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DONTNOD’s Feedback on Episode 1 Influenced Story & Gameplay of Life is Strange: Before the Storm

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Aug 8
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DONTNOD’s Life is Strange turned out to be a sleeper hit, selling over three million units and receiving critical acclaim including the BAFTA Games Award for Best Story. This success inevitably spawned a franchise, with a sequel already announced (Life is Strange 2) and a prequel due to launch its first episode (of three, in total) later this month.

Life is Strange: Before the Storm, unlike the first game and the sequel, is being developed by Deck Nine. We were able to speak with Producer David Hein to bring you more information on the game ahead of the release, due on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

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Did you have any kind of interaction with DONTNOD to prepare yourselves to develop this
game? 

Life is Strange: Before the Storm from concept to production, is entirely the product of Deck
Nine Games. However, we’ve been in contact with DONTNOD for some time. We were very
proud to send our lead writer Zak Garriss to the DONTNOD studios with our first episode for
the Life Is Strange team to play. From that session, we gained a lot of great feedback that
has gone on to influence our story and gameplay.

Considering that this will be a prequel, how much of an impact will player choices really have?

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We didn’t want to tell a story in Before the Storm that players already knew the ending of. To
that end, we deliberately set the events of this game years before the original Life is Strange.
We found plenty of room to create some new details, moments, and mysteries that will
surprise even the most dedicated fans while remaining true to the canon of the original
game.

Do you plan for the ending to be still open to interpretation, like in Life is Strange?

One of the wonderful things about Life is Strange is how it fostered passionate discussion and
debate among fans between every episode and long after the last episode was released.
Likewise, we expect Before the Storm to keep fans talking. Beyond that, we wouldn’t want to
say anything that spoils the ending of our story. You’ll have to play the game and experience
it for yourself.

Did you change anything after the feedback received from the gameplay video showcasing
the first twenty minutes of the game?

The reality is that video game production is a fast-paced environment with a lot of competing
demands. We’ve been bug fixing and polishing Episode 1 in advance of release so that the
best possible game winds up in players’ hands. Everything we hear from fans and playtesters
informs the work we are doing across all three episodes.

Can you explain the new Backtalk feature that’s set to debut in Before the Storm?

We’re going to release additional details about gameplay at a later date.

Will each episode last approximately the same amount of playtime, or are there differences
in this regard?

Each of the three episodes will be approximately around 2-3 hours in length for the average
player. Of course, the world will reward deep exploration for those who want to take their
time and see everything.

Regarding the Farewell bonus episode – will it be approximately as long as the others or
shorter?

We’ll be releasing more details about Farewell at a later date.

Can you tell us about your StoryForge tools and how you are using them to build Before the
Storm?

We’ve been developing our StoryForge tools for the last three years with the goal of
removing all the technical burdens off the creative artists who contribute to making a
cinematic adventure game. There are two components to StoryForge: PlayWrite and
StoryTeller. PlayWrite is our scripting tool. In PlayWrite, our writers write every line of
dialogue, as well as gameplay logic. When they have a draft of a scene, we can play through
the scene in PlayWrite, a bit like it’s a choose your own adventure book! StoryTeller is our
cinematic tool. It takes the script and turns it into a timeline onto which cinematic artists can
place characters, create camera angles, and light and color shots. StoryTeller also gives our
animators the tools they need to make moving facial and emotional performances.

Which engine are you using?

We’re using the Unity engine for Before the Storm. As you can tell from our videos and
demos, with Unity we’ve been able to emulate the distinctive and beautiful look and feel of
Life is Strange across multiple platforms.

One of the benefits of the Unity engine is its cross-platform support. We can develop for both
Xbox and PS4 SKUs simultaneously. We’re planning on support Xbox One X and PS4 Pro
features.

Could the game run on the Nintendo Switch from a technical standpoint, if a port was
eventually greenlit?

At this time, there are no plans for a Nintendo Switch release.

Thank you for your time.

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