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SOMA: The 5-Year Design and Development of a Sci-Fi Horror game from the Amnesia devs

HP_Wuvcraft

Banned
Apr 18, 2011
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EDIT: New promotional artwork:

Well, shit.
 

vainglorious

Member
May 27, 2015
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EDIT: New promotional artwork:

Well, I guess that all but confirms that the player character is a robot that perceives themselves as human/has a human consciousness. I mean, I think that's the obvious plot twist... so I'm excited to see what they do with that concept.
 

misses bull

Banned
Oct 2, 2013
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Well, I guess that all but confirms that the player character is a robot that perceives themselves as human/has a human consciousness. I mean, I think that's the obvious plot twist... so I'm excited to see what they do with that concept.

Thats not the player character. The player character is a man while the character in the art is a woman
 

Melchiah

Member
Sep 21, 2006
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Well, I guess that all but confirms that the player character is a robot that perceives themselves as human/has a human consciousness. I mean, I think that's the obvious plot twist... so I'm excited to see what they do with that concept.

I don't think it's a spoiler, as it was posted on Frictional's official FB page, and they seem to be very careful about telling and showing too much.

It might be just about perception; how the robot sees itself.

Then there's this...
Second, many puzzles are spiced up with some kind of hard decision, making them a lot less straightforward to solve. For instance, in one scene you need to decide whether you want to inflict terrible pain on a robot, or take your chances with the warning signs that the former residents of Pathos have left for you. Which one to choose?
...which means that the robots can feel pain, and perhaps have other emotions as well.

The full quote was posted a while ago on this thread.


EDIT: They've also posted a few philosophical questions on FB...
To get you in the right frame of mind for SOMA's launch we are going to start posting philosophical musings. Here's the first:
You are certain that you have a subjective experience. There is no doubt that you are a conscious being. But how can you know for sure that others are?
Is there anything another person can do to truly convince you that they are conscious too, or is there no way of being absolutely sure?
Time for another philosophical musing, so you can prepare your brain for SOMA:
If you replace a single braincell with a silicon chip, do you become a
robot? Most would say no.
But keep turning brain cells into chips.1% of the brain. 2%, and so forth.
Soon your half of your brain will be made out of silicon, and eventually
all of it will.
At what point do you stop being you?
In preparation for the release of SOMA, here is another philosophical conundrum:
A scientist, holding a wrench, stands in front of a small robot. As the scientist raises the wrench, the robot whimpers and backs off. It looks scared. The scientist brings the wrench down on the robot and it cries out. The robot desperately tries to crawl away, but it's no use. The scientist hits it again. After having struck it twice more, the robot stops moving. "Don't be alarmed," the scientist says. "It's just a mechanical robot, made out of silicon and metal, that's wired to act like this. It can't possibly feel pain".
A scientist, holding a wrench, stands in front of a small kitten. As the scientist raises the wrench, the kitten whimpers and backs off. It looks scared. The scientist brings the wrench down on the kitten and it cries out. The kitten desperately tries to crawl away, but it's no use. The scientist hits it again. After having struck it twice more, the kitten stops moving. "Don't be alarmed," the scientist says. "It's just a cellular organism, made out of flesh and bone, that's wired to act like this. It can't possibly feel pain".
Less than two weeks until SOMA is out. Prepare yourself by pondering this philosophical conundrum:
A patient arrives at the doctor and complains about intense back pain. The doctor changes the patient's nerves endings so the signals submitted from the affected region are perceived as pleasure. Since then, the patient feels better than ever before.
A prison warden is having trouble handling the upset inmates. A doctor is called for that, who rewires the inmates' brains so starvation, cold and filth are perceived as pleasure. Since then, the inmates have never felt better, and behave much better.
Only 8 days until SOMA is launched!
While waiting, why not ponder this philosophical problem:
Most of the time, the patient is clearly in extreme pain and unable to communicate. However, for 10 minutes a day the patient can speak clearly. When asked, the patient has no memories of any torment. In fact, the patient claims to be very happy and enjoy life.
Now it is time to choose whether to continue with life support or not. What do you trust? The statement given by the patient when they are able to communicate, or the terrible screams of agony and muscle spasms that plague most of the patient's life?
Bonus problem:
One person is in terrible pain and the other is very happy. Ending the life of one will end the other's.
 
Apr 1, 2013
27,148
30
660
Kent, England
Wait... No VR @ launch? So there is a chance down the line?

That was my thought too. Seems like they've specifically said 'Not at launch', and thus there's a chance of it following down the line.

Well, I guess that all but confirms that the player character is a robot that perceives themselves as human/has a human consciousness. I mean, I think that's the obvious plot twist... so I'm excited to see what they do with that concept.

Yeah, that's my thought too, but it definitely seems a bit too obvious following their marketing so far. Maybe the twist is that they're trying to make us think that which is just a red herring and they'll sideswipe us with something different altogether.
 

IMBored

Member
Apr 21, 2010
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Maybe the twist is that they are actually real people and it's the player that perceives them as robots.
 

vainglorious

Member
May 27, 2015
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Thats not the player character. The player character is a man while the character in the art is a woman

I know that's not that player character. It's called an inference.

Maybe the twist is that they are actually real people and it's the player that perceives them as robots.

Yo, so when we're unplugging machines that are going "No, don't, I need that" we're in actuality murdering people?

I'm down.
 

MUnited83

For you.
Dec 14, 2013
26,816
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I absolutely love reading these in-depth design discussions. They did it for Dark Descent as well and it was pretty good.
 

Funyarinpa

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Jul 8, 2014
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about the silicon brain implant thing


That's a version of a paradox called the Sand Heap paradox, IIRC. Simply, you have a pile of sand. You take away a single grain of sand from it. It's still a pile.

You continue doing this until there aren't any grains of sand left.

At which point did the sand stop being a heap?

Also HHHHHNNNNNNNNNNNNNNGGGGGGGGGG, I don't think I could be any more sold on this game (unless it got a Vita version or something). Too bad I don't have the money rn :(
 
Thomas (creative director) is answering a bunch of questions over on the forum at the moment https://www.frictionalgames.com/forum/thread-30595-page-5.html
Here's a collection of the most interesting or informative answers

How linear is the exploration in SOMA?
The game is divided into levels. Some are fairly small and linear and others are huge and sprawling, the size of hub + connected levels in our previous games. The structure is very similar to our previous game, the main difference being you cannot go back n forth between levels. But that is made up for by making certain levels much, much bigger than we have previously had.

How is SOMA's pacing (e.g. as compared with TDD's)?
The game doesn't start out as scary and oppressive as TDD, but builds towards it over a longer period. There are also longer moments of exploration (if you want to, much is optional). They have a sort of similar "feel" in their pacing though. Puzzle -> dangerous area -> calm exploration -> etc. Another difference is that SOMA is much more varied, each area has something new about it

Does the game have an inventory?
A simplified one. It is not like in Amnesia. SOMA lack resources and inventory management, but make up for it in other ways (like more things in the environment that fill similar purposes).

1) How many play styles will there be beside stealth and run?
2) Can Simon disable creatures in some way?

1) The biggest thing with encounters is not just about figuring out "hide or run?", but to understand how they work. Cannot go into more details without spoiling.
2) In some cases you can use the environment to your advantage, but you won't be going on any killing sprees.


I see that many of the doors are the mechanical/sliding type. Will it be possible to lock these doors, and if so, what should we look for in order to do so?
Yes, but not all doors can be locked behind you. Though there are definitely sections in the game where it's a good idea to do so depending on your play style.

Will you be able to throw boxes on enemies?
Yeah, but it often not wise to do so

How detailed is the marine wildlife?
We have almost 25 different animals that you can find. Some harder than other. Some dangerous, some not.

Is there more than one ending to the game?
Afraid, cannot answer that either. But can confirm that game doesn't have any major branching. Just more local changes, although some choices are effects later on.

How do you save the game?
There will be Save and Exit and then I wanna be vague about the other stuff

What do you think is the biggest improvement about SOMA compared to the last games?
Production values (sound, writing, art, voice overs, music, tech-wise, everything!), narrative delivery and bringing forward the central themes in a much better fashion.

What is it you hope to hear most from the players and what kind of experiences are you excited for them to be talking about?
To discuss the themes in a deeper fashion. While I love hearing how people shat their pants and stuff like that, would be bummed out if nobody got really unnerved by the subjects that SOMA discuss.

How advanced will be Modding for SOMA? Will you be able to create custom stories only or even more than that. For example textures, models, animations or even gameplay effects?
You should be able to mod just about anything. You can even make a mod that changes the shaders that the game uses! You can just drop any files you want into the mod dir and it will replace the ones the main game uses.

Does "No VR at launch" imply that VR might come later?
VR would be fun to do at some point. As with so many other things, it will depend on how successful SOMA is. Would be fun to add VR support just so people can make VR mods, but have to see how much time we have and what the team feels like

Depending on the success of SOMA on console, have you given thought to making and releasing a Remaster of Amnesia: The Dark Descent and A Machine for Pigs?
We will look into it after release!

Will the film [Depth] be released along with the game on the 22nd?
No
 

drotahorror

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Mar 21, 2014
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I'm hesitant to bring attention to it, but man, there is some massive hate going on about this game on the steam community forums and reddit.

