One of the most anticipated games for 2016 comes from a franchise that has been near and dear to the hearts of horror fans for almost four decades – Friday the 13th: The Game. What started out as a game dedicated to the slasher sub-genre is now licensed under the Friday the 13th franchise. Bringing this game to life are companies Gun Media and IllFonic.
HorrorGeekLife recently spoke with Randy Greenback, Gun Media’s Executive Director, about his career, how Friday the 13th: The Game came to be, and updates for fans who are eagerly awaiting release. Trust us when we say that Gun Media and IllFonic have some amazing things in store for hardcore and casual fans alike.
Friday the 13th: The Game is set for release in October 2016 on PC, Xbox One and PS4. Be sure to connect on social media for more updates – links can be found at the bottom of this article.
HorrorGeekLife – How did you get started in the gaming industry? What games did you grow up playing that influenced you early on?
Randy Greenback – I played pretty much anything I could get my hands on. The first games I played were in the arcade – like Asteroids or Tempest. Old-school arcade games like that. I never lost my lust to play other games, especially when Atari 2600 was released. I got that and started playing at home, and ColecoVision. I would borrow and trade cartridges with my friends. My favorite games were more action and adventure oriented. Then I had a friend who got a hold of Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Halloween on the Atari 2600, so those were pretty fun and influential. Eventually I got Nintendo and started playing Zelda, Super Mario Bros, and all of that.
I was growing up in Las Vegas and I found out there were two video game companies here and one was called Westwood Studios. When I was old enough, I heard that they were looking for testers, so I went down and applied and I actually got in the door. I started doing some focus testing and I did some tests on Young Merlin for Super Nintendo. I got picked up and hired on to test on Command & Conquer and Monopoly. I kept asking and bugging everyone to learn everything I could outside of tests, and I started working with designers and I started designing my own levels for the original Red Alert. I did multiplayer maps, designed for pretty much the first traditional MOBA for Command & Conquer: Sole Survivor online. I kept doing maps and kept doing anything I could to move out of QA and establish myself as either a designer or producer.
For a long time I was a designer, so I went back to Westwood as a lead designer after doing some time making games. Like, I made a game with Ozzy Osbourne. It was called Savage Skies and it was a flying dragon/creature action game. It was pretty awesome and I got to hang out at the studio with him while he recorded lines for the game. I was also Creative Director at Red Storm, Ubisoft and Insomniac. I kind of hopped around after that, but here I am now working on Friday the 13th.
HorrorGeekLife –Well, obviously all of your hard work paid off considering where you are now. After moving around a bit, how did you come to be on staff with Gun Media?
Randy Greenback – I knew Ben Strauss, who’s the Community Manager and Associate Producer at Gun, while I was working at Red Storm. He’s an avid gun aficionado and he’s big into the military and authenticity. So at Gun, they were working on an idea called Breach & Clear, which was the first game from Gun Media. So they reached out to me because I worked on games like Rainbow Six, Ghost Recon and America’s Army. They wanted me to help them in making a distilled tactical turn-based shooter for mobile, so that’s what we did. I signed up with Gun and we started working on Breach & Clear. We shipped that on iOS and Android and eventually ported it to Steam and Playstation Vita, along with other platforms. And then we worked on the follow up, Breach & Clear: Deadline.
When Deadline was wrapping up, I was talking to Wes Keltner, who is the founder of Gun and co-creator of Friday the 13th: The Game, and we had a whole list of ideas. One of them that we shared and talked about was a slasher multiplayer game, which turned out to be Summer Camp. It turned out that Ronnie Hobbs, also from Gun Media, had been long wanting to do a slasher game based on Friday the 13th. Summer Camp became homage to Friday the 13th and it wasn’t the official Friday the 13th game like it is now, it was just Summer Camp. So we had our core design in place and this was the game that we at Gun wanted to make. We wanted to do it right and one of our goals was to be the most legit non-Friday the 13th games, but it was a Friday the 13th game in disguise. We wanted to pay respect to the franchise we all love and to Jason, but without it being Jason. We wanted it true to that era of slasher films.
HorrorGeekLife – Well, as a fan, I would have loved a slasher game but I’m glad it is officially branded as Friday the 13th: The Game. Have any franchise vets gotten involved in the project so far?
