Interview with Blair Witch Narrative Designer, Barbara Kciuk
We recently had a chance to play Bloober Team’s new horror title, Blair Witch. Here to talk about the upcoming game, we spoke with the Narrative Designer for the game, Barbara Kciuk. She gave us some insight about the title and what it’s like to make a Blair Witch game for the 20th anniversary.
David Poole (DP): So just out of curiosity… why now for a Blair Witch game?
Barbara Kciuk (BK): It’s the 20th anniversary. This year, it’s the 20th anniversary and it’s either now or never.
DP: Makes sense, it was kind of a surprise to see it when it was announced. So with a lot of other horror games, like Outlast, to compete with or stand against your game, what makes Blair Witch stand out?
BK: Well, with horror games, you always need to stand out. You can’t just take the same tricks and choose different games, it’s always this part of innovating in some way, and we are good at psychological horror. Layers of Fear and Observer were very well received, so we feel we have enough experience to really try to get the good stuff from what we already did with some new elements. In our game, we are trying to experiment with new ways of scaring people because it just wouldn’t work a second time, so with Blair Witch, we are experimenting with combat. We’re experimenting with the dog companion, which is rare in horror games, and with the camcorder puzzles, which you saw, and I hope you liked them.
BK: They are pretty innovative, this is something that all fits the universe of the Blair Witch and is a unique mechanic.
DP: Nice! I think I overheard you say that you guys wanted to make sure that you can pet the dog in the game.
BK: Yeah, like, to be honest, this is an important feature in the end because interacting with your pet is something that you naturally do, and without this chance, people would notice the lack of it.
DP: Yeah, when I was playing it, I would definitely made sure to reward him, just for my own mental state.
BK: I mean, like I said, we are tracking some behaviors, so this may not be just for your mental state.
DP: Nice! So as far as the game itself goes, how do you feel like it will be for like an accessibility issue? Do you think people will have a bit of trouble grasping the mechanics of the game?
BK: Well, what you saw was a demo, and in the demo, the learning curve is totally different than in the real game, because we just wanted to show you some of the important mechanisms. Sometimes the tutorials are not in the best places that would fit the demo. We wanted to show you something interesting. We wanted to show you diverse mechanics. So we needed to cut the game a lot of ways, and some levels, for example, are much better when you can explore them, and this is something we couldn’t translate to the demo sometimes.
The learning curve there is totally different, and some puzzles work differently because what you saw was just one of the ways to utilize this camcorder puzzle, but there are very diverse ways to do it. So we hope that in the end, it will be much more accessible, much more intuitive if you do it from the very beginning and get the plot behind it.
DP: Nice. I kind of noticed when I was playing myself, it had a little bit of a P.T. vibe kind of going through it. A lot of the hallways repeated, repeated sequences and everything.
BK: Yeah! This is both P.T. and Layers of Fear style, and yet this is something that we used in our previous games and we believe that it fits the Blair Witch house perfectly, because in the end, what you saw in the movies was very chaotic, and this is something you cannot simply create in a game. It wouldn’t work. So how we wanted to do it is for the house to always be a mystery. You don’t know what to expect, you don’t know what’s hiding just behind a corner, there are different mechanics, there’s a unique twist to the house.
Some things, you will see in the full game, that part of the mechanics that will be utilized differently just for the house. We never want the player to feel totally comfortable with the knowledge already gained. So we want him to explore, we want him to worry about what can happen, and what is waiting in front of him, because in the end, it’s a horror game. You can’t make the player feel comfortable. He always has to have this unnerving feeling that “alright, something may be wrong.”
DP: Makes sense. Since you mentioned the movies too, is there any one of the three movies that was a direct influence?
BK: Yea, this is the Blair Witch lore, so there are things we wanted to obviously acknowledge things that happened in this lore, and that also includes the movies, but we really don’t want to just recreate what was just in the movie and we don’t want to focus on that. We wanted to do the story to stand on its own, also because we want it to be accessible to the players who don’t know the story. Obviously, it changes the experience if you do, but we wanted people to enjoy the adventure if you don’t.
DP: Nice! Anything else you want to let fans know about the game before we end the interview?
BK: We hope that you really don’t expect what is in there. That it will be a constant surprise.
DP: It definitely seemed that way when I was playing it, thank you very much.
BK: Thank you
For more on Blair Witch, feel free to check out our hands-on preview. Blair Witch arrives on Steam and Xbox One on August 30th. Those that preorder on Steam will automatically be upgraded to the Deluxe Edition. Are you excited to play this upcoming horror title? Let us know in the comments below!