Either way, having never seen any gameplay footage, I decided to tune into a stream. Watched it for about 2 minutes and some really sick stuff happened. I was already going to buy it, but it's pre-loaded now. I really hope the game isn't a let down.
 
I'm hesitant to bring attention to it, but man, there is some massive hate going on about this game on the steam community forums and reddit.

Either way, having never seen any gameplay footage, I decided to tune into a stream. Watched it for about 2 minutes and some really sick stuff happened. I was already going to buy it, but it's pre-loaded now. I really hope the game isn't a let down.
From what I've read elsewhere, that guy broke NDA and was complaining about stuff like few enemy encounters, etc. He also claimed to have beat the game in 6 hours, so he was rushing since the devs have said it's around 8-10/11 hours.

The enemies complaint is silly IMO because Frictional themselves have said they focused on fewer enemies, but made them less scripted, more dynamic. More tension, build-up, and variety, and not just "jumpscares/be scared of the dark" horror.

They even mention how you can approach creatures in different ways depending on your play style. It's not just run and hide

Fewer but more complex encounters is one of the details that sold me on the game in the first place.

Honestly I don't put much stake on a Steam discussion impressions in the first place
 

Easy_D

never left the stone age
Jan 5, 2008
23,619
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I get the feeling this game will get a lot of the same complaints that A Machine for Pigs did. The changes from Dark Descent to Machine for Pigs were also for the most part mandated by Frictional.
 

squadr0n

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Dec 5, 2011
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Is Depth meant to be watched before or after playing the game? This is the first Ive heard about the film coming with the game. Ive been trying to avoid as much promotional videos for this game as much as possible.
 

drotahorror

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Mar 21, 2014
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From what I've read elsewhere, that guy broke NDA and was complaining about stuff like few enemy encounters, etc. He also claimed to have beat the game in 6 hours, so he was rushing since the devs have said it's around 8-10/11 hours.

The enemies complaint is silly IMO because Frictional themselves have said they focused on fewer enemies, but made them less scripted, more dynamic. More tension, build-up, and variety, and not just "jumpscares/be scared of the dark" horror.

They even mention how you can approach creatures in different ways depending on your play style. It's not just run and hide

Fewer but more complex encounters is one of the details that sold me on the game in the first place.

Honestly I don't put much stake on a Steam discussion impressions in the first place

The encounter I saw in the stream is what solidified my purchase. I thought it was scripted and something was gonna happen, nope. Dude died. Wasn't scripted and it was really cool.

I'm really not the type of person that should even buy this but I just like the atmosphere and setting and hope it can surprise me. I wasn't a fan of the Penumbra series, Amnesia, or Alien Isolation. The only one of those kind of games that I really loved was Outlast.
 

dan2026

Member
Jul 10, 2012
11,213
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Why cant I see anything about this on PS4?

No game page, no preload, no nothing.

Also why are there no reviews?
 

Fried Food

Banned
Mar 11, 2012
8,029
1
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I wonder if this being on PS4 will mean I actually finish it? I started machine for pigs on PC but got scared/too tense and never went back. Something about console games closed system just makes me seem to finish games more. Like there is an environment there to get invested in.
 

CHC

Member
Aug 24, 2012
12,188
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675
Finished it late last night and turned my written review in. Got the video review rendering now. I'm eager to see others thoughts on this when embargo goes up. I really can't say anything otherwise. I'll post my thoughts in the review thread on Monday! See you all then. :)

Lucky you! Hope it was awesome. I'm really excited for this game.
 

misses bull

Banned
Oct 2, 2013
10,051
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0
Finished it late last night and turned my written review in. Got the video review rendering now. I'm eager to see others thoughts on this when embargo goes up. I really can't say anything otherwise. I'll post my thoughts in the review thread on Monday! See you all then. :)

What site do you work for?
 

~Kinggi~

Banned
Oct 22, 2006
23,454
2
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There is a bunch of controversy happening in the steam community area for this as some guy made a thread linking to someone streaming the game and said it was the review build. Basically he was saying it wasnt good but then that of course causes a big fight so its hard to know at this point if there is any truth to it. Are reviews being posted before the game releases?
 
What site do you work for?

I do written reviews for ztgd.com and video work, sometimes write for saving content, youtube videos for myself, also a podcast featured on bloody-disgusting with another gaffer called "whatever"

Can you share any basic details, like how long your playtime was?

I can't say much but the 10 hours being mentioned is possible, though I'm sure it will vary depending.

Can we fight back in this? Are there weapons?

Fight back... not so much hahaha. Lol