I single-handedly built and released a PC horror game. It took me three years. Let’s talk about working alone on big projects, horror in games, or anything else!
The game is called Sylvio, it was released on Steam this summer. Killscreen gave it 80/100, Rock, Paper, Shotgun lists it as no.21 of the best PC horror games of all time.
Three years ago I was fired from my job and had just ended a long relationship, so I decided to do something that would make me happy. As I’d recently sold an apartment I had some money on the bank, so I moved into a sublet and started building a game. I enjoy making sounds and am a big fan of horror in all forms, so I came up with the idea of an audio recordist talking to ghosts through EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena). What I first thought would be a 6 month project turned into a year, turned into three years. I learnt a lot as I went, and did everything myself except voice acting, cover art and some textures and 3d models.
If you have any questions about this process, I’d be glad to answer!
I'll be going to sleep now, it's 2.30 AM here, and I'm feeling a bit woozy. Keep asking questions though, and I'll get at them in the morning. It's been great, you're great! G'night.
Update! I'm a Reddit hang-around, so there's no time limit on this AMA, just ask away whenever you feel like and I'll answer. Cheers
Haha, splendid. I have fond memories of them too, the hosts were always such a great mix of wacky and dead-serious. Loved them.
Outside the classics I really like an asian horror flick called Kairo. Sound-wise i adore Sinister, but that might be considered a classic today.. I'm a big fan of David Lynch, and was horrified by Lost Highway when it came out. I think the Lynch moods are the most influenced Sylvio the most, the disturbed and unsettling, rather than the in-your-face scary.
I am going to high-five you so much for Kairo. One of my favourites from Asia too, alongside Noroi. I wanted to like Sinister more but it completely lost me (and the whole cinema, who burst out laughing) when Ghost Kids appeared. Made up for it in the last 5 minutes though. I'm generally divided on the whole James Wan/Leigh Whannell & Co gang and their modern Hollywood horror. They always seem to set up great atmosphere and throw it all away at the end in my opinion. Though interestingly, some of those movies would make great fodder for games. Telltale picking up an Insidious or Conjuring spinoff where you play as a "ghost hunter" or a psychic? Sign me up.
Must admit, I was expecting to hear you mention White Noise! Not a great movie aside the unexpected ending but all about EVPs. The little-heard of sequel though was actually the inverse, a decent little gem until the ending, where it went from creepy and relatively subtle to just having things explode in the streets for no reason.
Also I just gave the game 15 minutes and can feel the Lynchian vibe right from that opening misplaced guitar tune with a slow zoom in on a red cabin. Going to dive into it proper tonight! I see you're a legit redditor so hope you stick around doing the AMA beyond a couple of horus.
Yes! Noroi! Loved the vibe in that movie, but they lost me a bit with the guy in the tin-foil hat...
I'm ashamed to say I haven't seen White Noise, and not the sequel either. Will do in the very near future. Don't know how I could've missed it really... So thanks for that tip!
Yes! Reddit hangarounder, so whenever a question pops up here I'll get to it. Good luck with Sylvio!
What kind of profession were you in before you took on this project? You're an incredibly talented artist!
Thank you so much! I worked as a photoshop retoucher at a magazine. Before that I was a free-lance composer and sound designer. Before that I worked with film restoration. Before that I was a web designer, piano salesman, recording engineer at a studio. A little bit of all.
hey man i have no idea to create sound effects but i know im going to have to for a couple of projects i want to work on. Do you have any advice, can you tell me what programs i should check out?
I use Pro Tools, but depending on your budget it could be a bit pricey. Audacity is free and a great piece of software. I record most of my own sounds, but otherwise I find them at soundsnap.com or freesound.org
A few pointers: Don't forget to mix different sounds, creating new ones. Long atmospheres? Blend 3-4 different ones into one, otherwise it gets stale and tiresome. Be cautious when using reverb, if it doesn't match the other sounds or the room you're in the illusion will fail. Audio volume is as important as the choice of audio. And last but not least, experiment with pitch on everything!
Hello! Did you have any experience coding before you started? Do you have any guidance on how to start coding, such as what books to read or programs to use?
I had previously worked with a drag-and-drop kind of game building tool called Gamesalad, which really is a good starting point when learning to make a game. You get to understand the logic behind programming, without the hassle of getting errors because you forgot a semi-colon. So I had that when setting out to learn Unity and unityscript, otherwise no. I watched a lot of tutorials on youtube, but I really can't remember which. But there are tons, many of them really great. I'm not a very good book learner, I prefer to get a piece of info to get started, and then just crash test it myself.
The programs I've used are Unity, Photoshop, Pro Tools, ZBrush, Blender, CrazyBump and MakeHuman.
What happened to your other hand??
What? I'm looking at them now and they're both here??
Of course. Holy schmucks I'm slow. Never been one for puns. I always laugh like I get it, but I never do.
I myself am working on a game, however I always get distracted and procrastinate, how did you stay focused while working?
The fear of not being able to finish it helped a lot :) . Also, take breaks and walks, and try to be as varied as possible in your workflow. There are so many different things to work on when you're doing it by yourself, which makes you able to jump around, spreading out the impact on your brain (and the tiredness that comes with it). I.e. do some textures, fix a 3D object, look for a solution on google, find a sound, think about a puzzle, worry about a bug, etc. I kept making theses lists, and whenever I thought of something I'd write it down. And then it's just a matter of crossing of that list, making a new one as you go. Eventually you're done.
Very cool. Not a big fan of horror games but it's an interesting take. I am involved in indy game developement as an artist. Sometimes I see people make their own game and it seems like they come from either an art background or a tech background. Of course they end up doing both. Kinda hate those guys. I'm just jealous. :) If I may ask, what was your job? And why were you fired if I may ask?
Thanks! Yes, you'll have to cover a lot of ground when you're doing it by yourself. I've always been really interested in learning something new, and then getting tired of it as soon as I reach a certain level. So it's a curse and a blessing, I know a little about a lot, but not an expert in anything. In a project like this, that's good.
I worked as a photoshop retoucher at a magazine. The magazine business is having some troubles these days, so there were lay-offs. So no personal reasons, to my knowledge :)
What is your favourite video game and why?
A lot of people would disagree while laughing and shaking their heads violently, but I have to say Deadly Premonition. It was just so.. unexpected.. through-out. I had just bought a game without knowing what it was, so I wasn't prepared. The storyline, his constant smoking, the maybe five clips of mood music playing in the weirdest of places, the monsters repeating "I don't wanna die"... But at the same time, such a thrilling atmosphere, excellent voice acting, and such a varied gameplay. I loved every second of it.
how did you find/audition voice actors?
I've worked as a freelance composer / sound designer on a lot of stage and theatre productions, so I've met a lot of talented people that way. I very much prefer to work with friends or acquaintances if possible, it's easier to create a good mood, and guarantees a smooth communication. If you can't have a good conversation about the concept with your voice actors it's very hard to get things right.
As a developer what kind of hardware do you have on your pc?
I might be the only developer in the world working on a mac! I've got the 2015 macbook pro 2.5 ghz, 16 gb ram. For testing I have an ordinary PC with a Nvidia GeForce gtx760. But half of the game is built on a macbook from 2011, believe it or not. The hard disc fried and destroyed a week's work. Reminded me about the importance of treating your backup-routines like a religion
Not to burst a bubble, but ! Prison Architect devs use Macs... their Alpha videos on YouTube show them sometimes =) Also, Unity was originally created on Macs.
I did not know that! I'm glad I'm not alone. Love the mac.
How did you keep yourself motivated and were not let down by comparing your game to games with multi-milllion dollar budgets and dozens (or even hundreds) of developers?
Naturally this is not such a big problem for you as you used a ready-made game engine instead of writing the game code by yourself, but I'd still like to hear your thoughts on this.
I've read so many stories about people from the game industry breaking out of their chains to create their dream game. I felt like I was being given an opportunity to do what many people dream about. In a way I felt like I owned it to them to create something that wasn't mainstream. It had to be original or it didn't have a right to exist.
So I never compared my game to their game, because they are so different from each other. They would never create a game like this, which is why I love the indie game scene of today. With information on the internet and with programs getting cheaper (or free) for everyone to use, games that would have never been made 5 years ago are getting made by the minute, in people's kitchens everywhere. I think it's mindboggling and fantastic. Sorry if I floated away from the question there a bit.
