Sharing The Texas Chain Saw Massacre Love With The Community
When the Texas Chain Saw Massacre game got announced, I got very excited. TCM has a special place for me, it was my parents’ first date. So it was always a big deal to watch it in my house growing up. So I had a bunch of questions I was hoping to get answered about the upcoming 3v4 multiplayer horror game. I ended up getting answers to a lot of my questions.
Justin: Was it a difficult process to get the license for the TCM property?
Matthew Szep, Brand Strategy Lead: Not at all! We were approached to make this game by the original screenwriter, Kim Henkel and his team, and being the massive fans of the film that we are, the team got to work immediately to bring the most authentic and terrifying version of what we’ve all daydreamed about developing: An interactive game based on The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.
From there, we’ve been fortunate to work very closely with Kim. Whether creatively or strategically, the process of working on this game has been nothing short of a dream. A partnership that is supportive and extremely constructive.
Justin: Any chance we will see any other versions of the TCM characters in the game with future updates? Like Chop-Top?
Robert Fox II, Designer: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre focuses on the 1974 film and our original characters at launch. However, anything is possible down the road and we’ll be keeping an eye on the community feedback. We also plan to support the community by offering new content, in addition to expanding the systems currently in place. Authenticity to the film, and keeping the game fresh & fun for years are top priorities for the team here at Gun and our developers at Sumo Nottingham. Please stay tuned to our official social channels!
Justin: The team clearly has a lot of love for the franchise. Was there any specific moment that made you, for lack of a better word, “fan out”? Get really excited over something?
Ismael Vicens, Executive Producer: I think for many of us here, getting to work directly with Kim Henkel was our big fan moment. Discussing the original film with him was a treat; hearing about the creation of the characters, descriptions of events beyond what was depicted on screen, and his thoughts on the personalities and histories of these icons was eye-opening. And then we got the opportunity to talk with him about new characters that would fit right into that world and build them up from the ground level, knowing that working with him meant they come from that same creative wellspring.
Past that, there were a million more moments for us to fan out both inside and external to development – our first visit to Quick Hill Road or the Gas Station, when we obtained and first started up a Poulan saw, when the “red wall” was first put in game by the team at Sumo Nottingham, or when we got the first game going with the final models of the Slaughter Family. All of those give us goosebumps and reinforce how special this project is to us.
Justin: The TCM franchise has a lot of people who have a lot of love for the franchise. For me, it was actually my parents’ first date to go see Texas Chain Saw Massacre. When I got married, it was horror themed, and had them sit at the TCM-themed table. So I am very happy and excited to see TCM get its due. How has the fan reaction been so far?
Matthew Szep, Brand Strategy Lead: Our community is made up of people just like us, horror fans through and through. They have been absolutely rabid for more details, more lore, more everything. It has been amazing to watch the community experience the reveal, begin the cycle of fun speculation, and really kind of theorycraft what the game will be. They’ve fully embraced the project from the jump, and that’s been something special for us at Gun and over at Sumo.
We also have seen them run away with hunting for eggs, picking apart everything we share looking for the little hidden details. And every time they uncover one, we hide 4 more in the next thing we do.
Creating lore and crafting full, rich back stories for our characters is something that is very important to us, and honestly a bit underserved in most multiplayer games. The community has adopted this approach fully, and they’ve embraced the full picture of these characters, including Maria Flores, the missing sister that is the catalyst for the events of the game. Seeing people in the community engage in the story of a character that is completely non-playable, but central to the story in a game that is multiplayer only has been truly unique, and a validation of sorts that we’ve got something here. The care and craftsmanship we put into these elements matters to the community at large.
Justin: Is there one character/mechanic or just a moment that you haven’t shown off yet that you can’t wait for fans to experience?
Matthew Szep, Brand Strategy Lead: There is still so much to talk about, but I definitely think a very pleasant surprise to players will be the metagame and character progression. Gun and Sumo Digital have worked so hard to create a progression system that has aspects of personal preference and customization while still maintaining role based archetypes for characters on both sides of each match. Each character in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is unique and fills a role within their team, but they are far from locked off. The variety of builds you can make for each Victim is really impressive, and slotting in the right build for the squad you are running with and even while matching up playing solo opens up a whole new aspect to the later game experience. We look forward to the builds people will be able to craft out of this system as we feel we’ve equipped them with all the tools to really make some wild varieties of Connie, Leland, Julie, Sonny, and Ana.
And of course, we have some big things still to share, but we couldn’t say a word more than that just yet…
Justin: At any stage, was there ever a single-player experience? Even just a Bot V Solo player-style training for when that person decides to go online?
Ismael Vicens, Executive Producer: You’re constantly thinking about player training and tutorials when making a game, yet it’s one of the absolute last things you make, simply because you need final gameplay in place before you really puzzle out how to effectively teach someone those mechanics. I can’t say Gun and Sumo didn’t think about training people with some solo play, but when it came down to the experience we wanted to provide for people, we realized that putting training wheels on the game like that would defeat the mood we wanted.
When you’re a member of the Family, while there are a lot of things you need to keep track of and skills you can improve for both yourself and your team, your goal is ultimately pretty simple – hunt down and stop the Victims from escaping by any means necessary. This is something that will come pretty natural to those players, even the first time out.
On the other hand, Victims start the game already injured, captured, and trapped by the Family. They’re scared, confused, and on the edge of hopelessness. For the same reasons that we didn’t want them to get a minimap in game, we realized we wanted players to have that same kind of feeling when they first start out. We’re absolutely going to pencil in the basics of controls, mechanics, and objectives, but we want them to share a point of view with the character they’re inhabiting. It’ll make them stronger players because they’ll identify with them, and identify with that emotional state.
Justin: Do you have a favorite easter egg or nod that you are allowed to share?
Matthew Szep, Brand Strategy Lead: There are so many littered throughout the world, the materials we’ve shared, and on and on that it would be tough to pick just one, especially just one that wouldn’t be a spoiler. As eagle eyed as the community has been, they’re still missing some things. It’s probably best we don’t say too much here. But I will say this, Maria Flores set out to photograph the Texas wildflowers in the Spring of 1973, with her Polaroid Land Camera 230. Not long after, she disappeared without a trace. Her camera was never recovered.
Justin: If you wanted players to have anything in mind for when they get into Texas Chain Saw Massacre?
Robert Fox II, Designer: As a Victim, players must resist the urge to run, to panic, to go sprinting towards the door. We are really focusing on stealth based gameplay to avoid the Family – being silent, moving intentionally, turning off the lights, and staying in the shadows. We are giving Victims the tools and abilities they need to escape if they can keep their cool, be smart, and stick together.
Unless of course you’re a Slaughter. A Family that plays together, slays together, and with the Victims outnumbering Family 3 to 4, the Slaughters will have to utilize their unique skills to secure the property, hunt down the Victims, and execute them. We can’t wait to hear stories of how “they almost got away” and players recreating their favorite scenes from the film. Gun and Sumo have made a gorgeous playground for fans to enjoy, but as they are admiring the bluebonnets and castillejas over the Texas sun, always remember the question: Who will survive, and what will be left of them?
I want to thank the team for answering all my questions, I am really looking forward to getting my hands on Texas Chain Saw Massacre next year.For more interviews, reviews and features, stay locked to DreadXP and go check out the TCM trailers!