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Answering Questions: Dead Space 3 Story Interview

If you’re not paying attention, you’ve probably missed Dead Space’s rich lore.  In the space of two games, Visceral Games has left fans with a lot of questions. Who created the Markers? What was their original purpose? Why do they create Necromorphs? We talked with creative director Ben Wanhe about how the studio plans to answer many of these questions in Dead Space 3.

After you guys finished Dead Space 2, what did you start looking at when you first started working on the sequel?

Ben Wanhe: We kind of wrote a backstory for the whole franchise, in a way. Its not a completely detailed story for everything to begin with, but as we started fleshing it out, we started figuring out what the entire arc of this whole thing would be. And what we really thought was important for the third game was to start answering some questions. So, we did get some feedback on the second game where people were like, “you know that was a great game, but what is the marker and why does it do what it does? What is its ultimate purpose?” We thought that for the third one it would be really important to really give people some concrete answers and really start to get into a lot of that lore that we’ve usually been kind of hazy with in the past. I think its just really important that we deliver a solid understanding of what it was they’ve been through in the last two games and give them a foundation of where it could go in the future.

Is there any history to that planet that you can share? What’s the story there?

I can’t tell you what the history is because that is a large part of the plot of the game, but the planet is very important to the Dead Space universe. Everyone is drawn there very specifically because they were looking for a way to stop the markers, this epidemic that has gotten out. What they end up finding there is going to be extremely important and very revelatory for this series. This is where they get all of their answers, so as you can imagine it’s a very important place in the entire mythology. They’re going to find some stuff on the planet that is going to lead to some really interesting reveals. Just know that it’s sort of a mystery that you’re unraveling and you’re kind of venturing into the unknown and finding out, revealing what’s happened. And what’s happened in the past and how this whole thing ties together and why everything points to this place.

Can you talk a little bit more about Carver and what his deal is? Where he comes from?

Carver is an EarthGov soldier. He’s actually a pretty interesting character. On the surface he’s just a soldier guy, he’s more of a grunt, he’s a sergeant in Earth Gov Special Ops. But underneath all that he’s a family man who is just not good at it at all. He’s a horrible father; he’s a horrible husband. A lot of that has to do with his experiences in the war. He’s kind of torn up inside, but he’s not the kind of guy that’s going to wear his emotions on his sleeve. He keeps it all inside, much like Isaac finds it very difficult to express himself, Carver has his own past buried inside. As you play through the game you’re going to start dredging up some of what it is that makes Carver who he is and kind of what his place is and what his role is in the story.

I know there is some fighting with Unitologists. How do they get involved in the story? What’s there motivation here?

The Unitoligists are a branch of Unitology called The Circle and they are a violent and fanatical group of Unitologists. The typical followers are natural, church goer-type people or whatever. This group, The Circle, has a very specific agenda and they have a man in charge that is leading them on this crusade. They have a very specific purpose in the story, which will be revealed later. But yeah, there is quite a bit of interesting background on these guys, why they formed and what there purpose is and what they want to achieve ultimately, but that all plays a very important part of the story.

When we were at E3 we got a chance to see some of the feeders, I believe? Those little scavenger-type creatures. What’s their deal? How were they created?

Those guys are basically people who have eaten infected flesh. The story there is that the people there were starving to death and they didn’t have any food and they managed to kill one of these creatures. They just couldn’t resist themselves and they started eating it and they started getting sick and a lot of stuff started happening to them. Eventually, they became, in a different way than you normally become a Necromorph, they became a sort of Necromorph that we call the Feeder. Because they have been trapped in the dark so long, they have trouble seeing, bright lights hurt their eyes. They get around mostly by sound so that’s why you can throw things in the environment and trick them into looking for it and try and sneak around the other way. If you do manage to enrage them, they just won’t stop. It pisses them off and they start screaming and they all start streaming out of the vents, all of their friends show up for the fight. So it becomes an interesting strategic element for the player: you can decide if you want to take them on head-on if you brought enough ammunition, but if you’re smart you’re going to start using the environment and learning how to get the best angle on the fight. Either to lay and wait for them, put some traps down, or whether or not you’re going to try and sneak by and ignore the fight altogether so that you don’t get destroyed by them.

Can you explain at all what has happened to the markers since two? The ones we know about?

Well, what we know from the end of two is that there have been quite a few of the out there that the government has been building. We don’t know how many are out there, but this overseer in the radio broadcast at the end of the last game he explicitly talks about the other marker sites. That becomes an important element in the story of Dead Space 3. It is an extension of that that ultimately causes the situation that we end up in in three.

But there is also a past to the markers which I thought was really important to tie into. If you remember the marker from Dead Space one that they found on Aegis VII was a man-made marker and it had been buried. The government had been searching for it and they sent Kendra over to go get it. Well she ended up dying and the marker got lost and then in the animated movie, Aftermath, Nolan Stross and his team went there and they found a shard. They didn’t bring back the shard, but they managed to bring back the blueprints on how to build markers encoded in Stross’ head. They also found the same blueprint in Isaac’s head. Isaac was used along with Stross to build a marker on the Sprawl, and now the government suddenly has the technology to build markers on their own. So by the end of that story you find out that they have built markers extensively, or at least they have plans to build them extensively at sites all over the galaxy.

The marker that was discovered on Aegis VII was also man-made, so was that a different government that made that one? Why did they have to get the blueprints from Stross?

I can’t answer that exactly, but you can look through the logs and you can read through and make your own conclusions, but somebody built that thing and it got buried and it got put on a planet that was blacklisted, no body is allowed to go there, no body is allowed to mine there. So you’ll have to draw some conclusions as to why it was there, who put it there, and why did they make the planet off-limits. All of that history comes full-circle and becomes important in Dead Space 3.

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