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Developer Q&A: SIREN Blood Curse

Tsubasa Inaba's Avatar + Posted by Tsubasa Inaba on Jun 13, 2008 // Senior Producer, International Software Development

By now you might’ve read here or here about Siren: Blood Curse, an episodic survival horror game coming this summer on PlayStation Network. W also posted the first trailer right here on the PlayStation.Blog. To give the Blog readers more insight into this game, we held a Q&A session with Siren: Blood Curse’s creator, Keiichiro Toyama. We have translated this Q&A for your reading pleasure. We hope you enjoy the creepy insight into the storyline and strategy behind Siren: Blood Curse.

Siren: Blood Curse

How has Siren: Blood Curse evolved from the PlayStation 2 title? (Is it scarier? More involving storyline?)

    With Siren Blood Curse, the leap in visual presentation has helped to convey a tangible sense of fear and makes the player feel as if they’ve truly been pulled into a nightmarish world. The new split-screen Sight Jacking system also helps give the game a more active pace than the previous titles. When it comes to story, Siren Blood Curse manages to preserve the level of depth and mystery from the previous SIREN games while presenting it in a manner that makes it easier to follow.

How has the story of Hanuda developed? Does Siren: Blood Curse bring a conclusion to the storyline?

    Siren Blood Curse is not a sequel or a standard remake of the other games. Suppose the events of the original SIREN were real, in that case Siren Blood Curse would be like a “movie based on a true story”, adapting and dramatizing the original. While some of the key events bear resemblance to those in the first SIREN, the characters and the background are completely different.

How has the introduction of western characters changed the SIREN storyline?

    The addition of Western characters who have stumbled into horrific events taking place in a world that is foreign to them helps enhance the feelings of isolation and terror. I think they will also present Western players with characters that are easier to relate to.
    This mix of Western and Japanese characters with the inevitable communication troubles that ensue adds to the frustration the various characters feel toward their situation.

What opportunities became available to you through releasing the game in episodic content on the PSN?

    We were able to present the game more like a dramatic TV show in a way that hasn’t been done before.
    I also hope the episodic structure will give players the sense that they are participating in an event.

Siren: Blood Curse

How does your approach to storytelling change when working with a game released in a series of episodes?

    The approach we took in the previous games was to present events much like a documentary presenting a piece of a bigger truth. The new episodic nature required more structure, and also helped to step up the overall quality of the final product.

Why do you approach the narrative of SIREN titles with such an unorthodox and fractured approach to timeline and storytelling?

    The unorthodox approach to storytelling was motivated by trying to present a story in a way that only games could do. Replaying the same event while seeing it unfold in different ways is something I feel is an inherent characteristic of video games, so I wanted to take that unique element and weave it directly into the story itself.

How has the ‘sight-jack’ feature evolved and how does this aspect contribute to the Siren: Blood Curse experience?

    In Siren Blood Curse, Sight Jacking has been redesigned to be split-screen, allowing the player to see through multiple points of view at the same time. Now, players are free to move while Sight Jacking, giving the game a much more active tempo than it had before.

Siren: Blood Curse

What does Siren: Blood Curse bring to the survival horror genre?

    A lot of survival horror titles in recent years have been focusing mostly on just the action element, while Siren Blood Curse puts a lot of its effort into scaring the player and presenting a rich story. I think Siren Blood Curse can serve as an example of the diverse range that games are capable of expressing.

What are the key ingredients to a good horror title and how does Siren: Blood Curse deliver these?

    A good horror title has to make the player feel like they are directly involved in the terrifying events taking place, and that requires realism. I think you’ll understand just how much realism can enhance horror when you see Siren Blood Curse.

Did you consult fans on what they wanted to see in the next installment of the SIREN series?

    One opinion we noticed from a lot of the fans was that the original game was way too difficult. A lot of them never completed the game because of that, and we listened. If you want to see just how we’ve taken those opinions into account, first play Siren Blood Curse and then go back and try the original.

What about Siren: Blood Curse are you most proud of?

    I’m most proud of the way Siren Blood Curse embodies a unique, Japanese sense of horror.

