Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Destructoid Interview: Soundless Mountain II's Jasper Byrne

3:17 PM on 09.19.2008 // Colette Bennett

I made no secret of the fact that stumbling across the Silent Hill II demake Soundless Mountain II last week was one of the most thrilling gaming moments I've had all year, not only because it was based on one of my favorite titles of all time, but also because it allowed me to see a Silent Hill that I might have discovered as a kid in my NES days. Next gen be damned, I had to know more about this game.

As is the norm when I get a jolt of inspiration, I tracked down the game's creator, Jasper Byrne, with all the fury of a rabid wombat. Jasper was kind enough to not only answer my questions but also talk about what goes into a demake and spill some dirt on his newest project in the works.

Hit the jump for more.

Destructoid: You must be a big fan of Silent Hill II. Tell me about what inspired you to create Soundless Mountain.

Jasper: I've entered into two TIGSource competitions before (Emo Harvest on the Oregon Trail for the Videogame Name Generator compo and The Germinator for the Procedurally Generated compo).   I think the thing that keeps me coming back to the compos is the fact that I actually get things finished if I have a deadline!
When the 'Bootleg Demakes' compo was announced I knew I'd make one of two games - either a Street Fighter RPG or a NES Silent Hill 2, simply because they're my two favourite games of all time.
It started with a simple mockup, and then I began to realise that the mechanics of SH2 might work just as well in 2D, as long as I could simulate the 'difficult' camera, as well as the fog.  I ended up making the camera have its own path that isn't necessarily the same as the player's path, so I could create tension by 'pushing the player up against the edge of the screen'.  As far as I know, I haven't seen this done in 2D before... but I'm sure someone'll prove me wrong!

Silent Hill 2 means a lot me.  No game has ever conveyed so perfectly the human condition.  Everything is there for a reason, even the red herrings.  All of the gameplay and audiovisual elements are based around telling the story, and not the other way round.  Everything in it re-enforces everything else with extra layers of depth and suggestion.  The story is one we can all relate to - a man going through pain and loss, and it shows how fine the line is between being an 'everyman' and being a 'bad man'.  It's a tragedy in the classic Greek sense, although the tragic act has already been committed when we begin.
The theme of illness also made it particularly resonant for me, as my dad recently passed away from cancer.  Because of this, making the game was a little traumatic at times.  I remember watching the 'Making of...' video for SH2 and seeing the project leads get the team in and ask them to 'meditate on pain and suffering' (a  Buddhist idea used in a strange context) - and I realised while making it that mindset was totally necessary, yet not very comfortable or easy.  It wasn't that the game was hard to make, but it wasn't an easy mental place to be!

: I know it must be a lot of work to create a project like this. Do you ever plan to complete the game?

Jasper: What took longest was probably just my analysis of the original game.  I spent about ten or fifteen hours looking at every detail of the first 15 mins play of SH2, making notes about pauses, transitions, sounds, camera and 'feel'.  It was then just a case of seeing if the same thing could be done in low-res 2D.  I spent a lot of time on the sound as that is perhaps the most defining part of SH2, and I am a drum'n'bass DJ by trade (under the name 'Sonic') - so getting that spooky sound design right was really important to me.  I also really admire Akira Yamaoka who did the sound for the SH series, and actually became the lead designer on the fourth game.  He's the only other musician / game-designer I know of!

I will complete the game in the sense that I want to put in what I originally planned - the journey through the grim apartment buildings, leading up to the encounter with 'Polygon Head'.  There wasn't time for the compo, but I'm working on it now, and already have the handgun, various apartment rooms and a new enemy - the Mannequin.  It's getting a lot darker in the new version - those cramped corridors are very claustrophobic!