Randy Greenback – We announced back around Halloween 2014 and it took off. Eventually Sean Cunningham reached out to us and gave us the license for Friday the 13th. We got Kane Hodder under contract, Tom Savini and Harry Manfredini. Tom Savini is doing all of the gore effects and actually designed all of the kills himself. He is making sure we have a very practical look to it all. All of the kills that you’re seeing, including the ones we recently released on the Periscope video are probably 2, 3 and 4 on a scale of 1-11. We’re stepping it up, getting super brutal and crossing lines. We told Tom Savini to go crazy, don’t worry about MPAA because they don’t exist in video games. He came up with some of the most twisted, crazy and creative kills and he definitely delivered. They call him the “Volcano of the Mind” because he can spout off ideas constantly; they come out in a stream. He’s just amazing.
HorrorGeekLife – So, some of the kills featured in the game haven’t been seen before? Or are they existing kills with a twist?
Randy Greenback – A lot of them are brand new Jason kills – for the game only. Some are inspired by the franchise, but then we take it even further. Kill scenes that were cut short in some of the films will play out even longer, like they were intended.
HorrorGeekLife – I’ve seen the game play video and it was brutal, so I can only imagine what’s still in store. The response to Gun’s Kickstarter campaign has been wildly successful with a lot of support by longtime fans of the franchise. They’re so excited to get a game true to the films, but what has the pressure been like to get this right?
Randy Greenback – So, we felt some of the pressure when we were making Slasher Vol 1: Summer Camp. We knew people were going to get what we’re aiming for, but we had a lot of leeway. So, we knew we wanted to be as authentic then as we could, but we weren’t trying to match any films frame-by-frame. As soon as we got the Friday the 13th license, we did the Kickstarter. We had the means to make Summer Camp a reality, but when we got the license, that was a whole other set of expectations that fans are going to have. Now we knew that we needed to make as many Jasons as possible, as many locations from the movies. We have so many films, and even comics, we could pull from, if we wanted to, but we knew we were going to be gut checked at every level.
There are fans that can just glance at a Part 7 reproduction mask and tell you that there are things wrong with it. We knew that’s the level of authenticity that people would expect from us with this and that is what we want to deliver.
HorrorGeekLife – That’s great to hear because horror fans will definitely let you know if they don’t think it’s good enough. We aren’t shy about our opinions.
Randy Greenback – So far, we’ve released the Virtual Cabin and, before that, it was screenshots, videos and stuff like that. But now people can walk in and walk through the cabin and see the stuff that’s built and they can actually scrutinize it. So far it’s held up. It’s held up so well that even the hardest of the hardcore fans – including super collectors, artists who make Jason masks and even franchise actors – say that we’re nailing it. That’s the best thing we can hear because that’s what we’re working for.
HorrorGeekLife –I walked through the Virtual Cabin and it all looks amazing so far. That’s a great interactive way to get fans involved. Speaking of fan involvement, are you still looking for people to contribute? If so, what are some of the in-game additions it’ll bring?
Randy Greenback – We did reach our goal on Kickstarter and hit a bunch of stretch goals as well. We started the Slasher Backer campaign and now transitioning that into a direct pre-order campaign. It all goes and helps fund the game. Before, it was funding additional stretch goals, like more Jasons or more kills in the game. We unlocked a lot of stuff, but that’s over now. At some point we have to lock it down and actually make the game. We can’t keep adding to it because then the schedule stays open and things get pushed back. We did push it to the limit because we wanted to hit these goals and ensure that the fans were excited.
HorrorGeekLife – Are there any other game or campaign updates that you want fans to be aware of?
Randy Greenback – We want to get more people involved in the process and push the Virtual Cabin. It’s a big thing that we’re experimenting with. Not many games put a mini-exploration game out ahead of the actual game. We want fans to hop in and have fun with that. We want people to share what they’re doing by streaming on Twitch or uploading videos.
HorrorGeekLife – I had fun exploring and I hope more fans get in there and check it out. So, as a horror fan, what are some of your favorite flicks, other than your beloved Friday the 13th?
Randy Greenback – One of the films that gave me nightmares as a kid was Dario Argento’s Demons. There something about the fact that it was a European horror film and it was just alien enough from what I knew growing up that it just blew my mind. It honestly scared the shit out of me.
HorrorGeekLife – That’s how I got started in horror too! Got scared to death and then addicted. Last question for you – what video games are you currently playing?
Randy Greenback – I was just recently playing Outlast on Xbox One and I had a ton of fun with that. I stream on Twitch for Friday the 13th pretty much every Friday night and I play horror games. I’ve also been playing Crush Your Enemies! on Steam, which is a great game.
HorrorGeekLife – Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us! I can only imagine how hectic your schedule is at this point. I look forward to the game and definitely can’t wait to review it!
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