The Artist Has Landed: Creating Dead by Daylight’s Surreal Nightmare
Horror comes in many forms, and Dead by Daylight’s Portrait of a Murder Chapter steps into the nightmarish world of surrealism with new Killer The Artist and new Survivor Jonah Vasquez.
The Artist – formerly Carmina Mora -- was once a painter, poet, and performer who pioneered the Large-Scale Surrealism movement in South America. With a preference for black ink and a fixation on the crows that once saved her life, Carmina’s artwork was both controversial and captivating. After a brutal encounter with the Black Vale cult left her maimed, she was taken by the Entity and twisted into a grotesque vessel of vengeance.
As her backstory is intricately tied to Surrealist artwork, it was important for that to be reflected in the creation of The Artist’s original Realm, the Forsaken Boneyard. For a closer look at the creation process behind this Chapter’s striking visuals, go behind-the-scenes and watch how the Portrait of a Murder trailer was created below.
NEW MAP: BUILDING THE BONEYARD
“The idea was to create a nightmarish surrealist world where we can see and feel the impact of The Artist,” explains Stephanie Hellin, Dead by Daylight’s Team Lead Level Artist. “You can discover fragments of her story in every part of the map.”
In the Forsaken Boneyard, nothing is what it appears to be. “The map makes me think of The Persistence of Memory, a famous Salvator Dali’s painting,” continues Hellin. “As with Dali’s paintings, you expect certain details to be set in stone -- to look and act in a certain way. But like the tortured mind of The Artist, the environment is never constant. There are flying books and floating ink -- unusual imagery.”
“I think we have this misconception that a horror game needs to be in the dark. But sometimes darkness can happen in the daylight too.”
Unlike many of Dead by Daylight’s Realms, the Forsaken Boneyard takes place during the daytime – or at least, what we perceive to be daytime. Survivors hoping to escape The Artist must adapt to this oppressive daylight if they want any chance at getting out alive. “The map is inspired by the desert,” reveals Hellin. “When you think about the desert, you think about heat, the sand, and a blistering sun.”
“I think we have this misconception that a horror game needs to be in the dark,” says Hellin. “But sometimes darkness can happen in the daylight too.”
BIRDS OF A FEATHER
Dead by Daylight’s roster is ever-expanding, and The Artist and Jonah Vasquez bring exciting new gameplay mechanics to both Killers and Survivors, respectively. In the case of The Artist, her Birds of Torment Power and three unique Perks are at once oppressive and strategic.
“With her Birds of Torment Power, The Artist summons ethereal Dire Crows into the environment that remain in place until you send them flying in the direction they are facing,” explains Game Design Director Matt Spriggens. “They are dangerous when flying at close range, putting any Survivors in their flight path into the injured state. Beyond that range, the crows will circle any Survivor they hit, revealing their location until repelled.”
“There is a lot to learn, but in the right hands, The Artist is a truly formidable Killer.”
“It’s interesting twist on a ranged projectile power that can provide important game information as well as capitalize on zoning and map pressure,” he adds. “It can be used as a trap, as a projectile, and as an information source, making it hard for Survivors to predict. She may be challenging to get the hang of at first, as she requires considerable map knowledge and a keen grasp on reading Survivors. There is a lot to learn, but in the right hands, The Artist is a truly formidable Killer.”
DESIGNING THE ARTIST
As for her Power, Senior Game Designer Janick Neveu shared some insight into the creation of the dynamic Birds of Torment. “Since we had recently created two ranged Killers (The Trickster and Pinhead – also known as The Cenobite) both with very different powers, it was an interesting challenge to design a ranged power that would feel new, unique, and fun,” explains Neveu. “This is when we came up with the concept of placing traps that you could remotely activate to fly in a straight trajectory.”
“We also looked at the possibility of using the crows in the environment as an ammunition mechanic, but we quickly dropped the idea when we realized that our maps had a large disparity of crow spawns,” he notes. “Also, their spawn positions were too irregular. Some were in the trees while others were on obstacles or directly on the floor. Their numbers per map could have greatly affected the power balance.”
“Our first Power iteration was a simple cooldown timer and throughout the development we found out that players liked the strategic placement of the crows,” continues Neveu. “It required a lot of focus to utilize it well. We decided to keep the passive recharge and create a system that would be an essential part of the Killer's strategic decision-making.”
STRENGTH IN NUMBERS
Luckily, her presence is evened out by the arrival of new Survivor Jonah Vasquez, who has a few interesting tricks up his sleeve with his Perks: Overcome, Corrective Action, and Boon: Exponentional.
“We can only hope that some of Jonah's genius intellect rubs off on his fans while playing this Chapter,” adds Spriggens. “I’m expecting some high IQ plays, some amazingly well-timed flashlight saves, last-second drops of the shack pallet, and even a Kobe or two off the hook. But definitely no toxic behaviour - he’s much too classy for that!”
Experience The Artist, Jonah Vasquez, and the Forsaken Boneyard for yourself with Dead by Daylight’s Portrait of a Murder Chapter, available now.
See you in The Fog,
The Dead by Daylight team.