Destructoid: Was your interest in demakes specifically sparked by this project, or have you created them before?
Jasper: No, I've always made original titles, although I did make a game kind of based on Bubble Bobble before.  When making a game normally, it would feel like a waste to not use an original idea, as I have so many that won't get made even as it stands!  But there was an opportunity with demaking SH2 to perhaps discover some small part of the magic that Team Silent created with the title - really my motivation was to try and learn Team Silent's way of thinking, as well to express my undying love of their title, haha!

Destructoid: What other demakes inspire you?

Jasper: Funny enough I don't think I've ever played a demake before, although I always enjoy seeing how companies approach, for example, hand-held versions of triple A titles.  I think I actually prefer Civilisation Revolution on DS to PS3.

Destructoid: What other games would you like to see "demade'?

Jasper: I like the idea of seeing games which have introduced new mechanics since the 2D era put back into pixel form.  A game like Super Mario Galaxy would work great in 2D I reckon, and could be even faster and more fluid.  Because I have a love for big bosses in 2D, I'd also love to see Shadow of The Colossus with enormous sprites (Ico would make a great platformer too).
In fact, something I think got missed out on in the games industry transition to 3D is that we had all this new technology but it hasn't really been applied back into 2D - realtime shadows, lighting, filters, shaders, film grain, potentially huge sprites, more detailed animation etc...  I'm hoping to redress this balance somewhat with my next game, Amnesia.

Destructoid: If you could make any type of game at all, what would you like to create?

Jasper: Well there are a few genres that are closest to my heart, and point'n'click adventures are probably my biggest weakness.  I'm sad that the greats of yore (namely Lucasarts and Revolution titles) have never been equalled or surpassed.  There are some great-looking modern adventures, mostly from the non-UK parts of Europe, although none has had anything like the compelling story and sharp dialogue of those old games.  I think one of the reasons I got into Survival Horror games was that they in some ways echo those old mechanics of item puzzles (although greatly dumbed down.)  That and the potential to tell a great story, which I think is my main interest as a game designer, and what Silent Hill 2 did so well.  I'm interested to see what Quantic dream come up with in Heavy Rain though.

Destructoid: Do you have anything new in the works?  

The "serious" title that I'm working on, besides Soundless Mountain II, is called Amnesia.  It's now in a pre-production phase and has changed from being a classic point and click to more of a Survival Horror title, partly due to the fun we had making SMII, and the great response it had.  The story is essential the same though - it's about a Japanese man called Aruku re-discovering his identity through dreams and nightmares, in a recurring Groundhog day.  Solving puzzles 'positively' will give you a piece of a jigsaw puzzle that is white, solving them 'negatively' will give you a red puzzle piece.  When the puzzle is assembled you will regain your memory, although the ending depends on the makeup of your physical jigsaw puzzle.  It deals with the theme of isolation from society so present in modern Japan (I lived in Tokyo until recently.)  In fact we hope to really tackle some issues about modem life with this game, the distance and loneliness people can feel even when surrounded by others.

Visually we're using what we call a 'Moving Mosaic'.  This is our tech term for chunky, grainy, dirty hand-drawn pixels with lots of noise and filtering.  As well as this we have dynamic 3D shadows, so the torchlight will be spectacular!  It still is very self-consciously low-res pixel art, but with a modern twist, scaled up 4 times as in SMII - although it is in a higher resolution than SMII and with no colour restrictions.  We using rotoscoping like the Amiga Prince of Persia or Another World to get that really hand-drawn feel to the animation.  There will be a lot of 'being chased' in the game, and you'll have to escape this unkillable protagonist time and again by any means necessary, pulling obstacles in his path, cutting rope bridges etc.  Dreams will range from flying to escaping a filthy prison, and that's all I can give away at the moment!

Destructoid: It sounds great. I hope you'll keep us posted as it evolves! Thanks for your time.

Photo Gallery: (7 images)
Click to zoom - browse by swipe, or use arrow keys

Colette Bennett,
 Follow Blog + disclosure

This blog submitted to our editor via our Community Blogs, and then it made it to the home page! You can follow community members and vote up their blogs - support each other so we can promote a more diverse and deep content mix on our home page.