What tools should I buy to build games?
I've been a web dev for several years, and an artist for a couple decades, but I really don't know where to start with games.
I've worked with Unity, and it has worked charmingly. I'm not a programmer, but understanding the logic and writing code in unityscript has worked very well for me. I guess it depends on what kind of game you're planning on making, but if it's a first person / third person kind Unity or Unreal Engine is the way to go. Both are free nowadays, so download both and see which one you like the best!
Honestly, you've just helped me as much as every CC programming class I've ever taken. I've just been in the wrong programming circles, and nobody seems to know. I think I'm going to make a game. I'm really not kidding.
Follow up. About how many hours did your game on Steam take to make? Did you write your own website? Let me know if I can give you a hand, I'm an 11 year EXP web dev, with two years on iOS (objective-c) as well.
I've worked on it full time for three years, maybe 10 hours a day, six days a week. The last 6 months it was more like 16 hours a day, seven days a week. That time was too much to be healthy, but I wouldn't have made it to launch otherwise.
I've got the website covered for now.Thanks for the offer to help out though!
What's next after Sylvio?
Will you keep doing everything on your own, or do you have plans to include other collaborators?
I'm still working on Sylvio! I just finished producing the soundtrack as a downloadable album, and I'm producing trading cards for Steam. There are so many things to do. But later on I'm hoping for a sequel, depending on how the sales go. The story of Sylvio has been ready for about a year, so I've had quite a bit of time to figure out what could happen in a sequel. So I'm hoping for that. I suspect I'd be working by myself again, for the freedom to make big decisions whenever and however I want. And it's so easy to maintain a vision when you're by yourself, there are always compromises when there are many minds involved. Which is not at always bad, it can also be very creative. But I think I prefer to work solo on Sylvio.
What made you try to execute an EVP mechanic in-game? Seems like a difficult thing to try and pull off, especially if you're working on your own.
I've always been fascinated by the phenomenon. The pronouncination of the words, how they seem to be in a context, like ripped out of a sentence, it has always creeped me out. And it's really noisy, like literally just a lot of blips, hums and bzzts. When doing sound design, that's the most forgiving sound to create. You can cut anywhere, add anything, loop wherever, and no one will notice. So it's really the easiest kind of sound idea to pull off :)
Are you promoting the game or the game is promoting you? Dedicated people like you will grow fast. I like it, good luck in the future.
Also, Napoleon said "if you want things done, right do it yourself"; are you going to invade Russia now?
Haha, thank you. I've heard the subway system in Moscow is fantastic, so if invasion fails, I hope to visit it someday.
Hi How did you get the game released if I can ask? thanks
I registered Sylvio on Steam Greenlight in october 2014, and was greenlit in march, 2015. I was lucky to get a lot of press with the trailers I made, so I think that helped getting it greenlit. I've had no publisher.
Do you have any plans to port the game to any other platform?
I'm currently working on the Linux version, other than that no. But the game is designed to be played with keyboard / mouse as well as an xbox 360 controller, so it has absolutely been on my mind and a dream to release it on consoles. We'll see in the future.
Did you find it hard to catch your own bugs when you tested it all?
Yes. It's very hard. You try to think outside the box, going away from your thought-out playing pattern, but you're still baffled by how your testers choose to go about things. Beta testing is such a crucial part of game development, and without friends and strangers being kind enough to giving me their feedback, who knows what I'd ended up with.
Are you Swedish? The names in the credits for the game were all very Swedish.
Yep! Swedish, living in Stockholm.
Hey, I want to know more about your work habits. How do you keep yourself working at peak efficiency for such a long time. Do you do development cycles or anything in particular?
For me it's been important to be as varied as possible with the tasks I do in a day. Constantly shifting between texture editing, sound, 3D, script, puzzle sketches, storyline, etc keeps the brain in a constant state of normal, and I'm able to work efficient for a long time. I didn't make any development plans when I started out. That's one of the perks of working by yourself, you don't have to worry about messing up someone else's timeline.
Another thing is music. I've listened to all the Mars Volta albums so many times that they're just white noise for me now. It's like a wall of sound isolating you from the outside, which helps the focus tremendously for me.
