Shattered Secrets: SharedSilent Hill: Shattered Memories: Post-Mortem
Hi everyone! Thanks again for the opportunity to answer varied questions for the game. It’s been over a year now since we announced it, and that means over a year of very similar questions! I enjoy seeing the types of questions you all really want answered. Just like last time, in some cases I’ve combined/re-worded similar questions that multiple people asked—so just because you don’t see your exact question doesn’t mean it isn’t answered! And I noticed several questions that boiled down to two sides arguing over the “true” interpretation of something. This is Silent Hill guys, I’m not going to answer those ? It’s more than likely both are equally true, and you just have to decide for yourself what to believe.
Oh – there are going to be spoilers. If you haven’t finished the game yet, please please please do so before reading this interview.
RELEASE and REVIEWS
Q: How hard was it to get it right? The atmosphere, the characters, the whole bit. I assume it was quite intimidating to reimagine one of the greatest survival horror games, especially the one with a fanbase so notoriously rabid and snotty. How much time was spent in getting it all right? Furthermore, how scared were you?
Tomm – It’s very hard getting it all right, especially working with different developers. One developer might be really skilled at creating creepy situations, but then maybe I have to focus more on creature designs to account for that. And then another developer might be the opposite, so I have a heavier burden helping design situations. In the end, whatever we come up with has to feel like Silent Hill should, and part of my job is making sure that happens, as the resident SH expert. But I’ve been doing it for several years now so it’s getting easier… now I make sure the developer has a firm grasp on what SH is before they start creating the game itself. Oh – and it’s always scary trying to please you folks. :)
Q: What was the most challenging part of creating SH:SM? Also, how much time did it take to incorporate the psyche profile and all of the changes that come with it into the game?
Tomm – The psych profile was definitely one of the trickier elements! However, it wasn’t as though we created the whole game and then put the psych profile inside it. Everything was built from the ground up to accommodate the system. Keeping all the endless variations sorted for voice recording, scripting, etc. was tricky for sure… but testing it was probably harder. We had to account for as many possible variations as we could. Testing this feature definitely took up a bulk of our QA time.
Q: Has the mixed reviews of SH:SM been as you expected or were you happily surprised how even the most devoted of fans really accepted the game and praised it as the best games since the original 3 or 4 games?
Tomm – I knew there would be some reviews that didn’t like the direction or just didn’t get it. I felt really strongly about the game we were making (and everyone at Climax definitely did too) though, so I tried to focus on the positive reviews. It was very nice to see some fans accepting it as “the best SH since _____” though. One thing that surprised me was how many reviews said “it has nothing to do with SH1 beyond character names” considering the game’s flow mirrors SH1’s exactly, location to location. Whitney’s site actually has a really detailed chart explaining this.
Q: If you could go back in time and release SH:SM instead of SH:O, would you?
Tomm – Of course not. Origins was a huge accomplishment, and the reason we knew Climax could handle a Wii version of Silent Hill (not to mention the reason PSP and PS2 versions were possible). The team put SHO together in a very limited amount of time with almost no resources to draw upon from the prior development team and they should be proud of the game they created. It was also the first Silent Hill I got to work on, even though my role was pretty minor.
Q: The changes resulting from the Psych Profile seemed mostly cosmetic. Did you originally intend these to be more ambitious? Was it a development limitation? Was this aspect of the game just too ambitious? I was also disappointed by Heavy Rain’s attempt at this concept.
Tomm – The core idea Climax envisioned was that no matter how you played, the game would appear tailored to you. The things you saw, etc. would have a eerie connection to your psychology, and how you approached the game. I feel this was accomplished. The idea was never to have, say, 5 entirely separate scenarios, each thematically different than the last. Doing that (or having entirely different levels, or entirely different Nightmares) would involve a much larger game, and take a whole lot longer to create.
Q: With all the hype both from the fans and the PR department of KONAMI, do you personally feel that this game lived up to or perhaps even surpassed the expectations given to it?
Tomm – It lived up to its promise for me. Considering that pre-release a lot of people were still expecting a port of the original game with nicer graphics and Wii controls, I definitely think the game surpassed those expectations by providing an entirely new experience.
Q: Now that Shattered Memories is complete, with you as Producer, how have your views on making Silent Hill games changed? Have any of your views been affirmed?
Tomm – I wouldn’t say my ideas about making Silent Hill have changed. Since this was my first SH as Producer, a lot of the ideas I encouraged with Climax are ones that I’d had for a while. It really confirmed a lot. For one, how broad the concept of “Silent Hill” can be. For so long, all the games had a narrow focus, on rust and nurses and Pyramid Head. When we went with the ice, the Nightmares, etc. a lot of people were worried, or thought it didn’t look at all like Silent Hill. Given the positive fan response, it’s clear that everyone is onboard with Silent Hill having all these new things in it. Maybe you didn’t like the ice itself, but very few said “this isn’t rust, it’s not the Otherworld—Silent fail.”
This gives us a lot more room in the future to allow Silent Hill to be unique. For you, the players, it means Silent Hill can continue to scare you for years to come – rather than turning into a very predictable, rusty formula.
Q: How well did Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, sell? Did it outperform expectations or did it sell badly?
Tomm – I can’t really go into detail about this. Shattered Memories is neither the best-selling nor the worst-selling Silent Hill title.
Q: If you could go back and tweak just one thing, what would it be and why?
Tomm – There isn’t much I’d want to change. Probably one thing is I would try to incorporate more of the old sound effects. Working on the new Silent Hill, each time I hear one of the classic sounds I’m reminded how much I missed them in Shattered Memories. A lot of you noticed that the Silent Hill 1 mandolin opening is one of Harry’s ringtones… I’d probably like to go back and turn his text message tone into the “found an item” sound effect.
Q: What made you include Michelle in the game since she wasn’t in the original? What does she add to the storyline?
Tomm – As this was a reimagining, we had room to create new characters to explore our new themes. Since Dahlia appears from the start of her relationship with Harry, and Harry appears the same age he was at the time of the car crash, it’s hard to understand the details of their relationship. We meet them as characters, we know they had a relationship… but what was it like? Examining Michelle and John could provide some insight.
Q: Churros, champurrado, tequila, being too “hot blooded” to feel the cold, the accent, the red dress and the singing, obviously, Michelle’s nationality was very… prominent in her character. Any particular reason for this?
Tomm – Including characters of varying race is important to add realism to games that take place with America as their setting. Obviously there’s no benefit in just having “token _____ character” so some thought has to be put into it… but it doesn’t make sense for everyone in Silent Hill to be Caucasian. We had a lot of debates about what the ethnic diversity of Silent Hill would be—at one point Michelle was Asian! In the end though we decided on our Cuban singer, Michelle Valdez.
Q: Does the blonde version of young Dahlia have any connection to Dahlia from the “Among the Damned” SH graphic novel?
Tomm: Not at all. This was just a coincidence.
Q: Some fans have speculated that Cheryl is living out an Electra Complex through the manifestation of Dahlia. Was this intentional? How did the idea come about?
Tomm – When I heard this I was pretty surprised to be honest! It’s Silent Hill, so any interpretation is fairly valid, but it’s not something I ever thought about. I guess Sam could have snuck it in under my nose, but I don’t think he’d given the idea that much thought either. This view of the plot tends to involve the idea that every single character in the narrative is an aspect of Cheryl. I know a lot of fans prefer this view so that works for them. Personally I tend to look at the plot from a different angle. In any case, the line “I love my Daddy!” isn’t meant to be taken in a creepy way; just the innocent declaration of a child.
Q: In Lost Memories, it’s been stated that Harry was originally to be named “Humbert” and Cheryl “Dolores” (characters in the novel Lolita), but that these names were changed to avoid unfortunate implications regarding their relationship. Do you find the popular idea that Cheryl is in love with her father to be ironic, given these circumstances?
Tomm – That is ironic, for sure. I guess Shattered Memories did end up addressing themes that couldn’t make it into the original game. Ha ha.
Q: I was just wondering if there was any specific reason behind why you gave Cheryl the middle name Heather. I’ve assumed thus far that it was just kind of a reference to SH3, but if there was any other reasons behind it, I’d like to know. Thanks!
Tomm – It’s just a reference to SH3 (it’s the alias Harry gives to Cheryl so that the cult can’t find them). Since we never know Cheryl’s middle name, it wasn’t a stretch to imagine that’s where Harry derived her alias from.
Q: Why does Lisa die regardless of the player’s actions? I wish I could have saved her.
Tomm – There is probably someone in Harry’s life he wishes he could have saved, and seeing that play out would display his sensitive, caring, protective emotions. That’s probably why Lisa appears in the narrative. Conversely, there’s also probably someone Cheryl wishes hadn’t died, but try as she might that will never change.
Q: To me, Lisa felt like the most “real” character in SM. In both games, SH1 and SH:SM, Lisa died. Was the team trying to match the time-line together?
Tomm – It was easy to make players care about Lisa and work hard to save her life because so many players already love Lisa. She’s always been a very compelling character and we wanted to test the fans’ feelings for her. I should point out that a lot of players who were unsatisfied with her treatment in Origins (citing that she was more pure and innocent than portrayed) probably took the time to watch her change clothes in Shattered Memories. I’m sure Dr. K would have a lot to say about that…
Q: Do you have psychologists in your team? I am a psychologist, and some of Dr. K’s reactions were a bit… more… Hollywood-ish than actually therapeutic.
Tomm – I’ve always been interested in psychology and took a lot of classes in College, and I’m sure the same is true of a lot of guys at Climax. However, we did not have a dedicated psychologist on the team making these decisions (though Mark and Sam both visited a therapist to research those scenes!). Dr. K was definitely meant to have an eccentric personality (the player isn’t necessarily meant to feel at ease during those sessions). Would you expect any less of a psychologist in Silent Hill?
Q: We fans have generally come to the conclusion that everything in the game represents Cheryl’s memories. However, there are some instances that don’t seem to fit into this idea, such as the “mini story” involving Joel and Joel Jr, the choking game, etc. There are also events (the family pet) that she couldn’t have witnessed. Does this have any significance?
Tomm – There are a lot of ways to look at the plot (something you guys already know, judging by the forums!). The way you’ve proposed, all the events were literally conjured up by Cheryl during therapy, and so things like the Hunter and his son (that don’t involve a female at all) seemingly couldn’t have happened to Cheryl. If you want to make them fit, you could say that these happened to Cheryl’s friends, or were events she heard about. Since they involve fathers, or other themes loosely connected to Cheryl, she integrated them into her narrative.
Personally I take a different approach, and imagine that Harry is a Maria-esque manifestation that roams the town, Cybil is a real police officer, etc. In this instance, all these messages are just creepy/skeevy/strange things that happened, and their echoes have remained trapped by the town. Since Harry is somewhat of a spirit, he can hear/see remnants of these events, and the true character of the town rather than the outside appearance that people might work to keep nice and happy. He sees some that involve Cheryl directly, like the mall thief – this is him slowly retracing his daughter’s steps on his search. Others he just happens to pick up along the way. If you take this view, you’ll have to decide for yourself which events are Cheryl and which aren’t.
I want to stress you can look at the game either way. Shattered Memories especially is YOUR vision of Silent Hill.
Q: Which approach did Climax take when dealing with Cheryls sickness, the term “Complicated grief”? Did she really deny his death entirely and live with a delusion for 18 years, or was there more to it?
Tomm – This is an interesting question and probably one best left to individual interpretation. I don’t feel that “complicated grief” is a condition that lends itself to concrete definition since it’s something that varies from person to person and we don’t truly understand the exact cause, or full extent, of. Clearly part of Cheryl was clinging to the idea that Harry was still alive. However it’s couldn’t simply be her literally thinking that. The way to look at it, if this makes any sense, is: Cheryl didn’t think “my father is still alive.” But she did think “my father didn’t die.”
Someone experiencing complicated grief is prone to making dangerous, harmful life decisions. It’s clear from the storyline told via echoes that she at least flirted with substance use, didn’t make the best decisions about her friends, and turned to crime (and potentially stabbed a guard!). Clearly Cheryl has lived a trouble life after Harry’s death.
Our approach was taking the life of this girl who reacted tragically to her father’s death, and seeing it through the eyes of said father, learning about her life after the accident. There’s a story there whether you prefer to see it through Cheryl’s eyes or through Harry’s hypothetical ones.
Q: I didn’t understand the sleaze and sirens ending very well. Could you explain it?
Tomm: Throughout the game we know someone is watching this video tape of happy times at Lakeside between Harry and Cheryl. And every time the person reaches the end of the scene, they rewind to see the happy part again, as if there is something tragic they are avoiding. This fits into the overall theme of the game, of course. Each ending shows that the same tape was used in filming a different, more revealing moment. I know you’re really asking me what Lisa and Michelle’s roles in this ending could possibly mean but I’m not going to answer that. ?
Q: At the end of game Cheryl leaves together with Dahlia (who looks younger). Does this mean she is still trapped in the world of her delusion?
Tomm – If you get this scene in the ending, Dahlia appears to be wearing the same clothes she does in the ending (when Cheryl was 7) rather than the clothes she wears in the game (as a 20-something and an older woman) but you never get a good look at her face. This was done on purpose. What we see in the game is perhaps Cheryl’s projection of her mother from her own mind. It’s obvious that Harry was the favorite parent, but Dr. K says “your mother isn’t the monster you make her out to be.” We didn’t want to answer HOW similar/different Dahlia actually is. That’s up to the player. So in this ending scene, all we know is that Dahlia is different from what Cheryl imagined—how different is something for you to decide.
Q: The biggest question I have involves how to interpret the game as a whole. The individual outcomes each end up portraying Harry and his personality with differences so extreme that they appear to contradict one another. Given the nature of the game, I don’t think anyone assumes that any particular ending is objectively “correct”. Is it proper to consider each scenario as a separate but equally-“true” depiction of Harry, or that none of them are specifically true, and each reflect aspects of the man’s true personality?
Tomm – The intent of the game, as I mentioned earlier, is for the story as a whole, and all its elements, to be tailored to the player given the decisions they made during gameplay. So if you take the “drug path” and see a lot of drug paraphernalia throughout the game, you should not be assuming you’re seeing “part of the story” – you should think of this as “your” version of the story. I know a lot of games take the “play four times to see the whole story!” but that wasn’t our goal here. Each playthrough is its own complete narrative. So our intent with the endings is that whatever footage you receive is “the truth” about Harry. That truth is different for each player. (Just like Silent Hill 2… James didn’t leave town with Maria, without her, and then drive into the lake—only one of those things could have happened)
Q: In the end, did Cheryl make up with her mother (good ending, love lost one)?
Tomm – That’s something you have to decide for yourself.
Q: I liked the UFO quest, it was a different way of getting a funny ending, what gave you the idea for the quest?
Tomm – The UFO hunt was a really great idea from Climax. We wanted to do something interesting since in the original Silent Hill you had to go from place to place looking for the white light. I suggested we find those places in our SH and require you to call a number, but instead Climax created the whole UFO hunt idea (which works a lot better).
Actually, originally there were no plans for a UFO ending at all, but during the preliminary voice recording Sam and I came up with the concept and it was just too good to pass up. So Climax created assets to create the ending using in-game cinematics, and I have models of all the characters that appear in the ending. However, we hit a time crunch and in those instances you can’t put resources on a joke ending if work still needs to be done on the main game (naturally). So I shifted gears and contacted Kinuko, who is a great artist and a big SH fan, to see if she could draw the UFO ending we’d scripted. Before we knew it, we had the animatic ending you can see in Shattered Memories! A lot of the background elements (the note, the shadow monster, the flauros) were her additions.
This is how hard we all work to have cool stuff for the fans. :) (fun fact: at one point we had reimagined Mira as a different breed of dog!)
Q: Can SH:SM be cannon in relation to the first and third parts of the series? In general, is there a Force of the Foggy Hill, as in the original?
Tomm – As I said in the last interview, SM is just as canonical as any entry in the series. It goes perfectly with the “bad” ending of SH1. Generally I don’t really think of the powers in Silent Hill as a “Force” that has intentions or design. I tend to lean toward the idea that it’s a gathering of energies in a specific place that happens to give shape to a person’s inner mind. Technically “Silent Hill” – the weird, scary place – is inside everyone’s head. But that’s just my view.
Q: Clearly, Shattered Memories was meant to interact with SH1 and the fans’ feelings. Based on the Toluca Mall scenario, I think it was also meant to interact with SH3. One interpretation a forum member has posited is that Vincent was a previous psychologist of Cheryl’s, given the things he says and where we first meet him (in a mental health clinic). What do you personally think of this interpretation?
Tomm – Ha ha, I think looking into Vincent as a therapist is a little out there. But, I do consider Shattered Memories to actually be somewhat of a Silent Hill 3 reimagining, rather than SH1. If you look at the bad ending of the first game, SM makes perfect sense as a direct sequel.
Q: Does Shattered Memories interact with Origins in any way?
Tomm – Not directly, no. But there are some references if you know where to look, such as the songs playing in the background of the CinePhone reviews.
Q: Earlier, there was a statement about how you uncovered certain secrets of the original team’s intentions, regarding SH1. Did any of these end up making their way into Shattered Memories? If so, could you give us a clue of which direction to look for them?
Tomm – Yes, at the start of developing the game, we spoke with members of the original team. But these “secrets” were more like their intentions at the time, the inspiration behind what they were trying to accomplish, etc. So these were less “hidden meanings” and more like, trying to create a cinematic experience in a video game, etc.
THE FUTURE of SH
Q: Is Climax working on another Silent Hill?
Tomm – The only Silent Hill we’ve announced is the teaser from Gamer’s Night, which is being developed by Vatra.
Q: Does Climax also share ideas and dev tips with other SH devs like Double Helix, and now Vatra games who are working on the next HD console game? Or is the Silent HIll relationship just between Climax and Konami and it is Konami who oversees each one by themselves?
Tomm – Konami is in charge of all the Silent Hill games, and providing information or assets. The developers that work on the games are separate entities and don’t communicate with one another. If two games are being created in unison (like Origins and Homecoming) Konami sometimes shares information or assets from one developer to the other to provide crossover moments (like Travis driving Alex into Shepherd’s Glen).
Q: Many fans would like to see another girl or woman be a central character in a new game. I for one would also love to see Heather return as I wonder what she’s been going through following the events of SH3. I very much prefer new characters and new unrelated stories, but I’m also open to proper ‘sequel’ ideas like how SH3 followed SH1. What are your thoughts?
Tomm – I think having another female protagonist is a good idea; it’s not really something we’ve explored enough in the series. As for direct sequels, I think it’s really hard. In a good SH game you explore and delve inside someone’s psychology and eventually acquire a resolution. It’s difficult to make that same character or story interesting a second time. However, having elements continue between one game to the next is something we’re thinking about.
Q: Are you proud of how it turned out for the fans and do you have hope that the idea of “the game playing you” be used more and more in the future of gaming?
Tomm – I definitely think the idea of a game keeping track of all the decisions you make could have really great applications! Specifically with AI/difficulty or branching storylines. I hope that people get into Shattered Memories and then start thinking of new ways to use those ideas—not just in a creepy “we’re inside your mind” scenario, but just for game design in general. Imagine a game that knew you always seemed to choose the left path when given a choice…and then stationed a ton of enemies along an upcoming passage to ambush you. Or even giving characters just a ton of possible lines so that a conversation would be unique to you. As memory capacity for games gets bigger and bigger, we shouldn’t always focus on graphics—we could do a lot of cool stuff like this, too.
Q: This game had so many new elements to it, i.e. the independent saves, the psych profile, etc. Can you say which one you really think or hope that will be used again in future SH games?
Tomm – Besides the ones I answered above, of course, probably just intuitive motion controls. I feel like this is something everyone is over-thinking. With Move and Natal on the horizon, it’s going to be frustrated if everyone fixates on waving the controllers back and forth vigorously.
Q: Given advances made with motion controllers such as Wii Motion+ and PS3 Move, could we see melee and shooting combat make a return for Silent Hill? Having tried Wii Sport’s resort’s sword fighting, and demos showcasing the accuracy of the Move, I’d love to see Silent Hill attempt to make combat more engaging in this way! Also I’m sure the puzzles and exploration can also benefit from more accurate motion!
Tomm – There are definitely ways to make monster encounters in Silent Hill interesting. I think melee combat with motion control could be great.
Q: How do you feel about stereoscopic 3-D gaming? The PS3 will be supporting this feature this year! Having experienced a bit of 3-D gaming and watching 3-D movies like Avatar, I’m very excited just thinking about the possibility of future Silent Hill games being playable in 3-D! Is this something you and your development team are interested in? Perhaps even for the upcoming Nintendo 3DS?
Tomm – 3D definitely has some sweet possibilities for gaming. I’m personally looking forward to E3 when we’ll get some more details on the 3DS! Moving into the future with new technologies, if there are exciting new ways to scare people, I’m sure Silent Hill will take advantage of them.
Q: I was one of those people dreading how Shattered Memories would turn out, but in the end, I really loved it! I’m totally open to seeing you guys try new things with Silent Hill, though I prefer them being canonical, or at least in the same ‘universe’ as the existing games. Are there ways you can still experiment from within the canon Silent Hill lore?
Tomm – Shattered Memories isn’t non-canon you guys ? Silent Hill is a very broad topic with a lot of possibilities. Back in the day, as a gamer, I read an interview with the Silent Hill 2 team and they said the great part about Silent Hill is that the story was about the town, and the various people who encounter it – not about one specific character or group. I would like to continue this legacy, as I think SH is at its best when it’s about the town, what it represents, and the effect it can have on a person. It’s much easier to continue the series for a long time if it’s vignettes featuring different people in an overall universe rather than following one person, bloodline, or story arc. It also means each game can be a self-contained narrative rather than worrying about cliffhangers or loose ends.
Q: I loved the psychological aspect of Shattered Memories and the way it changed the game depending on the player. I also agree that doing it the same way again wouldn’t be a great idea. I’m sure there are ways of implementing such things in the background of normal puzzles that you need to do to progress much like other puzzles except there isn’t a right answer to these in particular of course… Perhaps scattering them around this way amongst more normal puzzles would be great! Are you looking at other ways to incorporate these aspects into the game? And of course it would also need to fit in with the narrative too, right?
Tomm – This is definitely something I’d like to further develop as the series continues. Ideally I would like it to happen without you even knowing about it. Maybe you play Silent Hill 9, and then you’re talking about it with your friends years later awaiting Silent Hill 10 and it occurs to you that they’re referencing something entirely different than your experience. That type of surprise would be awesome.
Q: Do you guys play around with such ideas when you tackle a new game? Is there some kind of outline that you must follow and try to go around that the original Team Silent creators established for consistency? I know that consistent elements help make it seem like there are rules to the world thus making it feel more realistic! Given the similarities of various monster types in various games I feel there is a sense of consistency that should not be embarked from…
Tomm – The “rules” are the previous games and the loose facts and theories they established. The one thing I’ve consistently done across all the Western-developed Silent Hills is make sure they fit into this framework and universe. But I should be clear these rules are things like “the monsters should represent something about the character” – not “there have to be nurses”.
Q: Will you be working with Vatra for the new Silent Hill game?
Tomm – I am definitely deeply involved in the upcoming Silent Hill we’re making with Vatra. However I’m not the Producer this time – that honor goes to Devin Shatsky. He’s a real horror-game guy and he also understands what makes Silent Hill work. We’ve been cooking up a lot of great surprises for you guys, so look forward to E3 when you’ll get a new glimpse into Silent Hill!
Q: Will you continue to head production of future Silent Hill games? I’d like it if you did.
Tomm – Thanks! It means a lot to hear that.
Q: IF you would have the chance of making a re-imagining for Silent Hill 2, would you do it or you actually consider that game to be perfect in every way and that it needs to remain untouched?
Tomm – Silent Hill 2 is my favorite game in the series, and playing it for the first time years ago was definitely a big deal. I don’t think it needs to be re-imagined (of course SH1 didn’t *need* to be either, it’s a fantastic game too). However, I wouldn’t say SH2 is “perfect” – that’s a pretty loaded term. Games can only be judged as products of their time, and the state of the industry when they were created. Localization, voice acting, motion capture, etc. were in much different places in 2001 than they are today. Frequent combat was required back then, while today we have games like Heavy Rain where you can spend a while playing with your children. It’s hard to say any game was “perfect” – but that also means someone remaking an old game wouldn’t make it any more or less “perfect” in the grand scheme of things.
Q: Purely a fan question, but did you give the entire OST a listen and if so, which track(s) would you say was/were your favorite?
Tomm – I most definitely heard all the music, I’m the Producer ? I helped order the tracks and put the soundtrack together (I even helped name them!). It’s hard to nail down one track as my favorite, though… I really like the vocal songs because I worked with Joe to make sure the lyrics actually applied to the game without spoiling any plot details. The ambient tracks are great too, though, and a lot of the Nightmare songs stand out to me. “Angel’s Scream” is really ominous, for example. “Another Warm Body” has a great sound to it that reminds me of the 16-bit RPGs I grew up playing. Back to the vocals though, it’s a tough choice but my favorite is “Hell Frozen Rain”. I love the version of the classic Silent Hill theme that Yamaoka-san fit in during the bridge (I had a huge grin the first time I heard his final version), and the lyrics that end the song are really sneaky. They’re altered from the normal chorus, and they provide a “classic SH fan” flavor.
Q: The in-game music is radically different from the OST, i was wondering if there are plans on releasing the Complete Soundtrack. Also, were the changes in music only to create a better feeling (like Angel’s scream was changed very much) on the surroundings? Were you in some way “unhappy” with the OST?
Tomm – Climax designed the music to fill in and out based on the intensity of the gameplay. So if you’re just exploring there might only be 2 channels of music, but when you approach a puzzle (or a Raw Shock finds you) more tracks fill in to provide heavier aural presence. This means when we received final tracks from Yamaoka-san, they were in pieces. Climax assembled these pieces so they would work well in game and could filter in/out as necessary. When we were creating the soundtrack, however, we had Yamaoka-san mix the tracks the way he wanted to for the best listening experience. I assure you these are the same songs as you hear in game, they’re just arranged differently.
Q: Since Akira Yamaoka left Konami, he has stated that he’s still open to composing for Silent Hill. Have you guys been in touch following this? Is a working relationship with him still possible?
Tomm – I can’t comment on Akira’s relationship with Konami moving forward, but I’m a big fan of his and can’t wait to hear what he does next!
Q: What is your favorite SH song, from all the soundtracks?
