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SOMA Environment Teaser Shows Haunting Locales, Blog Post Details Design Pillars

Posted on December 12, 2013 AT 10:45am

A new trailer and blog post from SOMA developer Frictional Games offer a new look at what’s in store for players when the sci-fi survival horror game arrives 2015.

In a post on the company’s official blog, creative director Thomas Grip outlined the five foundational design pillars the team at Frictional are following during development of SOMA. Chief among them is the idea that “everything is story.” According to Grip, the team wants players “to constantly feel as if they’re inside a flowing narrative.” By this, he means making all aspects of play and puzzle-solving feel organically integrated into the narrative. He cites a hypothetical locked door as an example, pointing out that if it’s locked, there needs to be “more reasons for getting it open than simply to progress.”

The second design pillar Grip outlines is “take the world seriously,” meaning that everything in the environment should connect back to the story and never exist “because the game needs it.” Playing off that is the third tenet: that “the player is in charge.”

“An environment quickly loses its sense of realism if it is extremely streamlined and does not allow you to make choices,” Grip says int he post. “The player must be the one that drives the narrative forward.” As such, Grip says that SOMA will never provide explicit instructions on how to progress—only hints, clues, and very subtle guidance. Spring-boarding off this notion is Frictional’s penultimate design pillar—that they, as developers, “trust the player” enough to not force cutscenes and the like on them.

Similarly, the final pillar is the idea that “thematics emerge through play.” The absence of cutscenes in SOMA is largely to allow players to become more fully immersed and be personally involved with the narrative as it unfolds around them, as opposed to barfing up exposition ham-fistedly.

SOMA is heading to Windows PC, Mac OS X, Linux, and PlayStation 4 sometime 2015. You can check out the environment teaser video in the embed posted below.

Source: Frictional Games

Chris Holzworth, News Editor
Chris Holzworth has wanted to write about games all his life. He first cut his teeth writing for enthusiast sites such as RPGFan, and after writing for just about every other enthusiast website he could came across, wound up as EGM's east coast news correspondent (read: editorial intern) before relocating to LA to serve as news editor. You can follow his rants about storytelling on Twitter @manadrive.[Meet the rest of the crew]

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