Film and TV

Designer Kedhrin Gonzalez on Friday the 13th: The Game and Unleashing Jason

We're in the spooky season, full of haunted houses, zombie crawls, scary movies — and next year could be even spookier. The  announcement trailer for Friday the 13th: The Game was just released, and it hypes what looks like the scariest survival horror game yet, coming next fall. The asymmetrical multiplayer experience will give you the choice of playing a camp counselor or Jason Voorhees... and who doesn't want to murder horny teenagers? We caught up with Kedhrin Gonzalez, the local video-game designer, co-founder of IllFonic, and creative director of Friday the 13th: The Game (watch the trailer below).

Westword: Originally, the working name for this game was Slasher Vol. 1: Summer Camp but you were offered the Friday the 13th licensing from Sean S. Cunningham, the director of the original Friday the 13th. I'm sure this changed the dynamic of the whole project and boosted team morale. How does your role play a part in making this dream a reality?

Kedhrin Gonzalez: When we were able to officially call the project Friday the 13th: The Game, it was a little hard to take at first! It almost feels like a dream. It's a franchise that is so well known and loved, and we’re extremely honored to be taking the next step for Friday the 13th. My role on the project is creative director. I am essentially the director for all of development with the game at IllFonic. I make sure our vision is on point and we’re always pushing for excellence with our execution of the game. I work very closely with all of our developers and Gun [Media] to make sure Friday the 13th: The Game is what the fans want.

Vol. 1 gives the implication that there would be a series of video games to follow. Are you still hoping to achieve this goal? Perhaps getting the rights to Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Scream, Nightmare on Elm Street?

When Gun had originally created the Slasher volume, it was supposed to be a series that played homage to a lot of slasher horror movies, so it would explore a lot of different movies throughout the various titles. Since we are Friday the 13th: The Game now, things have certainly changed. Where we’re going after this is yet to be revealed...

More video games are moving toward the gameplay style of asymmetrical multiplayer, like Evolve, which is one vs. many, rather than one vs. one. Can you describe this gameplay style as it relates to your finished product and different challenges for the players?

Most asymmetrical multiplayer games struggle to find ground because they try to make the “one vs. many” mechanic extremely balanced. In other words, you’ll want to make sure that the "one" doesn’t feel too overpowered by the “many.” However, this is a very difficult thing to achieve because players usually want to be the big badass in the match, and trying to lasso the balance of feeling like a badass compared to everyone is very challenging. We know Jason is OP; it’s very apparent and present in all of the films. We decided against trying to level that out because it can really ruin the feeling of being Jason if you know you’re on an even playing field with everyone else. Instead of focusing on making things insanely balanced and competitive, we’ve decided to instead focus on making the game just flat-out fun to play. Our goal is to make sure that playing as Jason or the counselors trying to survive the night are both extremely fun in their own ways. Jason has one goal, kill the counselors — and he has many ways to do this. The counselors have many tools and ways to interact with each other, the environment and other things to try to survive the round. We adopted hide-and-go seek rules to test out how this theory would work with having fun, and it has been working out very well. We thought players would always want to be Jason, but are finding out that players are always happy to be in either seat during the gameplay experience. This is the key thing that sets us apart from other asymmetrical multiplayer games… that, and the absolute horror-fantastic aspect is terrific.

What other projects has IllFonic been a part of? Is this the biggest project yet?

In November IllFonic will be celebrating eight years operating here in Denver. We’ve been able to work on some really awesome projects. including Nexuiz, Crysis 3, Evolve, Sonic Boom, Armored Warfare, Star Citizen, Ruby, Revival, Project Advena and the recently announced Moving Hazard. I would say that Friday the 13th: The Game is definitely the most well known franchise IllFonic has ever worked on, and there is a lot of pressure on us to deliver the experience fans expect. I love that challenge and I’m extremely excited to show people what we’ve been working on.

Production of the game still has a long way to go; you can donate to its Kickstarter here.

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.