Dead Space 3's Awakened downloadable content was announced the week the main game was released in stores. DLC announcements made early on in production -- or even right around a game's launch -- typically draw fan rage by the truckloads. The question on everyone's mind when it comes to any sort of downloadable content is always, "Why wasn't this just part of the main game?"
Of course, DLC isn't going anywhere. Ever since horse armor, it's become a way of life for the gaming industry. While we don't know what the practice is like at every studio, Visceral Games at least doesn't start work on its extra content until the main product has been completed.
I spoke with Dead Space producer John Calhiun who informed me that "Dead Space 3 is finished months before it's actually sold, 'cause you have to go through manufacturing, certification, and all that stuff. So in that time we a have team with nothing to do.
"We actually launch and treat our DLC like mini-games. They have their own teams, they're not part of the same budget, they're not part of the same crew. It's a way to keep our guys busy and working, and to support the game after we launch."
Ultimately, Awakened feels different and it should, as a separate team worked on the new content.
"It's definitely not the case where we take a level, and just decide we're not going to include it in the main game," John told me. "This was not even part of Dead Space 3, it was developed by a smaller set of our team that were run with a different producer, and all that stuff. You're looking at something that was wholly created as a standalone product."
Sure, initial planning probably happens during development, but as John told me the actual work on DLC doesn't start up until the main team has wrapped up the full game.
Dead Space 3: Awakened will be out on March 12, 2013 for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC. For hardcore fans of the series, it's shaping up to be exactly what you wanted out of the game in the first place.