Devastated Dreams is a psychological horror game combining the two things that have scared me the most - being an expectant parent and feeling totally vulnerable in a rural area of the Philippines without any electricity or running water. It is a narrative focused game telling the story of Angel, a young woman who may or may not be expecting a child as she has to journey through twisted nightmares plagued by horrible monsters from Filipino folklore.
Similar to Neverending Nightmares, the story is told through seemingly unconnected dreams and nightmares. However, we will tell a compelling story in this game rather than just focusing on emotions and symbolism. Because of the importance of the game's narrative, we are focusing on telling one story well rather than having branches and multiple endings.
The protagonist of the game is Angel, a young Filipino woman who is living in the rural area of Aklan in Western Visayas in the Philippines. Visayas is a region rumored to have the most aswang - Filipino legendary monsters that are like vampires and werewolves only more twisted.
Western Visayas was also devastatingly affected by super typhoon Yolanda (known internationally as Haiyan) in November of 2013. The game will also feature other real locations from the Philippines including the Kabayan caves, which house fire mummies - incredibly well preserved bodies using a unique preservation process. Since the game takes place in nightmares, we can explore different regions of the Philippines that express the fears of the protagonist.
The narrative is character focused. As you play through the game, you'll find out more about Angel, her situation and her fears through what happens in the nightmares as well as by examining items and letters that she encounters through her journeys through terrifying places in the Philippines.
Is Angel really pregnant? What happened to her child? Where is her family? Why do aswang haunt her in her sleep? You'll have to play the game to find out!
Similar to the P.T. demo, much of the gameplay will be focused on exploring a nightmarish world with a completely oppressive atmosphere. When traversing the world, there will be clues to the story as well as other items that give insight into what it is like living in rural areas of the Philippines. The game's main purpose is to terrify, but we want to expose gamers to the Philippines and its interesting culture.
Like our last game, Devastated Dreams takes place inside nightmares, so if the player meets a terrible end, she'll wake up elsewhere and continue exploring the nightmares. The nightmares will have different settings as well as different situations for the protagonist. In some nightmares, Angel is pregnant but in others, she's not.
Devastated Dreams features several items that the player can use including a flashlight. When you have the flashlight, you can direct the beam with the second analog stick or the mouse. Besides amplifying the horror since you don't know what danger lurks in the darkness, the mechanic can be used for solving puzzles. Clues can be hidden in darkness and some demonic enemies may be afraid of the light, so the flashlight is very useful.
We aren't creating an action hero, so Angel can't sprint forever. When she runs out of stamina, she just walks slowly until she catches her breath. When you run, you lose the ability to aim your flashlight, so running should only be used when necessary. We want to limit the amount of time you spend running through the game by design because it's unrealistic for anyone except marathon athletes.
While we won't have a combat system, we will have Quick Time Events where you have to mash the interact button in order to get yourself out of a terrible situation. While QTEs are sometimes misused, tapping a button rapidly in order to fight off an imminent threat can get your adrenaline flowing. They were particularly effective in Telltale's The Walking Dead series. Because of our commitment to immersion, we won't be presenting the actual button prompts. We indicate when it is time to fight from the player's animation. If Angel is struggling, then you should mash. Some gamers with physical disabilities have trouble with fast button presses, so we will have an accessibility option to switch the QTEs to just one button press.
With Neverending Nightmares, one of our principle goals was to focus on the horror and have very few puzzles. While I still feel that was the right choice for creating the nightmarish feel of our previous project, not having the objectives that puzzles provide made some nightmares feel like you are wandering around aimlessly. In Devastated Dreams, we will have more puzzles to provide the framework of objectives that push the character forward. However, our puzzles won't be head scratchers like creating cat hair moustaches! When you have to use a walkthrough or are frustrated trying to guess what the game designer had in mind, it ruins the immersion we are working really hard to create. The puzzles will often rely on finding the correct objects and using them intelligently. Our alpha and beta backers will be instrumental to insuring that the puzzles make sense and are solvable by everyone.
Devastated Dreams has a grayscale watercolor/ink wash art style. This fits in with one of the narrative themes - things aren't always black or white! Interactive objects appear in color, so there won't be any pixel hunting trying to figure out what can be picked up. Blood and gore appear red to really make it stand out.
We have a dynamic lighting and shadow system that builds on what we developed in Neverending Nightmares to create an even more interesting effect. Layers of ink blots and other abstract paintings combine to form an animated darkness that constantly feels like it is closing in on the player.
We've created an advanced 2D animation system that is a blend of skeletal based animation as well as morph targets. The end result of the system is that we can create silky smooth animations that run at 60 Hz (or 120 Hz if your monitor supports it) as well as blending between animation poses.
We use advanced 3D rendering techniques to create interesting effects like water reflections, 3D splashes, as well as impressive lighting effects.
Devastated Dreams is a spiritual successor to Neverending Nightmares. We were able to create a dark atmosphere thick with tension, and we want to build on that for Devastated Dreams. We learned a ton during the development of our last game, so we will be able to make a scarier and more compelling game.
Devastated Dreams is not a sequel to Neverending Nightmares though. It is a completely new story and features brand new gameplay elements. Neverending Nightmares was designed to make you feel disempowered - a passive observer in a world you couldn't control. With Devastated Dreams, we want to create something more interactive and where the player has agency like more traditional games. There will be puzzles to solve and letters and other elements to find that advance the story.
Besides our past work, Devastated Dreams is influenced by the P.T. Demo, and the amazing atmosphere, immersion, and tension it creates with minimal mechanics. The Silent Hill series is a huge influence with its psychological explanation of all of its monsters and apparitions. We are also impressed by Amnesia: The Dark Descent, and its focus on evading enemies. The Siren series is another inspiration because of how it crafts terrifying settings inspired by foreign small towns.
Filipino folklore has been an amazing source of inspiration - especially when creating monsters that psychologically represent the anxiety of becoming a parent. There are no definitive images of these monsters, so our artists have had to use their creativity to try to imagine what they are like based on our research into the legends. Here are some of the aswang we plan to feature in our game.
Manananggal - The manananggal is the most unique aswang. Their name means "self-segmenter" because they are female monsters who separate their top half from their lower half and grow wings. Their favorite food is unborn children, and they have a long tongue that enables them to suck out the hearts of fetuses, but they are also known to eat babies.
Tiyanak - Tiyanaks are demon babies that roam the forest crying while looking for their next victim. Once they are adopted, their monstrous true self is revealed, and they eat their would-be parents.
Tik-Tik - Tik-Tiks are similar to manananggals since they also love eating babies with their long tongue, but they are known for the ticking noise they make. It is said that the tik-tik noise is louder when they are far away and gets quieter as they approach you, so you won't expect their attack!
By backing the project, you are on the development team! That's why everyone, even $1 backers, are featured in the credits. On Neverending Nightmares, the community was extremely helpful shaping the game and keeping me on track. As any backer of our last game can attest, I take my responsibilities to the backers seriously. We will provide weekly updates, and a backer forum on which I am a frequent poster. I have over 2,000 posts! I read every single message there as well as all comments on the kickstarter page and updates. We want your feedback on the game, and we couldn't do it without you!
Name in credits - Your help is essential to making this game a reality - both financially and also your opinions on the work that we do. To show our appreciation, we’ll put your name in the credits.
Backer forum – We want to have a special place where we can discuss the game, nightmares, horror movies, game development, and more with you guys, so if you back the project with at least $5, you’ll get access to this. The development team shares more details about the game on the backer forum than they on the public forum.
Digital game – Get a Steam key and DRM-free digital copy of the game for Windows, Mac, Linux, distributed via the Humble Store.
Digital soundtrack – Get the unsettling dark ambient soundtrack by Skyler McGlothlin, the composer of Retro/Grade and Neverending Nightmares. Here's a sample track:
Beta access – Want to play versions of the game while it’s still in development? With beta access you can do just that! Our beta builds will be released in the months leading up to release.
Desktop background - Are you still using the default desktop background for your computer? Embarrassingly, I am. Fortunately, with this reward, you can decorate your desktop with some terrifying Devastated Dreams art. We will support 16x9, 16x10, and 4x3 on request.
Alpha access - If you want to play early builds to watch things as they take shape in the game, get alpha access! The first alpha build will be released a month or two after the kickstarter, and it will be updated with new content every 1-2 months.
Digital art book - The digital art book will include over 100 pages of content featuring early sketches and concept art. It will show an evolution of the art style and the assets in game.
Developer's commentary - Listen to Matt Gilgenbach talk through a video playthrough of the game while explaining where the ideas and inspiration for the game came from.
Designer's notebook - Are you interested in how the ideas of Devastated Dreams took shape? The designer’s notebook will be an ebook that features all the documents Matt made during the process of designing the game from early design documents to brainstorming about scary ideas as well as different levels and enemies.
Physical copy of the game – Who doesn’t love having a collection of games on a shelf? I love it! The game will come in an attractive DVD case, and the disc will include DRM-Free versions of the game as well as lots of goodies!
T-Shirt - Why be naked when you could wear an attractive Devastated Dreams t-shirt? Female t-shirt sizes will be available!
