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A terrifying psychological horror game inspired by the developer's battle with mental illness. Explore nightmares! Branching narrative!
A terrifying psychological horror game inspired by the developer's battle with mental illness. Explore nightmares! Branching narrative!
A terrifying psychological horror game inspired by the developer's battle with mental illness. Explore nightmares! Branching narrative!
3,608 backers pledged $106,722 to help bring this project to life.

Neverending Nightmares is now a manga and on iOS and Android!

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Super exciting news! Neverending Nightmares is a free online manga that you can read here, and available for iOS and Android for $3.99. 

Okay, now that I got the big announcement out of the way, I'd like to talk about more what that means. Firstly, I am amazed that I have Neverending Nightmares news THREE years after our initial launch! That wouldn't be possible without wonderful fans like yourself. Making Neverending Nightmares has been a really amazing experience, and it is amazing to see it still resonate with audiences. 

I already mentioned the mobile version in a previous update, so I'd like to discuss the manga, which I am super excited about. A bit over a year ago, pixiv.net approached me about licensing the Neverending Nightmares IP. I had never heard of pixiv, but they are a big deal in Japan and Asia. It is basically a social network around artists and art/manga that is quite popular. 

When I met with them, I realized that they were fans of the IP, and they were interested in working with me to make sure it stays true to the spirit of talking about mental illness. Rather than just trying to make a quick buck, they are very dedicated to making the best manga possible, which is the best you can ask for in a partner - especially when the IP is so important to you on a personal level. 

I worked with them on the story and get to comment on all of the in progress work, but it has been going amazingly smoothly, and I rarely have anything to say except how impressed I am. Initially, I had the desire to write the script myself and just have them draw it, but after giving it some thought, I realized I don't know enough about the graphic novel medium in order to properly pace it. 

One of the things that always strikes me about comics is that the pacing is very different than movies and video games, which are the mediums with which I am most familiar. For a good point of comparison, have you ever tried to read The Walking Dead comic? It moves CRAZY fast compared to the TV show. Pixiv worked with a company Sunplant to come up with the script since the manga artist didn't have experience writing horror, and they did a great job.

The pacing of the manga is much faster than the slow burn I set up in the game, but I think that is necessary. With a manga, you control how fast you read and how carefully you are looking at the pictures, so it is hard to force people to progress slowly through a nightmare world, which is what I deliberately did in the game. It creates an interesting tension but one that I'm not sure could be duplicated in a graphic novel - or at least I don't how!

Ultimately, they came up with a script that was significantly different than the story in the game, but they incorporated my suggestions, so it is something of which I am proud and feel that it is representative of the original goals of the game in terms of talking about mental illness. It has been really fun for me because when I read the manga, it feels like something new that I didn't make, so I get to enjoy it as a fan. It is kind of a surreal experience because it is built in a world of my imagination, but it is a fresh take on it. Plus, the art is amazing, and I really like the manga influenced look for the characters. I particularly love the way Gabby turned out. 

Interestingly, I don't think this would have ever happened had I never released Neverending Nightmares on PSN in Japan. Doing a Japanese indie release is hard without a partner in Japan, so we were fortunate that Playism was excited about the game and pushed us to translate it and port to PlayStation to get more of the Japanese audience. Now that we are on mobile, I think we might be finished with porting! It is a little sad that we never released on Xbox One or Nintendo Switch, but everyone who wants to play the game should be able to find it on SOMETHING they own. 

Whether or not the mobile port is profitable or not (and the mobile market is a tough nut to crack for a very non-casual game like ours), I am glad we did it because I like that the message about mental illness will hopefully be able to reach a wider audience. And who knows! Similar to the PSN version, maybe something cool will happen because of it that I can't predict. :)  

Anyway, please check out the manga. I think it is super awesome. There will be a prologue plus nine chapters, and it will be updated monthly. Note that it is a manga and not redrawn/mirrored for US audiences, so it goes from right to left in terms of the panels, pages, and the arrows for navigating between pages. While the translation is good, if you speak Japanese, I think it would be better to read in its original language. Plus, the text fits nicely in the speech bubbles. :)

As always, I'd like to end with a big THANK YOU for all of your support! I think it is really amazing what we were able to accomplish. Quite frankly, I'm a bit burned out on kickstarter (as I imagine many of you may be) since there are many exciting projects that I supported that either still haven't released yet or felt kind of unfinished when they did. While I don't think every backer was satisfied with Neverending Nightmares (which makes me sad, but I'm not sure it is possible to please everyone), I was able to make the game that I wanted to make in a schedule that I promised - well, plus a month, but in Kickstarter time, that is practically early. :-P I couldn't have done it without your generous support as well as feedback during development. 

