SOMA Dev Frictional Games Interview – SOMA DLC Scraped, VR Support Possible, Upcoming Two Titles Include “A Proper Horror Game” and More
Frictional Games pleasantly surprised the gaming industry with SOMA, and their previous Amnesia titles were rather successful as well. Recently, Creative Director Thomas Grip accepted to sit down with me, Mostafa Hossam, to discuss if DLC plans for SOMA were in the studio’s plans, the possibility of adding VR support and trying to squeeze new information on Frictional Games’ upcoming two titles. Let’s get down to business.
Q: SOMA was rather successful, selling more than 500,000, did reach your expectations or did actually exceed it?
A: We had to sell about 300k around full price in order to break even and to make sure we had enough money to make another game of similar size. So going past that feels good! The numbers lie around with we had hoped for, possibly a bit more. The good thing is that the game keeps on selling quite well too, which bodes really well for us as a studio, as it allows us to take on more risks.
Q: Were there any plans to release an expansion DLC for SOMA and/or a sequel?
A: There was talks about making a DLC close after finishing the first game. The idea was to make something smaller while we started up the next big project. However, it didn’t feel we had good enough ideas or resources to make sure the DLC did the full game justice. SOMA heavily relies on presenting various philosophical questions and making them work in a game space. This takes a lot of work to get right and we felt we couldn’t do that for a DLC while simultaneously working on a bigger project. So we scrapped those plans.
Q: Is there any chance for us to see SOMA come to VR or is it not within the studio’s current plans?
A: We have been looking into VR and we have some ideas, but the problem is having enough time. We have to weight it against other things we want to do and also see how the platform evolves.
Q: Over the course of the last few years, Frictional Games grew to become a household name within the gaming industry and since the team is now relatively larger and more experienced, can we see your earliest series, Penumbra, remade? In my opinion, the game’s universe and characters were so intriguing that it deserves to be revisited using the modern technologies we have today.
A: I feel like we have done what we wanted with the Penumbra series, and afraid we don’t have any plans of continuing the IP. Might do some sort of HD-rerelease if there we have the time and there is enough interest though.
Q: You said that due to the success and the money gained from SOMA, Frictional Games started working on two new secret projects. Let’s discuss those for a bit.
A: It felt like the right move to make. If you are a one project studio, it can take 3-5 years between each release. This is both risky financially and it is drains on your motivation to not be part of game releases more often. On top of that it is a big problem to have more than half of the dev team not having anything to do when a project is over. We solve all of these problems by having two projects and that is what we are currently aiming for. It has been a lot more work setting up that I initially thought, but feels like we have gotten the most important bits working now.
We now have one project in full production and another that is in the early R&D stages.
Q: Your games, namely the Amnesia series and SOMA, are known for having a unique atmosphere, should fans expect the same from the two upcoming titles?
A: Yes. Making sure to create a thick and immerse atmosphere is one of our core goals as a studio. However, we will not just be focused on horror games, but want to expand our repertoire. The narrative aspects of SOMA resonated a lot more with people than what the horror did, and we want to explore that path further. This means that one of our upcoming games will not be a straight up horror game, but have more focus on narrative and mystery. This doesn’t mean that we will be abandoning horror though. In fact, one of our upcoming games is a proper horror game.
Q: Are the two titles related in any way or is it purely because of the team’s capability to work on two simultaneous titles?
A: Titles will not really be related except for the way we work on them. Design-wise, we are trying out different things with each.
Q: How do the two new games’ size and scope compare to SOMA and the studio’s other titles? Should we expect a much larger game?
A: We are aiming for a similar size. SOMA was pretty much as big as I think we can make a game with a studio our size. Larger than that and it feels hard to make ensure overall quality, at least to the level we want it to have. However, in terms of design scope we aim to push further, especially with the project that is now in the R&D phase. I want Frictional Games to be a company that pushes the boundaries of what sort of game experiences are possible. So in that sense, we are totally pushing the scope.
Q: Can we expect any reveals at upcoming conferences such as Gamescom?
A: Not announcement for this year, but we’ll see what happens next year!
Finally, thanks for your time Grip and for finding the time for this interview.