We interviewed Game Director Mathieu Côté at NYCC ’17 on Dead by Daylight, one of the most innovative horror games this generation.
Dead by Daylight’s Game Director/Producer Mathieu Côté was thrilled to discuss the title’s impact on players and the future of its universe at New York Comic Con ’17. It’s a throwback to 70s/80s slashers with distrust of friends and strangers abound. Meaning… Instantly relatable to Walking Dead viewers!
A passion for horror films is certainly a common theme for most of us already. We relish in the villain from Negan, The Governor, to Shane. Dead by Daylight allows to live out being the villain in-style. Or play one of the survivors desperately working to avoid the ‘monster’. The fascinating part of Dead by Daylight, is doing what’s best for the group… Is not what’s always best for you!
Dead by Daylight New York Comic Con ’17 Interview with Game Director Mathieu Côté:
UndeadWalking.com – Nir Regev: Tell us about why we should play Dead by Daylight, obviously there’s a lot of zombie fans at UndeadWalking.com. Tell us why we should get this one?
Mathieu Côté: It’s a 4 vs 1 multiplayer game, so asymmetrical, unfair. It’s your chance to play the villain or your chance to try to outwit the villain and get away. It’s on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. It’s people trying to fight the best possible AI, which is other people. The idea being four survivors trying to repair generators, hide, outwit the killer, and get out. Versus one killer trying to find them, whack them over the head, put them on meathooks, and let them be sacrificed to whatever malevolent entity recreates this nightmare.
UD: I’ve seen videos of it before and I thought the player interaction was really interesting for the 4 v 1 kind of thing. I was wondering in your experiments when you were game testing and all that, how did people react? Are they angry sometimes?
Côté: Yeah, there’s a lot of intense, very genuine reaction from this game. Which is what we were aiming for at the very beginning. We wanted to make sure the players get a reaction, not the character. It means that when you get frustrated, you get very frustrated. There’s a lot of people taking it personally, the emotions run high, and we get a lot of super intense competition.
UD: Thrown controllers and stuff like that?
Côté: Yeah, stuff like that. *Smiles*. Also, because we tapped so much into what I believe makes the old 70s/80s slasher films really good is that tension. Tension that builds up the anticipation of the violence more than display of itself, means you get those really intense moments of pure stress while playing the game. That never goes away because it’s based upon rules that we put in to make sure there’s always uncertainty.
You don’t know who you’re fighting, the maps are procedurally generated so you don’t exactly know where you’re going every time. We have a lot of different killers with very, very different abilities. Depending who you’re up against, you’ll have to change your strategies quickly.
Most of the time you’re matched up with strangers even as survivors, so you might end up with people you don’t really know if you can trust or not. Cooperation will help the group survive but maybe not you. So at some point, it’s the old joke, “You don’t need to be faster than the monster, you need to be faster than your friends”.
Cooperation will only take you so far, you need to make hard decisions. That’s part of the magic.
UD: There’s a lot of Nintendo Switch owners these days, can we expect Dead by Daylight to come there down the line?
Côté: Probably not, we’re not looking at it right now because we have our hands full with the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC. The Switch being what it is, it requires a few changes to make sure the game really takes full advantage of the platform itself, so we’re probably not going to go that way.
UD: Is this a franchise you see down the line having extended sequels? Or do you want stay in one universe kind of like GTA having a GTA Online going on for years and years?
Côté: We’ve created a universe, a lore, characters that I think is very strong. We wanna keep expanding on it. Even when we bring in iconic characters like Michael Myers or Leatherface that just joined us. We wanna be careful that they don’t dilute what we have. We think when it comes to turning out our own stuff, our own story, we still have quite a lot of story to tell. It’s not the end of Dead by Daylight. This game is still going to be worked on for a while.
At some point, there might be a Dead by Daylight 2, there might be a spinoff, but we’re not at that point now. We’re still very much focused on people playing the game as-it-is right now, will keep playing it for at least a year to come.
UD: Was it difficult to get those names to join on? Did they jump on because they liked the engine?
Côté: It was an interesting conversation but I think what we could offer, was a really great, and respectful to get these characters into a slightly different universe. We didn’t have to bend the rules of our world and we certainly didn’t have to change the nature of who Michael Myers is or Leatherface.
I think that the representation that we have in our game stays very, very true to the characters that were created. It’s a way for us to pay homage to what we think is what we created that culture and the whole realm of horror as we know it now.
UD: What most inspired you and the company as a whole do you feel to create this title? Where did you see it in the original pen and paper stages? Was it always like this?
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Côté: It was about, almost 10 years in the making, the first two ideas that we had. The initial core idea was always finding a way to play the villain! We wanted to give you the opportunity to the bad guy and be really, really bad. And see the effect of what you’re doing.
It’s a bit of a twisted fantasy but we thought it would resonate [with potential fans] and it could be fun if it was well made. We tried a few different ways of doing it and they didn’t really pan out as much we wanted. Until we hit upon mixing that with that the game at its core is hide and seek. The same game you play when you’re 9 years old and that’s genuine.
Côté: Yeah, and it’s that instant fear that you get. When he might be your best friend but in that scenario it’s the worst thing possible when he passes right next to you… And he doesn’t see you. That tension and the release of these real emotions that are super intense. That’s what we wanted! We hit upon a prototype at some point where we had that feeling and were like “Oh, this would be perfect! To mix in with our ideas of playing the villain”. The rest stayed true to that original vision.
UD: Do you see potentially a Robert Kirkman, Walking Dead kind of crossover since you managed to get Leatherface? Or you wouldn’t want that anyway since you think it would interfere with [Dead by Daylight’s] lore as you mentioned before?
Côté: Yeah, that’s the thing. It goes both ways. We wanna make sure that we do not transform the game that we’re creating is. But we also want to make sure that if we bring a character that’s established and beloved… We want to make sure we do it justice. Therefore, we’re not going to go after a license that’s too far or we couldn’t really translate in game terms. We want to be able to do this project justice, these are all works of passions. We understand, we’re content creators.
If we’re going to bring someone in, they need to be a good fit. So that when we have that conversation with the license holders and say, “This is what we’re thinking of doing”, they go, “Oh yeah, I can see my character doing that in your settings. Let’s do that!”. It can’t just be about money.
UD: Have you gotten approached for the engine itself by other companies? Are you not allowed to divulge that information?
Côté: These conversations are always extremely delicate until something is ready to be announced. We’ve talked to a lot of different people, some really good fits, some far-reaching. We got inspired quite a lot and more is coming for sure.
UD: If you had to summarize the game in one line, for people that have short attention spans. What would you say?
Côté: Oh my god…I would say: “It’s the best nightmare you can have!”
UD: That’s a good one! Thank you very much, was a pleasure.
Côté: Thank you! It was great to meet you.
Dead by Daylight: Leatherface Reveal Trailer
Leatherface is in the house! Pay homage to your favorite horror film villians… By being them! Be apart of the Dead by Daylight universe starting today on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC!