Night Trap's Anniversary Release Interview with Tyler Hogle, Head of Screaming Villains
Night Trap is one of the games forever ingrained in gaming history. Thanks to the controversy of games such as Night Trap and Mortal Kombat, the ESRB Ratings Board was created. Mortal Kombat continued through the years, but Night Trap was a one-off that has laid dormant, as the era of Full-Motion Video games died down. Now, through a digital release and short physical run via Limited Run Games, Night Trap rises from the grave for a new generation of gamers. Ryan Johnson was able to sit down for an interview with Tyler Hogle, head of Screaming Villains, the studio responsible for the anniversary edition. The interview is below, with questions in bold. Be on the lookout for the official Gamer's Lounge review in the next week!
What made you decide to bring back such an admittedly campy game? What drew you to re-release a grainy Sega CD game? What did you do to update it?
It honestly started out as a project done out of boredom but at the same time a weird combination of being a joke and an experiment. I was already doing remakes of a couple of those types of games and then out of boredom, I took a crack at Night Trap and created a working prototype playable on a mobile device. The idea of playing Night Trap playing on a phone sounded ridiculous but that idea was enough for me to keep going with it. After 3 days, I finished a playable version of the game and showed it to a friend and he made the suggestion of posting a video of myself playing it on Youtube to gauge interest but do it anonymously. After uploading a short 5 minute video, it started getting attention but was surprisingly positive. Night Trap isn't a game that is usually looked at in a positive way so the reaction definitely caught me off guard. A few gaming websites contacted the owners of Night Trap to see if they had any involvement with it which they didn't. I decided to send them an email and the next thing I know I'm creating an official release.
The game was completely rebuilt from scratch since the original code to the game went missing throughout the years. I went back and read some of the reviews from the releases in the 90's and looked at comments on Youtube playthroughs just to see what the main complaints were and basically did whatever I could to fix all of those issues. I sort of looked at it as if a movie was getting a 25th anniversary bluray release so I wanted to include as much new and extra content as possible.
What did you do to get such quality versions of the original videos? How did you keep it faithful? Does it play identically to the original? Given how the game revolves around timing and such, did you aim for transitions/loading/etc. to match the original release, or is that cleaned up as well?
The original film for Night Trap is gone but a copy of the original masters still existed, which was intended for a VHS console called Control Vision that was eventually cancelled. What we got was the best source available which is pretty close to dvd quality. The game is still the same as people remember it but with a few twists because of deleted scenes being inserted back into the game. Some adjustments on timing were made to make it feel more natural when people go from one room to another for example. There's no load times either during gameplay so switching rooms is now immediate.
How do you feel games have changed since Night Trap's original release?
When Night Trap was originally released, a lot of people just assumed that games were for kids. Because of the rating system being introduced, there's now an effective way of targeting to a specific audience and games can almost do whatever they want as far as content goes. They've definitely become a lot more complicated and elaborate over the years too.
How would Night Trap have been changed if it was originally released today?
If it was released today it would probably be more horror and less campy. There were a lot of restrictions put on Night Trap when it was originally created. The version that everyone knows today is not what the game was originally intended to be.
Do you think there's a place in modern society for new "interactive movie" style games?
I think so. Those types of games from the 90's kind of gave that genre a bad rep which is totally understandable. Most gamers from that era don't remember them in a very positive way, and gamers of today didn't experience them themselves and have to rely on YouTube playthroughs. There's some good ones coming out today and it's slowly making a comeback it seems like. The newer ones are sort of reinventing the genre and new hardware is making things possible that couldn't really be done in the 90's. Now we're just waiting for someone to release that "killer title" that will make everyone take notice.
What is your favorite scene in the game? Who's your favorite character?
At the beginning of the develpment process I would've said Megan because she's the funny one and probably has the most memorable scenes in the game. Now that the game is finished, I would have to say Ashley because her capture scene is the most elaborate one from a design perspective and involves multiple videos switching back and for between multiple rooms. The way that entire section of the game is set up is really cool. The scene with the Augers breaking down the door with an ax is pretty rad too and looks like a scene from an 80's horror film.
Special thanks to the development team for allowing an interview. Keep an eye on The Gamer's Lounge over the course of the next week for the official review!