Friday the 13th game: interview with the developers!

Hey TalkHorror, I’m back with some of the promised gory details concerning the upcoming Friday the 13th game. We got an exclusive Q&A with co-developers Wes Keltner and, Ronnie Hobbs, and Randy Greenback with Gun Media earlier this month, but were sworn to secrecy concerning the answers until some of the hype died down. Now, with Friday the 13th’s kickstarter only 2/3rds of the way toward its bottom-line funding goal with two weeks to go until the final Friday, we plan to bring that hype back. Some of the points covered in the interview will be things fans already know about since the project’s announcement, while others we hope you’ll be excited to hear.

Without further ado, questions answered:


Q: Is there a single player mode?

(Wes Keltner – Co Creator): We have a plan to implement a single player mode, but it’s not a traditional narrative driven campaign. It will be challenges, in smaller sized areas. Scenarios plucked straight from the films, to allow fans to recreate their favorite scenes.

(Randy Greenback – Executive Director): Single player is a stretch goal that we all really hope we can hit. To go a little more in-depth on some of what we’re planning on doing in it though, I can say that we’re exploring rankings and timed play, with more unlockable content for those that make it through each challenge successfully. You can also view the challenge mode as a primer for the multiplayer side of the game, and the rewards earned will carryover.


Q: Is there a multiplayer mode?

(Wes Keltner – Co Creator): Yes, multiplayer is the focus of Friday the 13th: The Game. Asymmetrical multiplayer to be exact. But we’re not a competition or tournament based game. When squaring off against Jason Voorhees, there really isn’t a competition, is there? The main goal is to stay alive. It’s multiplayer that has similarities to a single player experience, with survival horror elements. There are goals that can be accomplished as team, cooperatively, or you can lone wolf it. It’s really up to you. We’ve all asked the same question when the credits roll on a horror movie…What would you do? Now we get to find out. Everyone has a plan, until your buddy gets a machete to the face.   


Q: Will the protagonists be customizable; since you mentioned Jason progresses through the game from his attire in Friday the 13th Part 2.

(Ronnie Hobbs – Co Creator): In Friday the 13th: The Game, it’s less about customizing, and more about slowly unlocking various versions of Jason Voorhees over time. We are putting a great deal of care into making sure each version of Jason is spot on, and this includes his clothing, weapon, and every inch of the mask. I think fans will be happy with our plan.


Q: Does Jason get stronger as the game advances?

(Ronnie Hobbs – Co Creator): Just like in the films, our Jason is a killing force that seemingly only gets stronger as the game advances. We haven’t discussed too much about this feature, but we definitely needed a way to keep camp counselors on the move and not hiding for the entire game. This was one solution, and we definitely have some cool stuff planned in this department.

(Randy Greenback Executive Director): We want to ensure that the player in control of Jason can drive the match by their choices, actions and inaction. Since Jason starts out overpowered, and can get more so as the game progresses, this already helps ensure that the intensity rises naturally to a crescendo. Things also get more hectic for the counselors as time goes on, while Jason has less to worry about with every victim that is killed. The tension builds so amazingly well already, and it will only get better from here on out.


Q: With the game targeting an M for Mature rating, do you foresee any difficulties trying to deliver gory death scenes? After all, you have a lot to live up to with this being a series that’s known for epic kill scenes.

(Randy Greenback Executive Director): I don’t anticipate any difficulties on that front. Our team of horror icons, specifically Tom Savini, dramatically decrease any worries I had at first actually. There are tons of games that are known for their blood and gore, in fact Jason made an appearance in one of them this past year.  We plan to get creative and truly grisly. The kills will be EPIC! I have no doubt that we’re going to push some boundaries in our game, and that might catch the eye of some. For any dissenters or those that are repulsed by gore, we can always point to the Friday the 13th films and the 80’s era where slashers ruled the video rental shops. Reasonable people should understand that we’re honoring the legacy of the genre and not only trying to be shocking for shock’s sake.


Q: How satisfying will the kills be? Can you give any details?

(Ronnie Hobbs – Co Creator): Creative and brutal kills are a huge part of the film franchise, and we know not including them would be a smack in the face to fans everywhere. We of course have Tom Savini spearheading this effort, but rest assured the entire team is focusing their efforts to make sure we deliver what fans expect.

