All eyes are on the next-gen consoles right now, especially the Playstation 5, after Microsoft’s Inside Xbox event which showcased just some of the games on the Xbox Series X. So far we have only really seen two games for the Playstation 5 – Godfall and Quantum Error. We were able to sit down for an interview with the developers of Quantum Error, TeamKill Media. We discussed various things about the game development, as well as the specificities of developing for the next-gen console from Sony.
Q: TeamKill being founded by 4 brothers must make for an interesting dynamic during the game design process as each of you would have different artistic influences. How do you think this comes out during the gameplay design process?
A: Oh yes, during the development of both Kings of Lorn, and now Quantum error, we have had LOTS of discussions/arguments of what works and what doesn’t, and throwing ideas back and forth. All four of us having our own unique preferences leads to some very cool outcomes. For example, Micah and I (Noah) are big-time fans of first-person shooters, games like DOOM, Battlefield, Bioshock, COD, Turok, and of course GoldenEye on N64 (who doesn’t love Goldeneye?). Josiah and Dakoda love RPG’s, games like Elder Scrolls, Souls games, Dragon Age, Final Fantasy 7, and more. All four of us coming together and brainstorming, we believe has, and is going to lead to unique game experiences that you pretty much won’t find anywhere else.
Q: Your team is hard at work with your second title – Quantum Error which you’re billing as a cosmic horror with a strong story (lasting about 15 – 20 hours I believe) – and I am getting slight Bioshock and Fear vibes from the trailer.
A: Yeah I can definitely see why you’re getting fear vibes. Quantum Error is going to be, quite literally, a very dark game, you might find some parts of the facility that still have power, and then you will find parts that are completely pitch black. Trying to navigate these parts, as your only source of light is the one on your helmet. Yeah, we are aiming for around a 15-hour campaign. Quantum Error’s story is being heavily influenced by Bloodborne.
Q: How did the concept come about internally for the game and what are you trying to accomplish (in terms of gameplay and narratively) with the project?
A: It’s actually kinda funny, the original idea was going to be a very small project like a 1-2 hour game. you were going to play as a firefighter who goes into a multi-floor parking garage to save people while a hurricane is flooding everything, but things would take a dark turn when monsters would also try to eat you. That was the first idea, but after we talked about it more, it turned into a much larger project. It was moved further into the future, and take on a much more cosmic horror theme. The gameplay is going to be a slower-paced shooter, ammo is scarce, so you are not gonna be a super-soldier going and shooting everything up. You’re gonna have to be careful with how you use your ammo.
Q: The trailer seems to imply that you’re putting the player on a rescue mission – rather than it being some type of military mission?
A: Rather than the typical special forces Rambo, you are a firefighter sent from a fictional fire department out of San Francisco to an off-shore research facility that has been attacked by an unknown enemy. You go in to try to save the employees of this facility, but things are much worse than thought and the plot plunges you into an extreme situation beyond what the main character would normally be capable of.
Q: How would you characterize the gameplay from a horror perspective? Would you say more the stylings of the earlier Silent Hill and Resident Evil games (tense, atmospheric with an emphasis on resource management), or a later RE such as RE5 where it still has horror elements but more action-focused?
A: If I had to say what is similar to Quantum Error, I would say if you took the gameplay of DOOM 3 and mixed it with the atmosphere of the Resident Evil 2 remake and Dead Space. Being huge fans of Dead Space, it’s only natural that we are drawing inspiration from it. I think it is going to be the perfect blend of horror and action, as when it comes to the creepy side of things we go for pure atmosphere and not cheap scares. But at the same time, the FPS part will be a primary part of the gameplay.
Q: Speaking of gameplay, will it be a level focused approach or more an open world environment where you can explore and unravel the experience slowly as you gain abilities / key items / the story unfolds?