What advantage does Siren: Blood Curse have in being the first survival horror title on PS3? Or is it a curse being first next-gen survival horror title?

    It’s only recently that I’ve realized that Siren Blood Curse would end up being the first, so I haven’t really had a chance to worry about any disadvantages. Of course, when it comes to advantages, I think being the first will only help the game to have that much greater of an impact when people experience its next-gen visuals.

Siren: Blood Curse

What does Siren Blood Curse offer that titles such as Resident Evil and Silent Hill do not?

    Two things Siren Blood Curse offers that those titles don’t is a sense of horror made possible in a Japanese setting, and the human drama created from the interactions of the different characters.

With the increased power of the next-gen devices, how has survival horror grown to embrace this? Are horror games now the ultimate in immersive horror experiences?

    The potential with lighting and textures are areas that have greatly improved with the next-gen. These are two critically important factors for horror games, so I think next-gen will have a major, positive impact on the genre. I don’t think realism always has to be about making things more elaborate, but can also be about making even simple things have a greater impact.

Has the interest in J-Horror in the western world opened a new market for horror games based on this world?

    Yes, definitely. The interest in J-Horror spurred on by the success of Hollywood remakes like “The Ring” and “The Grudge” has helped lower the barrier in reaching the West with horror games like SIREN that are based on a Japanese setting.

Siren: Blood Curse

What are your favorite moments in the history of survival horror gaming?

    It’s not a survival horror moment, but the beginning of the game “Another World” made me feel like I had really been swallowed and dropped alone on a vast, new world. That scene had a deep impact on me, and it was at that moment that I first began to consider the potential games had for stirring an emotion like fear in the player.

What are you favorite moments in horror movie history and did you use these as inspiration?

    There are a lot of horror movie moments that have influenced me, but two scenes that come to mind are when the main character’s world comes apart in the original “The Wicker Man”, and when the killers come together as a “normal family” in the original “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”.

And finally… What scares you?

    I’m actually afraid of a lot of things, but if I had to pick one of them, it would be the fear that there is always a chance that at any moment everything that I’ve come to accept as my normal, everyday life could suddenly disappear.

Do you have any questions for Keiichiro Toyama? Ask them in the comments and we’ll tried to get them answered in a future post!

//Add Your Own

58 Comments

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1

+ leetfoo on June 13th, 2008 at 10:37 am said:

Siren demo (jp) was fun, but no 1080i support makes it a no buy for me and others who can’t do 720p. Can you work in some scaling for us?


2

+ VenomX on June 13th, 2008 at 10:45 am said:

This game has really good graphics for a downloadable game. Already played the JP demo on 720p via HDMI and it looked great. Can’t wait for this game to come out.


3

+ depward on June 13th, 2008 at 10:47 am said:

I can’t play scary games. And yes I’m a grownup.

I will say that it indeed looks like a great horror game… not just a game I’m going to buy :)


4

+ nousemerk on June 13th, 2008 at 10:48 am said:

The game sounds great. Definitely looks creepy. lol


5

+ lakaihigh on June 13th, 2008 at 11:03 am said:

its not the scariest game out there but it sure does run chills down my spine. The moaning/screaming during the main menu on the xmb just plain creeps me out. My g/f loves scary games so this will be a def purchase for us! can’t wait to play/see more of it.

peace,
Lh


6

+ RoAcH2285 on June 13th, 2008 at 11:26 am said:

Nice interview. The game seems interesting. I like these interviews. The Blog did this last year right before E3. I look forward to more of these developer interviews for games being shown at E3.


7

+ jcasanova on June 13th, 2008 at 11:26 am said:

I have a few questions:

Have they already revealed the price for each episode?

How long will it take to finish each episode?

Each episode will be released every month? two-three months?

After all 12 episodes are released will it be presented in Blu-ray disc on retailer stores?

Will there be any discounted price if you purchase many episodes or all episodes together?

What’s Mr. Toyama’s favorite games?

And where did they got the inspiration for the story?

Thanks, hope you can answer some of my questions!