(Wes Keltner – Co Creator): Ronnie is right, brutal kills are a staple and we’re going to embrace that as much as the ESRB will let us. Sure, you’ll see some familiar kills ripped straight from the films. But we have the Sultan of Splatter on the team! Why stop there? We’re unleashing Tom to do what Tom does best. Come up with innovative ways to kill teens with household implements, in the most gory way possible.


Q: How much of Camp Crystal Lake do you plan to cover? How much of the gameplay will be based around cabins? How much will take place in the woods?

(Randy Greenback – Executive Director): There will be a mix of outdoor and indoor gameplay, and it already feels natural. Think about being out at the camp and you know a killer is stalking the woods. Naturally you want to move from cabin to cabin, staying outdoors for as little time as possible. Jason rules Camp Crystal Lake, we all know that, but he’s truly adept when he’s in his element, chasing down and murdering counselors while outdoors at night.

(Ronnie Hobbs – Co Creator): As you know, the film version of Camp Crystal Lake and the surrounding area is vast and covers a lot of square miles. We definitely want to include as much as we can, but a lot of this will depend on how much we raise on Kickstarter. We do have new playable maps as Stretch Goals, so hopefully we hit those marks.

(Wes Keltner – Co Creator): We have a basic, greybox prototype we use to playtest levels, features and design ideas. Some of my favorite areas are the interiors. The pacing of the game slows a bit, once you’re inside. It becomes more cat and mouse. You can be stealthy if you choose to be, and the interiors provide the means to do so. There’s nothing like searching a cabin for items, only to catch a glimpse of Jason, outside, through the windows. Sheer panic.


Q: Can you explain how you intend to incorporate the lake itself? Can Jason enter the water? Can he hide in it?

(Ronnie Hobbs – Co Creator): Without spoiling too much, I can definitely say the lake itself will play a major role in our game. Jason can definitely enter and use it to his advantage. The camp counselors can also take a swim, but the way they interact with Crystal Lake will be a little different than what Jason can do. We will definitely be revealing more on this dynamic later.


Q: To return to the question of customizable protagonists: how fun will it be to play as the good guys? Will we be stuck with basic civilians, or will we get some fun guys like the “cop,” the “hunter” or the “psychic?”

(Randy Greenback – Executive Director): Great question! Early on we knew our focus had to be on making the gameplay fun with the counselors. Once we knew we were in a great place with the general gameplay around not being Jason, we began to explore a bit more. I definitely don’t want to give too much away, but I’m sure you’ll see a wider cast of characters in the game.

(Ronnie Hobbs – Co Creator): Character tropes are a huge part of any 80’s slasher and horror in general, so we definitely have plans to mimic this. Our goal is to have a nice selection of playable classes, with the end goal being each character plays and feels slightly different. This of course means including the Jock, Nerdy Guy, and the Hero/Final Girl. We have more planned, but these are just a few examples.


Q: Will there be any nods towards the movies in the game?

(Ronnie Hobbs – Co Creator): This is definitely something we can’t currently share, but assuming we are going to include nods to characters and locations is a safe bet.

(Wes Keltner – Co Creator): Yeah, we don’t want to spoil too much for the fans.

Editor’s note: Pamela Voorhees and Tommy Jarvis recently confirmed as stretch goals!


Q: Does Jason stick with his ole trusty machete or does he use a plethora of weapons?

(Randy Greenback – Executive Director): It runs the gamut really, and we are definitely planning a big mix of weapons. We all know Jason can be deadly with just about any ordinary household object available, and really that’s part of the fun too. In the game, shorter weapons let you slash a bit faster, where longer weapons provide more reach with the downside being they also more time to reel back to swing.

(Ronnie Hobbs – Co Creator): As stated earlier, each version of Jason Voorhees that can be unlocked will include a unique weapon and outfit. As you can see from our launch trailer and Key Art we do have the machete and axe, but I’m positive fans will enjoy our other selections as well.  


Q; How do you plan to balance horror and strategy?

(Ronnie Hobbs – Co Creator): I think it all comes down to making sure the tension level between Jason and the camp counselors is at the highest possible level. Jason needs to be this ultimate killing force, but not so strong that he wins in a matter of minutes. The camp counselors need just enough tools at their disposal to survive and possibly even defeat Jason, but it has to be really really difficult or the fear and tension level will suffer.  


