Steamforged Games threw him out of the park with Resident Evil 2, and now they are back with Resident Evil 3: The board game that broke Kickstarter. The campaign is almost over, but if you’re stuck with the support of the project, we have something that can help you with that decision. I had the opportunity to speak with Sherwin Matthews, the designer of Resident Evil 3 from Steamforged Games: The board game, and as you’ll see in our conversation, the franchise couldn’t be in better hands. Matthews is a big fan of the franchise and that knowledge, combined with what Steamforged learned in Resident Evil 2, made Resident Evil 3 even better than Survival Horror and paved the way for one of the biggest innovations in the new game.
For Resident Evil 3, most of us were very happy with the core engine and the way the characters in general were moved and felt, Matthews said. What we really wanted to develop was the idea that you’re in town now, and we had this incredible idea early on: Wouldn’t it be great if you could explore the city in the open world? Wouldn’t it be surprising? When you enter a certain area, you’ll find a door that you have to go through, but it’s locked with a padlock so you have to find the key. It makes you want to go in a different direction and explore that path. When you finally find the key, step back, open the gate and move on.
You’ll find objects and paths to hold onto in case you come across an object that uses them, just like in the console versions of the game, although in many cases you won’t have to search for those hidden objects to complete the game, which enriches the gameplay.
Matthews said it wasn’t just the basic Resident Evil mechanics they used in the original games, but something we really thought was incredible. If we give players the chance to explore themselves easily and get to know the game in a way that suits them, it will immediately add a lot of extra features to the game.
You and up to four other players play for the characters from the original game, including a player who plays for Nikolai. Those who have played the game know that in the end he betrayed the team, and this has led some to talk about including him in the character.
So Nicholas presented us with an interesting challenge, Matthews said. We wanted the four survivors to be truly identifiable. In Resident Evil 2, for example, Sherry would be the fourth survivor, but unfortunately, because we didn’t want anyone to be accused: You have to play a character who can’t attack, we’ve finally turned her into Robert Kendo. And although I certainly wouldn’t want to go back on that decision or change anything, we’ve had actors who have spoken: We don’t really recognize this guy. Who is he? So we knew we had to take her to where they’d recognize her right away. Unfortunately we’re on, well, luckily, the way you look at it, Nicholas is definitely a character that fits into that fourth place. Which then gave us some questions to say: He’s a bad guy, isn’t he?
So you really have to look at him from the angle you first meet him, he’s not like that, Matthews. It’s a mysterious and somewhat hostile character that Jill meets, and when she meets him, she agrees to help him escape from the city. They all work together, and the part where he exposes himself as a traitor and works against him as a villain occurs later in the game.
(Photo: Steam smoking)
Even though they eventually adopted him as a character, he went through several versions that emphasised this villainous or traitorous aspect, but he always felt that he belonged.
We were really going through several different avenues to see if we could introduce a backstage character, Matthews said. We’ve introduced character traits, and we’ve already considered this for Resident Evil 2 with Ada Wong. At first we had the idea that there might be a mechanic where one of you is actually a secret agent from another company, so we had targets in disassembled form. But one of the things we focused on was that Resident Evil 2 already had a lot of moving parts, and we wanted the game to be focused. There are whole games that revolve around the mechanics of betrayal. There are whole games built around this idea. The Battlestar Galactica is a very good example. It’s about who’s a Cylon and who’s not. We didn’t want the angry resident to feel like he’d thrown it away by accident.
Without Nemesis there is no Resident Evil 3, and it wasn’t easy to do it right.
The biggest problem with the Nemesis was actually its wide range of attacks, and the Nemesis was the first enemy we encountered, Matthews said. Nemesis clearly has multiple attacks. He runs towards you, attacks you or hits you. It just makes a big old swing when you’re around or, depending on the stage it’s on, it can make a tentacle whip. It also has a rocket launcher.
We had to come up with some interesting ideas on how to integrate these different types of attacks into this character, Matthews said. We didn’t want to have a behavioural game all of a sudden, because then we’d have to change all the different rules about how the bosses work, and we had to make an exception for the bosses to work that way, but not Nemesis, who works that way. It was very, very clumsy, and a behavioral bridge and a tension bridge would immediately force the players to change their approach.
They finally created the special attack system, but put it in the flow of everything else. The principle of the system is that each enemy can carry out different types of attacks, replacing the old Resident Evil 2 special attacks: Board game, show them on their cards and mark them with a symbol next to their symbol. If the opponent responds, refer to the symbol on the current tension card, which is on top of the stack, and that is the attack he is making. It immediately gave us a card game with a gentle behavior, because the way our enemies behaved gave them this intuitive and varied offensive power, but at the same time there was nothing that required the players to have a different card game, nothing that did not require anything to look at and plan, because often it is a card game, think about what each move changes. A player’s reaction time is to see the card just before his turn. They say: Okay, well, I have an idea to try and answer what this thing does. Sometimes you don’t have that kind of opportunity, so you get what you need right away.
Resident Evil 3-Board Games Nemesis Stage OneB9 (Photo: Steam Processing)
Every time you encounter Nemesis, you don’t have to stop the battle, but when you walk away from Nemesis, the level of danger in the city increases and the enemies throughout the city get tougher, so you have to weigh up the pros and cons of both.
When you meet Nemesis, other questions arise, like Well, we could have avoided it, but it makes this town more dangerous, is that what we want? Because, okay, we’re not fighting Nemesis, but everything else is getting harder. So there are a lot of decision points, a lot of linear paths under the hood, and the nice thing is that few of them require the agency players not much of accounting, Matthews said.
If you were hoping for a mode in which you could take control of Nemesis, unfortunately this is not foreseen in the maps. However, Matthews revealed that early concepts of the abode of evil 2 : DM took part in the board game. In fact, you can still have it if you really want it.
I’m afraid we have no fashion to play Nemesis, Matthews said. That’s interesting, because Resident Evil 2: The board game began as a game with DM very, very, very early on in its development, and then we wanted to make this Tension Deck, and the conference table and all that. After having done more than my share of demos in various shows in recent years, I am happy to say that as DM, if you want, absolutely, if you want, you can sit in the game and write to your friends, although it is not a rule.
It takes as much as any DM D&D, so you just have to believe in the rules and keep the zombies under control and move everything around and in fact you just have to do it yourself instead of letting the AI do it. So you can control Nemesis to some extent if you want, but there’s no official game mode we’ve developed where you can play for Nemesis and try to kill the survivors.
So who else puts Resident Evil 2 in the DM game? Yes, we will, and if you’re sure of Resident Evil 3, you can check Kickstarter here.
Disclosure: owned by CBS Interactive, a division of ViacomCBS.