194 - Neverending Reactions

Developer diaries about creating Neverending Nightmares.
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matt
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194 - Neverending Reactions

Post by matt » Wed Oct 01, 2014 10:53 am

Now that the game is out and people have reacted to it, I share my thoughts on the reactions.

-Matt Gilgenbach
Lead Frightener at Infinitap Games

Harry Sunderland
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Re: 194 - Neverending Reactions

Post by Harry Sunderland » Wed Oct 01, 2014 12:51 pm

Matt,

In restrospect, do you think fans would've enjoyed if you put all levels on one single path? That would've made the game longer in a single playthrough and would've shushed all the idiots who keep complaining they won't find the other branches.

I personally took great joy in discovering all the branches.

P.S. I play challenge mode on Retro/Grade ;)

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RightClickSaveAs
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Re: 194 - Neverending Reactions

Post by RightClickSaveAs » Wed Oct 01, 2014 1:18 pm

This was an amazing ride, I'm in for whatever project you do next. Well, unless you make a radical departure and develop a console exclusive dressup game or something :P

Do you find yourself leaning towards a more traditional gameplay style with the next project, whether that means items or combat or the like?

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miumiaou
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Re: 194 - Neverending Reactions

Post by miumiaou » Wed Oct 01, 2014 2:10 pm

I hope you'll keep the branching path in the next game, it's a common mistake among developers to put off something that is a good point in your game, don't panic (one thing that would be interesting would be to add an ultimate end when you got all the others ends)

Also, I'll be here for sure to help you on your next game if you want ^^

Grabthehoopka
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Re: 194 - Neverending Reactions

Post by Grabthehoopka » Wed Oct 01, 2014 9:26 pm

Yes, I'm right on board with whatever you've got next. (I say that now, of course, but in the name of fairness, I will approach it with an open mind. But I'll probably be on board, yes.)

Personally, I have absolutely no problem with a single, linear narrative. I appreciated what you did with the endings, how there really wasn't a "true" or "good" and "bad" endings. That said, I think focusing on making one story can really only help the narrative. You can focus on making the narrative and characterization more complex.

And what I'm extra interested in is what visual direction you want to take it in. You said you don't want to do the same thing again, but are you going to go with a hand-drawn/traditional art style again? Or are you going to go insane and try to do claymation or something?

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matt
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Re: 194 - Neverending Reactions

Post by matt » Thu Oct 02, 2014 11:31 am

Harry Sunderland wrote:In restrospect, do you think fans would've enjoyed if you put all levels on one single path? That would've made the game longer in a single playthrough and would've shushed all the idiots who keep complaining they won't find the other branches.
I think the fans respect what I did, but my thought is that we want to expand our audience and hopefully make some of the critics of the current game enjoy the next one. RightClickSaveAs mentioned that people complained The Vanishing of Ethan Carter was too short, and it was much longer, so who knows. Maybe people are impossible to please? Anyway, I'm considering making the next game more linear, but I don't know.
RightClickSaveAs wrote:Do you find yourself leaning towards a more traditional gameplay style with the next project, whether that means items or combat or the like?
I don't really think that's the right choice for a horror game. I'm really interested to see what Alien: Isolation and The Evil Within are like this month (and more interested to see what Frictional's SOMA is like next year), but I don't think puzzles or combat are the "right" choice for horror.

The question I'm asking myself is, "How can I make the player feel like they are doing more than just walking - preferably in a way that amplifies the horror?" I have a few ideas, but I'm interested in hearing what you guys think.
Grabthehoopka wrote:And what I'm extra interested in is what visual direction you want to take it in. You said you don't want to do the same thing again, but are you going to go with a hand-drawn/traditional art style again? Or are you going to go insane and try to do claymation or something?
I was working on a claymation game with some friends in our spare time for many years, and it's really hard. hahah I think we finally canceled it. I'm not opposed to doing something in the same style, but I am concerned that the next game won't seem different enough. We'll do some experiments. Who knows how they'll turn out. Maybe we'll end up with something similar. I do want to stick to the black and white plus colored objects. I think that worked really well for setting the mood and showing what was interactive. I also want to have a cool darkness effect because that's going to be a big part of the next game - probably an even bigger part. So we'll see where we end up with the art. If we can't find something cool that works, maybe we'll just tweak what we have.
-Matt Gilgenbach
Lead Frightener at Infinitap Games

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RightClickSaveAs
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Re: 194 - Neverending Reactions

Post by RightClickSaveAs » Thu Oct 02, 2014 5:45 pm

One of my favorite claymation-type games is The Dream Machine, a small episodic point and click made out of cardboard and clay figures. It looks really cool but it's taken them years between episodes, so that definitely seems like a labor of love situation where you have to be in it for the long run or have a bigger team with lots of money. How cool would a claymation horror game be though, oh man.

