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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!
3,608 backers pledged $106,722 to help bring this project to life.

Fears

Posted by Matt Gilgenbach (Creator)
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As always, I’d like to thank all of you backers for supporting our project! It’s been really that 1,422 people believe in what we are trying to do and want to see the game made. Today I’d like to talk about fears:

It is weird discussing fears without spoiling any of the surprises I have planned for the game, but at the very least, I hope that gives you an idea of the types of fears we will try to discuss in the game.

In particular, I am really feeling the fear of the kickstarter failing. While I heard that getting to 30% at this point in the project’s life cycle is a great sign, I look at this graph from kicktraq, and I am terrified:

 We are less than halfway through the campaign, so there is still time to spread the word, and I plan on increasing my efforts. If you want to help spread the word, I’d greatly appreciate it.

Right now, I’m struggling with other more mundane fears. I was invited to speak at GDC China, so I’m flying out on Friday and will return next Tuesday. Traveling is always stressful for me (as I imagine it is for everyone). I am afraid of forgetting something, afraid of plane troubles, and afraid of contamination from food and water in a foreign country.

While I imagine everyone has fears like this, these things are more complicated when you have OCD. I have to check that I have my laptop in my bag even though I know it’s there. I’ll have the thought “where is your laptop?” and then a wave of anxiety will overtake me. The compulsion is to check, and I am a bit sad to admit that I give in. To effectively handle your OCD, you are supposed to just let the anxiety pass, but for little things, I usually take the easy way out (which is a bit detrimental to my overall health).

Perhaps I fear plane troubles less than others because I am pretty good at convincing myself that the likelihood of a plane crash is very low, but my mind always plays “what if?” What if we crash over water? What do I do? This is often combined with inappropriate worries from the previous paragraph. How will I save my laptop in the event of a crash? How upset will I be if I lose my 3DS saves? Obviously, I realize that I’m not supposed to take my stuff with me if we crash, but what about my medicine? (It’s sad that I normally think about my laptop before medicine) I can play what ifs for hours if I don’t stop myself. I imagine everyone struggles with that, but with OCD, the scenarios definitely feel more weight – more real.

Fear of contamination is something I’ve struggled with as part of OCD. It hasn’t been as hard for me to deal with as the violent intrusive thoughts, but it is something that makes things harder. My wife cooks, but I do the dishes. When I do the dishes, I first wash them thoroughly by hand and then run them through the dishwasher. I run everything I possibly can through the dishwasher even if it’s extremely clean. To me, if something goes through the dishwasher, that’s the only way it can be “clean”.

If I just wash it by hand, I worry about all the spots that I may have missed or “germs” from my hands, from the sponge, from who the heck knows, would still remain on the dish. With OCD, it doesn’t have to make sense. Your mind comes up with these rules or rituals, and if things don’t meet the criteria, then it is really uncomfortable. They are completely irrational. While washing the dishes before running them through the dishwasher seems less ridiculous than touching a door knob 3 times, both ideas are cut from the same cloth. You HAVE to do something or you fear something terrible will happen.

Fear of contamination is an especially difficult thing to deal with when I travel internationally. In the US, we are fortunate to have drinkable tap water, but that’s not the case in other countries. I would say I have a weak stomach in general, so I get sick pretty easily. I stay extremely vigilant when I travel internationally and only drink distilled water and only use that for brushing my teeth. I don’t drink anything with ice cubes in it, and only eat things which are cooked.

While that may be reasonable for international travel, I am constantly fretting over whether what I eat is safe. There are so many what ifs you can play? What if they didn’t prepare it correctly? What if it isn’t cooked thoroughly? Having OCD just makes this a lot harder. The sad part is during my last international trip, I was hyper vigilant, and I still managed to get sick. :-/

If going to GDC China is going to be so difficult, why am I? The main reason is that I really want to share my story with more game developers because I think it’s going to be really helpful. If you are interested, you can find my presentation at regular GDC here. I’ve expanded on it and added an uplifting coda about Neverending Nightmares and my new technique to making indie games. It’s weird to say that because I don’t know if Neverending Nightmares will succeed yet. My original plan was to finish the kickstarter before I gave my presentation, but we got off to a late start. Even if the game doesn’t get made, I still think I tapped into something really interesting with Neverending Nightmares, so I do feel like I have some important ideas to share.

Anyway, I’m not sure anyone has really made it this far, so I’ll wrap it up. I didn’t plan on writing this much, but I thought explaining more about my OCD might be interesting.

Thank you all for your support!

