What do you get when a Soldier of Fortune subscriber passes out face first on a D&D board with Blade Runner on in the background? E.Y.E: Divine Cybermancy.
Its fans are rabid. To its detractors it’s a confusing mess.
There’s no denying it’s a the kind of hardcore P.C. experience that seems more and more rare each year. And it’s been a sleeper hit of the summer.
We sacrificed a number of carrier pigeons to the interviewing gods… and they gave us project leader, lead programmer and artistic director for E.Y.E. Jonathan Cacherat.
There seems to be a certain, extremely divisive quality to E.Y.E: Divine Cybermancy where players are either completely enthralled or they don’t seem to get the game at all. I can’t seem to place my finger on just what it is. What, in your opinion, is the cause of the wildly disparate responses to the game?
We knew from the beginning that we were making a game that would divide opinions. E.Y.E is all but a consensual game, we have made few concessions concerning the gameplay and the artistic direction, and especially concerning the dialogues and the schizophrenic plot. We still assume these choices, but we acknowledge that the dialogues have a lot of weaknesses.
Unlike more and more developers today, you guys seem very uninterested in holding the player’s hand throughout the experience, choosing instead to give the player the proper tools and leaving them to it. What do you think are the advantages of going against the current design trends this way?
Absolutely, we wanted to offer the most freedom possible to the player, and especially a feeling of appropriation for the player. We count a lot on the player’s intelligence, rather than holding his/her hand. The advantages are aiming at a public desiring such games, bored of current standards and the lack of diversity
Do you think there is a certain risk involved with giving the player more responsibility in learning how the game works?
Yes, there’s a risk of frustration and even boredom. Or, like some reporters and players, disgust.
Deus Ex seems to come up a lot in conversations about the game. While playing it, I see a lot of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. in there too, what games do you believe were the biggest influence on the way the game plays?
S.T.A.L.K.E.R. has had a huge influence, as well as Doom (1 & 2), Fallout 2, King Field, Syndicate, X-COM, Arx Fatalis and System Shock. And of course Deus Ex, but we never considered us as successors. Deus Ex: Human Revolution is here for that, and it looks damn amazing.
The game has a very distinct look, with far more medieval European and feudal Japanese influences than are typically seen in ‘cyber punk’ works. How’d you go about developing the look of the game?
We are huge fans of universes such as Warhammer 40k, but also of more cyberpunk works, like Enki Bilal’s. The most difficult thing was to blend these different universes without falling in the patchwork trap. Aurélien, our concept artist, has done an excellent job on this, as well as our level designers.
Now the story is definitely in depth, and I’m not sure there are enough drugs in the world to really help me fully understand it, but could you shed some light on any works that may have served as inspiration for the story?
No, you may discover it’s nothing but a vast rip-off! More seriously, we drew a lot of inspiration from H.P. Lovecraft, Clive Barker’s works as well as several movies (from Shutter Island to In the Mouth of Madness).
The story and the artwork together to make an incredibly atmospheric game, but I’m wondering which came about first the story or the art style? And if the art style came first, did the story have an impact on the final visuals?
The visual style and the ambience came first. The plot came quite late, since we have rewritten it several times
So what can you tell us about the nearly mythical 4th ending? People are losing their minds! Or did I just answer my own question?
We have fixed this with the patch, it was virtually impossible to reach because some scripts and dialogues entries were missing. We still apologize. It’s the reason why modified it and added 2 new places in order to be forgiven.
What initially piqued my interest in the game was the swordplay. Swords rarely seem to work in first person, but I think you guys nailed it. Why do you think swords work in E.Y.E when they seem to fail in so many other games, and what was the process to get the feel for them just right?
Thanks for the compliment! We worked hard on this aspect, and we encountered a lot of obstacles. I think the melee combat in most games is average because of the impact localization; indeed, blades are often simulated by inaccurate collision boxes. In E.Y.E, we have put the collisions as close to the melee weapons’ shapes as possible.
The game uses the Source engine, being as the site is a little Valve-centric, I have to ask: How was making the game in Source? Were there any particular challenges you faced seeing as the engine is normally used for slightly more linear games?
Creating huge maps was the biggest challenge, but the engine really surprised us. The biggest difficulty was the memory management that brought a lot of crashes prior to the patch. But this comes mainly from a lack of optimization from our side rather than an issue with the engine.
I saw that E.Y.E. was the most popular game on Gamespot recently, quite an achievement, congratulations guys! As the game seems to be taking off, were you expecting the level of success the game seems to be enjoying?
Thanks! No, really, we didn’t expect such a success. We thought we’d find our niche, but not that fast and especially without such an enthusiasm. Again, we’d like to thank the whole community shaping itself around the game.
Fans grumble about review scores, and I’m sure you read those same reviews too, is there anything that you feel reviewers who may not dig the game as much as others are missing? Or maybe something that just isn’t clicking for them?
We can’t negate the cons in a lot of negative reviews, but I indeed think that if reviewers insisted and played the game a bit deeper, they could have enjoyed it. But then again, the game really divides opinions; either you love it or you hate it. What makes us kind of sad is the welcoming from reviewers in our own country, their reviews were quite harsh.
I want to thank Jonathan for taking the time to answer our questions. Also to Christophe Longuepee for helping make this interview possible – as well as the rest of the Stream On Studio team. For more coverage of E.Y.E, be sure to keep Steam Addicts in your bookmarks, and don’t forget to take a look at my review of the game here.eye divine cybermancy ending, eye divine cybermancy endings