Interview with The Andronauts: More Horrors Await in The Mental Torment Episode 2
The Mental Torment is the horror game we've all been waiting for (or dreading) since Virtual Reality came into our gamer grasps! Since its release for the Oculus Rift DK2, the Internet has been ablaze with terrified wails of joy from let's players, confirming the game's sheer terror. I would say that's a 'mission accomplished' for developers, The Andronauts!
With The Mental Torment: Episode Two up for backing on Indiegogo, The Andronauts are busy coming up with all sorts of new and terrifying ordeals to put the players of the next game through - if they're brave enough, that is. However, they kindly put aside their busy schedule of terror-inducing game developments to answer some questions about the success of The Mental Torment and what the Indiegogo funding could help unleash within their next game.
GameSkinny: What made The Mental Torment stand out from the hoards of other horror games for the Oculus Rift?
The Andronauts: The darkness. When we started developing our game we found that the most scary thing in the Oculus is when you're surrounded by deep blackness. When you cannot see what is around you your imagination goes crazy! Other games are also dark, but in Mental Torment you can only see 3 meters around you and that makes a big difference. The first comments we hear when people play our game is: "Why the hell did someone take such a weak flashlight into such dark place?!" and this is the exact reaction that we wanted to achieve!
GS: Where do you get your inspiration from?
The Andronauts: From our own fears. It's funny because we don't actually like horror games! Personally we could not stand to play Mental Torment if we had not created it. Even the development of it was hard; testing it was the hardest because even when you know what will happen, you often forgot about other scary moments so you are jump-scared again and again! It was so exhausting that in the first few weeks Gregory often had nightmares. We didn't make that up, it's true!
GS: Is it difficult developing a game for the Oculus Rift?
The Andronauts: Developing on Oculus is totally different from developing for a flat screen. There are many extra things to think about. For example: in our first version the head of the player was placed too low, we didn't realise that people testing it were feeling like babies! Also, in Oculus DK2 you can freely move your head so you can, for example, move to see the inside of a wall. We found that we cannot prevent players from doing that as it was causing sim sickness. Because of sim sickness we also couldn't use mechanics used in non-VR games, such as taking control over the player's point of view to point it to an interesting scene. To achieve something similar we had to count on the players curiosity and do some tricks to make them look in the right direction.
GS: Why did you choose to create a game where the player cannot die?
The Andronauts: The main idea is explained in The Mental Torment description: "the only thing you have to fight are your own fears", but this is something we are still discussing. We wanted to reach as many Rifters as we could and we know that not all of them are real gamers, so we made our game as easy as possible. Now that so many people have played our game we think that in the next episode we can try a more challenging approach, but we are still not sure about the "get killed" idea.
The Andronauts: That's beyond our imagination! Really, it was a shock for us. We tried to count the amount of let's plays found on YouTube and there are around 70 videos watched by almost 5 million people. It's so awesome! We tried to watch every video and cheer all the reviewers but we're sure that we're missing at least one person, so we'd like to take this opportunity to thank all of them for playing our game and showing support to our project. BIG THANKS!
GS: You're currently working towards making the second game. What can players expect to see differently in comparison to the first game?
The Andronauts: More darkness... Different environment, less repeatable experience, some logical puzzles, and a little more immersion as we want to introduce and develop some story elements. These are things that we're intending to do, but we cannot guarantee that we will be able to realize all of our ideas as this is connected with costs, time and work.
GS: This second episode of Mental Torment is on Indiegogo now. When reaching your goal, how will this funding help to make the game a more enjoyable experience?
The Andronauts: In many ways! Almost every step in game development is costing us money. 'Till this day we are using our own savings to compensate expenses, but some of the expenses are way beyond our reach, mainly the software used for 3D modeling and animations. We would like to go forward, but money can become a real show stopper! For example, we already know that we won't be able to record dialogues for next episode, we will have to handle this in some other way. Unfortunately, because of the lack of funds, we are pushing a lot of ideas back into the drawer, they will stay there waiting for better times!
The above image is EXCLUSIVE for the second game, I'm already nervous about what lays behind those bars!
GS: Can you tease us with any info about what's to come in the second game?
The Andronauts: Horror games can easily be spoiled, but there are some things that we can reveal. First of all, episodes are not connected in terms of the story. Our motto is:"episodes are connected only by fear" - this gives us more flexibility to try something new for each episode! Second, is that you will be able to interact with the environment like in other FPS games, so there will be some logical puzzles included as mentioned earlier. The third thing we can spoil is that you will be able to turn off the flashlight. This will become really handy in some situations, but it will also increase the atmospheric tension as you will be only able to listen to what is happening around you!
GS: Finally, what is your dream for the future of 'The Andronauts'?
The Andronauts: We began our little studio with a vision to develop small Android games (hence the name: The Andronauts). You can check out our earlier game in Google Play - it's called Swooshi. Since then we've discovered VR and we love it! Creating our own virtual worlds is so much fun that we want to focus on this now. We want to stay a part of this technology to see how it will evolve, either as horror game developers or any other way that we find interesting.
With their love of Virtual Reality and passion for creating an immersive and truly unique gaming experience, The Andronauts are ones to keep an eye on. You can help them fulfill their potential by funding The Mental Torment: Episode 2 on their indiegogo page. Or, if you're not too chicken, try out the first episode for free!
Considering The Mental Torment was their first horror game for the Oculus Rift, they have real potential to break the barrier of what gets in the way of a truly horrific gaming experience - making us feel as though we are really a part of their dark and gloomy world, clutching onto a dimly lit flashlight as our quivering feet take us closer to facing our fears! (But really we're just looking a bit loony, sweating from fear with black boxes on our heads)
Check out my written review for The Mental Torment (yup, that's me screaming above!) and make sure to follow The Andronauts on their Facebook page where they constantly update their game progress and post hilarious videos of people from all over the world screaming at their game. That's your whole evening sorted!