Tomm – Love Psalm, from Silent Hill 2. When Akira sends us pre-final cuts of the vocal songs (for Mary to record her vocals to) he has an instrument playing what will become the vocal melody. Love Psalm sounds exactly like one of these recording tracks, and it makes me wonder if Akira was hoping to record vocals in SH2, prior to his work on SH3. I guess I should ask him about it. Anyway, once I noticed this quality, Love Psalm became my instant favorite. I like imagining what the lyrics might have been if things had been different.
Q: What happened to the production blog after the US Wii release? It sounded like you had a bit more in store to share or talk about…but in the end updates just stopped. Are there any plans to pick it up again in the future?
Tomm – This was unfortunate. I’d wanted to keep the blog going through the EU release, and I’d planned to do a Let’s Play-style walkthrough of the original Silent Hill to get people geared up for the reimagining (and to point out some references to US players who had already completed SM). Unfortunately we hit crunch time on Rocket Knight and I couldn’t devote time to the playthrough. I apologize for leaving some of you hanging.
Q: What do you think would have changed it Harry was allowed a certain amount of combat? Do you regret taking the non-combat approach?
Tomm – This is a tricky line to walk, and once the game was released everyone formed their own ideas about the “ideal” way to handle combat in a Silent Hill. At the end of the day, we wanted the focus of the Nightmares to be on escaping, fleeing, etc. If we had given Harry any combat abilities (say, kicking monsters or throwing debris at them) players would have used these abilities constantly, as a combat system. It’s just human nature, with so many games *about* fighting, it’s second nature to find a way to fight back and then to continually do that. Since we were trying to create situations where there was no choice but to run, we couldn’t have included “optional” combat.
Q: The game uses very open environments, like the mall and the streets, both in “Foggy World” as in Otherworld; was this on purpose, and for what meaning or goal was this done so?
Tomm – During exploration we wanted to return to that feeling from SH1 and 2 of exploring the town. These games had extended periods where you were on the streets of Silent Hill and could roam around looking at various things, rather than being led from one point to the next. This is something I (and lots of fans, I’m sure) miss in the later games. I wanted to have this element in Shattered Memories so Silent Hill felt like a real place.
In the Nightmare worlds, we wanted the player to feel isolated and alone, and this can be accomplished both in open and compact spaces. If you’ve ever gone outside in the snow, there’s a particular feeling where you realize everything is deadly silent, and if you aren’t with someone, you feel very isolated and alone even if you can see your house nearby. This is really creepy, and I wanted it to come across in the open areas of the Nightmare. I especially feel it in the first few areas of the Hospital, after the wheelchair segment. The school has a few, as well.
Q: When making SHSM, which game was your main inspiration?
Tomm – Silent Hill 1, of course! And to an extent, Silent Hill 2. We really set out to imagine Silent Hill 1 if it had the focus and aim of Silent Hill 2.
Q: Do you think about “re-imagining” another game, not especially in the Silent Hill franchise?
Tomm – It would be interesting, but it would have to be in a way that serves the strengths of that franchise. What is great about Silent Hill is that all the subjectivity and ambiguity lends it to being reimagined. How can you trust what you remember about the game when the character can’t trust what they see and remember? With another franchise, it wouldn’t work that way. I’d have to think of a clever way to work it in whatever universe that was.
Q: Do you think that overall it was a good idea to be so upfront about the game’s progress w/ the fans, to involve them. Looking back, do you think it was a good idea to hold interviews (such as this one) was a good idea and if so, would you be willing to continue this trend in the future?
Tomm – I certainly enjoy informing the fans on a more personal level. My favorite interviews to read growing up where the very rare instances where a game person would really speak to the fans. And hopefully it comes across that I’m into the games that I’m working on. However it’s hard as sometimes people express their criticisms a bit more personally than they would if you hadn’t done blogs and interviews like this one. It’s a hard balance and I guess I’m still working on it.
Q: Firstly, thanks for this wonderful game. I have to ask, who assembled the voice actors and the mo-caps? Because, to tell you the truth, I already “saw” the ending playing half way through. So, what really made me love this game was that, the voice actors and the mo-caps. They almost, ALMOST! made me tear when I played through the end. =]
Tomm – With the exception of Harry, who I cast as soon as I saw his character model, things were handled by the pro’s at Technicolor. They’d send us audition reels and Climax would pick out their favorites and unless I had a problem we’d go with them. Sam supervised the mo-cap and both myself and Sam were there for all the voice recording to ensure it came out naturally and well-acted. Lots of credit goes to our many directors, which include Silent Hill’s own Mary Elizabeth McGlynn! She’s obviously been involved musically with the series for years, but she said it was a lot of fun to get behind the director’s chair. Unfortunately she couldn’t lend her voice acting talents this time, but maybe someday!