-Matt

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Comments

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    1. Joanie Rich on

      Hey Matt, I've seen literal magic (no other way to explain it!) happen in the last few days of a campaign, so hang in there! :) You'll do great in China. It will be rough, but just the fact that you're willing to go says a lot about your courage and determination. It takes a lot of guts to be able to talk about your struggles and even more so to recognize that you understand what's happening in your brain, even if you're not able to control it the way you'd like. I've suffered from panic attacks in the past, so I know how paralyzing that can be. It doesn't matter what anyone tells you, when you get panicked, you're so focused that you can't see the truth. The good thing is that they always pass. Keep hanging in there! What your doing is a beautiful thing and I think it will inspire many others to not only share their struggles but to create their own games. <3

    2. Jack Price on

      I really hope you succeed in your campaign as this game has tons of potential to be a great horror game in my eyes. Something about you making a very personal experience integral to the horror elements makes them much more grounded and real, thus heightening how effective they are. So I'm really excited to try it out in full :D

      Even though I'll be waiting for the full PC release (As I don't have an Ouya myself) I think I'll increase my pledge to $25 just so I can help out as much as I can. Hope you can pull enough people in to make this successful Matt! And best of luck in doing so :D

    3. Allen on

      If this Kickstarter fails, will you do another one? I really hope you succeed the first time though, this game is too good to let go into development hell!

    4. Matt Gilgenbach 2-time creator on

      Hi Jason!

      Yeah, my parents do it as well, so we aren't the only ones. I think that isn't so strange. I think what is strange is the feeling that it isn't clean if it's just handwashed. In my mind, the dishwasher is a magical sterilizer that makes all the dirt go away. As you said, the dishwasher can certainly fail to get things perfectly clean without pre-washing, so I suspect it isn't that magical. (As a side note, I used to dream of getting an autoclave, so I could ACTUALLY sterilize my dishes. I think that's a sign that I worry too much)

      I'm definitely going to discuss my kickstarter campaign and what I am trying to do with Neverending Nightmares at GDC China because I think I am "on to something" by creating a personal game and talking about it candidly. People seem to respond really well to that, so even if my game fails, I still think the idea is sound. I have no idea what the audience is going to be like there, but I think it'll be an interesting experience.

      Ha! That's a pretty good pun about the water. I was extremely careful in the Philippines but still managed to get a pain in the ass. :-P

      -Matt

    5. Jason Fourier on

      For the record, I also wash my dishes before I load them into the dishwasher. Perhaps my reasoning is a bit different -- I find that the dishwasher doesn't do a very good job unless I pre-wash the dishes beforehand. Or perhaps I have just a touch of OCD. The only difference is that I don't use soap when I pre-wash (unless it's something *really* greasy). :)

      Good luck in China. Maybe you can use your talk as an opportunity to promote your Kickstarter campaign.

      Oh, and I've had trouble with the water in other countries before. It's quite a pain in the ass (pun intended), but it's not the end of the world; it'll pass.

    6. Matt Gilgenbach 2-time creator on

      Porcupine - what you discovered is similar to what I learned with exposure-response therapy, which has been helpful for me to overcome a number of my issues. In particular, it helped me overcome a lot of the self-injurious intrusive thoughts. It doesn't seem to help me too much for the little things though.

      I have a very special update planned for tomorrow, so hopefully that will spark so more interest in the kickstarter. :)

    7. Porcupine on

      From someone who would surely be diagnosed with OCD in the states, but not enough of it to ever have been crippling: I know that feeling. Yes, sometimes I re-check (again and yet again) stuff I KNOW has to be there too. And yes, sometimes I do worry about neverending what-ifs too. But - while I am the first to admit that in spite of the clearly recognizable symptoms this has never become overwhelmingly strong for me - the best way I found to deal with this sort of thing has been to just... let it go. As in - plane's gonna crash? Well then you'll most likely die, skipper. Tough luck. Thankfully not very likely at all though. And the same with food and water - yeah well, then you'll get sick. So what? Life doesn't stop there - you'll get better eventually. Most likely. As long as you're not going looking for trouble explicitly...

      Again, please understand I'm not trying to trivialize what you (may have been) going through - I'm simply saying that's what worked for me, with a mild case of this stuff. Eventually, after doing it many enough times, I got fairly reassured that the plane won't crash and I won't get poisoned (most of the time) but I think a key part of the process was accepting the consequences were the worst to actually happen, while also acknowledging the minimal likelihood of it.

      Anyway - the other folks are right: as long as the trend is heading in the general direction of the goal, it's quite likely to reach it even if it doesn't seem to be heading for the exact value - there is a surge of sorts to be expected at the end which should get it there. Which is not to say you shouldn't do everything you can think of in the way of raising further press (and backer) interest of course anyway - most of the most successful campaigns owners kept fiddling with the reward tiers right up to the end, fine-tuning them to whatever they thought could get people spend just that little bit MORE in my experience. Yeah, I know, it's a black art of sorts...