NEVER HEARD A MAN SPEAK LIKE THIS MAN BEFORE
SAY IT, SAY IT, SAY IT LOUD
Do you think you look like Blake Shelton with a beard?
(Not really a country music fan but I noticed)
I just googled the guy. Yeah, I guess, maybe? I think my idea of what I look like is distorted in some way, because when I think I look like someone, people tend to disagree. So if you say so, I believe you.
have you tried to do some scary stuff like the characters speak another language so the english speaking person dont understand what are they saying in first instance?
Yes!! In the original Sylvio script I had a deceased polish construction worker talking to Juliette. He was going to speak polish, and Juliette would just write question marks in the notes. But I could couldn't get it quite right, and eventually scrapped the idea. But it's a golden idea, and like you I think it could be really eerie if it was made right.
How did you do the art? To be a lone developer do you also have to be a skilled artist? How proficient were you at drawing/painting/digital art before you started working on the project?
I'd worked as a retoucher in photoshop a couple of years before I started working on the game. A lot of the 3d models I purchased were ok 3D-wise, but 99% of the textures I had to change or redo from scratch. I don't see myself a an artist, but it's important to know how to work shadows, setting a mood with colours, getting everything to work as a whole. I don't think I'd been able to pull this off if I hadn't known photoshop beforehand. I probably spent more time in photoshop than in Unity during development. One great thing about working in Unity is the ability to import PSD:s, so it's really easy to change layers, texts, colours in PS, and when switching back to Unity it instantly updates. That discovery was a game changer for me, sped up the process greatly.
This looks like a truly amazing game. Since I'm a complete coward is there a setting for the game that doesn't make me evacuate my bowels? Coz Damn I wanna play it.
Haha, thanks. Sadly no, there is only one mode. Horror mode.
Do you feel it was financially profitable for you?
I think it's too soon to tell. It's a peculiar kind of game, and I don't think it'll ever appeal to the masses. But sales are ok, and I hope they stay that way so that I can build the sequel. :)
Hello! This struck a bit of a chord with me as I've been doing something very similar; I'm a little over the 5th year into a browser based MMO project and I've made just about everything myself (the servers, website, textures etc) aside from a rare bit of help from friends and family. The response is generally positive with a hint of "you're crazy!", so just a few questions if you don't mind!
It seems like you didn't go for something like Kickstarter/ IndieGoGo - did you ever consider it and if so what was the reason for not doing it?
The dreaded "when will it be out?" question! I get this almost every day and it's a bit terrifying each time someone asks, because going at it yourself it's near impossible to get a good timeline (and the end result is it feels like you're constantly disappointing those people who asked). I guess you got asked this a lot too? How did you answer it?
The media and marketing; you mentioned that you got lucky with media and your trailer - did you actually tell a bunch of media companies about the trailer, or did they just happen to come across it somewhere? Do you think there's any benefit in using marketing companies?
Thanks very much and I wish you all the best!
Hey! Wow, that sounds really amazing. Do you have a website?
I actually did a Kickstarter, but in the last six months. It didn't exist in my country (Sweden) when I started out, so when it arrived I did a campaign and collected funds for making a send-out, rather than paying for development. I enjoyed the experience, I got in contact with a lot of people, and they labelled it new¬eworthy, so I believe Sylvio got a lot of good exposure that way.
Ooo I hear you. In the end everyone was asking it like a joke. I always told them a date like 6 months from now. I believed in that date too though, I always thought I had another 6 months left. When I realized I only had 6 months left before being broke, I was terrified I would never finish. So that boosted me to really make those concrete decisions, and seeing to it that the game tied up as a whole. I think I might have worked a year's worth of workload in those last 6 months.
Yes - I sent tons of e-mail. I believe it's important to have two things when talking to media - a hook and a good trailer. The hook being that aspect or detail from your game that makes it special and stand out from the rest. The trailer needs to contain some sort of gameplay or you need an additional gameplay trailer.
