Interview with Patrick J. Doody (The Racoon City Times)

Date published: 2008.02.08
Source: The Racoon City Times

Just on a spur of the moment impulse on learning that he co-wrote silent hill 5. i sent a message to patrick asking if it was cool to do a mini interview about sh5 for the racoon city times blog, and surprisingly he said yes.
Some questions have been unanswered, for good reason, i know i for one wouldnt like the story to be given away before i played it. Imagine being told the ending to silent hill 2 after only 20 minutes play.

yeah, that'd pretty much suck wouldnt it?

So, on to the Q&A.

The Racoon City Times: Whats been your role in 5's creation?

Patrick J. Doody: My writing partner, Chris Valenziano and I were hired as the game's writers. Now, that term "writer" has a different meaning in electronic gaming than it does in television or film. On a game, the entire design team has a large hand in doing much of the writing. Even before we knew that there was a Silent Hill 5 happening, The Collective had broken story and compiled a summary of the game's events - all of which were written by the lead designer, the lead artist and the lead level designer. So, when Chris and I came on to the game, our first task was to look at that summary — which is several pages long and very detailed — and start to poke holes where needed. Now, this process began almost two years ago. Since then, the story has changed in several places, which is due to the collaborative efforts of the whole team. As you start to produce the game, you realize that certain story elements don't really gel with game play or you might discover that we can't really make more than a dozen separate heads for characters, so you start to whittle down the NPCs in the game. It's a very delicate balancing act between your narrative and all of the elements that go into production.
Unlike writing a movie script, a process in which the writers generally work on their own to produce a 100-page screenplay, writing Silent Hill 5 was written over a series of months, working with the whole team to make sure that the house of cards wasn't going to fall down! Now, on top of all that work, we had to be very conscious of the entire Silent Hill mythology, so everything we worked on as a team, would then go to Konami to make sure that any references to previous characters or any rules regarding the Otherworld shifts fit in the overall lore of Silent Hill. And believe me when I tell you that rules do exist and you can't break them.
On top of working on the story, we had to write all the cinematics, environmental signage, hundreds of dialogue slugs, journal entries and the game manual. All in all, it was the most writing we’ve ever done for a project (and we've written a 300-page novel).

The Racoon City Times: Have you played the games and if so whats your favourite?

Patrick J. Doody: I think one of the reasons Konami hired us was because I was such a huge fan of the series, was very knowledgeable of the game's lore and wanted the game to have continued success. I played the original Silent Hill the WEEK it came out and it was the scariest game I had ever experienced. When I started playing that game, I knew I was seeing the future of horror gaming and I couldn't get enough. It's actually an amazing experience to now be a part of the series after having been a fan for so long.
Now, regarding my favorite, I know the fans love Silent Hill 2, and Silent Hill 2 certainly elevated the game to the direction that the series has gone. However, I'm a big fan of Silent Hill 3. I love all the characters - Heather, Cartland, Vincent - they are all so colorful and have great motivations. I also like that installment for its expanding history of The Order. Overall, Silent Hill 3 really feels like a complete experience for me - from great game play to fantastic story.

The Racoon City Times: Since its a survival horror game would you say Silent Hill 5 is the scariest narrative in the series so far?

Patrick J. Doody: I think when we talk about Silent Hill and a "scary" story we are talking about two different things. Overall, the game's scares will be the biggest we've had, and that's not just jump scares - the eerie feeling of dread will be heightened because the designers can really immerse you emotionally through amazing environments and wild-looking demons. However, story wise, Silent Hill hasn't typically been “scary,” as it's more about the depths of madness and terror it takes the player. Clearly I can't talk about the story of the game, but I can say that we have worked very hard on making it the most disturbing drama of the entire series. My hope is that players will be affected by the game's end.

The Racoon City Times: Without giving away any spoilers will we learn anything more about the history of silent hill?

Patrick J. Doody: Hmm...tough question because I would love to spill the beans on some of the story, but that would ruin the fun! Here's what I can say about Silent Hill and this installment - you will discover some new secrets about Silent Hill by way of how its history has influenced a much larger society than you may have previously thought. And that's almost saying too much!

The Racoon City Times: How would you describe the protagonist of silent hill?

Patrick J. Doody: Alex Shepherd feels very new to the series. He's less a victim of circumstance and more a man of action. Now, I know people are worried that having a soldier as the star of the game means he is somehow Rambo, let me assure you that he is not. However, he does take a much more proactive approach to the world around him. We tried to make him more aware of the strange events that unfold in the story, so if you believe in the theory that the player is the character, then I think he's going to feel more relatable to someone who would make rational decisions based on what he sees in front of him.

Thanks for the questions! I'm sure I haven't really explained much more than what is out there, but I was happy to throw in my thoughts. Good luck with your blog! I believe in horror gaming and hope that continued success of games like Silent Hill can keep horror fans entertained and terrorized at the same time.