So, again, thank you so much, and I hope you all are doing well. I'm not sure there will be many future updates, so I wanted to make sure I finished by thanking you!

Your friend,

Matt Gilgenbach

PS. I'm not sure if you remember the Checkpoint series that I mentioned in a previous update, but I did my interview with Dr. Jennifer Hazel, and it was AMAZING! The interview went super well, and she asked really insightful questions. I also talked with her about how the series will be edited together, and it will be super interesting episodes that are more than just watching interviews. I can't wait for the series to launch. If you are interested in that sort of thing, consider sponsoring her work because it's going to be awesome and hopefully change a lot of lives!

Exciting news and call for help!

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For backers only. If you're a backer of this project, please log in to read this post.

A long overdue update!

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For backers only. If you're a backer of this project, please log in to read this post.

Neverending Nightmares is coming to PS4/Vita on May 3rd!

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Greetings backers! I apologize for the lack of updates, but I really haven't had much to say lately nor time to say it. Being a dad is a lot of work, but I am loving it. I am blessed to have a very happy baby. Neverending Nightmares is a very dark game and about the worst time of my life, but I am pleased to report that I am having the best time of my life. I've truly never been happier! Being a dad is a huge part of that, but it really feels like I've gotten something off my chest by making Neverending Nightmares, and I am pleased to report that we've had over 100k units sold of the game. I really feel like we've gotten the message out there.

For those of you that are curious, we've had about 40k units sold on Steam and 67k "retail activations" which means codes we've given out through kickstarter and other distributors, but I imagine the bulk of those are through Humble Bundles. Unfortunately, that didn't make us rich because for the Steam units, the average amount we made per unit is about $5 because of discounts, taxes, Valve's cut, etc. (It is much less than $1 for the bundling) We actually funneled a lot of that into the development of Devastated Dreams, which will probably be written off completely as a loss. I don't want to say the game is cancelled, but it is definitely on hiatus for the foreseeable future. I would love to resurrect it the market conditions were right, but I honestly don't expect that to happen.

Despite Devastated Dreams not panning out, I think Neverending Nightmares was successful. We made reasonable salaries working on it, but I am much happier that it got out to so many players. With Neverending Nightmares, the message was much more important to me than the financial success, which is why I have been a bit more aggressive about bundling and discounts than some indie developers. As you discount your title, you actually get worse feedback on Steam because people who are on the fence or are just getting it because it's a "deal" are less inclined to give you the benefit of the doubt. I would have expected that it would go the other way, since they are paying less, but that isn't what we've seen. It always makes me sad to see a customer that didn't like the game, but I hope that at least it gives them a little perspective into mental illness.

To continue to bring the game to a wider audience, we are pleased to announce that we are bringing the game to PlayStation audiences on May 3rd in US (and Latin America), May 4th in Europe (and Australia) and TBA in Japan. It has some new improvements like to the branching set ups that we will be bringing to PC (hopefully on the same day). We hope that this will improve the player experience and encourage people to explore all the branches. If you have friends who are PlayStation gamers and you enjoyed Neverending Nightmares, let them know that they will soon be able to play the game! :)

Thank you all for your support! I hope things are going well for all of you.

Neverending Nightmares is coming to PS4 and PSVita!

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Hello friends! I realize that I’ve been silent for a long time about what I’ve been up to. We actually wanted to do a big announcement for the console version of Neverending Nightmares, and now we have. I realize you backers already have the game, but I figured you might be interested in learning more about why we are doing a console version and how things have been going for us.

Firstly, we always planned on doing a console version. The main reason for that is because Neverending Nightmares has an important message, and I want it to be experienced by as many people as possible. A lot of developers are hesitant to share their numbers, but I think it is helpful to the indie community, so let me give you a brief overview of where we are right now. We’ve actually sold more than 100,000 units of Neverending Nightmares, which is really exciting. About 60% of that is from Humble Bundles, and the average price of the units sold on Steam is a little less than $8, so we didn’t get rich, but that was never the goal.

The goal was to make something really special and hopefully give everyone some insight into mental illness. I think we have succeeded and are really pleased with our reach on PC. However, there are many people who just aren’t that into PC gaming. I am embarrassed to admit that a few years back, I used to buy pretty much 0 PC games. The gaming landscape has changed so much over the past few years, so console only gamers are missing out on a ton of amazing titles. However, there are some people with laptops that can’t handle Neverending Nightmares. I imagine there are many people out there without a computer since smartphones and tablets have taken off, so I don’t think it is fair to assume that everyone who might want to can play Neverending Nightmares. To expand our reach, bringing the game to other platforms is important.