I believe you need to see it through a journalist's perspective. The trailer needs to be of a quality the journalist wants to be associated with. The hook needs to be explainable in one sentence, which the journalist can use to attract the readers to their particular article. The mail has to be compact and highlight the hook and the feel of your game in a couple of sentences. I see their mailbox is like that blood elevator in the shining. Chances are that if you haven't gotten your message across after two seconds, you won't even be considered. I'm not a game journalist, that is just how I imagine it. If you have the funds for using a marketing company, I'd say go for it. It's a heavy workload to do PR, and it's really hard to talk about your own game as it's an amazing piece of genius, especially when you're in the end of development and doubting all your decisions all the time. :) But I guess it's crucial to do a lot of research in which marketing company to choose.
Thank you and good luck with your project!
Aha wonderful - Well done with the successful campaign! It's a huge relief to know that there are actually others out there and that I'm (hopefully!) not just pouring time away into some kind of ocean of unfinished projects; It's been a huge learning experience though so even if things don't work out I've certainly at least learned something along the way. Yes, the website is right here: http://city.of.gt/ - images on the about page need to be updated at some point; that's on one of the many lists around here! (Lists. Lists everywhere.). I pulled together a Kickstarter a while back but didn't launch it because at the time I had quite a bit of feedback about the video; it was both too fast and didn't show enough of the game itself, so my current plan is to remix the video, spam media companies with summary emails including the video and launch the improved Kickstarter campaign shortly after.
I completely agree about the journalist perspective; I have been planning with that in mind so hopefully that means I'm on track to avoiding being insta junk mailed. In a bizarre piece of chance I have a lot of experience making well timed gaming videos; fortunately that means I have a pretty good idea of the components of a good video (I used to make game music videos as a teen!) so hopefully that'll all come through.
I'm primarily a software guy so I've largely used this project as a testing ground for some fairly crazy ideas; that's had a really convenient side effect of being able to sell various bits and pieces of the tools being made for this project, and one in particular has ended up being fairly popular - It's a bit awkward as I end up spending quite a lot of time supporting people! At the same time though it's exactly that which keeps me going - i.e. it's a cash flow at least! I also use Unity but there is most definitely a point where Unity stops being useful - it's actually ended up as a huge hold-back on this project, but at the same time though if I hadn't have used Unity, then I probably wouldn't have that safety net which comes from selling parts of the project. Near impossible to predict something like that when you're starting off though!
Wow.. that's an amazing project to carry out by yourself, seriously impressive. And yeah, I always had the learning in the back of my mind. If something would fail and the game would remain unfinished, I would at least have learnt a tremendous amount, and told myself that that was enough to justify the amount of work.
Well done on the asset store income, I think it sounds like a great win-win situation to try to out crazy ideas for your game, and then sell the idea itself on the side while continuing on the game.
I'll be looking out for your kickstarter!
Hey your game looks awesome but I wanna know if this was your full time job or you just did it in your free time? It's insanely hard to do something alone for 3 years, especially this kind of things.
Hey and thanks! Yes, I did it as a full time job. But it took up most my free time too though :)
I did not know it would amount to three years, if I had known I think I would've been discouraged to begin. But I'm really glad I did, and be able to tie it all up and finish.
I'm loving the music for this game, specifically the one from the main trailer. Who made the music? Is there any way we can listen to it on its own?
Great to hear! I did the music as well, and recorded it with my band Tråd. It's available as a DLC on Steam or as a purchase on sylviogame.com.
Did you get your money back so far to buy new apartment? it's really impressive. I always look at 3d games as intimidating to make for one person. I tried learning but never continued further.
What language and framework did you use? and what software did you use for making the models, drawings and sound?
how much it costed you without cost of living?
Any tips and recommendations for aspiring 3d game programmers?
Sadly no :) The sales are ok, but I'm nowhere near getting back the amount of funds I put into this game. But it's still a new release, so we'll see.
Not that much. A pro version of Unity, and a great amount of 3D objects and sounds from stores on the internet. Paying voice actors and the artist who did the cover art. But most of the stuff you need are pretty cheap to come by, if you know where to look and have the patience to find it.
If you've never completed a game before, make sure you do before embarking on a big project. Create a small game, complete with menus, music, sounds, start and finish. Put it up on a website. Let someone play it. It's one thing to create a game, it's a whole other universe to actually finish one. The last 5% of development is hard, boring, agonizing and will take a lot, lot, lot longer than you planned for. All the fun you're having in the beginning of development, you'll have to pay for in the end.
But the pay-off is tremendous though, seeing your game complete. The best feeling ever.
How'd you learn to build a game? How difficult was it?
I started with doing some iPhone games with a program called GameSalad. It's pretty limited what you can do with it, but it helped me understand the logic behind easy programming. With Unity, I started out with tutorials. I think my absolutely first tutorial was something by the Tornado Twins, but this is a couple of years back, so I don't know if they're still around.
Unityscript is an easy language to start out with, and though most people would argue C-sharp is the way to go with Unity, unityscript has worked really good for me. It isn't hard. Nothing is, if you have the patience. And there are a LOT of helpful people on http://answers.unity3d.com
What are your feelings towards Let's Players on YouTube?
I watch a lot of horror games because I do enjoy watching someone else play them, just not a huge fan of playing them myself and I've always been curious how creators must feel watching someone else get paid for their work.
I think it's a really fascinating phenomenon. I don't watch them, because I'm afraid I'll play the game later and it'll show spoilers. And I like to be able to make my own decisions, you know?
There has been quite a bit of Let's Players playing Sylvio, and I think it's great. I just want as many people to experience the game as possible, and if they do that by watching someone else play it that's awesome. Maybe they know someone who likes to play video games and tells them about it. It's a complicated machinery the whole visibility-promotion-pay-circus, but I believe that the more eyes looking at your game, the better.
I've found that the horror genre has been loose with the use of "horror", so what separates your game from the rest? I'm a scaredy cat and barely finished slender, but a lot of horror games are more fright than terror if you know what I mean
Yeah, it's a really broad genre. A reviewer called it an "anti-screamer". There are no jump-scares, just a really tense atmosphere building up. It's a calm protagonist, an experienced ghost recorder, who doesn't get scared easily. Typical horror clichés are heavily avoided, and some of the aspects of the game could be considered 'silly' in another context, but (in my opinion) adds to an unsettling mood. It's when you don't know what to expect, when you're handling something unfamiliar you loose your sense of control, hence struck by horror.
Looks very creepy. Sound is so important in horror and judging from the trailer you got it right. Can you say what the name of the game is about without spoiling anything? Bob Dylan fan maybe?
It's actually an italian name, meaning "he who lives in the forest". The Italian settlers felt the presence of something in Saginaw Family Park many centuries ago, and the name lived on through local folk songs.
Bob Dylan, you say. I don't know what that is referring to, I'm afraid :) Is it a song?
Sylvio was a song released by Bob Dylan, written by Robert Hunter, the lyricist for The Grateful Dead. It features members of The Grateful Dead signing backup. It is, imho, a fun track.
Nice! I'll have to check it out.
What was your biggest obstacle in developing this game?
Optimization. I didn't know enough about 3D, physics and coding when I started out, so when the game didn't run smooth because of something I'd done wrong, I had to redo a lot of things, losing a lot of time. Especially when the game had gotten to quite a big and complicated state, it was hard to find the bottle necks. A lot of trial and error. The profiler in Unity saved my neck many times. (Unity's real time analyzer tool displaying system usage).
Why did you decide to make a horror game? What inspired the game itself, aside from the ending of your relationship? Did you draw upon past experiences in your life when deciding how to shape the various aspects of it? Or something else entirely?
Any unexpected challenges that you came across while making it?
I play a lot of video games, and as I'm almost always impressed by graphics, I'm almost always let down by the sound. So that has been my greatest inspiration, to make a game where the sound played a leading role. And I've always loved the horror genre, where sound is crucial in building moods. As to past experiences, I'm really not sure. There are hundreds of small decisions you make every day during development, so I'm sure there are a lot of my previous experiences helping out at making those decisions, but it's hard to pinpoint one out.. It ends up really complex really fast, you know? The game is built up by millions of decisions made a day or three years ago. :)
Getting the game up and running on Steam was actually harder than I thought. They have a somewhat "intense" layout on their developer pages. Like a big cluster of information, and you need to click the right stuff on three different locations, spread out in the cluster. So a bit overwhelming at start, but once you know where to go, no probs. :)
How much coffee was consumed during development?
