Daylight on PS4: Designing the Hero

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Daylight on PS4: Designing the Hero

With the Daylight launch just around the corner, I wanted to give PlayStation.Blog readers a bit of background on our protagonist, Sarah Gwynn.

The reasons we chose to go with a female main character were twofold. The first reason being that because I was writing the game, she became (in a roundabout way) an extension of myself. I came up with the outline for Daylight based on some urban exploration I did in my high school days. Specifically, a blighted little spot within my small Michigan town by the name of The Sheldon Buildings (officially known as the Wayne County Training School for Feeble Minded Children).

Daylight

The Sheldon Buildings were a dilapidated set of buildings from the early 1900s linked together by a set of underground tunnels running throughout the grounds (they’ve since been torn down). A town within a town, the outer perimeter of the Training School was bricked-in by a 7+ foot tall wall.

Within the gates, the school hosted a hospital center, a gigantic, old-fashioned theater, dorms, an indoor and outdoor pool, its own police and fire stations, as well as other buildings and machinery that would allow it to remain completely self-contained.

Back in the 90s, when I was in high school, I would circle around the back entrance and climb up a hill through the woods to get to a part of the outer wall that had caved-in, giving me access to the area and allowing me to explore to my heart’s content (or, at least, until I had to run out to avoid the cops that constantly patrolled the area trying to catch people trespassing). With Daylight, Sarah is my attempt to recapture that particular moment within my life. When jaunting through an abandoned insane asylum by myself seemed to make total sense.

DaylightDaylight

The second reason for going with a female character was because I wanted to write a game where the main character, although confused and afraid, eventually pulls herself together. Despite all the other-worldly odds against her, she manages to save herself (Or not, depending on how good of a player you are, I suppose!) with nothing more than her wits and strength.

Choosing to go with Sarah was not an instant decision. Nor was it an easy one. My biggest concern with having a female main character was that I might disconnect male players. It helps that Sarah’s voice over is minimal, which also adds to the fear factor and creepiness. Nothing is less scary than being hunted by demon-spawn while someone chit-chats your ear off.

In addition, the player will always play from Sarah’s point of view. Everyone within the studio agreed that keeping the game in first-person would allow for additional immersion so that the player actually forgets that they’re “Sarah” and instead starts to view their adventure into the macabre as a personal one. One that they’re trudging through on their own — regardless of gender or age.

While inspired heavily on my personal experiences, Sarah is not a thinly-veiled, game version of myself. The writing process turned Sarah into a part of me, but definitely not the other way around. We purposefully worked on making sure you can’t see her face in reflective surfaces, mirrors, etc. So players project their own visions of themselves into Sarah and experience the world of Daylight for what it is: a mash-up of abandoned, haunted, and mysterious locations and disasters; tragedies linked together by a storyline that will guide you, willingly or not, towards daylight.

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