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

Status updates from C-bloggers

Dr Mel avatarDr Mel
This fucking Bloodborne DLC, jesus. I'm on new game+, about level 90, and shit just tears my dick off. I don't know if I want to start another guy just to avoid NG+ and level him up, etc. sigh....
Shinta avatarShinta
Wii U, top selling black friday item on Take that you anti-Wii U people.
CoilWhine avatarCoilWhine
I am pretty hyped for when I get a laptop because I'll be able to have a good enough connection to stream XbOne/soon PS4 games to it along with natively rendered Steam games. Hype!
Avoclefo avatarAvoclefo
Got a PS4 that came with SW Battlefront this week, and planning on picking up the FFX/X-2 remake. Hype is through the roof, especially for FFX. If I were to get one other game, what should it be?
Niero Desu avatarNiero Desu
Did a google maps search around my parents house for bars and there isn't one in like 25 miles, so I picked up an Intel compute stick and South Park: Stick of Truth on Steam. That's more or less the drunken screaming I'm in the mood for at about the cost.
OrochiLeona avatarOrochiLeona
Do you ever have that moment of clarity when talking to someone and suddenly realising: You're just a skull, and they're just a skull, with fucking eyeballs and a sac of skin being the only comparative difference between you visually? ..just me then?
Nathan D avatarNathan D
After quitting for two days out of frustration, I beat Ludwig on my first try of the night. I'm on cloud fucking nine right now.
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
When I did my retail shift today, we were moving more Smash/Splat Wii U bundles and the Gears/Rare Replay/Ori XB1 bundles than Uncharted and Battlefront PS4s. I think Nintendo and MS have better value on their side this holiday. Sony got lazy.
Confuseddalek avatarConfuseddalek
I found this weird game called Samurai Heroes for 8 dollars today. Its not bad.
Solar Pony Django avatarSolar Pony Django
Got Deadpool, Arkham Asylum and BioShock 1 and 2 all for 30$. Not to bad for going Black Friday shopping late.
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
If you haven't played Tales from the Borderlands yet, GO BUY IT! By far the funniest game I have ever played, and the characters and narrative are incredibly well written. Very few memes unlike BL2 by the way.
James Internet Ego avatarJames Internet Ego
Played all of Life is Strange today in one sitting. Bloody hell. You should all play it. Only game this year to make me cry. Bravo developers. Possibly the most valuable thing I've ever bought for £10.
Gamemaniac3434 avatarGamemaniac3434
Last night, got farther than ever in Wasteland 2. This is my third playthrough-once thru beta, once through the orig version, now on Directors cut. Worth the restart, and it speaks highly of the game that I like it enough to do this. DAMONTA HERE I COME!
KeithTheGeek avatarKeithTheGeek
GUYS HELP I KEEP BUYING MORE AMIIBO. Today it was Little Mac, since he went back up on Gamestop's website. I probably would have gotten Captain Falcon as well if I wasn't already running a little short on cash.
BigDoniel avatarBigDoniel
50 hours in and I can safely say that Xenoblade is the best JRPG I've played in years. Should hopefully be finished in time for X too!
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
One job down on day I should have off, now for the other job.
CoilWhine avatarCoilWhine
I beat Murasaki Baby on PS Vita. Easy 100% trophy. That ending theme tho.
TheGwailo avatarTheGwailo
I have 34 games in my Steam queue alone, 4 on xbone, and a handful on handhelds. I have 3 days to make a dent. Time's up, let's do this!
Archelon avatarArchelon
Community Question: To make up for yesterday, I decided to ask a second Community Question today. Have you taken advantage of any Black Friday deals today? If so, what did you purchase? Feel free to share pictures of your spoils, if you have any.
Jiraya avatarJiraya
Some Black Friday artwork arrived today ! [img][/img]
more quickposts



Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -