We thought we already knew everything there was to know about the critically acclaimed Silent Hill series, but looks like we were wrong. Director Masashi Tsuboyama recently sat down with OGN and shared some fascinating history about developing the survival horror masterpiece, including the fact that the iconic fog was originally created as a workaround to hide all the Dilbert strips they couldn’t license.
Wow! They say necessity is the mother of invention, and it sounds like this was definitely the case with Silent Hill 2!
“We originally envisioned the game as a deeply psychological dive into James Sunderland’s mind as he tries to reunite with his wife while surrounded by panels humorously depicting the drudgery of office life,“ said Tsuboyama, recalling that the developers had spent over 200 hours rendering the popular Scott Adams syndicated comic strip onto the statue memorials in Rosewater Park alone. “Unfortunately, right before launch, we got word that the licensing agreement with Andrews McMeel Syndication had fallen through, meaning we couldn’t use Dilbert, Alice or Wally anywhere in the town of Silent Hill.”
“Of course, it also necessitated us commissioning an entirely new score since the original audio for the game was mostly pulled from the short-lived UPN animated Dilbert series,” he added.
Tsuboyama noted when one of the developers first suggested throwing in a bunch of fog to obscure the comics, he was resistant, arguing that the three-panel strips poking fun at frustrating coworkers and incompetent bosses were crucial to delving into the guilt-ridden and psychosexual personal hell experienced by James Sunderland. The development team apparently tried to salvage the licensing deal by promising to only use minor Dilbert characters Ted and Asok, or to redesign some of the monsters into the shape of additional related properties such as Ziggy and Doonesbury.
However, luckily for us and for gaming history, these plans never came to fruition and Tsuboyama eventually agreed to move ahead with the creeping mist that helped make encounters with Flesh Lips and Bubble Head Nurses some of the most terrifying in gaming history.
“It’s funny, I often have people come up to me and tell me how much the fog adds to the disturbing, hair-raising aesthetic of the game, but when I look at it, all I can see are the holes where Dogbert planning his latest scheme should be,” he added. “To me, that’s what true terror looks like.”