Kabuto came out. That game sparked so many ideas and it was so fun to play. Depending on which characters you chose to play as, it felt like a completely different game, and that’s what we tried to do with Jason and the camp counselors. You’ll have a completely different experience based on what side you choose. I believe asymmetrical gameplay is underexplored.
Randy: When we first started prototyping there was something lacking that really wasn’t drawing the counselors together. There wasn’t a social mechanic or a need to band together with the other counselors. So we needed something that would help fill that gap and Ronnie brought up the fear system.
Ronnie: The fear system has been in a lot of games and in horror games, it’s a natural fit. You’re seeing unspeakable horrors, therefore, your brain is trying to make up for what you’re seeing and cope. Some people rise, and some people crumble during those times. So I was trying to figure out how to get the counselors scared when Jason isn’t around, and how they manage their skills and ability to cope. In the films, the ones who get scared and cower are the ones who die first. However, the ones who keep their head and their composure, do make it until the end. That’s something we wanted to bring into the game.
FRIDAY THE 13TH – 1989 NES GAME
Ronnie: I bought it the day it came out when I was a kid. Back in the day, you don’t really know if games are bad, you’re a kid so you don’t have a conception of if it’s good or bad, all you know is that’s the only game you have and you’re going to play it forever and it doesn’t matter [laughs]. You kind of know Legend of Zelda is better, but you don’t really know why as a kid. So for some reason I liked the game as a kid.
Randy: For me when I got the game for NES, even though I was frustrated as hell with it, I was going to mine the hell out of it because you only get one game every six months for maybe your birthday or Christmas, so you make it count [laughs]. The most disappointing thing about the old Friday the 13th game was that you couldn’t be Jason. You could only be the camp counselors and run back and forth. Back then I wanted to know why I couldn’t play as Jason. I wondered why nobody made a game where you could and the closest they got to that was with Splatterhouse, until now.
Ronnie: I think the reason for that was because of a Texas Chainsaw Massacre game that came out on the Atari 2600 in 1982, and they let you be Leatherface. You got to walk around and murder people, and the outpour of rage was huge among parents. And I think that had a lot to do with why you couldn’t be Jason in the 1989 version Friday the 13th. There’s actually been a lot of fan mail to include that Jason skin from the game, so that’s always a possibility.
Ronnie: We’re a small indie studio so we didn’t think there was even a possibility for a license for Friday the 13th so we didn’t even try. Then one day we got a call from Sean, and me and Wes looked at each other thinking, uh oh what the hell did we do? We were worried we did something wrong, but sure enough Sean is the nicest guy ever. He said that he heard we had a great game and he wanted to be a part of that. He told us they’ve been wanting to create a Friday the 13th game for the last 20 years, meanwhile, we’ve been wanting to create a Friday the 13th game for the last 20 years, but he said they never had a great idea. But then he saw Summer Camp and said finally, a good idea.
Randy: Sean’s like your cool uncle. He’s a good guy to be around.
FAVORITE FRIDAY THE 13TH FILM
Randy: Part 7 was my favorite. It was the first appearance of Kane, and Jason at the point in time was simply undead and unstoppable. So there’s a lot of great scenes in that movie, but if I had to pick one scene from any of the movies, it would have to be the RV crash and Jason standing on top of it in part 6. That was amazingly badass.
Ronnie: I’m the guy on the team that prefers the first movies, and don’t tell Kane this, but my favorite Jason was in part 3 and that’s the first time he gets the mask. My favorite scene was when Chris Higgins stabs Jason in the leg, she hangs him with a noose, he breaks free, and she hits him in the head with an axe. No one has ever done more to Jason than that. She’s the ultimate hero. The way she handles herself is great.
UE4 just had everything we needed. Our previous games were built in Unity and it’s highly malleable, it’s an agile little engine to prototype in, and there’s a lot of cool stuff that’s already built that’s being sold on the asset store. You can buy an algorithm or an A* pathfinding asset and just shortcut building your own by a week or whatever.
UE4, more importantly for us, we’re building a multiplayer game and there’s no better networking code in an engine than with Unreal. We had our multiplayer prototype running in a couple of weeks. Plus our developers really wanted to build the game in Unreal. They normally would build the games in the CryEngine, but with this title they wanted to try something new and harness the capabilities of UE4.