Oooh, I don't want to know. Ok, I want to know. So I've worked maybe 330 days per year. 5 cups a day. That's... almost 5000 cups. :=
I am a young blogger of tech/media website, talktechtrends.wordpress.com. I would like to ask you some questions and post them interview-style on the site: 1) What inspired Sylvio? 2) Words of inspiration for indie game makers? 3) Future of Sylvio? Thanks! Would love it if you gave a shout-out on my blog on facebook or twitter!
1) The fact that I didn't know of a game that was based on analyzing EVP! It's such a straight-forward gameplay concept, I was amazed I hadn't seen it somewhere else. I think the idea just clicked while watching The Innkeepers, the scene where the protagonist is walking around with a microphone, and she hears a piano, if I remember correctly.
2) Everything will take so much more time than you think, but just keep working, especially when things are feeling over-whelming, and one day it'll be finished! Even if it seems to turn out crap, it's important to finish it! 50 % of the work lies in the last 5 %, and it's an important part of the process to experience. I hope that makes sense. Also, don't let negativity get to you. It's not the people in the frontline complaining about things, it's the ones behind.
3) I'm hoping to do a sequel, but it's too soon to tell, it's all depending on how the sales go :)
Send me a link when you've posted and I'll make sure to link it on twitter and fb!
What programming language you used while you were making the game?
Do you know them very well or you become better using them while you were typing the game?
Did you use google in the process while you were making the game when you didn't know how to make something or what to type in some moment?
Can you give some advises for people like me about programming? Also can you give some sources of information who were helpful for you and you think someone can benefit from them.
I've been working in Unity, scripting in unityscript. I've had prior experience in game programming logic (made a couple of games in gamesalad), but I'd never actually coded before. So that's a compliment for unityscript, it was easy to learn. And yes, holy mother, I've googled so many times. Probably 100 times a day. Often the same question, because I'm too lazy to look through my own code. The amazing people of answers.unity3d.com has built my game in a way. docs.unity3d.com is a great manual. The thing is, there are a million people asking about how to rotate a cube. What I realized was that the more I learnt, the questions I needed answers to were rarely asked. So these resources are great when starting out, and the more you learn, the more you have to rely on your own solutions.
What do you think makes good horror? I am of the firm belief that it is atmosphere, but there are several realms of knowledge. It would be interesting to see what you think.
I agree with you. Atmosphere is everything. And the build-up. I also believe in calmness, taking things slow. And introducing objects or happenings that aren't expected, to put the viewer in a state of confusion. I believe the center core of horror lies in feeling the lack of control.
What was the hardest part about making your game?
When the workload became overwhelming. Everything takes an enormous amount of time, and it's really ant-steps of progress everyday. I had some occasions when I'd write lists of all the things I had to do, and it always freaked me out. Then I took a walk, came back and kept on going. A walk will do wonders.
It's really easy to be a time optimist when doing something like this. The last six months I had to work 16 hours a day, seven days a week just to keep on schedule.
What set your schedule?
Easy really, I'd calculated a date my savings would run out. I fit the schedule in the time space prior to that date.
I'm playing with the idea of making a game myself, though not as complex as yours and certainly not 3d.
I'm interested in how you went about planning on your next steps and maintaining an overview over your project. How did you manage your developement? I always find it hard to stay focused on what needs to be done.
In the beginning I didn't plan at all, I just focused on getting things to work. The inventory system, the reel recorder, doors. Once I'd fixed the basic gameplay mechanics I started building the levels. After a year I started to make mind-maps of the game and the story.
But I've been writing lists, so many lists. And while crossing off one list I would be writing on a new list. It was a bit chaotic, but that's ok if you're the only one working on a project. I guess if you're a team you'd have to maintain some kind of order.
What helped me in the end was writing up all the days left to launch, and then specifying what had to be done on each day. And then sticking to that list, no matter what.
Any cutaway bewb scenes?
What did you use to make the game?
How old do you think I am based on my questions?
No bewbs, no.
The game is built in Unity 4.6, along with Photoshop, Zbrush, Pro Tools, Blender and MakeHuman.
I would have to say.. 49?
That is some shameless self-promotion. It worked though, I'm going to buy your game now. I have fond memories of watching some of those stupid ghost-hunting shows when they first started cropping up in big numbers in the early 2000s.
Anyway. Outside of the obvious classics, what are some of your favourite horror movies? Any of them particularly influential on this game?
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