Why Frictional passed Amnesia to Dear Esther's developer

The idea of passing one of your most exciting, lauded creations over to another studio should be a rather scary prospect. Yet that's exactly what Frictional did with its Amnesia franchise.
To any other game developer, the idea of passing one of your most exciting, lauded creations over to another studio -- a relatively new studio at that -- would be a rather scary prospect. Yet this is exactly what Frictional Games did with its Amnesia horror series, offering Dear Esther studio The Chinese Room the chance to build a sequel to the original scare-a-second title that has proven quite the hit on YouTube. "We felt that there was a huge interest in the game, but also knew we did not have an interest ourselves to sit down and try to figure out what a good next Amnesia would be," Frictional's Jens Nilsson tells me. "We had a quite certain feeling it would fail miserably," he adds. "The idea came up to ask someone else if they wanted to have a go with the Amnesia universe. Not making this up, the first idea and the dream scenario was to have The Chinese Room do it. So we asked them if [they were] interested." Indeed, Frictional asked The Chinese Room is they were interested, and rather quickly a sequel Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs was approved and ready to be built. amnesia 1.jpg"We checked builds now and then and gave our input on it," Nilsson says. "Then this year we got the final game from The Chinese Room, and we have worked with gameplay flow, bugs, performance and that type of tweaking and fixing to hopefully make their work be presented in the best manner possible. The Chinese Room also put in extra work during this time, and [we] somewhat reversed the setup, with them testing and giving their input on our progress." When I ask what exactly it was that The Chinese Room brought to Amnesia that made Frictional want the team onboard so badly, Nilsson answers, "What did they not bring?" "There is so much to highlight as being really good stuff," he continues. "Quality of the art, the level design that is completely different from the original game, amazing sound, perfectly suited and completely different music, the writing... yeah, the writing!" For the Frictional team, an Amnesia sequel couldn't capture the feel of the original any better -- and yet this is not the game that Nilsson himself would have created at all. "I think and hope there is a good balance of meeting expectations of what an Amnesia game should be and at the same type not be too much of the same," he adds. amnesia 2.jpgAs for whether the final product has matched what the Frictional co-founder was hoping for, Nilsson says that the sequel has done things that he couldn't have imagined with the original. "Our hope was to get something different out of the project, something fresh, stomping a bit of new ground if like," he says. "The final game is more Amnesia than the original -- for better or worse!" And he adds, "There will probably be some good stuff released from the development later, so it will be possible for others to debate that." Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs is now available via Steam.

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