'Siren' Designer Admits He Doesn't Like Being Scared, Dishes On Old School Horror Influences

If you missed out on "Siren: Blood Curse," hop onto PlayStation Network and download an episode. Horror fans won't be disappointed.

There wasn't much talk about "Siren" before it came out. It came out of nowhere. Gamers who have already played "Siren" -- such as myself -- might be interested in learning more about its development and the people behind it.

Sony hooked me up with the game's story concept and game designer Keiichiro Toyama, a fellow lover of "Lost" and a man who…hates being scared?

It's true. Despite designing a game that forced me to turn on the lights in my apartment, the "Siren" designer avoids being frightened.

"I hate being scared," Toyama joked over e-mail. "I also wonder why humans like to be scared, however, [I] haven't reached [a] clear answer yet. Some say it's closely related to one of the substances inside the brain. I'd say the fear and the ecstatic feelings after you overcome the fear are essential functions in order for humans to live."

"When I was small, I used to be scared of 'dark spot/area' inside the house as well as outside."

"The Blair Witch Project" has ensured I'll never sleep in the woods at night. Toyama has an explanation for his fears, too.

"When I was small, I used to be scared of 'dark spot/area' inside the house as well as outside," he said. "Back then, there were many spots and areas that were not bright enough."

As for "Siren" itself, Toyama's team has been praised for developing what's arguably the most ambitious episodic game to date. However, the "season" of "Siren" was released at once, rather than episodic chunks. Toyama admitted this wasn't originally their plan, but it ended up being the one they went with.

"We've thought about releasing one episode per week like a TV show due to the episodic nature," he said. "However while we tested out each episode, we simply did not want to wait for the next episode. If we didn't want to wait, why would users? Therefore, we decided to release all the episodes at once."

The episodic nature broke up some of tension, as well. It gave players a calming spot to turn off the game, if they'd just finished a particular thrilling moment.

But if you had trouble following the storyline in "Siren," you weren't alone. I didn't know what was happening most of the time. But I was scared, so it didn't matter. The obtuse nature of the storytelling, however, may be due to Toyama's own influences, which are far from today's splatterfests, ala "Saw."

"I wasn't a big fan of splatter movies," he said. "But in general I love horror stories, especially the original 'The Wickerman' in 1973. I like it because of its great storyline and the setting that completely turns your sense/judgment over. Additionally what was great is the fact that there was only one chance to shoot the last part of the movie, and thus all the staff and actors were tense and nervous, resulting in creating such an amazing scene."

There are rumors that Toyama and the "Siren" team have already moved onto making yet another "Siren" title, but he wouldn't confirm those rumors just yet.

"The team has already moved on to the next project," he admitted, "but at the moment we are testing things out based off of our new ideas. We cannot say for sure if the project will end up becoming the 'Siren' series or something totally different. What we can say is that we want to defy the prediction from users in a good sense and surprise them."

Either way, we'll be looking forward to getting scared again.

[Image Credit: Wikipedia]

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