Night Trap 25th Anniversary Interview With Tyler Hogle
You with me control? We’re going in.
When heard that a developer had announced a Night Trap 25th Anniversary Edition I was filled with mixed emotions. I’d been burnt by a failed Kickstarter revival a few years ago (Screaming Villains had no part in that debacle). But my sense of nostalgia and excitement was enough to convince me to reach out to the one man band behind the project Tyler Hogle, who is the man behind Screaming Villains and this 25th Anniversary Edition of Night Trap.
AbsoluteXbox: Can you give us some background on yourself and Screaming Villains?
Tyler: Making games was strictly a hobby for me for several years. It was something that I did off and on until a friend of mine that I graduated high school with tracked me down on facebook. He ended up finding me around the time of our high school reunion and I learned that he was in the gaming industry and he asked “Why aren’t you making games? You always talked about it in high school.” I then started asking myself “Why am I not making games?” and he kinda forced me into it. I eventually started working on some mobile projects which is how Night Trap happened. It was originally intended to be a mobile app. All of a sudden, I had a well-known license so I had to go “legit” with it and create a studio which is where Screaming Villains came from.
AbsoluteXbox: What process did you have to go through to obtain the licence for Night Trap?
Tyler: I originally created a mobile version of Night Trap and uploaded a video to Youtube of myself playing it on an Android phone. A few websites picked up on this and contacted the owners/creators of Night Trap to ask them if they had any involvement with it. The next day, I sent an email to Tom Zito (the producer of Night Trap) and he called me the following day. He asked me what I wanted to do with this and I said that I would like to release it with his permission and then it just went from there. I was just a fan that created a remake and got super lucky.
AbsoluteXbox: What condition was the footage in when you finally got access to it and what processes did you have to go through to bring it up to standard?
Tyler: The footage I received was basically near dvd quality and I really didn’t have to do anything to bring it up to standard. It was transferred from a copy of the timed master tapes that was intended for a cancelled version of the game that was supposed to be released on a cancelled console in the late 80’s called Control-Vision, also known as NEMO.
AbsoluteXbox: Your initially going to be pitching Night Trap to a very niche audience. How are you going to widen that audience especially considering today’s gamers will never have heard of FMV games?
Tyler: Its an interesting situation that I always think about. There’s a lot of people that know of Night Trap but have never actually played it. The original version of Night Trap is honestly flawed and a lot of people have deemed it unplayable, so the goal I had in mind was “How do you take an existing fmv game with a weird reputation and make it feel more like a game?” To achieve that, there were some adjustments made to the game as well as how the traps worked for example. In the original version, you would hit a button to trap an Auger but you’d have to wait until the video reached a certain point before showing the capture sequence. Now it’s immediate, so it gives the feeling that you are actually in control instead of watching a movie. A few years after Night Trap was a released, there was another game called Double Switch that was basically what Night Trap should’ve been, so this new version is sort of Night Trap made to work like Double Switch but still feels like Night Trap.
AbsoluteXbox: Night Trap caused uproar when it was originally released being called “Shameful”, “Sick”, “Ultra-Violent” And “Disgusting”. It eventually found itself front and centre during the Senate Judiciary and Government Affairs Committee hearing on violence in video games. The game eventually got pulled from stores which only added to its notoriety. When I watch footage of the game now it seems laughable that it caused such a backlash when you compare it to what’s around these days and what was around at the time. What was your your reaction to Night Trap when you originally played it?
Tyler: I was only 12 or 13 years old when I originally played it so I was clueless about everything that was going on with the game. I had parents that were really into horror films so I grew up on those and was basically immune to all of the stuff you see in that. If I had known that Night Trap was controversial during that time but didn’t know what for exactly then I wouldn’t have been able to point it out. A few years later when the internet started to become a household thing I started learning more and more about the NT controversy and even then I still didn’t understand why. Now that I’m working on the game, it does sort of bum me out seeing people describe the game as something that it isn’t. I think Night Trap was just unfairly criticized. The console wars was a very real thing in the 90’s and when you watch that hearing on violence in video games you can literally see the console wars happening right there and then for a moment its no longer about violence in games. Night Trap just got caught in all of that because of the way it was presented. If you watch a girl in a night gown get attacked in a bathroom by 3 men wearing all black then sure, it can look bad. If you watch it knowing that its a girl getting attacked by vampires then yeah, it changes the context completely.
AbsoluteXbox: I remember having groups of people in my bedroom all trying to finish the game but we never did. It was incredibly hard and your timing had to be split second perfect. Will this still be the case or will you relax the perfection needed to complete the game?
Tyler: It depends on how you play it. In the original, you basically had to jump room to room trying to find things that are happening. With this new version, you can now see everything happening in every room in real time and it feels more like a security system. I knew this would be a “controversial” decision with some of the hardcore Night Trap fans so the original icons are still in there and now the player has options. There was some other adjustments made as well but it was more along the lines of doing it in a way that made sense and not just to make it easier. There’s 3 checkpoints throughout the game that determine if you can continue or not based on your Possible/Captured ratio. The way it worked in the original game didn’t make much sense. I went through every single walkthrough I could find on the internet to see if there was any mention of how this part of the game worked but nobody seemed to know. One of the testers was able to figure it out and confirmed what we suspected so we just simplified it.
AbsoluteXbox: Will there be any extras included with this release. New game modes, documentary, making of behind the scenes footage etc, etc?
Tyler: There are a lot of extras included but we’re not yet ready to announce those at this time.
AbsoluteXbox: Your Twitter account teased two projects with Night Trap 25th Anniversary Edition being one. Is this the start of you raiding the FMV archives and remastering other FMV games?
Tyler: As of now, the second game is not FMV. Night Trap was originally going to be the second the game but things were moving along faster with it so it became the first one. Unfortunately, doing Night Trap first now has people under the impression that SV will be doing fmv games and that’s it, but that is not the case. There’s a very good possibility that we could be doing more fmv in the future but nothing guaranteed yet. I’m totally on board with doing more remakes of classic games but if I was able to choose what the next one would be then it’d either be Shinobi 3 or Vectorman.