The next question you might have is “why did it take so long”? Part of the delay is that I wanted to alternate between “risky” and “safe” projects since Neverending Nightmares didn’t make enough to finance our next game. Neverending Nightmares was a risky project, but it was definitely successful. My goal was to build up a little more of a nest egg before attempting to do something else risky (which would end up being Devastated Dreams). We were looking into partnering with a publisher for the console ports. It would allow us to reach more consoles than we could on our own and allow us to focus on development.

We had some publishers who were interested and wanted an expanded version, so we spent a fair bit of time talking to them and planning what content we might add. Ultimately, while we had one publisher interested, they ended up not being a good match. This was a setback, but most of the art team was doing the early planning for Devastated Dreams, so we decided to focus on that. We worked really hard on the kickstarter and demo for Devastated Dreams, and I was super excited about it. Ultimately, it failed.

Honestly, I never expected the Devastated Dreams kickstarter to fail. I thought we were a sure thing! We had an established team, a track record of running a successful kickstarter, and a pretty cool demo. Granted, it wasn’t perfect, and I wished that we could have gotten some of the story set up in there, but it is a lot better than not having a demo. We had a community of backers from Neverending Nightmares and hopefully made some new fans at launch. However, we ended up failing pretty hard.

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to why it failed since the kickstarter ended, and I have a few thoughts. I don’t think Devastated Dreams is very relatable and/or appealing to the horror game audience. While the fears of becoming a parent were horrifying to me, I am not sure everyone feels that way. There is the idea of fantasy or wish fulfillment in games, and while I don’t think anyone wants to be an asthmatic in their pajamas, I think that is an easier role for people to put themselves in than a pregnant Filipino woman. Personally, I felt that the idea of putting yourself in a position that is hard to imagine for most gamers was something great about the idea, but I think I proved that it isn’t appealing to most people.

Unlike Neverending Nightmares, there wasn’t a really strong case for why this game needed to exist. Neverending Nightmares needed to get made to show the world about mental illness. I think that is a cause people can get around. I think it is much harder to make a rallying cry for why people should support Devastated Dreams. Perhaps if you are really into Filipino culture you might get behind the game, but you might question why it is being made by an American. Maybe mothers could get excited about it, but I suspect (and would love to be proven wrong) that mothers aren’t a huge number of kickstarter backers. I know since I had a kid, I have a lot less time for gaming as well as exploring kickstarter. I am not complaining - I am totally happy with my new priorities!

In addition, I think there has been downward price pressure on kickstarter budgets. Amazing games are being offered with only a fraction of their budget being crowdfunded like Psychonauts 2, Shenmue, and Bloodstained. While those are the outliers, I think it is trickling down, and I see a lot of terrific indie games with low budgets. Even if you look at a game like Overload that doesn’t go into budget details, there is no way they are planning on making the entire game with $300k in development costs. Even if developers were more transparent (and it was great to see Psychonauts 2 be really transparent), that doesn’t matter to a fair number of backers who just see the number and compare our game to others with amazing Unreal Engine 4 tech demos.

Ultimately, failure on kickstarter doesn’t mean that your title won’t be a success. However, I think the reception of the ideas were overall pretty lukewarm, which made me lose my confidence in the title. In addition, I had my darling healthy baby boy (who is 6 months old now!) and a lot of my fears melted away when I saw his smiling face.

Look at that adorable face!
Look at that adorable face!

I don’t have the burning desire to make the game anymore because my current happiness is far outshining the difficult road to get there. Will the game ever get made? Never say never, but I put it on hiatus after the kickstarter and have no plans to return to it for the time being.

While I am a bit disappointed that I won’t get to realize my final vision for the game, there are a million of other cool things on which I can work. Working on Devastated Dreams felt really hard too – I think mostly because the emotional subject matter but also because I was trying to really create a much bigger and better game than Neverending Nightmares on a tighter budget… Before the kickstarter ever launched, I was already very worried about the budget since the project was quite ambitious.

Once we put that on hold, we focused on the PlayStation ports. We were planning on doing them alongside Devastated Dreams, but we ended up needing everyone for the demo. I’ve been enjoying doing the ports as well as some other fun consulting work over the past several months. Some developers may not like porting, but I enjoy technical challenges and getting the game to run at 60 fps on Vita was one. The Vita hardware is also really interesting, so overall, it is a fun project, and I am excited about new gamers getting a chance to experience Neverending Nightmares!

We’ve also polished some aspects of the game like changing the branching points to be clearer and are fixing a number of bugs and art issues. We will definitely be updating PC when we finish. Once we roll out the latest update, if you haven’t played all the endings, you won’t have an excuse!

Anyway, I hope you’ve found this update interesting, and I’d like to thank you again for your continued support! Had you not backed Neverending Nightmares, none of the versions would have been possible. I am extremely grateful!

Your friend,

Matt Gilgenbach