8

+ Sev1512 on June 13th, 2008 at 11:26 am said:

This game looks great. The trailer scares the crap out of me…


9

+ mendezgato on June 13th, 2008 at 11:27 am said:

I’m not one of those crazy folks that likes to be scared but my wife loves it so i’ll be watching her (since she won’t play the game by her self) the jp demo was desent.


10

+ Nito025 on June 13th, 2008 at 11:29 am said:

Also played the demo and I must say it looks like its gonna be a fun game to play late at night with the lights off and sound UP!…my only question is how many edpisodes will there be more or less in the entire series and how much will they cost? Also will there be trophy support?!? :) hahaha thanks in advance


11

+ Jeigh on June 13th, 2008 at 11:32 am said:

@ Leetfoo
Speak for yourself, and not ‘others.’ Go ahead and miss out on as many amazing games as you like (and by now you’ve undoubtedly missed out on many). Meanwhile, I’ll enjoy those games on my shoddy 480i SDTV.

Though, unfortunately, this won’t be one of those. I’m not a huge fan of the horror genre (or really a fan at all), and just reading the interview and seeing the screenshots scared the hell out of me, though it does look very good. Pretty much in the same boat as, Depward. (Yep, adult here too.)


12

+ silverwolf38401 on June 13th, 2008 at 11:33 am said:

I’m curious, how long are these chapters going to be? Any prices listed yet?


13

+ Jeigh on June 13th, 2008 at 11:34 am said:

Oh, and I’d just like to add that I’m glad to see that there’s finally a game that adheres to the “episodic” description as it was originally intended, rather than one or two add-ons. Way to go! :D


14

+ MrDuran on June 13th, 2008 at 11:50 am said:

Looks very promising. I need to finish MGS4 before I even think about buying another game. So far I have 4 games that I haven’t finished (Resistance, Heavenly sword, Drakes Fortune and DMC4), but Im definitely gonna finish MGS4.


15

+ Iron_Tiger on June 13th, 2008 at 11:54 am said:

well the game looks graet and there was alot of time spent on the “feel” of the game, i just dont se myself buying a 2 hour episode, unless its released on a weekly basis(waiting a week between plot points is a long time) or as a pakage deal. anyway great looking product


16

+ Eternity_Viper_Snake on June 13th, 2008 at 11:55 am said:

sounds and looks good played JP Demo i liked it only thing was the camera ankle to look around that was just to diffucult it (my opioin) should be 360 angle view like MGS4/MGS3 SE subsistence its more easier to look around instead of certain limits but everthing else was good game looking foward to it..

P.S. MGS4 F#king ROCKS!!! who dosent have it get it you won’t be dissopointed (if you like 3rd person shooting stealth) thank hideo!! :) :)


17

+ xaos on June 13th, 2008 at 12:02 pm said:

Definitely will check this out; I enjoy horror games but even more, I’m very excited, or at least intrigued, by the prospect of more games following this downloadable, episodic approach. Unlike most of these folks, I haven’t played the Japanese demo, so here’s to hoping it shows up on our store soon :)


18

+ cabrito on June 13th, 2008 at 12:05 pm said:

I’m totally getting Siren, and the fact that it will be episodic is really attractive. I’m older now, so I don’t have a lot of time to play my games, so having games in an episodic form helps me play more than one game at once.

It’s really looking good! Congrats on being the firs in the genre for the current generation of consoles!


19

+ P_tear_griffin on June 13th, 2008 at 12:06 pm said:

I’m looking forward to this game. I hope it has cliff hangers, plot twists, and a good amount of scariness to motivate me into buying the episodes. I’m hoping Siren can bring that level of creepiness Silent Hill 1 & 2 brought, and go beyond.


20

+ gamesblow on June 13th, 2008 at 12:11 pm said:

I’m getting every one of these “episodes” when they hit and I hope more of these types of games come down the pipe line for us. Episodic psn games, that is. Varried kinds. Not just Horror games.

