Spiders are one of those things that can conjure up strong responses. For some people, just the sight of one of the eight-legged animals suffices to cause a stressed exodus from the space. Others may be fairly great with seeing a spider in real life, however freak out when they have to face a giant one in agame Obsidian’s upcoming survival game, Grounded, has the potential of being the worst possible situation for arachnophobes: not just exist spiders in the game’s yard setting, however you have actually been shrunken down to a scale where they can fill your whole field ofview Instead of shrug and move on, the team chose to do something for players who just can’t deal with spiders.
Grounded technical director Jerrick Flores says the team had a notion of a concept that spiders might be a problem while they were working on the game, however they didn’t at first value by how much. “Those concerns that we had really came to a head when we released the initial trailer for the game, and there was a spider reveal toward the end,” hesays “We watched a lot of trailer-reaction videos, because as someone working on the game you’re really interested in how people respond to your game. It was kind of interesting but also concerning that when that spider reveal happened, there were a number of people who in the reaction videos they had all this interest in the game but when that came up, all that interest just completely evaporated. They’d say things like, ‘I can’t play this game.’ It’s not like ‘I won’t,’ but ‘I can’t.’”
Developer Brian MacIntosh understood with those beliefs. “I wouldn’t say that anyone on the team is phobic, but some of us maybe avoid that dungeon in Skyrim with the giant spider – we just didn’t go there,” hesays “That began us discussing how it’s really a fear that people have, and I’ve seen people grumble about it on our online forums periodically, like, ‘could you guys replace the spiders, because I can’ t play this game since I’m truly scared of them?’ I began believing, ‘This is a thing we can do.’”
What did they do? Obsidian created a special arachnophobia mode for Grounded, which can be accessed in the game’s options menu. When toggled, spiders are rendered in a different way, as a way of making the animals less, well, spidery for people who have a hostility towards the animals. It’s still quite a work in progress, however its current execution has the models changed with large orange orbs. It’s a weird abstraction, specifically when put up aesthetically against the other bugs that are plainly featured in the game, however Obsidian is hoping that it will allow arachnophobes to play with everybody else. It’s triggered customer-side, implying that in multiplayer sessions just those who want to see spiders that way will; everybody else gets the animals in all their splendor.
MacIntosh says that establishing the abstraction has actually been an iterative procedure, thanks in part to the studio’s cooperation with Microsoft User Research Laboratory. “We want to try to see how little we can change the spider, like how little we can take away to fix that problem, but have it still be a big, scary creature. We’re putting together different samples of different alternative looks, and they’re going to test it to see which ones elicit the phobia response.” He says part of the problem is that various people are triggered by various things. Their research contact, Blake Pellman, informed him that it wasn’t the legs or the eyes that triggered the phobic action– “As long as there’s enough evidence for them to say, ‘That’s a spider,’ that seems to be what triggers it,” MacIntosh says.
Spiders are a big part of Grounded– there’s a reason they were the big reveal in the trailer. They’re one of the yard’s peak predators, and game director Adam Brennecke says there’s a lot of gameplay that’s linked to the animals, such as combat and the gear that players can craft from their various parts. There’s also the issue ofsound “The clickety-clack sounds, even though spiders don’t really make that sound, it’s something that we just think of a spider; it’s clicking and clacking around the yard. That’s another thing we’re looking at.”
Integrating these optional changes has actually been a reasonable bit of work, however the team sees it as effort well invested. “In a game like Skyrim, you can avoid spiders – you just go somewhere else,” Brenneckesays “In our game, you can’t avoid them. It’s so hard to avoid a spider in the game. I think that’s where, as a developer, I draw the line. Why don’t we try to do it to make sure that as many people can play the game as possible? That’s ultimately what we want as developers, people playing the game.”
Grounded is coming to Xbox One and PC via Game Preview and early access on July 28, whether you use arachnophobia mode.