What Supermassive Learned About Narrative Horror From Until Dawn

By Laura Kate Dale on at

During Gamescom we got the chance to talk to Tom Heaton, game director at Supermassive Games. He previously worked on the much-loved Until Dawn, and now he's working on the newly-announced Man of Medan.

Along with talking a little about Man of Medan, and The Dark Pictures Anthology as a whole, he also provided us with some interesting insights that he and the team learned from working on Until Dawn. As successful as the game was, it wasn't without criticism, as Heaton explained to us.

"There was a couple of things we learned that were really important," says Heaton. "One was just how important the characters were to the audience... we thought we’d created interesting and engaging characters, but people really took them to heart. They got very upset if some characters didn’t have the possibility of a happy ending, we didn’t anticipate that."

The fact that fans took the characters from Until Dawn and created their own fan fiction based around them also really surprised the team at Supermassive. These stories took the characters they'd created, but added new relationships and events to their lives. "It delighted us," Heaton says. "We really tried to make the same thing happen again [in The Dark Pictures Anthology], but more; to give you more ways to make those relationships between the characters change and to make that change affect the narrative more."

The branching narratives in Until Dawn already seem massively expansive when you play for the first (or even the second or third) time. It sounds like in Man of Medan and the following Dark Pictures games, this is the kind of feeling they want to double-down on creating. "Every character can survive… every playable character can survive," Heaton clarifies. "Every character can die. We anticipate that a lot of people will see some characters dead by the end of their first playthrough, but every character can survive, yeah."

Heaton also spoke about how the streaming community's love for Until Dawn surprised the developer.  "We expected the game to be streamed, but it was massive for streamers and we loved that. That was a big thing for us and I think it really got the game out to more people, so again for us [with Man of Medan] it’s making sure people are still doing that and are still having a good time doing that."

If you want to know more about Man of Medan, you can read our hands-on with the game here.