EDIT: Oh that reminds me, did you ever see any of the Claymation The Thing remakes by Lee Hardcastle? He did one with Pingu that was taken down because of copyright violations, but it looks like he has one up now with cats: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BG33zECv8dc it is AWESOME
matt wrote:The question I'm asking myself is, "How can I make the player feel like they are doing more than just walking - preferably in a way that amplifies the horror?" I have a few ideas, but I'm interested in hearing what you guys think.
Having to find the candle before you can go into the basement in The Coming Storm was a good objective. It wasn't a puzzle but it required some action on the player's part. Depending on the setting of the game, I think adding little goals like that within the overall story could really help. To use NN as an example because why not, what if Thomas had a sort of nightmare meter (totally ripped off from Amnesia's sanity meter, not a bar on the screen, just he would get more agitated the worse the nightmares got and have trouble progressing) and he'd have to change things in his environment to help keep him grounded in reality. Such as, explore to find happier, not morbid paintings in the house to look at, which you could examine in close view like with the backer portraits to calm down, and change the blocks that read MU _R_ DER to something more innocuous like REDRUM... wait, that's not better at all. But you get the idea. That's getting dangerously close to a puzzle, but I think a fine line could be toed there with simple and elegant gameplay mechanics that don't feel like puzzles, just things that make logical sense to do. I'm sure that would add layers of complexity to the development, but it would help keep people more engaged.

Or if you wanted to go really grand with the ideas, have it be sort of experimental horror gameplay. Where, to use NN as an example again because I don't know what story you're thinking for the next project, you have a dream logic system where you walk into a room and things are just subtly wrong somehow and you have to make everything make sense to progress. I can't imagine how difficult that would be to actually implement though either, and it's also getting kinda puzzly.

Grabthehoopka
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Re: 194 - Neverending Reactions

Post by Grabthehoopka » Thu Oct 02, 2014 11:51 pm

I've read about lucid dreaming before, and they say one of the best techniques is to have a "reality check"; something that tells you that you're not dreaming that you do every now and then, like write something on your hand and look at it throughout the day. Sort of like the totems in Inception, the idea is that once you're in the habit of doing it, when you do it in your dream you'll be able to immediately tell that you're dreaming.

From an artistic standpoint, the idea that I thought was even more interesting was these goggles you're supposed to wear when you sleep that start flashing light on your eyelids during REM sleep. Your eyes see the light and your brain takes the sensory information, but your dreaming brain doesn't know how to interpret it, so it might appear in your dream as floating, pulsing balls of light, or maybe the overhead lights will start to flash and blink, or an ambulance will drive by the window with a really bright siren. The idea is that you know that the goggles are on, so once you see the conspicuous flashing lights, you know that you're dreaming.

The point is, building off of what RightClickSaveAs said, perhaps you could turn finding or looking for "reality checks" into a gameplay mechanic?

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matt
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Re: 194 - Neverending Reactions

Post by matt » Fri Oct 03, 2014 10:47 am

To use NN as an example because why not, what if Thomas had a sort of nightmare meter (totally ripped off from Amnesia's sanity meter, not a bar on the screen, just he would get more agitated the worse the nightmares got and have trouble progressing) and he'd have to change things in his environment to help keep him grounded in reality.
My worry is that without an explanation in lucid dreaming and whatever, it would be really unclear that you are grounding the character in reality by doing these actions. As well, would the be strictly optional? Or would we have an objective hunt? (Find 3 objects to progress) Also, having a meter goes against my no-HUD immersion policy. :)

It is an interesting idea and might be workable. I'd have to give it some more thought to how to weave it into what I have in mind.

Also, I think I saw the Pingu claymation Thing, and it was awesome. The cat one is great as well.
-Matt Gilgenbach
Lead Frightener at Infinitap Games

Harry Sunderland
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Re: 194 - Neverending Reactions

Post by Harry Sunderland » Fri Oct 03, 2014 11:32 am

We need to keep in mind is I've read SO many people say, "This game looks awesome, hope it gets into a Humble Bundle" or "I'll get this once it's on Steam Sale." We've unfortunately hit a point in history where EVERYONE has a huge indie backlog, and unless your game is the sexiest new thing out there, ppl are content on waiting till it's dirt cheap before they buy it...because they have SO many other things to play. I straight up will not touch 80% of my indie backlog. It's just not going to happen.

In many ways, I feel like Steam/Humble is ruining Indie. Prices are becoming a race to the bottom. :\ At the same time, tools like Unity are flooding the market with games. It blows my mind to read people on Steam say "I can't believe this game raised $99K."

I just want to be like, "First of all, idiot, the games budget was actually doubled by Ouya. AND EVEN AFTER THAT THEY HAD TO SELF-FUND THROUGH CONTRACTING PROJECTS." So don't act like this was a "take the money and run" situation.

People have NO idea how much work went into creating all the art assets for this game. Most Indie games are just pixel art crap with lame chiptune soundtracks. Infinitap had a team of talented-ass artists and a freaking electronic music prodigy (check out Nautilis to be blown away by Skylar). On top of that, Eduardo's a pimp, and all the programming was done custom for the game. Of course that's gonna cost money...the game used custom art, custom audio, and a custom engine. Nothing about the game was phoned in.

But I really think the haters are just the loud stupid minority here. I think the biggest hurdle for NN is the fact that it's an Indie game not made by a guy from "Indie Game: The Movie" or Notch. If you aren't one of those dumb "rock stars", people are just gonna play shit until it hits cheap town.

I also think people have unrealistic expectations from games like Assassin's Fetch Quest and Grindrim. People are in this messed up mode of thinking where they see these games take them 60 hours to complete and think, "Wow, I got a dollar an hour out of that." By that logic they expect at least 15 hours out of NN. It's really dumb.

If you want to make people love you, make an original Roguelike. That shit makes bank. Except now there's too many Roguelikes so people probably don't care.

Indie games seem hard, y'all.

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