Return to Arcadia Bay is an introduction video of the Developer Diary series to Before the Storm (the prequel to Life is Strange: Season 1), and the team behind it, Deck Nine Games. It was published on June 11, 2017.
David Hein (Producer): My first thought with Life is Strange was just how lovingly crafted the world was. It just felt like it had a lot of care put into it.
Zak Garriss (Lead Writer): The one thing that I remember taking away was the people who worked on that game loved that game; you could tell.
Webb Pickersgill (Co-Game Director): DONTNOD had really set a high bar and we wanted to make sure that we could hit that.
Zak Garriss: And we offered it up to Square to say, ‘Here’s what we would create’.
Chris Floyd (Co-Game Director): Fans were really adamant that, knowing the story of Chloe and Rachel, that’s the story they wanted to see.
Zak Garriss: One of the principles that we embraced in developing Before the Storm was we wanted to create an engaging story.
Chris Floyd: I think everybody knows that one summer, or whatever, where you spend a lot of time with this particular person, and it really defines that whole period of your life.
Zak Garriss: When we wrote this game, we looked at it from Chloe’s perspective. What makes this unique from her perspective? With Max, it was about rewinding time.
Chris Floyd: We don’t have time travel. We didn’t think that was appropriate to the story or this character, really. The time travel was really an embodiment of Max’s character. Chloe’s not like that. Chloe is a wrecking ball that just bashes through the things that are in front of her and creates consequences and damage as she goes. And she can’t take that back, and that was really important to us, of telling Chloe’s story, and making now, those consequences, you’re really gonna feel them, and those choices, you’re really gonna agonise over them. That’s a difference, I think, that’s gonna be really powerful for our game. So having Ashly Burch join our writing team and help the writers really find the character of Chloe...
Zak Garriss: So Ashly has a passion about Chloe as a character that comes from a very personal place. Hearing her appreciation and excitement and passion for what we’re gonna do with Before the Storm... It’s been incredible.
Chris Floyd: ... That’s been a real bolster to our story and making sure it stays in continuity with the original game.
Ashly Burch (Writing Consultant): So my main focus has been on Chloe and Chloe’s voice in terms of just her dialogue and her psychology, and so I’ve given notes on different aspects of the script about, you know, things I think Chloe would or wouldn’t do, things she would or wouldn’t say.
Zak Garriss: We’re inviting the player in Before the Storm to step into her shoes at the age of 16. She’s imprisoned in the grief that comes with losing a parent—a parent she loved very much. And that’s where we start, and with that, we’re kind of saying: ‘It’s okay not to be okay’.
Ashly Burch: I think it’s just very honest emotionally and I think it deals with really relatable issues and subjects.
Webb Pickersgill: Most games don’t tackle these kinds of things; in fact, they try to stray away from them, and Life is Strange embraced that.
David Hein: It’s a great responsibility. We’re dealing with subjects of death and grief and loss and friendship and romance, and I mean these are things that every single person who has ever lived has felt and felt deeply, and so to just be frivolous with that would be irresponsible.
Jeff Litchford (Vice President): Several years ago, we looked across the market and said we want to create emotional stories and characters that connect with people. Life is Strange is the perfect culmination of everything that we wanted to do. We realised we needed to attract really talented people, but once we had the really talented people, we needed to remove all the technical barriers that would get in their way, and so we needed to build a technical platform that would allow these creators the freedom to go create something amazing, and so we focused for the first several years on a technical platform that we call StoryForge.
Chris Floyd: So the StoryForge tools let us really create performances, and that’s what that’s all about. It starts with our script writing tool that lets you write like a regular screenplay but with branches and choices and all of our gameplay elements built into that script. That then becomes essentially a big timeline that we can then place characters into a scene and say, at this moment, when they say this line, and they give this emotional performance, and we can dial up the sadness or dial down the anger.
Jeff Litchford: The journey to partner with Square has been absolutely amazing. They saw out passion for the franchise, and they saw our technical capabilities.
Webb Pickersgill: Fans love these characters, they love this environment, they love the relationships, and we just want to bring you more of that.
Zak Garriss: I think if we love what we’re working on, fans are gonna love it too.
Ashly Burch: This is a prequel that’s being written by fans of the first game, and so that to me was, like, a huge relief. It was, ‘Okay. This is in good hands’, you know? These are people that really care about this game and want to do a good job, because they love the first game.