- For the Life is Strange AMA, see Reddit AMA (Life is Strange).
A Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) with the Deck Nine Games team for Life is Strange: Before the Storm took place on August 10, 2017. It lasted for two hours, from 4-6PM (BST). On the following day, August 11, Community Manager Toby Palm answered some more questions that didn't get answered by the team on the prior day.
Toby Palm, Life is Strange Community Manager, Square Enix:
There's been a flurry of exciting news around Life is Strange: Before the Storm in the past month and a lot to take in. We've eagerly read all your theories and ideas about the game and have seen many questions bubble up too.
With just a few weeks to go till Episode 1 launches, we're now giving you an opportunity to ask us any questions you might have!
We'll be hosting an AMA this Thursday, August 10th at 4pm BST / 8am PDT, right here on the Life is Strange subreddit! The Deck Nine Co-Game Directors, Lead Writer and Producer for Before the Storm will all be here answering as many questions as they can.
The AMA will last approximately two hours. So, please use this thread to gather and discuss amongst yourselves which questions you think deserve to be answered in the short time we'll have - We'll create a new thread on Thursday at 3pm BST / 7am PDT where you can start posting your must-ask questions. To keep things a little tidier, we will only be answering questions in that new thread."
As announced on Monday, today we are holding an official AMA with devs from Deck Nine Games!
We will start answering your questions starting at 4pm BST, 8am PDT (approximately 45 minutes from now). There are four of us here who will be individually answering what we can:
Webb and Chris: Deck Nine Games Co-Game Directors
Zak: Deck Nine Games Lead Writer
David: Deck Nine Games Producer
Please ask us any questions about Life is Strange: Before the Storm you may have!
Many of you already discussed questions in Monday's thread - we won't be answering questions there so please do post your most pressing questions again here."
- Who were choosing licensed music? A group of people or a certain person?
Chris Floyd: The directors here - especially myself and Audio Director, Chuck Carr - and the Life Is Strange team at Square Enix listened to dozens of tracks looking for those songs that would 1) capture Chloe's rebel spirit and 2) nicely underscore the most powerful scenes in our story. In that process, we constantly gravitated around the rich, beautiful, emotional music of Daughter, which led to us asking them to provide our score. We're so thrilled that they've also created some brand new songs that will feature in scenes in the game. You're going to love them! We're looking forward to announcing more of the licensed bands and tracks for the game down the line.
- How the idea of making the prequel with Chloe in the lead role was born? Is this an influence of сountless fan requests or is it an original idea?
Zak Garris: Returning to Arcadia Bay was a direct response to fans telling Square that they wanted to go back to Arcadia Bay, for sure. But when it comes to who we might play this time around, we looked at a wide range of characters, but we kept coming back to Chloe. Her mix of aggressive strength and fragile vulnerability was too interesting, too real. Those qualities, plus the opportunity to meet the mythic Rachel Amber through Chloe's eyes, ultimately made the decision for us.
- Did you study some info about Oregon (history, dialect, some cultural background, including local traditions), as DONTNOD did?
Zak Garris: We've all studied Oregonian history and culture working on this game, but I actually went to school in Portland at a magical place called Reed College. So Arcadia Bay, in all its quirky charm that kind of maps onto what life can be like in Oregon, has always meant a lot to me. Getting to tell a story in one of my favorite places in the world has been a joy :)
- Considering the game might have references on modern pop-culture, did you get to negotiate with right holders of other franchises to put some easter eggs?
Chris Floyd: Regarding references and easter eggs: The pop culture references will definitely be flying in Before the Storm! And as far as easter eggs go, you'll of course want to take a peek at the license plates in the game.
- Did Ashly Burch provide some advice regarding voice-over/motion capture for Rhianna DeVries?
Webb Pickersgill: Good question. To clarify, the motion capture artist for Chloe in LIS was not Ashly Burch. So Rhianna and I studied and workshopped the original body performance at length to build the body language of Chloe and nuance it for the 16-year-old version of her character. With regards to the VO, we were fortunate to work with Philip Bache, the VO Director for the original game. Phil directed Ashly for the original game and together they sculpted the character that you know and love. Phil was instrumental in guiding Rhianna to the performance for our younger Chloe.
- Is there any news about official Russian localization? Boxed Version of Season 1 has been distributed to Russia, but was not translated. Will it happen at least for BtS?
Toby Palm: We're aware that our fanbase in Russia is really big - While I don't have any information about a localisation today, it is a topic that I am aware of is very important to those fans in Russia. So - No news today, but we haven't forgotten or ignored you.
- How many people work on BtS?
Toby Palm: You can check out most of the team on the Facebook page - Direct Image.
- Will we get to hear more about David's past before meeting Joyce, who he was and what he was doing?
Toby Palm: David plays an important role in BtS and part of it is hinted at in Chris answer here
- Will Chloe have her own dorm room or she's going to live home? Will we get an explanation on why she still lives there, despite her disliking David?
Toby Palm: Chloe lives at home in BtS - Why exactly she still is at home, is something you may be able to figure out by investigating Chloe and Joyce's life and home in BtS.
- Is bonus episode with Max more related to the original game or the prequel?
Toby Palm: We can't talk about Farewell just yet, but we'll be sure to reveal more details in advance of releasing it :)
- While making up with the idea of the prequel, did you condiser an option of telling about those 5 years when Max was absent in Arcadia Bay?
Toby Palm: The story of Chloe and Rachel always felt like it had the strongest appeal, and it's also the one fans asked us to look into the most.
- Will we be able to watch any part of Chloe's school life in the game?
Toby Palm: I don't want to spoil any part of the game, but Blackwell Academy and Chloe's role in it does feature prominently in BtS.
- The original Life is Strange is known for having an incredibly specific and, often times, plain legendary vocabulary. What are your favorite phrases or pieces of vocabulary used in the first game and will we get a similar type of vocab in BTS? If yes, a lot of those lines came from Max, ('Wowser", "Ready for the Mosh Pit Shaka, Brah", etc.) so, how was it creating that type of vocab for Chloe or other characters specific to BTS?
Zak Garris: Hah. I think Max's near-endless nicknames were some of my favorites. And Chloe's line when she's sliding into the diner booth, "I'm hungry like the wolf" still makes me laugh – if you don’t know it’s the title of a Duran Duran song. Honestly, though, it's really hard to pick favorites, because the legendary nature of the language pervaded the whole series. Creating Chloe's own language in kind was really, really fun. She obviously has a unique style that gives us lots of license. It's fun, too, to see how Rachel's use of language is similar at times, and quite different at others, and how each girl ends up influencing the other's expression.
- How exactly will the "Backtalk" feature work in LIS:BTS?
Chris Floyd: Backtalk is a brand new feature that we created specifically to translate Chloe's witty and bold way of talking into gameplay. We'll be talking a lot more about it at Gamescom, so keep an eye out for that coverage later this month!
- Will we learn more about the origins of Hot Dawg Man?
David Hein: Hawt Dawg Man is one of life's great mysteries.
- Rachel, to me, was less of a character and more of this constant presence in the first Life Is Strange, and we ended up with this picture of a very complex and different person than what we started with regarding her. Can you talk a little bit about the process you went through in taking what we knew about her from LIS and turning her into a main character for BTS?
Webb Pickersgill: People are inherently complex. As humans we love stories, so often times the "mythical" stories about a person can be more interesting than the truth, so they are the ones told and retold. When we developed Rachel's character, we thought it would be way more interesting to explore her personal story, the one that happens behind closed doors. So we asked ourselves: What are the every-day kinds of situations that make us not so perfect? Of course, Chloe is the perfect person to help us reveal this story, allowing us to discover the details the same time that she does.
- There is one big thing concerning some people, myself included. I really want this game to be good and stand on it's own but it feels like fan fiction to me. From what we've seen so far the game feels very fan pandering, when done subtly that can be great, but I'm getting the impressions this game is centred around that fan service. I get that when you're picking up a game created by someone else, you're going to add these little nods to the player to draw them in but I feel that fan-service is not enough to build a game around. Given that the game is more expensive than LiS and has less content I really would hope this game can stand on it's own and not feel like it's riding LiS' coat-tails right to the bank. Is there anything you can tell us about the game that will perhaps change my mind?
Zak Garris: Thank you for this question. As a studio, we've often expressed since announcing the game how much we loved the first LiS experience because, well...it's true :) It's been that love that's fueled our passion and excitement for what we're doing in Before the Storm. When you see demos we've shared and trailers we've prepared, we're also leveraging the shorthand language of characters you know and spaces you've been to from the first game, because that's the context we have as we introduce the game to you. But there are many characters, spaces, and interactions -- the vast majority of the game, actually -- that we haven't shared yet. So let me take this chance to say that Before the Storm will be going places -- narratively, environmentally, and thematically -- that the first game didn't. Simply because it's a different story that will stand on its own. Our greatest hope and confidence with this game is that fans will feel strongly that they're returning to a world they knew from LiS1, but that, very quickly, the story will sweep them up into a whole new experience in that world. That living in Chloe's shoes will grant you completely new perspectives on her rich, violent, and fragile interior universe. That getting to know Rachel Amber will be electrifying, fun, and thought provoking. And that, ultimately, you'll walk away from the game having new insights into this incredible construct that Dontnod has made. So I totally understand you skepticism. I'll ask you to give the game a shot and see where the story takes you :)
- What prompted the decision to use the Unity Engine over Unreal Engine 4 (which was used in LiS)? Are there any specific reasons as to why it was chosen?
David Hein: At Deck Nine we’ve been developing our StoryForge tool that supplements Unity for years. This in-house tool allows us write interactive, branching fiction and convert those scripts into cinematics. Webb talked more about StoryForge in this thread.
- Assuming that you have gone through and studied the original LiS, what character was easiest for you to write for for BtS from LiS, and which character was the most difficult?
Zak Garris: This is an interesting question :) I think the content itself matters a lot for this. Writing Chloe's wittiest, angriest, or most rebellious content comes a little more easier than other lines, since I think everyone in the writers' room has gone through their own rebellious periods. But then moments where we explore Chloe's grief, her interior world and her vulnerability with Joyce, with Rachel, and with William...we've all left something of ourselves in those darker strokes. Apart from Chloe, Samuel was quite fun to write – yes that’s a reveal, Samuel is in the game! David was really fun to write for us, too. I think Rachel was the one we all spent the most time refining and exploring, since our game is the first time we hear her voice and see her in action.
- How was the collaboration with the band Daughter going? It was said that the original score they composed for the game is meant to be a soundtrack to Chloe as a character and was inspired by her, her feelings off loss and grief. Did they get insight into the new game, did they play it or only read pieces of the script to get an impression? Or how did it work? Have Daughter actually played the first game? It would be nice to get some more insight into this creation process behind the scenes; as well as how you got to collaborate with the band. Did you ask them, or did they approach you? Were there other artists you were interested in working with?
Chris Floyd: Collaborating with Daughter has been AMAZING and the results (as you've probably heard with the recently released single "Burn It Down") are going to blow you away. Daughter was always our top pick to score the game and we were just thrilled when we approached them and they said yes. It was important to us to give them a lot of artistic freedom to interpret our story in music. So we let them read our story summary, talked with them about the characters, and described the major story themes that could be reflected in the music. Then we let them work! They started with musical sketches that reflected how those things inspired them. So many of them just set us on fire the first time we heard them. Together, we steered those sketches into the final pieces that you'll hear in game. You can hear more of Daughter talking about their process in the video we recently released.
- Will we be getting the origin of hella in this game? Also Blackwell as a school has confused me for a while, why is it a regular high school now? And are Chloe and Max in the same grade level or is Chloe a year above?
Chris Floyd: Obviously, Chloe's "Hella" is legendary and we couldn't leave its origin story unaddressed in Before the Storm. But you'll just have to play the game to see exactly how! As far as Blackwell, what you'll see is that three years prior to the first game, Blackwell was a more typical high school, but there are signs that it is transforming into the arts-specialized, seniors-only, two-year program that you see in LiS1. If you're perceptive as you play BTS, you'll learn a bit about the forces behind that. While Chloe is a bit older than Max, we've placed them in the same grade, along with a lot of the other students you know from Season 1.
