TellTale’s Jurassic Park: The Game draws heavily on the original film’s cinematic style, using Spielberg-like tricks to conjure the right atmosphere.
“Our game draws exclusively from the films. The original Jurassic Park film is referred to as ‘a Stephen Spielberg film.’ So we considered Spielberg’s cinematic style essential to the brand,” game designer J.D.Straw told JPLegacy.
“There are many moments where we would talk about how a scene would play out, and little details pop up where we’d say, ‘a Spielberg film would do this…’”
Examples include characters getting into increasing peril, faithful sound effects, and sight gags similar to the rear-mirror T-Rex joke – “objects in mirror may be closer than they appear”.
The game also emulates the film’s treatment of different dinosaurs specie, imbuing them with differing personalities rather than a blanket villain role.
“The dinosaurs are not just monsters. They’re characters,” Straw insisted.
“Velociraptors come across as sinister bullies. T-Rex is an opportunist. Dilos are playful and disarming. We kept asking ourselves, what do the dinosaurs want when they are on screen. Usually it is as simple as ‘to eat something.’ But Jurassic Park dinosaurs are full of personality.
In terms of gameplay, TellTale was presented with a number of challenges, including squeezing action prompts in without taking up screen real estate which should be devoted to dinosaurs.
“I was very vocal about making sure the player’s attention to the interface and inputs and attention to the on-screen action were not mutually exclusive,” Straw said.
“When the action picks up, it’s important for the inputs to appear on screen where you expect the player’s focus to be so they don’t miss them or feel robbed of the experience by having to look away from the awesome dino action going on. It was really important that Jurassic Park: The Game had moments where the player could take in the majesty of a dinosaur without having to immediately run from it.”
Straw also struggled to balance player freedom with the need to ensure players catch important details.
“We tried really hard not to railroad every little detail of the plot. The real challenge there was essentially making every exploration push the plot forward,” he said.
“We’d find some key plot point got buried in optional dialog or on a non-critical point of interest, and we’d have to weigh whether to relocate that info to a mandatory cutscene or trust that the player can connect the dots without that info.”
Jurassic Park: The Game is expected to release as multiple episodes on November 15 on Mac, PC, and the PlayStation Network, alongside an on-disc collection for Xbox 360. An staggered release for iPad is planned thereafter.