We recently backed an excellent project on Kickstarter called Neverending Nightmares. Matt Gilgenbach’s horror game sees disturbing nightmares come to life, influenced by his experiences of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and depression.
In Neverending Nightmares players take on the role of Adam, who keeps waking up inside one troubling dream after another. The title features an interactive narrative structure allowing you to shape the outcome of the game so no two playthroughs will be the same. The horror is heightened by the vulnerability of the protagonist: you won’t be picking up any weapons and defending yourself, so you’ll have to work really hard to avoid any confrontation and hide from the enemies that stalk you.
At time of writing Neverending Nightmares has already received $39,426 from 1,602 backers, forty percent of the $99,000 target. We can see why so many people have been drawn to the title so far (pun intended): the art style is very unique, almost like black-and-white pen sketches. A big thank you to Matt Gilgenbach from Infinitap Games for taking the time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions.
Could you tell us a little about your background and what made you decide to get into video game development?
“I’ve been developing games for 10 years. I worked in AAA games for 5 on games like Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters, and as an indie, I designed Retro/Grade.”
Neverending Nightmares’ main character Adam keeps waking up inside another nightmare. Can you give us some examples of the horrors he’ll be facing, and which of these do you find the most scary personally?
“In his nightmares, Adam faces ghosts of a mutilated woman, a giant baby monster, and other things lurking in the shadows. To me, I think the things lurking in the shadows are the scariest just because while I am not afraid of ghosts or anything, I still things out of the corner of my eye that can frighten me. I definitely want to tap into that fear for Neverending Nightmares.”
You’ve said that the path will be based on players’ performance, and the punishment for death is that you’ll either wake up in the same nightmare or be transported to a different narrative path. How will this gameplay mechanic add to the experience?
“I think giving the player some control over the narrative outcome makes a more immersive experience because then he / she will feel less like they are just progressing on a linear path the designers thought up. As well, supporting multiple paths and endings contributes to the ‘unreal’ feeling of the nightmares, so it will really add to the creepy and unsettling feeling of the game.”
Neverending Nightmares is heavily influenced by Silent Hill 2 and Amnesia: The Dark Descent, although the art style is obviously very different. It’s an extremely unique-looking game that almost looks as if it’s hand-drawn with a pen; what made you decide you go in this direction and how does it add to the atmosphere?
“We wanted to create a game that doesn’t look like any other game. With indie projects, it’s important to create something that stands out. We think the black and white look really adds to the atmosphere because of the way we can portray darkness as almost a living animated entity with the pen lines. Plus, red blood really stands out and provides a shocking contrast for the gore.”
The Kickstarter campaign is going well so far, with the game being forty percent funded and still fourteen days left on the clock (at the time of writing). What challenges have you faced going down this route and were you prepared for them when starting out?
“It took a lot of preparation, and we did our homework before launching our campaign. I think the hardest challenge has just been the stress of having the outcome of our project being in limbo for a month. I wasn’t really prepared for that, but I’m not sure there is a way you can – especially when you’ve really poured yourself into the project.”
You’re looking to build a community around the title so backers can give their feedback and participate in discussions with the developers; how are you going to encourage this? Do you think it will be difficult to meet player expectations and keep everyone happy?
“We are going to show the game early to backers and ask for their feedback. As well, we gladly take suggestions on any aspect of the game. I think it’s impossible to keep everyone happy, but my hope with open development is that everyone will know why we made the choices we did.”
In order to be a match for OUYA’s Free The Games Fund, it’s necessary to make Neverending Nightmares a console exclusive for six months. What would you say to someone who’s thinking of backing the Kickstarter but is put off by the fact that it won’t be immediately available on other platforms?
“We are talking to OUYA to figure out the best way to keep backers on other platforms happy. We have nothing to announce yet, but I think we’ll be able to figure something good out.”
You’ve been very honest on your Kickstarter page, mentioning that the game is semi-autobiographical, and your openness about OCD and depression is inspiring. Do you think that getting your story out there will provide closure on past experiences and how are you hoping it will help others?
“It definitely has been therapeutic for me. I hope to help others by sharing my experiences and showing them they aren’t alone. When I was at my darkest point, I felt like I was completely alone and no one had ever felt the way I did. By sharing my experiences, I want to reach out to others who are suffering and show them that there is hope.”
Is there any advice you’d give to someone making an indie game?
“Create something personal! You are the only one who has lived your life, so by channeling those experiences into your game, you can create something that no one else could.”
Can you tell us which component of Neverending Nightmares you’re currently working on? How are you feeling about its release?
“Right now, I am spending a lot of time working on promoting the Kickstarter and providing updates and reasons for people to be excited about the game. Besides that, I’ve been working on the macro design as well as scheduling our upcoming work should we reach our funding goals.
“I am feeling excited about the game and think we are really going to create something special.”
Once again, thank you to Matt Gilgenbach for taking the time to answer our questions. This stunning title will be released on the OUYA in Q3 2014 and then cross-platform in Q1 2015. We really can’t wait to get our hands on the full game and think that Neverending Nightmares will be one of those must-play titles that lives on for quite some time. Head over to Kickstarter to show your support by 29 September 2013 and be sure to give the game a thumbs-up on Steam Greenlight.