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Kickstarter: Neverending Nightmares joins Ouya funding program

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Neverending Nightmares is now on Kickstarter, seeking $99,000 by September 29. Created by Retro/Grade developer Matt Gilgenbach, the survival horror game is inspired by the likes of Silent Hill 2 and Amnesia: The Dark Descent, and also is the result of Gilgenbach’s personal struggles with obsessive-compulsive disorder and depression.

Neverending Nightmares is part of Ouya’s Free the Games Fund, and will accordingly be Ouya-exclusive for the first six months of its release in Q3 2014. Kickstarter rewards also include DRM-free versions of the game for Windows, Mac and Linux, which will launch at a later time.

Neverending Nightmares is a psychological horror game inspired by the real horror of my battle with obsessive-compulsive disorder and depression. It features a truly interactive narrative structure allowing you to shape the outcome of the game. It will take the psychological horror genre in a new direction by eschewing many traditions that don’t contribute to creating an immersive horrifying experience such as limited save points, item collection/ammo hoarding, and puzzle solving.

Through the game and accompanying developer diaries, Gilgenbach said he hopes to “make a difference in peoples’ lives. I can show them that they are not suffering alone! I can tell them that things can get better.”

From the Kickstarter Campaign:

The demo is Windows only, but the game will be available on Windows, Mac, Linux, and Ouya.

The gameplay focus is on exploration. Horror is amplified by vulnerability, so you won’t be picking up guns and shooting monsters. While there may be some very light combat mechanics, you will have to work to avoid confrontation. In the demo above, we focused on proving exploring a mansion could be scary, but we plan on developing more gameplay systems.

Stealth will play a big part of the game. However, we don’t plan on having a bunch of complicated stealth systems because we feel that they would steal your concentration from being immersed in a horrifying world. Instead, we are planning something more along the lines of Amnesia: The Dark Descent where enemies are invulnerable, and you must hide to survive.

Stealth games are often extremely unforgiving. We want to make a game that is accessible and fun for a wide variety of skill levels. In Neverending Nightmares, the punishment for death is that you either wake up in the same nightmare (like a checkpoint) or “dying” will transport you to a different branch in our narrative than if you had succeeded.

The controls in many games are too complex. 14 buttons and 2 analog sticks can be quite a lot to keep straight. I’ve played some games where I still struggle to remember all the different button assignments even after playing for 15 hours. We want to keep things simple! Trying to remember how you have to translate your actions through a series of sticks and buttons can take you out of our nightmare world and back to the real one. Presently, the controls are as follows:

(We also support keyboard controls as well)
(Also support keyboard controls as well)

The game features a unique art style influenced by the famous illustrator Edward Gorey and uses color to emphasize interactive objects. Blood also appears in red in order to emphasize the gruesome violence.

Kickstarter: Neverending Nightmares joins Ouya funding program

While the art style is 2D, we are using advanced 3D graphics techniques to create the stylized look. Light and dark is extremely important to creating a horror game, so we spent a lot of time building out technology to give it a unique look.

The game features a unique narrative structure where you keep waking up inside another nightmare. This allows us to redefine reality every time you wake up. Players will experience the mind-bending challenge of having to determine what is real and what is just a nightmarish manifestation of the main character’s psychological state.

Kickstarter: Neverending Nightmares joins Ouya funding program

In a nightmare, there will be different options of how to complete them. Depending on what you do, when you wake up, it’ll be into a different nightmare and the narrative will branch. Most games’ branches converge back on the same story line quickly. In Neverending Nightmares, we keep the narrative branches alive, and they lead to several completely different endings that dramatically change the reality the main character will be waking up into.

Managing scope and development time

If you watched my postmortem of Retro/Grade (available in the GDC Vault), you’ll know that the scope of the game got out of control. Many successful projects run into this problem, and we are taking several steps on Neverending Nightmares to stay on track. Creating great gameplay is a matter of trial and error, which is difficult to schedule, but we have allotted a large block of time for that. We learned a lot from the development of Retro/Grade and are planning on adopting different production techniques to keep the game in scope and complete it with the budget we have in the time we outline. We plan to have open development and keep our backers in the loop with the development process, so there will be no surprises!

Game design

Creating a game that meets everyone’s expectations is a challenging task – especially because everyone has different expectations for what the game will be. Even our expectations for the game right now are probably quite different than the finished project. This is the nature of game development and to lock in the design based on early decisions is dangerous for the quality of the game. We ask for your assistance to help shape the game, so we can deliver something you’ll love.

Check out Neverending Nightmare on Kickstarter

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