- What is it like having Ashly on as a consultant, and how has her insight on Chloe helped you guys shape the character?
Zak Garris: Working with Ashley on this project has been awesome. Having her eyes on the script has meant we've gotten her thoughts as someone who embodied Chloe in the first game, someone who has perhaps the most personal connection to the character of anyone, but also her thoughts as a brilliant writer who knows what makes stories work. Having her insights into what we wanted to do with Chloe's arc over our adventure was invaluable.
- What was the hardest part in the development process of BtS?
Webb Pickersgill: We're huge fans of the original game. Personally, I excitedly got Life is Strange the week it came out and put in way to many hours playing. So, for me the most challenging part of the development process is to study and understand the cinematic style that we all know and love, and bring a level of performance to the characters that honor the original performers. It’s been a great experience though.
- Will this game's soundtrack be issued on CD?
David Hein: Daughter will be releasing their score music on September 1st. All of the new songs they’ve wrote specifically for the game will go on the album titled Music from Before the Storm. This CD will not include the licensed tracks – we currently have no plans for releasing those ourselves as we are focusing entirely on creating the game first.
- Frank Bowers (and Pompidou, obviously) fan here. I'm very curious to how in depth Frank Bower's character will be in BTS. Will we learn a whole lot more about him and will his character be more fleshed out?
Zak Garris: Frank is one of my favorite characters, too. I don't want to spoil anything, but I will say he plays a vital role in the story. I think fans are going to enjoy getting to see him at a different time in his life, and to learn more about how he became the drug dealing, dog saving, neck tattooed guy we know and love from the first game.
- Are you getting any help from Dontnod in the development of "Before the Storm" and, if so, in what way? Are they helping you out with character development and story-related content or are you completely independent from them?
Chris Floyd: First, DONTNOD is very busy working on their own Life Is Strange game, so BTS' story and its implementation are pretty much entirely the work of the team at Deck Nine (with a lot of help from some very knowledgeable folks at Square Enix who know Life Is Strange very well). But from the beginning, we wanted to know what the folks at DONTNOD would think about our story. After all, Life Is Strange had such a unique vision for a video game, and they were the ones who knew that vision best! So we were very fortunate to have them review our early drafts of the story and get their help steering it in the right direction. And as our first episode was coming together, Zak got to sit down with them at their studio in Paris and watch them play through the whole episode. They had some wonderful feedback and great advice for the team. And, of course, all their feedback carries a lot of weight for us because we love their work so much.
- Will you be expanding upon Frank Bower's life dedication to beans?
David Hein: Absolutely. Beans are life!
- During writing, weren't you worried that making Rachel Amber an actual character - with everything that implies in terms of character flaws - would detract from the mysteriousness and ellusiveness that surrounded her in LiS1?
Deck Nine Reply - Zak Garris, Lead Writer (BtS): Great question. I think good characters are mysterious, even when you're interacting with them. The nature of that mystery has to grow and change once you're spending time with that character, seeing their flaws as you say. But there's no reason flaws can't be mysterious, either. I think players are going to find the experience of getting to hear Rachel's voice, fighting with her and for her, will only augment and clarify the ways that she's strong, compelling, mysterious, and ultimately meteoric in Chloe's life.
- With the anarchist symbol floating around in Lis 1 and now also in Before the Storm is it safe to say that Chloe is an anarchist? Is this just to fit her punk style or will this be elaborated/explored in the new game?
David Hein: Anarchy is a really interesting concept. I’m a huge nerd for philosophy! It’s definitely safe to say Chloe is rebelling. Against what? her grief, Max’s absence, her mom. We’ll definitely explore that stage of life where you might hate everything and everyone. Does this make Chloe an anarchist? Maybe? 😉
- Hey pls tell if 21:9 is/will be supported! It is a buy or not. :/
David Hein: Yep! We’ll support 21:9 aspect ratio. Enjoy!
- You're clearly bringing back some notable characters from the first LIS game, but they can't be the only characters in BtS. Will we see any new characters? Do you have any favorite new characters that you guys created specifically for this story?
Chris Floyd: If you watched the gameplay footage recently released at ComicCon, you may have seen a new character named Steph on Chloe's SMS screen. She is a favorite character throughout the studio and we can't wait for you all to meet her! And she's not the only compelling new character. We'll show you a new teacher at Blackwell, more students both older and younger than Chloe, and other new faces that I'd better keep quiet about at the moment!
- Will it will be difficult to make unbiased choices in the prequel when we know so much about characters as they already are from the original game?
David Hein: The events of Before the Storm are set 3 years before the original Life is Strange. What this means is even the most dedicated fan won’t know how Before the Storm is going to end. Be prepared to anguish over choices just like in LIS1! We decided very early on to ensure we’re writing a story that no one knows the ending of. In fact, the vast majority of events throughout the series are all brand new.
- I absolutely loved Life is Strange, but I'm a bit on the fence regarding the prequel. Won't we already know who the big bad is based on our time with the original? Is there a new antagonist otherwise? How do you plan to keep the decision making and choices refreshing and less-punishing without the critically acclaimed rewind feature?
Webb Pickersgill: Hey Drazzan! No need to be on that fence, come on down. :) Our story takes place 3 years before the original story, so the "Big Bad" you're referring to is not actually in BTS! We feel it’s really important to tell a story that no one knows the ending of. However, just like in real life, there are always opponents that we see as antagonists, keeping us from our goals. Our story will of course have very difficult obstacles that our heroines need to overcome, and include new people who get in their way. What makes this game unique is Chloe's perspective on making choices to get around these obstacles. "Punishing" is an interesting choice of words. In the original game, it made me cry regardless of my choices and my rewind power... I would define that as punishing, but in the right way. It's the strong emotional reward that we all seek in a game like this with characters we love. I think our fans are looking for more of that emotional experience, and we're happy to oblige.
- LiS:BtS, based on your released vids, looks and performs great! I'd like to know more about your new engine, StoryForge. Why did you choose to build an engine from the ground up? What do you like or appreciate when working with the new engine?
Webb Pickersgill: Thanks for the complement, we're very happy with being able to create the Life is Strange experience in our toolset. StoryForge isn't an engine in and of itself. Think of it as the cabin of the sports car, with the engine being Unity. Imagine sitting on a raw motor engine and trying to drive it around town... it’d be pretty tricky - and the nuance to controlling it would be minimal! StoryForge is an interface to the Unity engine. It is our steering wheel, gear shift, gas, brake, air conditioning, radio, and cup holder... that allows our cinematic artists to comfortably sit in the plush leather seat to drive our cinematic storytelling.
- I am a scenarist and intrigued by the way story-driven games like LiS work. Can you please tell us more about the process of writing branching storylines for specific choices? I'd love to hear about it!
Zak Garris: Awesome question. There are a lot of ways to look at how to write branching content. On one level, it's about managing scale -- you want to craft a plot structure that is big enough to accommodate the player's decisions about where to go, who to fight/love/friendzone, whether to break the law or not, etc...but at the same time, a structure that's tight enough for it to be produceable and coherent. On another level, though, interactive content isn't just about the mechanics of branching structures -- it's about an opportunity to ask the player questions about social issues. And in that direction, you want to think carefully about how your choice point intersects with that issue in a way that maximally empowers your player to think about the issue you want to raise. For me, LiS is a franchise that does a great job of exploring issues by asking the player to make choices with no clear right or wrong, where the subsequent consequences do interesting work in making the player then think about the issue at hand in maybe a new way.
- Do you have any fun moments or stories that you had while making BtS? Screw asking questions about the game itself, I just wanna know how many of you are goofballs ;p
Webb Pickersgill: I can confirm, nor deny, being shot at daily with nerf darts... however, as you can imagine in a performance-based game, there is quite a bit of goofy acting that happens between takes. I can also neither confirm, nor deny photos or cell phone videos of such shenanigans... which I may or may not post on my Twitter feed @WebbPickersgill at some point in the future.
- If you could add Max and Chloe into any other non-LiS video game series as playable characters, which game do you think they'd work best in? And which game would they be the worst fit possible?
Webb Pickersgill: Chloe would be awesome as a Barbarian in Diablo III.
David Hein: Best: Valkyria Chronicles, Max would drive the Edelweiss and Chloe would be the captain. Worst: I can’t see Max or Chloe putting up with Octodad’s shit. WAIT! IS OCTODAD SECRETELY DAVID?!?
Zak Garris: Best: Soul Calibur, any version. Worst: Thief? Not because Chloe wouldn't want to break into places and steal stuff, but because...well, lock picking.
Chris Floyd: I have to say, if I could have Max's rewind power while playing Demon's/Dark Souls, I'd probably have fewer broken PS3 controllers! As far as worst games, when I picture Chloe in one of my favorite games, ICO, I just see her stubbornly refusing to be lead around by the hand...
- As the BtS will hit hard to home as losing a loved one well a year and bit ago I was wondering how did you approach the storyline and as LiS resonated with me quite strongly amongst other things
Zak Garris: First off, I'm sorry for your loss. We chose to tell a story about grief because of how simultaneously universal it is -- everybody unfortunately experiences loss in one way or another -- and at the same time, shockingly personal. In that direction, I think everyone in the writers' room has examined their own loss at various times on this project. In this, our hope is to explore grief in a way that's honest, thoughtful, and sincere. If you play BtS and it makes you remember a time in your life when you struggled with loss and someone helped you through, or a time in your life when you were the someone helping a friend, and it makes you feel grateful or connected or inspires you to reconnect, then our hopes for the game will be realized :)
- For Zak Garris: What's the tattoo you got on your right arm?
Zak Garris: Hah. It's actually quite personal, so I'd rather not say. But I will share that I (and others from the story team) are planning on getting new tattoos when we release Ep1 to celebrate the project. Something ravenish, perhaps. We'll likely post something on social media when it's done :)
- Is Before the Storm designed to be played after the original Life is Strange, or is it designed in a way where you can play BtS first?
David Hein: We’ve intentionally designed Before the Storm to be enjoyed by fans and newcomers alike. Fans of the series will be rewarded for their attention to detail. And don’t worry there won’t be any spoilers for newcomers.
- Will before the storm be good? Is Kate Marsh in this game? Do you plan to tackle social issues much like LiS 1 Nice animations by the ways much better than LiS 1.
David Hein: DONTNOD was incredibly courageous in the social issues they chose to address in LIS1. We believe that’s a core pillar of what Life is Strange is about. Part of what Before the Storm explores is the loss of a loved one, depression, and that it’s okay to not be okay.
- In Life is Strange, we could take optional photos. Will there be something similar to that in Before the Storm? and will we see blue haired Chloe?
Chris Floyd: When considering what our collectible mechanic should be in Before the Storm, we searched for something that felt true to Chloe's character the same way photography was at the heart of Max. Something like photography is too passive for Chloe--we thought it was appropriate for Chloe to really make her mark on the world. So in BTS, the collectible points are places where Chloe can do just that: She takes out her big black marker and writes her mind, drops a cynical catchphrase, or draws a biting little sketch to show how she feels. In many cases, you'll have a choice of what to write; and if you return to the same location later in the story, you'll see your choice still enshrined there. As far as blue hair... Could we tell the story of Chloe's past and not address her most distinctive physical feature? Play the game and see!
- What was the most enjoyable part about the development process?
- What was the most concerning part about the development process?
Webb Pickersgill: Hey Pixel-Fire. I just responded to the most challenging part in another thread. As far as the most enjoyable part, there are almost too many to list. To pinpoint one, I love working with the actors to bring the characters to life. My directing style requires my actors own their characters. I make sure they deeply understand who they are playing, and the details of the life they are living. We do workshops to explore the body language and refine the details that make what that character unique and interesting. Then, we explore each scene and often discover what blocking and body language works the best for each moment. At the end of the day, there's nothing more satisfying than collaborating with other creative artists and creating something together that is real, and compelling. And then there’s the other really enjoyable part of the project – hearing FAN feedback – thanks for all the support so far it really helps us when we’re working away back at the studio!
- Will we get to see more of Nathan's backstory in BtS?
David Hein: Nathan is an inherently complex character. Before the Storm will absolutely explore his character more. We might even learn more about why Nathan becomes who he is in the first game… 😉
- Will there be any determinant relationships like in season 1? (Kissing Warren / Kissing Chloe) Or is Rachel the only bae for Chloe?
Zak Garris: The relationship between Rachel and Chloe is the core of the story, the main relationship our game explores. But we're stepping into her life at a time when she has various relationships with other people, some of them entirely new characters. Players are going to have to determine for themselves what having Rachel show up in Chloe's life means for her and the other people in her life.
- For the soundtrack, can we expect more artist to be announced as the season goes by or will Daughter be the sole contributor for this prequel?
- In the Farewell episode, are you guys planning it to be a full length episode or cutting it short?
David Hein: Our game features a wonderful score crafted by Daughter. It also has a series of licensed tracks as well! You may have heard a track from Pretty Vicious and Speedy Ortiz already. We’ll be announcing more tracks and artists so keep an eye out for that!
- Who and what will be featured in the bonus episode Farewell? Will there be any set ups for season two in it? A Marvel-esque set up?
Zak Garris: Farewell is a return to Chloe and Max's life years before the events of the first game. In this, we're examining a different time in the girls' lives, a time where we can see sides to them we haven't yet. We're excited about how the story of the episode will inform a whole variety of aspects related to both Chloe and Max and to how they relate to each other and their shared past. We’ll share more details further down the line.
- How many ends the game have?
Chris Floyd: We love the original game's final choice--it was beautifully set up and agonizingly difficult. But you'll notice that it has one quality that our ending simply can't have: We don't have the option in a prequel to eliminate a vast majority of the characters in the story, even if we wanted to. The dramatic nature of that outcome was one thing that made it effective, but it also tied up many of the game's subplots in one fell swoop. In contrast, Chloe's story in BTS is going to intersect with a dozen other characters' stories, and in almost every case she'll be able to have an impact on how their stories resolve. That means that your personal combination of outcomes for Nathan and David and [awesome new character we haven't talked about yet] will be quite unique from other players'. Does that mean we will be shunning the Big Final Choice of the original game? We've talked a lot about it. On one hand, it can create the feeling that all the earlier choices become collapsed into just one choice (though, again, that's really only true when the effects of the choice are as apocalyptic as LiS1's, and we're telling a more personal story than that). On the other hand, the "Bay or Bae" debate has become a touchstone for so many wonderful and contentious discussions in our homes, offices, and online forums! One reason Life Is Strange sticks with so many players is that this choice made them reflect on five compelling episodes and all their relationships with the characters of Arcadia Bay, particularly Chloe. As storytellers, that effect has a lot of appeal for us. I'm not going to spoil our ending. So all I can say is that we've weighed these questions constantly while developing Chloe's story and we're really, really excited about its finale. It's going to stick with you, too.
- Will we be able to know who got Chloe her truck? And I'm wondering if Chloe has direct interaction with Victoria.
David Hein: We will absolutely be learning more about her truck, and how she got it as it’s such an incredibly iconic part of the first game. However, we definitely don’t want to spoil it for you! Victoria and Chloe will definitely meet up, we really hope you’ll like what we have in store for those two.
- Any shout outs for the soundtrack this time around? What can we expect, aside from the incredible Daughter trio?
David Hein: Two licensed tracks you may have already heard: Pretty Vicious - Are You Ready For Me and Speedy Ortiz - No Below. There are many more licensed tracks to come that we’ll announce further down the line. As for the work from Daughter – they’ve been incredible. All of the new songs they’ve created specifically for the game will go on sale on September 1st. The album is called Music from Before the Storm. We’ve also included a MixTape Mode in BTS where, for the first time in a LIS game, you’ll be able to sit back and enjoy the tracks from the game. Keep an eye out next week as you’ll see some MixTape mode footage!
- Will we be able to interact with Grill Dad?
David Hein: Frankly, I’m terrified that Grill Dad might meet Hawt Dawg Man. RUN HAWT DAWG MAN RUN!
- Fans seemed to love the idea that Chloe is actually a "smart super-nerd". Maybe show her doodling trying to figure out the Collatz Conjecture or something? I think fans would like that. I think what fans loved about LiS was the sense these characters had an underlying personality to them that wasn't just up to the whim of the player. IE, every character is just one loyalty mission away from being datable. Will you be able to thread that needle in making characters have underlying personalities that respond to, but are not subject to, the actions of the player?
Zak Garris: Really great questions :) I also love Chloe's depth, the idea that she's actually shockingly smart, that in her youth, before William died, before Max left, she was actually a straight A student who was tried hard in school and enjoyed learning for its own sake. It rounds out her character and reminds me that just because she's a kind of anarchist who swears a lot when I'm interacting with her as Max in LiS1, she wasn't always that way. People are often more complex than we realize. I think you've hit on something really important with your question about characters with underlying personalities not simply up to the whim of the player. It's one of my favorite aspects of writing Rachel Amber -- she's compelling, dramatic, and exciting for Chloe, but at the same time, not under Chloe's control. Sensational, but not safe. In this way, I hope the characters you interact with in the world of BtS feel authentic and real, human and flawed and not under you control at all.
- Hey guys! I just graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Communications, I'm looking to get into the broadcasting business, and I've been told I have a voice for radio! I'm also really excited about the new Life is Strange game! So...is there an opening to voice Hot Dawg Man?
David Hein: Best of luck in your career search! Hawt Dawg Man is the best so he makes a return of course! He won’t have any spoken lines in Before the Storm but I’ll take your details down in case he has in any in later games. 😉
- As a small indie developer in Colorado, taking on a project as big as Life Is Strange has to be intimidating. What's the experience been like so far? What's it mean for your studio's future? And the most vital question in this whole AMA, what's Colorado like?
David Hein: I was born in Colorado and have lived here my whole life. It’s a truly beautiful place. I’m stunned by the Rocky Mountains every single day. I spend my weekends hiking with my wife, son, and dog and it’s amazing to revel in the glory. One of the other amazing parts about Colorado is we have more microbreweries per capita than any other state and I am a huge craft beer enthusiast and am spoiled by the number of luxurious libations. It’s honestly the best place I’ve ever been.
