[Interview] Glowstick Games Uses an Old Formula to Make Something Truly Terrifying in Dark Deception
As you wander through tight corridors, collecting shards, guided only by a small map and the voice of a mysterious woman—whose intentions appear to be anything but good—you the player are lost. Alone and afraid of anything that you hear rounding the narrow corner, you hear those dreaded words: “It's found you!”
You start to panic, desperately searching for the shards that will free you from this nightmare, and, as you try to flee from specters of your own fears and the fears of the protagonist, the question is: can you collect all the shards and survive this labyrinth of terror that is Dark Deception?
Dark Deception is a horror game in a classic, Pac-Man like playstyle that was created by the company Glowstick Games, headed by Vince Livings and Mark Henderson; both veterans of the gaming industry, who are now trying their hands at an independent project.
A demo of the game’s first level was uploaded to Newgrounds on March 14th, and was met with a generally good response from the Newgrounds’s community. The demo of the game provides genuine scares and once developed it might rival Amnesia: The Dark Descent in its claustrophobic hallways.
Glowstick Games explains the games origins, the reception of the demo, working on Oculus Rift, the Facebook buyout Of Oculus Rift, and possible content in the game itself in this exclusive interview done with the duo.
Where did you two work before you started Glowstick Games?
Glowstick Games: Mark and I worked at the same company twice, but just met one another last year. We both worked at Zynga during their rise, but we were on different teams. It wasn’t until we joined Red Hot Labs and began work on Bingo Blast that we started to notice that we shared the same gaming interests and opinions. We’ve also previously worked with EA Sports, Riot Games, and Microsoft.
Where did you get the idea for Dark Deception?
Glowstick Games: The idea for Dark Deception came, originally, out of the need to create a quick game for mobile. I really wanted to make a horror game, but we wanted to make something that wouldn’t take very long since there are only two of us. We started discussing classic Atari and NES games. It wasn’t long before Pac-Man came up. Mazes and horror just seem to go together pretty well. It seemed like a good fit and we were both onboard with the idea pretty quickly.
What’s going to be the general story of Dark Deception?
Glowstick Games: To summarize our story briefly, you play as detective run afoul of the law he swore to uphold. Now he finds himself cornered with nowhere to run. In an act of desperation, he turns to a ring from a very old cold case to escape his fate. It is Helen Bierce’s ring, a famous actress that disappeared in the 1930s. Dark rumors surrounded her disappearance and the ring. Unaware of the evil he has awakened, the player must dive into darkness and hope to survive.
Carolyn Seymour (the voice actress that plays Dr. Chakwas in the Mass Effect series as well as various other famous roles) does the voice for the mysterious villain in your game. How well do you know her? Was she excited about playing the villain in your game?
Glowstick Games: We met her in LA during our recording session. I was surprised what an amazing woman she is. Even at her age, she has such a zest for life and a great sense of humor. She will never slow down! She told us a lot of stories from her time on Star Trek. They were pretty amusing to say the least. She lives in France and doesn’t come to the US that often due to her busy schedule, so we were very lucky to get her. She is very supportive of indies and was excited for the role. She gave us a great effort and we didn’t have to redo many lines. She nailed most of them on the first take.
So, how many people are working on Dark Deception?
Glowstick Games: We have 3 people currently working on it. In total, 8 people have worked on it over a period of time (Mark and myself, plus 6 contractors). Right now though, it is just the two of us and a very talented character artist from Irrational. He was one of the main character modelers for Bioshock Infinite.
You posted up the demo of Dark Deception on Newgrounds; what has been the general reaction from the Newgrounds audience?
Glowstick Games: We were actually surprised at the level of support that we received from Newgrounds. We were expecting a mixed reaction, but their feedback has been overwhelmingly positive so far. They’ve also been great about spreading the game to other gaming portals and putting up video reviews on YouTube. We wouldn’t have the fan base that we have now without them. I hope to share more of our games with them in the future.
In general, how supportive has the general gaming community been for your project?
Glowstick Games: We’ve been blown away by how supportive the gaming community has been over the past few months. We attended SXSW and got a great reaction from gamers there. Our booth was packed pretty much the entire weekend. Online, we’ve seen a lot of fans make some really great review videos and offer us some great feedback. Early reviewers/indie supporters, like Alpha Beta Gamer, have been great about helping us spread the word. Recently, Markiplier reviewed our game and that was a huge boost. Interacting with the fans has been the best part of the experience for us. They all have different opinions, but in the end, they all want to help us make a great horror experience.
How was it working on the Oculus Rift?
Glowstick Games: Working on the Oculus Rift has been nothing short of magical for both of us. It’s the experience we often dreamed about as kids, but never thought we would actually see. Oculus has made their SDK pretty easy to work with. I think making UI work in a virtual space is probably the only real challenge that Oculus development has presented us with.
With Facebook’s buyout are you still releasing on Oculus Rift? Even when others like Notch, the creator of Minecraft, withdrew his support for the product.
Glowstick Games: Oculus needed the support of someone, like Facebook, with deep pockets. They simply do not have the war chest that Microsoft and Sony do. Technologically speaking, Sony closed the gap pretty quickly with Morpheus. Imagine if Amazon or Google throw their hat into the VR ring as well. The Kickstarter money wasn’t enough. The acquisition doesn’t change the fact that the Oculus Rift is an amazing piece of hardware with very devoted developers. We aren’t going to punish them for making a smart business decision to ensure their future survival. We are not fans of Facebook either, but it’s important to get past anti-Facebook sentiment and see the bigger picture. Facebook will push Oculus to heights they could not have reached otherwise. The will provide the support they need, so that they can focus on making a better VR experience. That is good for VR in general and that’s something that will benefit us all.
Out of all the monsters in Dark Deception that have been shown, which one do you think is the scariest?
Glowstick Games: I think the great thing about Dark Deception is that we’ve tapped into so many different horror creature types that all play on different human fears. We hope that people will have differing opinions about which monster is scariest. Some levels might be far scarier to your friend than they are to you. So far we’ve only shown the murder monkeys in our demo. Personally, I’m terrified of clowns, so that would be the one I feel is scariest. Mark is more for the mannequins.
What platforms is Dark Deception going to be available on?
Glowstick Games: Initially, our focus is on Oculus Rift, Steam, and PC. We have also been licensed by Sony and Nintendo. We are still in talks with Microsoft. Depending on how well our Kickstarter does in early May, we would love to bring Dark Deception to PS4, Vita, Xbox One, and Wii-U. We love all gaming platforms!