    8. Matt Gilgenbach 2-time creator on

      Torment - While I have backed quite a few projects, I usually back them towards the end, so I miss out on the roller coaster of watching the progress. I guess that's evidence that people like to jump in at the end and try to make a difference pushing projects over the finish line. Here's hoping! :)

      feetofjesus - We'll definitely support the 360 and PS3 controller on Ouya. Potentially keyboard as well. I haven't looked much into the API yet though. I appreciate your offer to double your pledge! Every little bit helps. :)

    9. Torment- The Enduring Exile on

      @Matt You've backed a number of projects (much more than me) I figure you've probably see how things get.

    10. Matt Gilgenbach 2-time creator on

      Hi Stefan,

      Although we are doing the FTGF, we are also making the game for Windows, Mac, and Linux. While with the deal as it stands we can't release simultaneously on computers, we are actively talking to Ouya on a way to be more fair to backers that don't have one. I can't announce anything yet, but I think we'll be able to work that out.

      Yorben,
      I'm glad you find my views interesting. I'm definitely interested in raising understanding and awareness of mental illness. I did send a copy to Northernlion, but I never heard back. PewDiePie said he'd check out the demo on twitter, but it seems like he hasn't gotten a chance yet.

      Alex,
      Thanks for the link! The Ogre graph is actually quite comforting. I was looking at a number of successful kickstarters, and I couldn't find one that mirrored our middle droop, so I was getting worried. I have a special update planned for tomorrow that will hopefully renew some interest in the project. :)

      Torment,
      I'm glad to hear a lot of project reminders are sent out on the last 48 hours. We still have a fair bit of time left, so hopefully we can change the direction of that graph.

    11. a.joseph.lee on

      Hey Stefan Guhl, just in case you didn't know, the ouya supports a variety of controllers and devices. These include the Xbox 360, ps3, and keyboard and mouse. Maybe Matt can just include device mapping in the game.

      Although my wife might have my head, if need be, I'll be sure to double my pledge before the end. Not that 4 pence does much more than 2.

      I believe in you.

    12. Torment- The Enduring Exile on

      Last 48 hours reminders are sent out and projects get a lot of funding. It' also when people like Brian Fargo put in a second tweet to show you their support.

    13. Alex Wickersham on

      http://blog.kicktraq.com/why-you-should-take-kicktraq-trends-with-a-grain-of-salt/

      Don't sweat it. That's a normal trend line (look at the Ogre chart in the link). If you compare it to other projects, where your goal is on that line means you will likely get funded. Not without earning it, of course. You just keep doing what you need to do to get the word out, and if you really need a boost, you can try to get creative with new ideas for rewards and stuff, but you saw from your PAX experience that as long as you can get the word out about the game, a lot of those people will come in and back it. Maybe work on the game a bit during the Kickstarter and show us more art or even more small interactive samplers showing different aspects of the game. It'll keep you busy and keep your mind off the worry at the very least.

    14. Yorben Kamstra on

      Hi, first off all, thank you so much for sharing your OCD experiences, your view is very interesting for me, as I am a neuroscience undergrad, and information from the subject's point of view has always been good study material. Also the reason for backing 260 dollars so far. And of course, my love for survival horror games. Especially the art and concept (not much interaction) appeals to me. Do not lose your hopes yet, there is still a lot of time left.

      Just wondering, have you send copies to Northernlion or Pew? Not quite sure if that is appropiate to ask questions here, but if anything I will give them a shout.

      I like the long post by the way, brings a lot more depth to the issue.

    15. Stefan Guhl on

      hi,

      I wish a good trip do china. In the moment, i am a 1$ backer. I would pay more, but the biggest problem for me is the ouya deal. I really would like to have the game as fast as i can and as a physically handycaped person, the ouya is no otion for me, because i cant handle the controller. Maybe there are more people sad about the deal and do not give more money. But dont understand me wrong, i think, to get this deal is really good for you. I only want to give my explanation, why not more people back up the projekt. But there are more days and maybe i change my mind and i will give more money. I really hope, you can do this game. I think, that will be a really big thing.

      regards,
      stefan

    16. Matt Gilgenbach 2-time creator on

      MrPendent,

      Thanks for the advice! I definitely avoid ice for that reason. I may be drinking a lot of hot tea on this trip. :)

      -Matt

    17. Mr Pendent on

      :Good luck in China! I hope your talk goes well.

      (And remember--digestion issues while traveling are not necessarily a sign of contamination. It could just be the change in diet. I only have to travel down the road to an Indian restaurant to experience distress, and they are no less safe than any other place in town. :) )

      Also, it sounds obvious, but remember while you are avoiding the water that ice is just frozen water. it is painfully obvious, but its surprising how many people don't think that the ice is made from the same water. My wife said while she was in Korea (years ago) she usually was given barley water, which demonstrated (ideally) that it had been boiled and was therefore safe.