Magnet - I'm sure you have a fridge, and it looks boring! Decorate it with a 2.5x3.5" magnet featuring art from Devastated Dreams!
Pin set - Does your work place require a minimum amount of flair? Decorate your clothing, backpacks, or anything else with 4 1.25" pins.
Poster set - This includes an 18x24" poster for Devastated Dreams as well as an 18x24" Neverending Nightmares poster from the last campaign. If your walls are boring, be sure to get this reward tier!
Personalized signed postcard - Matt Gilgenbach will write a little message on a postcard thanking you personally for supporting the game and sign it.
Your name in game – We will work your name into the game somewhere - perhaps on a tombstone, on a letter, or as the author of a newspaper clipping found in the game. If you don't want to use your real name, that's fine, but it has to sound like a real name and match the tone of the game. (No Seymour Butts please!) Please don't use the name of someone famous - unless that is in fact your name. If you back at a more expensive tier and you don't want your name in the game, just mention that in your backer survey.
Physical art book - Is your coffee table's life devoid of meaning as it longs for accompaniment by an attractive book? Fear not! We will be printing a full color, hardcover 7x9" art book with over 100 pages!
Hand-Painted Manananggal Bust - Besides doing art for Infinitap, Adam is an extremely talented sculptor and has brought to life our horrifying manananggal. He casts the bust in resin and then hand paints them. It measures around 4.5" and you can see it below:
Stylized portrait of you in the game + a giclee print - You will be converted to our art style and included somewhere in the game. Possible locations are portraits on the wall, busts, newspaper articles that appear in game, etc. We will create a high resolution digital version that we will use to make a 18x24" giclee print. (Giclee print is the art world's way of saying a high quality digital print)
Pick a developer diary topic (or have Matt talk about whatever you'd like) - I can create a developer diary for my YouTube channel based on whatever topic you'd like. Alternately, I can give you my personal thoughts on anything. This might be particularly useful to game developers because I have 5 years of experience in AAA development and 7 years as an indie. If you back this tier, I'd be happy to check out your game demo or design documents and give you honest feedback.
Work with the team to incorporate your fears - While I have plenty of fears that I am channeling into Devastated Dreams, do you have any fears that you'd like to see in the game? If you get this reward, we’ll work with you to put them in! Please note that we may have to veto some ideas or make adjustments to your ideas to fit them in the fiction of the game, but we want to work with you and come up with something cool.
Name the main character - Would you like to name the main character in the game? Back at this tier, and you can. Our only restriction is that it has to sound Filipino to fit with the fiction of the game. Fortunately, that includes most English names as well as many Spanish ones. There are also some Filipino specific names like Imelda, Mayumi, and Luzviminda as well.
Rent Matt Gilgenbach for a day – Spend a day (at least 8 hours) with me doing pretty much anything you want! Would you like to act as producer on Devastated Dreams? Sure! Would you like me to work on your indie project? I’d be happy to help. Would you like me to give a presentation on game development? Love to. Do you want to hang out and watch horror movies? Sounds good! Do you want me to clean your house? I’ll do my best, but I am warning you that I am not very good at cooking or cleaning. (Price includes airline ticket within the US for me.)
While I am more than willing to travel internationally to meet up with you, I can’t meet you on Mount Everest or anything like that. If you aren’t in the United States or near an airport in a foreign country, please contact me first to ensure the feasibility of my travel. (Also note that while I am open to a lot of things, I won’t do anything immoral or illegal.)
In order to purchase an add-on, select the tier you'd like and add the amount to your pledge for the add-ons. So for example, if you'd like the $15 tier and the $25 pack of extras, you still select the $15 tier but change your pledge to $40.
Neverending Nightmares game on Humble Store - $10 This includes the DRM-free version of the game for Windows, Mac, and Linux plus a Steam key.
Neverending Nightmares digital art book - $8 This is a PDF packed with high resolution concepts and production art with over 100 pages showing how we made the game.
Neverending Nightmares Dev commentary - $8 This is a 720p video file of Matt Gilgenbach playing through Neverending Nightmares and explaining the various design decisions.
Neverending Nightmares Designer's notebook - $8 This features over 100 pages of design docs, notes, and brainstorming related to the production of Neverending Nightmares. If you want to know the true meaning of that game, be sure to pick this up.
Deconstruction, a novel by Matt Gilgenbach ebook - $8 Several years ago, I attempted to communicate what I was going through with my mental illness. I tried to write a semi-autobiographical novel called “Deconstruction”. After completing the first draft, my obsessive nagging voices discouraged me from continuing to work on it. (I’m not a real writer. It’s no good! And so on.) Since it is quite rough and I really am unsure of my writing skills, I'm not going to finish it. Instead, I annotated it and gave a "director’s commentary" explaining what I was trying to say, what I drew on from my own life, and other information to make it a more interesting read. If you are looking for more of a portrait into the mind of someone suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, I think this will be great for you.