- Will the episodes lead up to when Rachel goes missing? So a year per episode, or is it playing out through a week like the first game.
David Hein: The events of Before the Storm take place 3 years before the original Life is Strange. We felt it was really important to tell a story that no one knows the ending of. Each episode will play out over the course of roughly a day in Chloe’s life.
- Do you know what you‘ll do after the release of the last episode?
David Hein: I'm hoping to sit on a beach with a some kind of umbrella-laden drink.
- I recently played the first game again and one of the more complex characters I noticed was Chloe's stepdad. He is stepping in after Chloe's father dies, he's a war veteran, and now he's settled for a petty security job. I'm curious to see how he might differ in character before the first game. Will Chloe's stepdad (David) be a major character in this game?
Chris Floyd: At the start of our story, David and Joyce are dating and, as you can imagine, Chloe is not happy about it. But it was important to us that players have the ability to decide what this might mean for Chloe's relationship with both of them as our story unfolds. In this respect, yes, David will absolutely be an important character in Before the Storm. And you'll definitely see some differences in his attitude and his situation in life, so keep an eye out for ways in which he's changed in the few years between games.
- How strong was rhe urge to create a new superpower and how much guidance did you get from dontnod/square to do/not so?
David Hein: We explored all the options when concepting Before the Storm. But we decided that it didn’t make sense for Chloe or Rachel to have a power. We didn’t want to create a town full of superheroes, and also, if Chloe had a superpower she would have probably told Max about it in the first game when Max revealed she could rewind time! We decided to focus on what made the first Life is Strange so amazing: deep characters, relatable, relationships and believable issues.
- Why you chose to make prequel instead sequel?
David Hein: Writing a sequel would require canonizing one ending over another. It’s important for us that the story you chose in LIS1 remains canon for you. A prequel allows for all the same theorycrafting and fun conversation between episodes.
- Will Hannah Telle be able to reprise her role as Max in the bonus episode?
Toby Palm: Hello there, apologies for not having answered this yesterday. The reason for this is because we already discussed this matter during our E3 Q&A: Timestamped: https://youtu.be/G07OmeYHogU?t=2574
- Okay, let me re-word my question so it is a better question. When will the bonus episode start having work done on it? Like, early 2018, late 2018, maybe even 2019? I'm thinking maybe if the episode is going to be made far enough in the future, maybe all fans will get their way and have Hannah as Max.
- Is it possible that Ashly Burch could reprise her role as Chloe in the bonus episode?
Toby Palm: I can honestly only say as much about Farewell as was already mentioned during the stream - not because I'm being coy but because nothing is set in stone. We'll start work on Farewell once Episode 3 has been completed and we're targeting an 8 to 10 week release cadence between episodes... We can't really push a piece of content out so far into the future that it gets stuck in Limbo - people have paid for the content and not being able even give them a rough time window in reasonable time isn't helpful for anyone. We also can't have Deck Nine sitting around doing nothing. We can't pause development on something and tell everyone to go home and wait for something that may or may not occur. We also can't spend an entire year "polishing" - the costs associated with running a company simply don't make this feasible.
- Will any Syd Matters songs appear in BtS?
Toby Palm: So far we've revealed that Daughter have composed the score and you can also hear Pretty Vicious and Speedy Ortiz in released gameplay. We'll be revealing more artists in the coming weeks.
- Will the same voice actor be reprising her role as Max in the deluxe edition?
Toby Palm: Hello there, apologies for not having answered this yesterday. The reason for this is because we already discussed this matter during our E3 Q&A: Timestamped: https://youtu.be/G07OmeYHogU?t=2574
- Chloe is left-handed or right-handed?
Toby Palm: We answered this a few weeks ago - pasting our response here: The Deck Nine team care about canon immensely. We have a wealth of unpublished documentation from the folks over at DONTNOD that contains the full biographical data, background and narrative arcs of characters, but this one particular bit of information wasn't initially present. We thus individually counted the amount of times Chloe used her right hand versus her left hand in Season 01 to figure out which hand was dominant. It's actually fairly split. Chloe smokes using both her left and right hand throughout season 01 and there are also other areas in the game where she uses her right over her left (such as when she holds David's gun in Episode 1 or lights the lamp in Principal Wells office). She also picks the lock using her right hand which is a high-skilled action to do if you're not using your dominant hand. Deck Nine Games and we at Square Enix had long discussions about which hand was her dominant, and the writing on her hand and graffiti feature animations were created when it was believed that right was her dominant. As these are animations tied to tangible features throughout the game (and many of the camera angles during scenes are tied to how characters are holding items), it wasn't possible to fix those two instances. Doing so would mean re-cutting many scenes and isn't as simple as "flipping" the animation. That being said, if you watch the 20 minute gameplay again, you will notice that, barring the two instances mentioned above, Chloe uses her dominant left hand throughout. The most obvious example of this being when she holds the bat in the junkyard. She will continue using her left hand throughout the rest of the game too.
- Will there be a physical copy of Bts?
Toby Palm: For now we are focusing entirely on delivering the game to you digitally in an episodic format. Plans for a boxed or Limited Edition have not yet been set.
- Will there be any "real" things we can buy? Maybe a cd, special posters, soundtracks or a art book?
Toby Palm: We're not ready to reveal anything of that nature just yet, but we looking into merch options. Additionally, Daughter will be releasing the score to BtS on September 1st as an album "Music from Before the Storm".
- How long after the 3 episodes will the bonus "Farewell" with Max be released? Or will it come with the final episode?
Toby Palm: Sorry we didn't get to answer this yesterday - we're still focusing very much on Episodes one to three, so we don't yet have any news regarding Farewell's release date. It won't come with the final episode but will be released at a later time.
- Are there any plans in the foreseeable future for a linux port of BtS? That's a major reason I started playing LiS in the first place.
Toby Palm: We are currently focusing entirely producing the game for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC (Steam). Plans for ports to other systems have not been made yet, so we can't guarantee anything. Fingers crossed though :)
- You probably know that content from your website got leaked prior to the game's reveal at E3. Did we see things we weren't supposed to, or was this a controlled release to generate hype?