Q: Are there any concepts of Jason you plan on excluding? Unless you have some crazy shit planned, we don’t see Uber Jason (from Jason X) making it in the lineup.

(Randy Greenback – Executive Director): We’re exploring the opportunities to pull something from each of the films in the series, and when it comes to Jason, he’ll get the same treatment. Our goal with offering multiple versions of Jason is to provide a variety of fan favorites, but also to mix up gameplay, ensuring each one plays a bit differently than the next. Players can unlock them all and see which one matches their playstyle the best.

(Ronnie Hobbs – Co Creator):I think that’s one aspect the team here is really excited about. Having Tom Savini revisit Jason for the first time in roughly 30 years is as exciting as it gets for horror fans. We can’t wait either!

(Wes Keltner – Co Creator): We’re not ruling anything out when it comes to what Jason’s might appear in game. We’d rather focus on a few, and then talk directly with fans. See what Jason’s they would love to see. The fans are what built this franchise. They should help us, build the ultimate Friday the 13th experience.


Q: How does the action phase of the game begin? Do the main players basically see an NPC killed by Jason? Do they begin in separate places, all noticing something is up? Does it start in medias res with everyone already aware of Jason, and Jason in a random place?

(Ronnie Hobbs – Co Creator): We definitely have something planned here, we just can’t currently comment.


Q: Does Pamela Voorhees (or her head) make an appearance?

(Ronnie Hobbs – Co Creator): We do have Pamela Voorhees as a Stretch Goal on our Kickstarter page, but the exact amount needed to bring her back is being kept a secret. Trust us, she’s in there somewhere….ready to return to Crystal Lake and exact her revenge!

(Wes Keltner – Co Creator): It’s not Crystal Lake without Mom, right? We just hope the fans feel the same way, and help us hit that goal.


Q: We can guess some things about Tom Savini’s involvement. What impact will Kane Hodder have on the production? Motion capture? I can imagine him possibly even having a role in the physics engine’s design, with his experience as a stunt man.

(Randy Greenback – Executive Director): Yeah, I’m sure there is a lot about Tom’s career that helps you guess as to what his focus on the project will be. There will be overlap though and everyone really ends up working together.

Tom will have 3 main areas that he’ll be focusing on for the project. First, he will be on working with the devs at Illfonic and their FX artists to hone in on the “practical FX” look for the blood flow, splatter, and gore. It’s important to all of us on the team that the game have the same look and vibe as the films did. By going after that look as our goal, we’ll naturally end up with a unique look for our game when compared to any others, and Tom’s FX knowledge will help play a huge part in that endeavor.

Second, Tom is designing custom variations on Jason for the game to help ensure that we give back to the tapestry of the franchise and lore, as we’re taking and paying honor to. His third and final focus is the Kills. Tom will be deciding on which of the kills from the film series that we should include in the game and prioritizing them, but also design new kills for the game specifically. It’s here that his work crosses over with Kane’s, and they collaborate on the physical side of how the kills will be carried out.

(Ronnie Hobbs – Co Creator): We knew we needed both a stuntman and someone to bring our killer to life, so our first and only choice was Kane Hodder obviously. Lucky for us, he happens to be a master in both of those areas. Other than donning the mask for the first time since 2001, Kane will lead our motion capture team, and direct the stuntmen in recreating our most brutal and demanding kills.

(Wes Keltner – Co Creator): Randy and Ronnie pretty much touched on how Kane will be a major part of this project. The part they failed to mention is how he loves to pull pranks. One of his favorites is sneaking up behind people and choking them to nearly passing out. It’s hilarious, unless you’re on the receiving end. Oh, and when he puts the mask on, he’s all business. Hell, even without the mask, he can turn it on like a switch. It’s awesome, and terrifying at the same time.


That’s all we can reveal right now, TalkHorror readers! We’d like to thank West Keltner and Ronnie Hobbs for their time. If this got you interested, please consider donating to the Kickstarter, not only so we can get the game Friday the 13th fans have waited over 20 years for, but hopefully some of those fun stretch perks as well. Stay informed, and we’ll see where we stand on November the 13th.

About Mitchell Boyd

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