Earlier today, we shared with you our Pacific Drive impressions from PAX West 2023. Now, learn more about the game from the Creative Director and Founder of Ironwood Studios, Alex Dracot.
Pacific Drive Interview
Matt: Can you introduce yourself?
Matt: So what inspired Pacific Drive?
Alex: I think the original idea came from my love of driving around the Northwest in older cars. I grew up driving a station wagon and I do it for fun but the game very much evolved as we started prototyping. We found a really good initial fit with cars and survival mechanics and then flushed it out from there.
Matt: I had no idea what I was doing when I played the demo. I am guessing that is a little bit further into the game.
Alex: That was very much, we got to get people into the game really quickly. It’s like 30 seconds, go! The actual game does have a slower ramp-up; it does make a lot more sense story-wise.
Matt: So you had that containment zone, so is it kind of a procedurally generated area that you have to go to, or is it predetermined?
Alex: If you get enough of the Anchor energy, you will be able to pick your exit and then it collapses around there. For the demo on the PAX floor, we just time people out eventually and close it from there.
Matt: What was the thought process around the scrapping mechanic? Being able to use the world around you and modify your vehicle or something else?
Alex: Absolutely. I mentioned earlier focusing on the car and survival mechanics. The thing a lot of survival games do is have you gather resources, so you’ve got to build different items to prepare for different situations that will help you gather more. I am looking for different cars to scrap them and put them on your car.
Matt: How big is the game since we only got to see a small portion in the demo?
Alex: Pretty big, our overworld map is a series of connected nodes; there are probably about 25 connected nodes. The important thing here is that any time you go on a run, we change what is on each note with a few exceptions that are fixed points in the world. So, we have a pretty good selection of these maps to pick from. So if the node is going to say you are out in the woods, it will select one of the nodes that are out in the woods. From there, once it is picked, the game randomizes it in a bunch of different ways.
Matt: Story-wise what is the overarching plot?
Alex: So, for quite a while, there is a walled-off portion of the Olympic Peninsula called the Olympic Exclusion Zone. The general public does not know what is going on inside. Due to a series of unfortunate circumstances, you find yourself on the other side of the wall where you find the station wagon. That Stationwagon is not quite what it seems and you kind of get pulled into this ongoing mystery of what is going on in the zone. What is up with the Stationwagon that will lead you deeper and deeper as you try to find a way out.
Matt: What else would you like those who have not heard of the game before to know beyond what you just explained? Takeaways of what people should expect.
Alex: I think people who haven’t had their chance to try out the demo, should expect to experience all the different anomalies and hazards we have in Pacific Drive; there is a lot of interplay there. We’ve done hard work to make sure there are different interactions that you may not be expecting and you will be able to go explore. That is a big part of learning the game, learning about the anomalies. How do they interact? It is a force of nature that is not inherently good or evil but at first glance, it might not be the only thing that it does.