Toby Palm: I unfortunately can't comment on that.
- Will LIS:BTS be more emotional then LIS? thats gonna be hard to beat if it is.
Toby Palm: How long is a piece of string? :)
- Mac version in the works?
Toby Palm: We are currently focusing entirely producing the game for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC (Steam). Plans for ports to other systems have not been made yet, so we can't guarantee anything.
- Will each episode total 3 consecutive days like LiS? Or will it be set over a longer time period? Thank you.
Toby Palm: Yep, each episode will take place over the space of 24 or so hours, with each following on from the previous one, much like Season 01 did.
- Since when has the idea for a prequel existed? And since when has the Deck Nine team been working on it?
Toby Palm: Deck Nine started working on Before the Storm in the first half of 2016. Before the Storm is being created as a direct response to fans asking to return to Arcadia Bay so they can revisit the characters they fell in love with - so the idea for this game has existed for quite a long time now too.
- How long will there be between the release of each episode? 8 weeks?
Toby Palm: We are aiming for about 8 to 10 weeks between episodes.
- Will there be a new special ability in place of time rewinding from Season One?
Toby Palm: We did consider this, but having multiple people in control of a superpower in Arcadia Bay felt a little odd. We didn’t want to have a town full of superheroes! If Chloe did have a power, she surely would have told Max when Max revealed she could rewind time as well! Strange elements do make a return, but we won’t spoil any of them…
- When will episodes 2 and 3 be released? I already bought the bundle, but I can't decide whether to play episode 1 as soon as it's out or to wait for the other two episodes.
Toby Palm: We're aiming to release episodes in 8 to 10 week intervals. I would definitely recommend playing episode one as soon as you can - much of the fun of season one was the amount of theory crafting and discussion that went on inbetween episodes!
- Hi guys! Kate is my favorite character from LiS, will we see her in BtS? Thanks!
Toby Palm: We answered this during our E3 Q&A Stream. We love Kate too! Unfortunately Kate will not be in BtS as her character has not yet arrived at Blackwell Academy during that timeframe.
- Are there supernatural elements to the game? Or maybe strange things happening that tell of a changing world? Ex: Dead birds/beached whales/unusual weather.
Toby Palm: Sorry the guys didn't get to answer this yesterday - There aren't any superpowers, but "strange" elements will definitely be present.
- How does the game perform on lower-end hardware? How much more demanding than LIS is it?
Toby Palm: Hey there - we released the system requirements on Steam a little while ago. Screenshot You may notice that the minimum specs are higher this time around. With Before the Storm, we're trying to ensure that the minimum spec machines can hit an average 30fps at all times. We didn't have this aim in place for Season 01, so the specs for that were comparatively lower. Right now, we're trying to give users a better and more consistent experience on these specs. We looked at our existing install base and tried to work out what sort of spec PC they all had, then struck a balance between trying to include as many fans as possible while raising the performance bar and doing some cool stuff with those tech gains. Additionally, Before the Storm is running in a different engine. As for LiS2, we're still far away from that and I wouldn't yet worry about an issue that might not turn out to be one once we've actually nailed down the specs for that.
- I was curious about the other side characters from LiS1. Besides characters that were already shown or mentioned before is there any chance of other fan favorites making appearances in small ways (ex. Kate, Warren).
Toby Palm: We answered this during our E3 Q&A Stream. We love Kate too! Unfortunately Kate will not be in BtS as her character has not yet arrived at Blackwell Academy during that timeframe. We can't much more about other characters just yet, but do keep an eye open around Arcadia Bay :)
- Are you going to make a new IP after this?
Toby Palm: Deck Nine are currently focusing entirely on Before the Storm :)
- What made you scrap the entire concept of time manipulation in Life is Strange: Before the Storm, and what should we expect from the game in terms of gameplay? Will the choices presented have more weight and would require more consideration, or alternatively, important decisions could be rushed through impulsively by Chloe to accomodate her personality?
Toby Palm: We did consider having a Power in the game, but having multiple people in control of a superpower in Arcadia Bay felt a little odd. We didn’t want to have a town full of superheroes! If Chloe did have a power, she surely would have told Max when Max revealed she could rewind time as well! Strange elements do make a return, but we won’t spoil any of them… Without the time rewind you will definitely need to consider you choices more carefully (as you can't go back and re-choose immediately). With regards to "Weight", it's difficult to compare the weight of one decision to another without revealing spoilers.
- Is there any chance Chloe's uncle, Aaron, or Nathan's sister, Kristine, might make an appearance? They only "appeared" via latter and email respectively in the previous game - but they'd make for interesting participants in the prequel's plot.
Toby Palm: These two characters in particular won't be appearing, but Deck Nine have worked to include both existing and many new characters in Before the Storm and I personally think you won't find interesting characters to be lacking.
- Does Chloe's stuff Shark named Mr Sharkie have any to do with her childhood? also will we see Vanessa and Ryan Caulfield in the Max farewell bonus episode?
Toby Palm: We're not ready yet to talk about Farewell or about that particular time in the girls life. We update you all with more about Farewell closer to it's release.
- We know during the first game david had some reservations about rachel, are we gonna see david (and joyce) meet and react to rachel? And will it me different depending on how chloe sees rachel?
Toby Palm: We can't say too much about what happens without spoiling the story, so the guys preferred not to answer this just yet.
- How much stress is the team experiencing with reaching for the insanely high expectations of the fans? Do you guys get enough pizza lunches? Here's to hoping that you can deliver a product of an esteemed title that you can look back on with pride.
Toby Palm: I can answer from my perspective as community manager, chatting with and reading comments from the fans from the community every day - you're very right about insanely high expectations and Deck Nine have really been put under scrutiny regarding many parts. But they've managed to prove on multiple occasions how much care and thought they put into crafting this game - Indeed, I think the scrutiny of the fans has actually enabled us to show off just how much effort we collectively put into the game. As an example, there was a discussion around whether Chloe was left or right handed - I wrote more about that here. As for Pizza Lunches, when I've spent time at the Deck Nine studio I remembered being treated to some of the best buffalo wings I've ever had (followed on other days with many other cuisines :) )
Al3xFreemanPartners in time asked:
- Will we have "secret" meanings in a lot of things like in the first game?
