‘Daymare: 1998’ spawns from ‘Resident Evil 2’ fan project

A screenshot from the video game Daymare: 1998 is shown above. The game was released on Sept. 17, 2019.

Photo Courtesy of Steam

A screenshot from the video game “Daymare: 1998” is shown above. The game was released on Sept. 17, 2019.

By Aidan Finn, staff writer

Fan games are nothing new. Ever since the days of the Nintendo Entertainment System, homebrewer illegal bootlegs have bled into the gaming market to spice up traditional games with more unique and bizarre takes. Once the 2000s rolled around, a serious effort was put into passion-driven projects by fans of franchises that have gone silent from their respective publishers. 2012’s “Abobo’s Big Adventure” was a crude and violent parody of NES games from the ’80s, debuted as freeware to very positive critical reception. It signaled a new wave of fan games and spiritual successors fueled by the 2012 boom of Kickstarter crowdfunding.

Along came a fan remake of “Resident Evil 2,” the survival-horror zombie game released in 1998 on the PlayStation. It went through the normal ringer-to-fan-game development. As in getting shut down by Capcom’s lawyers and left for dead in development hell. The normal procedure for games that try to remake long-forgotten classics, like the remake.

“AM2R” aimed to remake the Nintendo classic “Metroid II: Return of Samus.” However, that didn’t end up being the case. A rebranding to “Daymare: 1998” and a weird encounter with the actual creators of the Resident Evil franchise would have the game actually see the light of day on PS4 and Xbox One and spawn a new franchise with an upcoming prequel “Daymare: 1994 Sandcastle” releasing in 2022. How did that happen?

Michele Giannone, business developer for Invader Studios and creative director of “Daymare: 1998,” spoke with buzz about the abnormal yet miraculous game and what advice those wanting to enter the industry should learn from him.

buzz: How would you describe “Daymare: 1998” to someone unfamiliar with it? 

Michele Giannone: A love letter to all the ’90s survival horror and action/horror movies fans. It’s a game made with passion, something we would have liked to play as genre fans we are. If you like games like Resident Evil remakes, “Dead Space” or “The Evil Within” this is the game for you, also it’s cheaper to buy and is made with a non-AAA production and small team. Overmore, we’re so happy about the overall quality achieved and the warm welcome of all the survival horror and hardcore games fans all over the world on PC, PS4 and Xbox One.

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    buzz: How long was the development cycle of “Daymare: 1998” from the first idea for the game to releasing the final product?

    MG: More or less five years … first ones were spent just to set up the company, the team, the game idea and pre-production. The development lasted just a bit more than a couple of years.

    buzz: This started out as a fan project for “Resident Evil 2 Reborn” before Capcom stepped in. It’s really cool that it got morphed into an original intellectual property that was released in the end. Nonetheless, how did that turn of events affect development of the title? Was it a complete do over? 

    MG: Cool and incredible at the same time. Not many studios have the chance to meet their landmark company after working on a fanmade project and keep a good relationship with them for years and years later. While we were working on the RE2 unofficial remake, we knew (we had) few chances to see it complete, but, at the same time, we didn’t expect their invite and friendship after their request to stop all the work. We used the project to focus on our ideas, study the engine and to train and arrange the team at the best. What we learned in this period has been basic to work on “Daymare: 1998” and made it like it is.

    buzz: What is some advice you would give college students aspiring to be game developers? 

    MG: Just believe in yourself and in your passion and ideas. And remember, gather the best people you can and get a great workgroup. And I’m not only talking about their skills but also behavior, determination and will. For what we experienced, ideas and team are the engine of your path, and the best way to have a prototype good enough to find a publisher or financer for your project.

    buzz: What’s your favorite survival horror game? (It’s “Dead Space 2” for me) 

    MG: Resident Evil saga of course, also Dead Space saga is one of the best horror experiences I have ever played, too.

    “Daymare: 1998” is available on Xbox One, PS4 and PC.

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