Resident Evil 7

I gave an IGDA talk a few years ago about the horror genre’s roots in Adventure games.  You can draw a line of influence, I argued, from Colossal Cave Adventure and King’s Quest all the way through modern titles like Slender and Amnesia: The Dark Descent.  This line, which crosses through all of the survival horror classics, is best understood […]

Until Dawn

It’s pretty hard to write about Until Dawn. It is probably the highest-end horror game ever made. The art, cinematography, acting, and overall presentation set an exceptionally high standard. In addition to this impeccable production quality the gameplay is pretty great as well. The controls are good and the camera system is a glorious evolution […]

It’s Been Surreal

Surrealist games have it rough. Surrealism is about taking your assumptions and twisting them in a way you did not expect. You should come away with the cogs in your head grinding furiously.  The best surreal titles juxtapose the insane with the mundane to show you their contrast and, if you’re lucky, a startling similarity […]

Back in 1995

“These days, though, you have to be pretty technical before you can even aspire to crudeness.” — William Gibson, Johnny Mnemonic If you’re an indie developer, making a pixel art game is pretty attractive.  First and foremost, it’s pretty cheap and easy to develop, at least in terms of art production.  A one-man-band dev can put together […]

Virtual Haunted Houses

My daughter, a second grader, loves ghosts and zombies and Halloween.  We read Grimm fairytales together and she is now old enough to enjoy films like Ghostbusters.  It is to my considerable delight that she is not easily phased by the macabre. But last summer I made the mistake of taking her to a haunted house […]

Packaging Expectations

Dead Secret, the mystery game I’ve been working on since 2013, will be released on Steam and Oculus on Monday, so I thought I’d write about something I thought about a lot while making it: strategically setting the player’s expectations. A couple of years ago I was browsing my favorite weirdo bookstore in Japan and […]

The Cell Phone Problem

In 2013 I had the opportunity to chat with Steve Gaynor about his then in-development mystery game Gone Home.  A playable version was on display at the Game Developer’s Conference’s Indie Megabooth, and while I was interested in some of the other titles being shown (like Thirty Flights of Loving), I was there to see his game. […]

Live and Let Die

[This post contains spoilers about one of the best moments in Siren.  If you haven’t played it yet, please ask yourself what you are doing with your life.] There is a moment in Siren in which your character, a young teenager, is trying to reach a church to meet her parents. The landscape is full of […]

Tracing the Tendrils of Item Management

One of the things I learned while working on Dead Secret (big announcements coming soon!) is how complicated item combinations can be.  Combining items is a pretty standard Adventure game mechanic.  You allow the player to collect parts of an item from different locations, then combine those items into a new item that is necessary to […]

Designing Horror Games for the (Teenage) Masses

I’m pretty interested in Five Nights at Freddy’s and Slender.  Both are low-budget indie horror games that have, in the last few years, reached incredible levels of viral success.  The two titles are very different: Freddy’s is about a security guard who must survive the night in a department store full of killer animatronic animals, and Slender is a game about finding […]