Neverending Nightmares Extras bundle - $25 This includes the art book, dev commentary, designer's notebook, and the ebook. It does not include the game.
We are very fortunate to be working with the exact same team that created Neverending Nightmares, which received the runner up for best horror game and best looking game from Giant Bomb's 2014 GOTY podcasts.
Matt Gilgenbach (Creative Director) - After working 5 years in AAA game development on titles like "Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters", "Secret Agent Clank", and "The Incredibles", he has been trying to make ends meet for the past 7 years as an indie developer. After the devastating financial flop of Retro/Grade (for more info, watch his GDC talk), he was fortunate to get his next project (the much more successful) Neverending Nightmares off the ground due to the generosity of backers like you!
Daniel Sass (Programmer) - Daniel has over 20 years of industry experience. In addition to most recently working as Director of Engineering at THQ, he has also worked for studios developing console and PC games for leading publishers including EA, Activision, and Nintendo.
Joe Grabowski (Lead Artist) - Joe has spent his entire professional career as an indie working with Matt Gilgenbach at 24 Caret Games (as principle artist on Retro/Grade) and Infinitap Games. He also does animation and helps with level design.
Adam Grabowski (Environment Artist) - Besides working in video games on Neverending Nightmares and Retro/Grade, he also runs MurderForge, a mask and miniature company. We are fortunate to have him on our team, and he'll be creating the mini-bust reward.
Chris Ewald (Character Artist) - Chris is an accomplished artist with a history of work on a variety of great looking mobile games including National Geographic's DinoLand. He designed all the characters for Neverending Nightmares.
Eduardo Ortiz Frau (Sound Designer) - Eduardo is an indie sound designer extraordinaire having worked on such titles like Neverending Nightmares, the Stanley Parable, Gorogoa, Apotheon, and more!
Skyler McGlothlin (Composer) - Skyler (AKA Nautilis) is the brilliant composer of the Retro/Grade and Neverending Nightmares soundtracks as well as the phenomenal albums “Sketches” and “Are You An Axolotl”.
Joanne Gilgenbach (Creative Consultant) - Joanne was born and raised in the Philippines and moved to the U.S. in her mid 20s to practice Occupational Therapy where she met her husband Matt. They are expecting the birth of their first child later this year. She is an invaluable resource to the team as they strive to create an authentic experience.
When looking at the kickstarter budget for our game, it's easy to say that’s it's not enough money or it's too much money compared to other kickstarters. A valid question is if we made Neverending Nightmares with $99k, why do we need more for this game? Our last game was in the OUYA Free the Games Fund program, so we received an additional $99k. That means we actually need less total investment for this project because all of the proceeds from Neverending Nightmares (present and future) are going to the development of this game. In addition, Devastated Dreams is more ambitious in scope with a host of new features.
Based on our sales projections for Neverending Nightmares, we've calculated the minimum amount to ask for on kickstarter in order to see the game completed. That's why it's $115,896. We don't want to ask for a penny more than we need!
Here is the breakdown of where the kickstarter funds will go to:
Kickstarter – 5% This is Kickstarter's fee for all projects.
Payment processing – 5% The payment processing fees vary between 3 and 5% based on the number and size of pledges, but since some charges don't go through, 5% is a safe estimation.
Taxes - 20% The exact tax figure is difficult to pin down, but what we make on kickstarter is treated as income, so we are going to pay roughly 20% of the total fee to the government. You can't escape death and taxes!
Physical rewards – 8% The cost of goods with shipping for our unique rewards is going to be 8% of our kickstarter budget. Note that doesn't include all the time that goes into designing and creating them.
Actual development - 62% 23% is for art, 20% for programming, 12% is sound design (and VO), and music at 7%. (Those are percentages of the total - not of the development budget.)
Risks and challenges
Scoping and budgeting a video game project is extremely challenging, which is why many games (kickstarted or otherwise) go over budget and/or are late. Because the nature of video game development is iterative, it is possible to spend too much time and money trying to find out what the game is and how to make it. Matt learned this lesson the hard way on Retro/Grade.
That is why we have created a playable vertical slice demo for Devastated Dreams. That wasn't just for you! It also proves to the team what the game is and how much effort it will be to see the project through to the end.
We also are the exact same team that shipped the successful Neverending Nightmares project. Completely finishing a kickstarter project has given us experience and understanding of all aspects of managing a kickstarter from supporting the community to the cost of fulfilling rewards, so we are confident that we can deliver an amazing project.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (33 days)