July 18, 2024
1 Solar System Way, Planet Earth, USA

How a developer's own claustrophobia inspired this first-person horror, out June 18 – PlayStation.Blog

With Still Wakes the Deep launching tomorrow on PS5, we wanted to highlight some of the inspirations for the environments in the upcoming first-person narrative horror. We initially decided that Still Wakes the Deep would take place on an oil rig and the team wanted to play with different fears and phobias. One of the main fears is the ocean itself; another is being isolated.

One of the first levels I worked on from scratch was a space inside the engineering section of the platform, with a lot of machinery inside these four echoing metal walls.

I wanted to try to play with the fear of claustrophobia, which, in retrospect, was kind of strange, because it's a very vivid fear for me because of my own personal experiences. In the end, I found it quite useful and intriguing to use my own triggers to create an environment that could in turn trigger the same emotions in the players.

I brought up a lot of my childhood memory of claustrophobia while we were developing Still Wakes the Deep.

I remember being at an outdoor event with a lot of kids and they set up a big wooden box with lots of little wooden compartments for the kids to play and crawl around in.

When I got halfway through, I remember the twists and turns became tighter and the angles became more difficult to navigate.

My heart raced and I began to hyperventilate. I still remember the feel of the wood under my fingers, the sounds, the smells.

When our main character, Caz, enters the engineering sections of the oil rig, you immediately feel trapped. The hallways are narrow, the ceiling is low, every surface is metal, and there is a lot of heat and humidity trapped in the air around you.

Since there are no windows, you lose the feeling of where you are. Now imagine moving through this space, while knee-deep in a mixture of water, oil, rust and dirt, and you realize that there is something else there with you. All you want is to return to the open top of the platform to breathe fresh air, but the only way to do that is by entering even tighter spaces.

The audio team did a brilliant job of capturing these vivid sounds of nightmare and horror.

Trying to trigger certain emotions with dark, creepy visuals and audio, I began to imagine how terrible it must be to have all that moisture in the air with dirty, oily water seeping into your jumpsuit.

You have a constant mix of these engineering sections, like hot pipes and machinery, but every time you go out you have terribly cold weather, cold steel. I wouldn't say it's comforting, but I think it will be an exciting story.

Therein lie the strengths of The Chinese Room. On one hand, we have people who love to tell stories, whether through films or writing, and on the other, we have musicians and audio technicians from different walks of life.

Would you say that working on Still Wakes the Deep has conquered my fears? Probably not. If anything, they are intensified fears of what lurks in the shadows! Still Wakes the Deep launches tomorrow on PS5.

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