Supermassive Games’ Tom Heaton speaks to Cubed3 about The Devil in Me

By Neil Flynn 29.10.2022 1

The Dark Pictures Anthology, a series of interlinked horror games from the team at Supermassive Games, and published by Bandai Namco is preparing for the next release with The Devil in Me. Cubed3's Neil Flynn was recently invited to the Supermassive Games HQ where a demo, lasting approximately 80 minutes, was showcased and the series director, Tom Heaton, was available for questioning.

Image for Supermassive Games’ Tom Heaton speaks to Cubed3 about The Devil in Me

Cubed3: When creating the branching narratives, does it help to keep the game length a little bit shorter, so allows for a more tightly packed set of choices?
Tom Heaton: In a sense, yes, of course it would help to make the game shorter as there would be less to work out. However, having a longer playtime allows getting to know the characters better and to develop their individual story arcs. By extending the play time in The Devil In Me has given us a really strong story.

Through experience we have become accustom to developing the branching narrative. We've got techniques that we've learned to keep it under control and have tools that help us with each possibility. This means that it is not too relevant on length but more about finding the right length for the story that we want to tell the players also want to spend the time playing.
Cubed3: How have you casted the characters in The Devil In Me or in previous games? Do you have someone in mind when you are writing the character or do you find the actor first and write a character around them?
Tom Heaton: No, the usual advice with all medium, whether it be film and TV or gaming is to not write for a particular person because they probably won't be available. So no, we wrote the the characters to to fit the story. We needed the right characters to make the story the best story that it could possibly be.

As for casting we use a Hollywood style process. We use a casting agent and they know who's around and who is interested. The casting agents are great, they get a brief of the characters and read the script so they know who will talk to us. They know the sort of person we're looking for and then they'll come forward with names and we have discussions about that.

For example when we were casting the starring roles, such as Kate, Jessie's (Jessie Buckley) name was one of the first in the mix, and I was very keen that we got her because she was just a really good fit for the character which is quite a difficult part. It's a character that on the surface can sometimes appear to be quite unattractive. So you need someone that is capable of giving them a sympathetic performance to kind of carry you through those bits. I thought she was perfect for the role and she agreed. So that was that was fantastic.

Image for Supermassive Games’ Tom Heaton speaks to Cubed3 about The Devil in Me

Cubed3: In terms of casting, has there been someone that you've been surprised by or starstruck by?
Tom Heaton: Well, I'm a little bit starstruck by all the actors, actually. (chuckles) You know, we've worked with people that have got fantastic experience. My experience of working with all of the people involved is that they are really incredibly professional. Jessie, for example, is very down to earth, is very eager to get to work, and just wants to understand the role and give the best performance she can.

All of the talent involved are a delight to work with. Yes, you can get a little bit starstruck, but eventually it feels like you are dealing with other colleagues and you are all working together to make something really good.

Image for Supermassive Games’ Tom Heaton speaks to Cubed3 about The Devil in Me

Cubed3: Now that the Xbox series X|S and PS5 have been out for sometime has this allowed you to create different experiences than what you would have done in the previous generation?
Tom Heaton: I think for people making cinematic games then anything that beefs up the graphics is really helpful and it can be in any area. Lighting models may not be the most obvious example, but they can have a massive effect on how the game looks. The ability to do even higher resolution character faces and good character hair, it all adds up and is really helpful. The solid-state drives and the ability to just get data very quickly off the drives means we don't have to have loading screens, we can transition scene-to- scene and chapter-to-chapter very quickly and something that is completely seamlessly to the player. That is fantastically helpful for a cinematic experience.
Cubed3: In The Quarry there was a movie mode, will that be present in The Devil In Me if not would you potentially have this in any future games?
Tom Heaton: So The Quarry is made by a completely different team within Supermassive Games and it was made in parallel. I actually played it as a fan. I kept out of the way of development so that I would get fairly unspoiled experience and I loved it.

I don't know if we would include a movie mode, certainly we actively consider lots of ideas and we're looking around for games within the studio and lots of outside the studio for ideas. It is not present in The Devil In Me but we are considering all sorts of things for upcoming titles. So watch this space!

Image for Supermassive Games’ Tom Heaton speaks to Cubed3 about The Devil in Me

Cubed3: Is there a time period or an area in history or a particular person that you would love to visit in the next season of games?
Tom Heaton: I'm not going to answer anything specific just to avoid any potential future spoilers. However, I think one of the nice things about the games we do is it does allow us to go to historical places. I love playing games that are allow me to experience other historical worlds. For example, I love the Assassins Creed series. I love going back to Jerusalem, or going back to Rome and having experience of what it's like in those places. So I really like the ability to go to somewhere that's real, that once existed and unexplored. For our games, we do a lot of deep research and that is always something that interests me.
Cubed3: In terms of games outside of Supermassive Games, are there other storytelling games or other just in in general, any other games that you particularly like draw inspiration from?
Tom Heaton: Yeah, of course. I used to get more time to play games , especially when I was younger. I may have slightly less time than I had when I was young, but I'm I'm always looking at games that do interesting things with the narrative. I was playing Stray recently and although in it is not strictly a narrative game it did have an amazing way of telling the story and guiding the player. Just moving through that city, especially the first hour or so. It did a really good job of telling a story through just the environment, such as the things you found there and allowing you to piece it together and work out what gone on. I love games that are doing an interesting take on narrative like that.
Cubed3: If you have to relate to one of the main characters from The Devil In Me that we've seen so far, which one is the most like you?
Tom Heaton: Well, I hate to say it, but Charlie is the most likely. I mean, he's a brilliant character, but you know, he's a similar age to me and additionally he is the director. He is also a bit tetchy. I think I'm all those things. I'm afraid that he is totally a little bit made in my image. I love his character, and he is terribly beaten up by events, but I still think he's great.
Cubed3: Finally, across The Dark Pictures Anthology, what has been your favorite scripted death?
Tom Heaton: I do have some from The Devil In Me but I am not going to talk about those. I did love the one in the House of Ashes where Rachel got caved in by a rock. Or when you see the parasite inside her head, I thought that was fantastic. I loved the demons in Little Hope. I think that the fantastic character design i Man of Medan is great too! It's difficult for me to say my favorite death, because I was so involved with all of them, but the part where Fliss and Brad can drown, that was very powerful and a really horrible way to die!


The Devil In Me from Supermassive Games and published by Bandai Namco is due to release on 18 November 2022 on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S and PC.


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Great interview, can't wait to play the final version!

I own all the consoles, ask me anything

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