Updated with Part Two. Nintendo's Japanese website has a new interview with Denis Dyack and Mr. Yamada, regarding Eternal Darkness's release in Japan. Translation inside.
Nintendo Online Monthly on Nintendo Corp. Ltd.'s website featured an interview
with Denis Dyack regarding Eternal Darkness. Also present in the interview
is Yamada-san, who headed the production staff at Nintendo. PGC brings you
the translation in a 2 part interview. Click the link above for the original interview in Japanese, plus some recent photos of Dyack and Yamada.
NOM: First, we would like to ask in what form did the production take place?
Yamada: Nintendo and Silicon Knights developed this game together. The
staff of Silicon Knights respected the works of Nintendo very much, and they were
very happy to work with us. With that joint development, everything went
NOM: The production time was quite long, wasn't it?
Yamada: Hmm. It took a while. Everyone at Silicon Knights are very involved with their work, and during the last months, everyone worked on the game without taking any holidays. It was partly because we made loads of impossible requests. (laugh)
NOM: Where did the game's idea come from?
Yamada: Silicon Knights was responsible for the basic story, character settings, and game system. With those materials, we reworked it with Silicon Knights' staff, and we basically upgraded the game as a whole. The result is the game you are playing now.
NOM: Why did you make this game?
Denis: Initially we wanted to make an horror game, but a game that was totally different from what were already out there in the market.
Yamada: Denis himself also really likes Japanese horror genre games like Biohazard and Silent Hill. However, this time we agreed on aiming to build a different kind of game.
Denis: We aimed at a horror that had more of a literary scent.
NOM: We see a lot of cinematic sequences in the game. Were there any movies
that you used as reference?
Denis: Director John Carpenter's Mouth of Madness and Hitchcock's suspense-building techniques come to the mind, but we had inspirations from a lot of movies. To list them all would be quite impossible.
NOM: Why did you decide on a story that involved time changing?
Denis: First, I really have a lot of interest in history. Therefore, there
were many parts that were really based on actual history, although there were
arrangements made for the game. We also wanted to bring to the player a grand storyline that immersed them with the game's reality as well a sense of history. We created an premise in which people can experience the different times by
employing Pious Augustus, who can live through thousands of years, in the story.
NOM: In the game there were various old buildings and structures. Did you
actually go to places like ancient ruins to for ideas?
Denis: We could not actually go, but we really spent a lot of time researching buildings in each era. The builds that appear in the game do not actually exist, but they had the style and decorations from their respective time periods.
Yamada: I remember that there was a scene in the game that had stained glass. And when we looked it up, we found out that stained glass was not invented until 50 years later in that time period. As a result, we took that all out from the background. We pointed out a lot of those things to
Silicon Knights. The Japan team also researched a lot.
Denis: That is right. Although I did research myself, the Nintendo staff
including Yamada-san looked up a lot of stuff for us. They even checked
detailed parts like "How many years is the gap?" There should really be relatively little or no contradiction in the time design part of the story.
NOM: We think that the sanity system is an important element in the game. How did you come up with this idea?
Denis: Since it’s a horror game, of course it was necessary to have fear and
surprise. However, we are not going to produce a game where only monsters
come out; we wanted to produce a new type of fear. In the end, we thought up of the sanity system. With this system, it can fool and shake the hearts of the players. A player plays alone in a dark place, and suddenly the screen can turn black. It freezes him making him exclaim, “What is this?!” It can be that interesting.
Yamada: By using this new system and cinematic touches, you can experience a
fear that is more on a mental level. As a result, we decided to make the
game genre psycho-adventure instead of horror.
NOM: Have you ever experienced this kind of fear before?
Denis: When I was a kid watching horror movies in the middle of the night, I
was surprised when a noise popped out from somewhere in the house. I would
then go to where the noise came from and make sure. That kind of experience
became inspiration for the game.
NOM: What was difficult during development?
Denis: There are 12 main characters in the game. We wanted to make each of
them very different. However, if the character designs were too extreme,
players would have to learn new control schemes for every stage. That would
become troublesome, right? Bringing out the differences without letting the players feel frustrated was very difficult.
Yamada: No matter which character you use, the basic control is the same. However, the movements and weapons of each character are varied.
NOM: We heard that you were planning to make the game for N64 initially. Were there any big differences when you ported the game to GC?
Denis: Beginning with graphics, we remade everything. On the N64, although it looked 3D, it was actually not running in a 3D environment. We ported the game to GC, made it real 3D, and positioned the cameras to be the most effective. The base engine running the game was completely different for the N64 and GC. As a result, the game’s expression improved sharply.
Yamada: The staff that worked on the game really felt this way.
NOM: What is the total playing time?
Denis: For casual gamers, it might take more than 40 hours. You can choose between three paths in this game. You can choose from three types of enemies.
Yamada: Basically the story is the same, but depending on the enemies, the cinematic sequences and what characters say will change.
Denis: That is correct.
NOM: Then we must play through all three paths. Lastly, please say something to the gamers in Japan.
Denis: Eternal Darkness is a unique horror game with a deep story line. With the game developed by Nintendo and Silicon Knights, I believe it has reached the quality of Nintendo. It is a game that has a different taste than other existing Nintendo games. Please look forward to the game.
Translation by Bakudan Yoshinoya.