Q: How difficult was it to implement the system whereby the game changes depending on choices you make? How much does that system continue to be used later on in the game?
MS: That’s one of the things that I really want to get across. It's not just the therapy tests that evaluate your personality. They do, but literally, there's constant measuring of what you're doing in the game. What's interesting to you is being measured constantly. The micro-decisions you're making in gameplay, the directions you're going. Things you look at, things you don't look at.
SB: Does he read something? Does he read it all? Does he go this way? Does he follow this route? Does he spend more time here? Is he calling this person? Is he listening to this phone call? Is he hanging up? I think coming up with the system and writing the system was maybe the most challenging part, but we have a nice system where ultimately every little thing you do in the game or piece of content you can interact with can be assigned a little personality score. This is all added into a very classical psychometric profile of your personality that can then be mapped onto research. Every piece of content in the game is constantly asking questions of this profile that's been built up. It's very hard to say, this, this and this will create this because you can get there a hundred different ways. Essentially most items of content in the game will have multiple versions, or elements of them that can change.
MS: There are lots of subtle, more minor things in the game that we didn't expect people to get. We imagined people would analyse the game and find them. It's been a balancing nightmare. Our aim was to tweak the game to get the right personality for each person.
SB: I think the really neat thing is that at the end of the game you get a report of your personality, and I haven't seen anyone who's played the game say it was wrong.
MS: A couple of people have said it's given them an insight into their personality.
SB: That kind of seals the deal. It's a subtle thing. It doesn't suddenly add an entirely new element to it, but it creates a richer experience.
Q: How would you feel about taking on Silent Hill 2 if you were to do a sequel and do you think you'd take a similar approach? What would you take from this game?
SB: I think there's so much in this game. The thing you'd definitely take is the approach we took, which was story first. The aim is to create an experience where the player interacts with the story in a way that only video games can do. Every element in the game has to make sense within the story, the symbols and imagery and stuff. That approach would be a big take away from it.
MS: You wouldn't need to use the story framing mechanic of the therapist to have psychological profiling in your game engine, because so much of the stuff is based on the player's actions. It's easily platform independent. It could easily be applied to, say, a re-imagining of the Silent Hill 2 story without needing to force in a psychoanalyst.
Q: Are you interested in Heavy Rain?
MS: We've been keeping close eyes on it throughout the whole production, because it is so story focused. It is really interesting, what they're trying to do. Whether they pull it off or not is obviously everybody's big question.
Q: Thanks for your time guys.
If you missed it, you can find part one of our interview here. Silent Hill: Shattered Memories is due for release on Wii on March 4. It will also be released on PlayStation 2 and PSP.