Interview with Matt Gilgenbach, developer of Neverending Nightmares

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Neverending Nightmare
In our interview series we have a special today. Matt Gilgenbach of the fantastic Neverending Nightmares (Kickstarter campaign here) agreed to be interviewed. If you like this interview, there is only 3 days left on Kickstarter campaign and Matt could really use your support. We (DotO and Matt) would greatly appreciate any contribution that you can give. Thank you in advance.

Now off to the interview!

Day of the OUYA: Hey Matt, thanks for the quick impromptu interview. Before we get into Neverending Nightmares please tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into game making.

You: I’ve been making games professionally for 10 years, but I started programming games at 9 in QuickBASIC. I worked on AAA games for 5 years including on Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters and have been indie for 5. I designed the well-received (but poor selling) Retro/Grade.

DotO: The reason why we’re talking today is that you are having a Kickstarter campaign for the insanely scary game “Neverending Nightmares”. I must admit I only found it yesterday but it immediately blew my mind and we HAVE to get this game funded. What is Neverending Nightmares and how did you come up with the idea?

You: Neverending Nightmares is a psychological horror game inspired by my struggles with mental illness. I suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder and depression, and I’ve been channeling those experiences to create a horrifying atmosphere in the game. It has a unique pen sketch art style inspired by Edward Gorey as well as disturbing images that are draw directly from my intrusive thoughts (a symptom of OCD).

With Neverending Nightmares, I wanted to try and make my dream game with all the best ideas since this could be my swan song as an indie developer. The game is the combination of a number of different game design ideas I’ve had for years including some inspiration from my actual nightmares.

Interactivity is the biggest strength of games, but developers are still telling linear stories.

DotO: Contrary to regular horror games your plot isn’t linear and has several plot branches. That means you have to play through the game a couple of times to actually see all of the plot elements. What was the reason behind that decision since I imagine you could have the easy route and just tell a linear story right?

You: In general, I feel like interactivity in the narrative is a missed opportunity for most games. Interactivity is the biggest strength of games, but developers are still telling linear stories. Having multiple outcomes that are contradictory is appealing to me for this game because it makes the game more nightmarish. If there is no “true” reality, then everything feels like a nightmare!

Neverending Nightmare 2

DotO: What do you think makes Neverending Nightmare so scary? I get goosebumps just from watching the trailer. How do you do that?

You: It was a lot of hard work. 🙂 To appropriately create horror, I think you need to really nail both the audio and video aspects of the game. Before we had sound and music, the game was terrible. Audio is such a huge part of Neverending Nightmare 3creating the atmosphere, and we are extremely fortunate to be working with a talented musician and sound designers. It may seem silly to say because I had nothing to do with it, but I am most proud of the music in our game. Just listening to the music alone creeps me out, and that really makes the work easier from a game design perspective.
The other thing that we carefully plan is creating tension. You have to focus on building up anticipation of something horrible until the point where the player cannot bear it, and then deliver something unexpected.

DotO: Is this the first horror game you’ve developed or are you a veteran of horror games?

You: This is the first horror game I’ve developed, so it’s definitely been a learning experience for me. However, I’ve found I love making horror games, so I hope to make many more!

DotO: Are you scared of your own game?

You: While I know exactly where all the scares are, the game still manages to creep me out. I’m pretty proud of that because I’ve played the game so much that I would expect it to not have an effect on me.

DotO: You still need $35,000 to reach your goal of $99,000 funding. How can our readers help you get Neverending Nightmare funded?

You: They can back our kickstarter and help spread the word about it.

Neverending Nightmare on Kickstarter

DotO: What happens if you don’t reach your funding goal? Will there be any way our readers and us could support you afterwards? Any plans to talk with other investors maybe?

You: I’m not sure. We are running on fumes, so we would really need someone to swoop in quickly if they were interested in making the game happen. That’s difficult because there are always pitch meetings, contract negotiations, etc, so I’m not sure if the game will ever be made if our kickstarter fails. I’m trying not to think about it. 🙂

DotO: All right Matt thanks for the oportunity to talk to you. I really, really hope you get your funding. I cannot wait for Neverending Nightmares to be released and scream like a little girl in front of my TV screen. I wish you the best of luck.

You: Thank you very much for taking the time to interview me and spread the word about Neverending Nightmares!

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About Tim von Janssen

Tim has started playing PC Games at the tender age of 8 (ca.1990-1991) on monochrome screens and hasn’t stopped ever since. Due to that love for video games that has developed very early Tim also knows why older games very successful despite mediocre graphics. One simple reason: gameplay. Tim feels that with the development of the OUYA and the stronger focus on indie game studios is the right step towards better gaming experiences that rely more heavily on unique game concepts and better gameplay in general. Tim at Google+

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