For example: Samuel, the animals, the native Americans, the homeless woman, etc...
Toby Palm: For starters, Samuel is confirmed to be in the game (revealed during this AMA!), so you can most certainly expect a lot of "layered" storytelling.
- Will the three episodes be set over three consecutive days like in LiS or will there be a time jump in between each episode?
Toby Palm: They will be set over three consecutive days.
- One of the things I loved about the original was the town of Arcadia Bay itself and how alive it felt. Will the game continue to flesh out the past of Arcadia Bay and maybe a bit about the Prescott family?
Toby Palm: Absolutely. You can see a little bit of this in our E3 20 minutes gameplay already :)
- Will we be able to Preload the game on steam before the release?
Also any hint on what the achievements will be like in BTS?
Toby Palm: Preloading won't be available unfortunately. The achievements will be quite similar in nature to season 01.
- In interviews/developer docs, there was mention of supernatural elements in this game. How will it be implemented since we are not rewinding time like Max?
Toby Palm: In Season 01, apart from the actual power of rewinding time itself there were subtle and not to subtle references to supernatural elements, and BtS will stay in line with that trend.
- Will the tone of this game differ significantly from game 1? Specifically because Chloe is the protagonist now, compared to the daydreamer feel of Max from LiS?
Toby Palm: It definitely does - You can already tell through the way Chloe solves puzzles, the collectible mechanic is very chloe and also in the way Chloe talks to other characters. Not to mention the music style, which is far more Chloe than it is Max (while still being very LiS). All in all, the game will still be very LiS, but with a tonal shift to Chloe's character.
- Is there a reason why Victoria was written to be a Sophomore in BtS when she would be a freshman at the time BtS is set? (Going by her date of birth from her Blackwell student record in LiS and the normal age requirements for each grade.)
- As Ashly Burch participates in the development of the game,Will there be any involvement of Hannah Telle , like her music or something?
- The issue of Chloe's handedness was brought up in the community because it seemed like she was right-handed in the pre-released footage (e.g. using her right hand to write graffiti). And it was later explained that the team behind BtS had looked at the game footage to determine which her dominant hand was. Dontnod (Michel Koch) had actually made an official statement on Twitter some time ago that Chloe was left-handed, so why did the team not simply ask Dontnod about it?
rawrxs 4 asked:
- Why did you make the decision to scab instead of wait out the strike or give into what the actors are requesting?
- For the love of beans and Hot Dawg Man, will there be a demo we can play before the launch on August 31st?!
- I want to ask is there any chance that you guys can bring back the original voice actors when the strike is over and make a DLC?
- I'm just wondering, if you can give us a bit of a hint, will we get to see all the original classmates from the first LiS (e.g. Stella, Nathan, Warren, Daniel..) and how many of the original voice actors will be returning for those roles?
- What made you decide to bundle the "optional" "bonus" episode with Max in the Deluxe edition and charge people extra for it when your playerbase will be consisted 100% of LiS fans and 100% of the LiS fans will obviously want to play that episode?
- With the given that Chloe and the other Arcadia Bay residents have to be in a very specific place in their lives by the start of the original’s Episode 1, what are some of the ways you made player choice in the prequel feel meaningful?
- I find it kind of odd how you guys managed to stay afloat even when you haven't released a solid game in years which is kinda worrying me for BTS. I would like to know how your company stayed afloat over the past few years and how you convinced square enix to fund your project.
- Have you been inspired by other games? If yes, what games?
- Why don't you have any female writers as the face of this AMA? Or in general?
- How did you come up with making a prequel to the original game?
- Why wont you admit your characters are queer? Do you realise you're manipulating the queer community and taking advantage of us while still burying your gays at the end. Not even queer baiting with a happy ending. Don't pretend you don't know what you're doing. Stop calling it a story of friendship and be real with you fans. What you're doing is wrong, and it's not a step forward for the queer community no matter what you tell yourselves.
- Will you make a DLC or upadate with original Voice Actors when the strike will be ovrer?
- In the first season it's canon that Chloe has feeling for Rachel, and considering all the posters in her bedroom and that beautiful middle finger sculpture we can see in the trailer that she’s gay or at least into girls. So my question is, will you dive deeper into her sexuality or LGBT issues in general?
- Was the team allowed to recycle any assets from the original game? Such as props, materials, etc. Or were the old locations mostly made from scratch?
"Hey everyone! Community Manager Toby here again. We're now wrapping up the AMA and the guys are working up answers on their last few questions now. Thank you so much for all your questions, it's been a very busy couple of hours on this side! The Deck Nine guys are now getting back to working on the game itself but we've all had a lot of fun chatting with you all! I know that there still a number of questions that haven't been answered - either because we've previously answered them in some form or because they are part of a larger question we want to discuss a little later down the line. I personally will try and go through all posts and answer you myself with more information about your question. For now though, the guys will respond to this comment with their farewells - I've asked them to include their social handles so you can see what they get up to while working on Before the Storm :) Thanks again and we can't wait for you to play the game on August 31st!"
Zak Garris: I want to echo Toby's thanks -- it's been a real pleasure to share what we're working on and hear from you all! There were some great questions we couldn't get to in time, and I do apologize for that. We'll look forward to future chances to talk about the game down the road. In the mean time, you can find me (sometimes) tweeting here: @zakgarriss. Thanks again, all :)
David Hein: Hey guys, thanks for all the great questions. Sorry we can’t get to more of them. It’s been a pleasure getting to answer as many as we could. Unfortunately, I need to whip Webb, Floyd, and Zak to get back to work. You can follow me @DeckNine_DHein.
Webb Pickersgill: Thank you for all the great questions. I've gotta get back to prepping for our mocap session tomorrow. If you want to stay in touch, I'll be posting some updates and fun photos from time to time on my Twitter feed @webbpickersgill. Thanks again everyone!
Chris Floyd: Wow, everyone! Thanks for all the great questions. Sorry we couldn't get to all of them! I can't wait to continue talking more about Before the Storm in the future. One place to find my thoughts is on Twitter: Follow me @DeckNine_Floyd. See you in the subreddit!