On a side note, Sony… Don’t make an idiotic motion sensor controller or pad or whatever it is you’re thinking about. Don’t be a follower, Sony. Just leave it be and let it be Nintendo’s thing. Advance your own products. Your own ideas… I’m hearing more and more about how you’re going to introduce a motion controller at E-3 and I cringe.

Gaming will be offically dead if you do this. Motion controls are crap and you can’t expect 14+ million users to jump into it and or the rest of your new install base.

Making your games take advantage of it wouldn’t be of benifit.

All I’m saying. Motion sensing isn’t the future. It’s the end.


21

+ Delriach on June 13th, 2008 at 12:20 pm said:

I’ve played the demo from the JPN PS Store, it’s definitely very interesting and I liked what I experienced. I just hope this is appropriately priced.

Can’t wait.


22

+ stennex on June 13th, 2008 at 12:20 pm said:

The game looks sCaRY based on the pics and vids i have been seeing. Hope it controls really well.


23

+ C-h-a-o-s on June 13th, 2008 at 12:59 pm said:

The game looks interesting since I like anything scary I just might have to check this out. I hope we can expect a demo soon!


24

+ dowaito on June 13th, 2008 at 1:00 pm said:

I am really looking forward to this game. If it captures the macabre nature of movies like “the Grudge”, “Uzumaki”, or “Audition” I will be very happy.


25

+ Herby on June 13th, 2008 at 1:19 pm said:

Great Screenshots. Thanks


26

+ davidc14 on June 13th, 2008 at 1:25 pm said:

This is great and all, but please hurry the in-game xmb team. I’m on the edge of my seat here.


27

+ EvoAnubis on June 13th, 2008 at 1:33 pm said:

Niiiiiiiiice!

This and Silent Hill will give me my survival horror fix this year. I have the JPN demo, but when can I expect to see it on the US Store? You know……in english.


28

+ Withnail on June 13th, 2008 at 2:05 pm said:

This looks good. Can you confirm the format of the release? I know you can’t speak for SCEE but in UK magazine Edge this month they said it would be in two packs of six episodes each, with a Blu-ray release as well. Do you know if this is true, and what is being planned for the US?


29

+ Withnail on June 13th, 2008 at 2:08 pm said:

Talking of episodic content, what happened to Rat Race?


30

+ dappaute on June 13th, 2008 at 2:23 pm said:

all i want to know is how much its cost?


31

+ XxBigP123xX on June 13th, 2008 at 2:54 pm said:

Low texture quality= no buy.

Sorry.


32

+ dojikyo on June 13th, 2008 at 3:25 pm said:

Count me in the played the Japanese demo and interested, just waiting for more info

The release schedule for each installment.
The pricing.
Will there be a boxed version? How much space is needed. I’m down to 14gb on a 60gb and I don’t feel like installing a new hard drive regardless of how easy it is.


33

+ HaMmOdY on June 13th, 2008 at 3:27 pm said:

The game is so scary and fun but the controling is difficult and not that good but at the end it’s a must buy game .. thank goes to those dedicated developers of this game ….


34

+ joel on June 13th, 2008 at 4:32 pm said:

When is the game coming out on the playstation network?


35

+ candiria on June 13th, 2008 at 5:40 pm said:

and finally, how about a disc/non-psn version? all i want to know is a definite yes or no.


36

+ leetfoo on June 13th, 2008 at 5:48 pm said:

@11 I speak for a lot of others in addition to myself. If you don’t like it, tough.


37

+ X1rtam on June 13th, 2008 at 6:09 pm said:

Oh, I didn’t know this was going to be a downloadable, episodic affair! That changes everything. If this is priced right, I’ll buy it. I played the JP demo, and got the gist of the controls. Funny that the voiceovers were in English though, makes sense now however after reading the interview.


38

+ BlackRabbit on June 13th, 2008 at 6:39 pm said:

Very cool interview, glad you guys translated it for us! Looking forward to this, I’ve never played the previous installments but the episodic approach combined with the cool visuals have got me excited for this one.


39

+ Korlithiel on June 13th, 2008 at 7:59 pm said:

Any chance we will see portable iterations in the future? Come on, give the PSP some love!


40

+ K2016 on June 13th, 2008 at 9:53 pm said:

The game looks good, but I won’t be getting it because I’m not a fan of scary movies or games, just seeing the trailer & screenshots got me kinda freaked out. =D


41

+ 40cal on June 13th, 2008 at 10:01 pm said:

Just need some details on the distribution.


42

+ EmThor on June 14th, 2008 at 1:01 am said:

Great interview.

Just 3 questions:

– How much?
– How many episodes?
– How often?

Thx


43

+ Fady K on June 14th, 2008 at 2:45 am said:

Just one concern – Can you guys please release this on a Blu-Ray disc (which is the case in Japan?) Pleeeease :(


44

+ Kenshin001 on June 14th, 2008 at 4:02 am said:

I played the Jp demo and the camera was rubbish. Have they tested this game with regular people? Western gamers? I hope they have fixed it because it pretty much ruined it for me and I deleted the demo. IGN also commented on this. If the camera is not fixed expect poor reviews and disappointed customers.


45

+ Sentry on June 14th, 2008 at 5:31 am said:

Really looking forward to this game, and im surprised its a PSN one too, hopefully the size of the download wont be more then 2GBs. :P

By the way, does anyone else think one of the characters (last image), looks nearly identical to some of the original concepts of Nathan Hale back at E3 06 (when Uncharted was still named the ‘untitled’ game from Naughty Dog), mainly the shirt style and hair/face… even the animations are similar! :P

Maybe im just over exaggerating, lol.


46

+ Xanog on June 14th, 2008 at 3:27 pm said:

The game looks amazing both from a gamer’s perspective, and that of one who has not really enjoyed anything horror-related outside of videogames since the 1980s.

I know that specifics can’t be stated, but is the plan for each chapter to be release in quick succession, or longer gaps?

In the sense of keeping gamers hooked, I’d say that the quicker approach would be better, but a longer approach could allow for feedback to improve the gameplay in other chapters.


47

+ ionwaffle on June 15th, 2008 at 1:47 am said:

definetly buying, good thing its in episodes too, that way i dont have to trade in or fork out £50 at once

also
trophy support?


48

+ Krispow on June 15th, 2008 at 10:20 am said:

Hi Folks…

Please note that the following comment originally appeared here on the blog attached to Mr. Inaba’s “Blood Curse – Scaring this Summer” posting from May 20, 2008 (http://blog.us.playstation.com/2008/05/20/blood-curse-scaring-this-summer/).

Quite a few people here on the blog — and many others in various game forums around the net — have been asking similar questions, yet no answers were forthcoming from any quarters.

I myself have never received an answer to the questions addressed in my comments — perhaps Mr. Inaba will provide us with this simple courtesy this time around?

••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

To Mr. Inaba and other concerned parties:

I very much enjoyed the original SIREN game, and very much enjoyed playing the Japanese SIREN: NEW TRANSLATION demo released last month. I was desperately hoping we would be receiving a domestic release of the game, and I was thrilled when SIREN: BLOOD CURSE was confirmed for North American distribution.

However, despite the excitement I still hold towards SIREN: BLOOD CURSE, I don’t believe that I will be purchasing your game… at least, not at this point in time, nor in its currently-announced distribution format.
I am confused and somewhat concerned in the manner that SCEA (as well as SCEE) have decided to handle the distribution of SIREN: NEW TRANSLATION in territories outside of Japan. Judging from reports, SIREN: NEW TRANSLATION was not originally conceived as an episodic release by developer SCE Japan Studios — it was always intended to be a complete disc-based gaming experience. As such, SIREN: NEW TRANSLATION will be receiving a standard full BD-ROM retail release in Japan on July 24th for ¥5980 (US$57.90 based as of today’s exchange rates).

Therefore, since SIREN: NEW TRANSLATION consists of one complete disc-based game, why is it instead being chopped up into smaller individual bite-sized segments for American and European consumption as SIREN: BLOOD CURSE?
I’ve never enjoyed playing episodic game releases — I dislike the process of playing a game in tiny 1-2 hour spurts over the course of a year or more, then having to wait several weeks or months for the developer to create and release the next “chapter.” I find that games tend to be more enjoyable, and more fully developed, when they are created as a complete entity. (For example, story changes and/or programming advancements featured in later portions of the game during the development cycle often affect the earlier sections, making for an all-around better gaming experience.) But in this case, SIREN: NEW TRANSLATION WAS developed as a complete entity rather than an episodic one.

Another main concern I have is with the specific method of delivery. I am personally unwilling to spend money for ANY “full” games (i.e., titles which would normally reside on a disc-based medium) which are distributed only via a digital download file… be it on PSN, XBL, or elsewhere. I should mention that this is not a matter of “cost”, but rather one of “permanence”.

Speaking as both a consumer and a game player, I want a tangible package when I make a retail game purchase. I enjoy having that package in my collection; I enjoy being able to hold and read a real game manual; and most importantly, I WANT to have that physical disc (or cart) in my possession.

While there is that certain “satisfaction of ownership” feeling, there’s something more important going on here — the satisfaction of knowing that I have the ability to play that game whenever I choose to… be it next week, next month, or ten years from now. I still regularly pull out and play an older title from my collection — PS1, Genesis/Sega CD, Saturn, Dreamcast, N64, Atari Lynx, NGPC, and a few others — and have yet to have any problems.

On the other hand, digitally-distributed purchases are an entirely different beast — and though fine for some people, it’s certainly not the ideal medium for many game collectors such as myself. You can’t hold or display a mass of electronically- and/or magnetically-stored code, and you’re temporarily renting that file more than actually “owning” anything. Additionally, there’s absolutely no guarantee that you’ll still be able to play that game a couple years down the line, much less a decade or more — should/when your HDD have a mechanical failure, or if the file gets corrupted or accidentally erased, there’s no guarantee that you’ll still be able to redownload it from PSN. The file may have been pulled or the license revoked (the electronic version of “out of print”), or maybe the servers no longer exist. (These problems have already happened to various friends of mine… not PSN, but PC and XBL.)

Judging from the comments here on the blog — plus the many I’ve already read in other internet/news forums — I am obviously not the only consumer who is only interested in a proper, physical BD-ROM retail release of SIREN: BLOOD CURSE here in North America. Hopefully such a full retail disc is also being planned for release concurrently or following the episodic PSN version(s). However, if this is not the case, then I will instead look towards purchasing the Japanese release version… or will simply do without and spend my money elsewhere.

Either way, thank you for the opportunity for allowing me to express my thoughts on the subject here on this blog. Here’s hoping…!


49

+ Krispow on June 15th, 2008 at 11:13 am said:

Well, this is a rather interesting turn of events…

Since last night I have made several attempts to repost a comment that was originally attached to Mr. Inaba’s “Blood Curse – Scaring this Summer” posting here on the blog on May 20, 2008 (see Posting #47 at http://blog.us.playstation.com/2008/05/20/blood-curse-scaring-this-summer/).

Unfortunately, although my comments were seemingly “accepted” by the system, NONE of them have actually appeared in this section. Hopefully this shorter comment, which utilizes none of my original text from the May 20th comment, will pass through unscathed.

Were my original comments deemed so seditious that I have been blocked from asking any further questions regarding the release format for SIREN: BLOOD CURSE?

My comments were neither rude, nor threatenting, nor unintelligible — I simply and politely asked some very pertinent questions about the game.

These are the exact same questions about the game that are continuing to be asked by many people here on the blog — as well as in various other game forums around the net — yet no answers have been forthcoming from any quarters.

This is the reason I wished to repost my original May 20th comments here, albeit without success. Would is be too much to ask a kind soul to attempt to repost those comment here for me, since I am unable to?

Perhaps then Mr. Inaba will provide us with the simple courtesy of a response to our questions.

Many thanks and best wishes to all…


50

+ Raiden on June 15th, 2008 at 12:11 pm said:

I’m really looking forward to this. I’ll finally play my first next-gen survival horror game.


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