A: Quantum Error is not an open world, it will be a story-driven, level-based experience, but the levels will be quite big. You will be able to explore the entire level anytime you want while you are there, given of course you have the appropriate items to get to where you want to go. Finding key items and different goals and puzzle-like mechanics will play an important part throughout. And of course, boss fights.
Q: The game is advertised to be on both the Playstation 4 and 5 – how has development been targeting both generations of hardware – particularly given the disparity of CPU performance and IO (the SSD) for both generations.
A: Quantum Error is fully targeting the specs of the PS5 and will not be held back by the PS4 at all. It would be unfair to our fans, and to ourselves, to hinder our vision for Quantum Error because of targeting a lower spec. The game is being built for PS5 and then will be down ported to PS4. The big difference between the two is definitely going to be the SSD, as the PS4 version will definitely have to embrace a more traditional loading with probably loading screens, whereas the PS5 will be instantaneous loading.
Q: On Twitter, you’ve been pretty open about the bring up of the project – for example sharing monster designs and environmental snippets which is very different from how a lot of teams seem to operate – what inspired you to take this approach with fans of your game?
A: We want to be as upfront and interactive with our fans as possible and show as much as we can without giving too much away. I believe it only helps and makes people more excited when they get to see previews. It also makes everyone feel like they are along for the journey.
Q: What were the reasons you were lured over to the Playstation hardware and ecosystem for development, and will we see a Steam / Xbox release of Quantum Error pop up in the future?
A: Now that we have a title under our belt we have learned so much. Developing for each platform has had its small differences between them all, however, we have found ourselves to be most comfortable with the PlayStation and it’s architecture, and want to stick with the PS5 as our first choice.
When it comes to releasing on the other platforms, that will just depend on how things go. As of this moment, we are only developing for the PS5 but, if we decide to release on the other platforms it will be an easy transition.
Q: You’ve confirmed that we’ll see a whole host of Ray Traced effects in the title, including shadows and reflections. How is the PS5 hardware in terms of ray tracing in your eyes, and also – as a games developer, what is HW based RT allowing you to accomplish – especially given the atmospheric nature of the game I imagine (like titles such as Control) it would benefit greatly with RT.
A: Currently, we can only speak on the Unreal Engine side of these details. But what I can say is what the Ray-Tracing is allowing us to do is pretty amazing. Visually, QE is starting to take on an almost Silent Hill modernized type of feel, there is a “thick” feeling to the air and the lighting we are doing makes you very uneasy, even when there are no enemies present. And it’s the same for 3D audio… sound is the most important thing in gaming after the visuals and hearing the world around you is quite the experience.
Q: On the same subject, what are you planning to do with the PS4 version of the code, will it use more traditional effects such as Shadow Maps / SSR?
A: The PS4 version of Quantum error will definitely be missing all the awesome new features of the PS5, like ray tracing, 3D audio enhancements, and CPU heavy features. SSR will definitely be the technique used on PS4; we will have to scale back some of the physics and resolution to 1080p.
Q: For the PS5, are the programming and development tools a familiar workflow for the PS4? I understand that UE4 (and other engines) largely have PS5 support now and development environments are familiar?
A: So far, the development is super similar to what we are used to with UE4. Basically things have become a bit more complicated, with more bells and whistles and it requires even more attention to detail. But, the new tools and techniques are exciting.
Q: Do you know how the PS5 handles upscaling and will you be taking advantage of it? I assume it’s similar to the Xbox with lower precision operations on the GPU for ML?
A: We are targeting 4K 60 FPS. 60 FPS was our goal from the start, and we are going to hit that no matter what. If we have to go a little lower in resolution and then upsample back up to 4k to hit our 60 FPS, then that’s what we will do. UE4 uses a temporal upsampling that looks amazing, so if used it will be mostly unnoticed.
Q: Closing statement
A: We are super excited, and can’t wait to show everyone more and more of Quantum Error as we continue development. The next material we show off will be truly intense. Stay tuned to all our social media for updates.