Recently, I had a chance to sit down and talk with some of the people behind bEHaviour Digitals Dead by Daylight game. In the group was Mathieu Cote (Game Director), Marie Claude Bernard (Senior PR Manager) and Filip Ivanovic (Art Director for DbD). Here’s what we talked about.
MMORPG: For those who may not know, what is Dead by Daylight?
Mathieu: It is an asymmetrical multiplayer game where you can live in the world of these 70s and 80s horror movies. It’s anti-social multiplayer where survivors have to collaborate and cooperate up to a certain point. The old saying is that you don’t need to be fast than the killer, you just need to be faster than your friends. Whereas the people playing as the killer, they just need to straight up murder everyone.
MMORPG: How long has Dead by Daylight been out for?
Mathieu: We launched in June 2016. We started with about 35 people on the team and today there is over a hundred. We’ve grown the team immensely because the community has grown and we want to keep up. This year has been our biggest year yet, and next one we expect will be even bigger.
MMORPG: While you have the base game itself, you also have DLC. What does it typically contain?
Mathieu: One killer, one survivor, one map. We’ve released nine chapters so far and a standalone killer (Leatherface). Usually, we release a new chapter which has a new killer and new survivor for a new map which means you get a new power set for the killer (a brand-new character), you also get new perks which are teachable which tends to change the strategies and meta of the game. Same with the survivor who has their own perks. And then you have a brand-new map with its own environment people can play in.
MMORPG: While Dead by Daylight has been out for a few years, what has made this year the best year for you? What are the things that have stepped it up for you compared to the year before?
Filip: The introduction of the store. People can dress up as they want now. You can play the Trapper and now he has new outfits to wear. In the beginning, the idea was to create 3 killers and 4 survivors, but there was a demand for new outfits. We're pretty happy with how they are now as our community.
Mathieu: The store changed things quite a lot. When we created the characters, we always wanted to make very iconic characters that would be recognizable. I think that the amount of cosplay that we see of our original characters tells a story about how we managed to create iconic characters. But now we’re able to sort of riff on that, create variations and essentially tell much more of a story of who these characters are and what they are by showing different versions they can be like.
Filip: I think the lore is very important. This year we really pushed it and next year is going to be more driven by the lore.
Mathieu: Some of the chapters that we released this year (I keep saying this) but every time we do our original stuff, it’s the best thing we’ve ever done. It’s crazy because it was that way and we released the Huntress at the beginning of this year with our anniversary with Lullaby of the Dark for the Huntress and David King and those were some of the top favorites, then after that, we did the Clown and Kate and people went batshit crazy for that. Now the latest one is the Shattered Bloodline with the Spirit inspired by Japanese horror and Adam Francis the reaction has been overwhelming.
While I was in Tokyo for the Game Show at about the same time as we released that and our Japanese audience was extremely pleased with that.
MMORPG: You’ve come out with traditional killers, but have expanded to different regions and cultures, will you continue to do that?
Filip: Yes, I think like Mathieu was saying we are pretty happy with our original ideas and I think I can easily see it as a movie like the one based solely on the Huntress. It’s very rich lore every time. Next ones are even crazier. We have some crazy ideas and I think it’s pushing us to go even further.
Mathieu: Let's say the Clown is a little more of an archetype that’s general, but then the Huntress was very specific. We went to dig for what lives under other people's bed. What kind of monsters scare people in these parts of the world. It’s the same with some of the things we do, we dig finding out what scares you guys out there. Because even if you are familiar with some of the legends or the folklore of these regions, you see them and there's something profoundly human that reacts to that. It's universal what's scary and what's upsetting.
MMORPG: Also, this year you dipped your toes into esports. How did that work out for you?
Mathieu: We did have an official Esports tournament. It didn’t go as good as we would have liked it too. It wasn’t a huge success for us for many reasons. One of the difficulties is that the game does not have a clear-cut win/lose condition. It's more of a gradient of did I have a good game, do I feel like I’ve accomplished much, was it fun? We play in those waters and that doesn’t lend itself very well to tournaments with very strict rules sports thing.
That being said, it is a great show. People want to watch people play and they want to watch them play well. So, we’ve added a few features in the game that are going to help, we’re going to keep working on that. And we are also are going to work with different partners to see if they are better suited to that sort of audience, to that sort of game. It’s definitely not the last attempt that we have at that. We want to do this and there is definitely a demand for it.
MMORPG: With Dead by Daylight going strong what does the future bring? Dead by Daylight 2 or continue to focus on what you have and support that community?
Mathieu: We talked about Deady by Daylight 2 and put that aside. We would much rather take this game and bring it to another level, sort of reinvent it. Internally our plan officially 5-7 years of Dead by Daylight and we think that’s very realistic. The year we’ve had is the biggest one we’ve had yet and it’s not slowing down right now. Every day we open new markets, the release in Japan was recent and it blew everything out of proportion. All our charts, now we have to count in millions instead of hundreds of thousands. PlayStation exploded when we did the month on PlayStation Plus and now it's moving on to Xbox One and we’ll do things like that. There’re so many people that still haven't heard about Dead by Daylight or have seen people pay but have never played it themselves. We’re just starting ever now.
MMORPG: As you continue to grow and do more, is the plan for continuous DLC?
Mathieu: In June we published our Roadmap which was one new chapter every three months. And in between those a mid-chapter patch that is about bug fixes, optimization, new features, all of that. We’ve stuck to that Roadmap and now we’re getting to the end of that year and we’re most likely going to publish a new Roadmap that is close, probably four chapters again and quite a lot of big, big fundamental improvements to the game. We want to make it a more robust game, a game that has better performance on all consoles and we want to make sure that we keep people interested. The Halloween event that’s going on right now brings in a few new ways to look at the game, new gameplay mechanics. It’s been a learning experience and it’s also been a big, big success. We blew our CCU numbers out of the water, we’ve never had as many people playing at the same time as we do right now during the Halloween event.
One of the things we’ve done very well this year specifically is listening more to the community. We’ve learned that this is not just our game anymore, there are a million people playing every month and these people are part of what the game is and what the game should be. And they should have a say in what the future of the game is. So we pay quite a lot of close attention to what comes from our community.
MMORPG: With Dead by Daylight being in the horror genre and having the mechanics it does, do you sometimes find it difficult coming up with new characters, backgrounds, maps, etc. for the game?
Filip: It’s always a challenge, but it’s a good challenge. We’re always talking a lot, we have some ideas, maybe we can do this one, but maybe not this one. We're always trying not to compromise and make the best out of it.
Mathieu: The challenge is not finding new ideas.
Filip: It’s just fitting them into our Roadmap. The Spirit was a big challenge. I’m not usually scared, but I was a bit scared of this. In the end, it turned out that it was great, but in the beginning, I didn’t do if we could do it all.
Mathieu: There were challenges with that character. Up to details like adding glass to the game is always a pain just because of the way glass is represented. It’s demanding if we could’ve made it wood instead; wood splinters would’ve been so much easier. But it was glass.
Filip: I wanted glass. The hair flowing, the animation, the glass.
Mathieu: The cut pieces sort of floating around, it was big.
Filip: I really wanted this twitching animation and we couldn’t pull it out, it was getting scary and then we pulled out a nice middle ground with a great result. I was really happy to see the first cosplay, it’s always rewarding to see a fan do something like that. Hard work, but rewarding in the end when people give you that kind of response.
MMORPG: Any last words for your community?
Mathieu: There are no announcements that I can make now. But what I can tell them, especially the new players; the first few games are going to suck, they’re going to be tough. But your first win is going to make you feel so smart. Literally, you're playing like I say anti-social multiplayer because we don’t have AI, it's just other people (which is the best AI there is), but the idea is if you do manage to overcome them it feels so good. The magic of Dead by Daylight is that at its core it's about playing hide and seek, everybody can play hide and seek. But then we have so many layers with perks (which is a nightmare for us to test), it also means that every game you play there’s uncertainty. That was always at the core of the design, that’s the reason we did procedural map generations and that’s the reason why you don’t know what killer you're up against, why we don’t have communications in the game. All these things are to reinforce that when you start a game, you're not exactly sure what you’re up against, what's going to happen in the game. It’s part of why people who have 2,000 hours plus in the game still find surprises when they play. The stories that emerge as they’re playing, that’s where all the fun is.
Filip: Everything Mathieu is saying and for everyone that is excited now, should be excited for what's coming up. We’re pretty excited and I think it's going to get bigger and more fun with all the changes and twists and new stuff we’re going to put in.
Mathieu: We’ve hit our stride, we’ve got our rhythm going and now we’re able to do more. We can be bold with our choices.
Filip: It’s normal to fail, I think we did some mistakes, we’ll make some more but that’s how you make it better because we try to get as close to perfect as we can. I am thankful as we all are for our community and all their feedback.