Tomm Hulett on Silent Hill Collection, Downpour, Book of Memories and Korn

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Tomm Hulett on Silent Hill Collection, Downpour, Book of Memories and Korn
I managed to snatch a few minutes with Silent Hill series producer Tomm Hulett at E3 this year. The convention played host to an uncharacteristically large amount of Silent Hill news. Between Silent Hill: Downpour, Silent Hill Collection and Silent Hill: Book of Memories, series fans are in for an embarrassment of riches. As a responsible journalist however, there was only one choice for my first question: Why Korn?
%Gallery-126003%Hulett was sure to point out that longtime Silent Hill contributor Mary Elizabeth McGlynn will also create music for the game. The reasoning behind Korn's inclusion depended on "a lot of factors," according to Hulett. "We had our licensing department put feelers out" for groups that would be interested in contributing to the game, he noted. Konami apparently had a few choices, and Korn "made the most sense" to the publisher. "If people don't like it, they can hit start and skip it," he said, adding that the song isn't "thrown down your throat" and that Konami isn't trying to turn Silent Hill fans into Korn fans.

I mentioned that fans seem to be upset about the song, with some even going so far as to sign a petition for its removal. "I'm a big Silent Hill fan. I can pretty much guess how [fans] are going to react to everything we do," said Hulett, "I wasn't wrong on this one, in how they'd react, but I think they should hopefully calm down a little bit." To further assuage fears, he noted that the song isn't "an integral part of the gameplay" and won't be forced on players. "You know, Murphy won't be listening to Korn, or Korn won't be playing over a cutscene. It's nothing like that."

Moving on to the upcoming Silent Hill Collection, Hulett offered a tiny bit of hope for an eventual multiplatform release for the currently PS3 exclusive compilation. "It's always been a primarily Sony platform series, so right now we're just aiming at a Sony exclusive, which isn't to say in the future it won't be available anywhere else, but right now it's Sony exclusive."

Expanding on older titles in the series, I asked if Konami was interested in pursuing another title with Climax, the studio behind Silent Hill: Shattered Memories (which I enjoyed). "We like Climax, they're a great developer, but there are a lot of factors that go into what gets made, who gets used," said Hulett, adding that development of Downpour partially overlapped with development of Shattered Memories. That said, Hulett said he'd like to work with Climax again. "They're a great group of guys, and I miss the fish and chips," he said of the British developer.

So, with Climax out of the picture for now, why did Konami pick Vatra Games, a relatively unknown studio, to develop the next entry in one of its flagship series? According to Hulett, the decision arose from the desire to use Unreal Engine. "There's a lot of issues that you face in development," said Hulett, issues that publishers want to avoid when developing sequels. The company settled on Unreal Engine. "Vatra are just experts at Unreal." Hulett also noted that the Czech developer brings "a different flavor to the game," adding an eastern European influence. "The studio's in kind of a creepy place, so that gets added into the game, and we were fortunate to end up working with them."

Shattered Memories was something of a departure for the series, so where does Downpour fit in the Silent Hill universe? Is it direct sequel to another game? "It's part of what the fans would say is the canon storyline. It is a main Silent Hill game. That said, it is its own standalone story like Silent Hill 2," said Hulett, "It's not linked to the Order and all the cult stuff, and we don't try to tie it in so directly with all the previous games." He did note, however, that "lore objects" found in the world will link back to previous titles. Murphy also won't meet any returning characters, though there may be references to them.

Finally, I asked about the most mysterious Silent Hill project in the works, the PlayStation Vita title, Silent Hill: Book of Memories. Unfortunately, Hulett didn't offer many details about the multiplayer title. "It's something we'd considered for Downpour early on, and we decided that if we don't have something that is uniquely Silent Hill and feels good in multiplayer, we don't want to just tack it on," said Hulett, "With Silent Hill it's important we make sure it actually works and feels coherent."
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