Q: Is it possible to have a short video of “The making of Shattered Memories” to show us the thoughts about the game by the people of Climax? Like what Team Silent did for SH1, SH2, and SH3. =P It’ll be interesting for us (the fans) to listen what they were trying to accomplish and after they had finished making the game.
Tomm – We’re all currently on new projects and it’s not really possible to take the time to assemble something like this. Sorry! I would have loved to do something like this during production, but we weren’t able to get it organized at the time.
Q: I just wanted to say as a fan of the original games I loved all the little homages you guys fit into Shattered Memories! Were there any homages that you personally suggested to be included? Also after the game’s release, were there any unintentional connections pointed out by fans that surprised you?
Tomm – Well, the UFO Ending for one, as I explained above ? I’m sure there were others I suggested; I’m pretty annoying about this type of thing regardless of the game I’m working on (sorry Climax!). However, Climax has a lot of SH fans on the team and they didn’t need any help coming up with references. I really like the memento that resembles the Air Screamer from SH1. The homage to Alessa’s teacher also went over my head until right before release. I didn’t notice the Maria shadow in the UFO ending until the game came out. Rule 1 of being a super detailed SH-head is to hire other super detailed SH-heads to watch your back!
Q: Do you have any specific favorite movies/books/shows/games? Do you consider any of these to be influential or inspirational to you?
Tomm – I like a lot of different movies/books/shows/games and I’m sure they all influence me in many ways creatively. A short list in random order: Christopher Nolan films, Hayao Miyazaki films, Braveheart, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Lost in Translation, 1984, Earnest Hemingway, House of Leaves, Haruki Murakami, LOST, House MD, Parenthood, and games too numerous to mention.
Q: Prior to your work with Konami and games like Silent Hill, you were involved with Atlus and games like the Shin Megami Tensei series. What did your work for Atlus involve and how did you make the switch to Konami?
Tomm – Since this is a Konami interview I can’t talk too much about Atlus, but while there I worked mainly on game localization which is adapting a game’s Japanese script into English. I came to Konami because I wanted to be involved in the process of actually creating games, and I wanted to be able to pitch my own ideas and concepts. I still have a lot of friends at Atlus and they do a great job.
Q: What Raw Shock did you, personally, get?
Tomm – Honestly, I’ve played the Nightmares so many different times that the Raw Shocks blend together in my mind so I don’t remember which one was “mine”. However, I can tell you that playing it for real, I got the “Wicked and Weak” ending.
Q: Can you pinpoint a specific element/scene/character that was really the highlight of the game for you?
Tomm – This question was asked so many times, I think I’ll answer it different ways, in true Shattered Memories style. :)
The characters and dialogue in Shattered Memories are really top-notch, and Dr. K specifically became one of my favorite game characters of all time. His voice and his look instantly tell you that he’s a little bit…unconventional, and as the game goes on his methods get more and more bizarre. I knew this was something we’d need to really nail if it was going to work, and I think we did. I think all the therapy scenes are great.
I also really like our interpretation of “Nowhere” – it accomplishes a really great sense of not knowing where you are and feeling like the world around you is against you.
Q: Which scene and character is your personal favorite in SH:SM and why?
Tomm – Dahlia is easily my favorite character in SM. I prefer her purple punk goth version, but she’s great no matter what. I knew we had something on our hands when Climax presented the idea of her being so young, and Harry’s wife. When we told Yamaoka-san he was stunned! But the way she turned out exceeded my expectations; she really took on a life of her own. Something about the way her facial mo-cap fit with the VO and her body animations just “fits” and she comes off like a real person. Since it all meshes so perfectly, most of her lines are my favorites in the game. Two specifically are when you first meet her, “Stop being a dick”, and then later on in the game, when she sarcastically says “It’s a boat!” Her attitude for both of these lines is spot-on.
Q: Tell us your favourite line from the game!
Tomm – Probably the line I delivered myself: “sigh… Wrong day again?”
Thanks again everyone! I really enjoyed participating in these interviews. I would have to say my favorite question of all time was from the previous interview, when RESTORATION01 asked if we would finally learn the name of Harry’s wife. I answered it with a very satisfied smirk, the reason for which should be obvious now.
Please look forward to the future of Silent Hill—it looks bright! Or…dark! But foggy nonetheless!
A massive thank you to Tomm (and Jay!) for their time and patience in trawling through our loooong list of queries, and, of course, thanks also to all of the forum members who took the time to submit such challenging, interesting questions!
Do Tomm’s answers just throw up more questions? Want to talk with other Silent Hill fans? Visit us at the SHHF forum and join the discussion!