Interview: ParanormalDev On Their Incredible Indie Horror Game Haunt Version 1.1 – And What Comes Next
If you recall correctly, back in December we reviewed ParanormalDev’s Haunt: The Real Slender Game, which has long since become known simply as Haunt. Since the launch of that game, the developers have been hard at work on a massive update for it which will not only fix most, if not all, of the issues we mentioned in our review, but also bring entirely new content to the game and update some of the game’s mechanics. Furthermore, the developer also revealed a while back that after the new update, entitled Haunt 1.1, they will be working on a large project called Haunted Memories. We recently had the opportunity to chat to the developers about Haunt and what comes after it, and you can find the full interview below. Personally, I hope it gets you as excited about the project as I am.
Keep in mind that English is not the developers’ native language, so there may be a few small cases of rough translation. Right, let’s get started with the interview, since that’s what you came here to see.
eGamer: Thank you, Paranormal Dev, for taking the time to do this interview with us. To start off with, can you tell us a little about yourselves and your studio?
PD: Hi. You are welcome ;) In fact, we can’t talk about any kind of studio, as having one is a really expensive thing. All of us are from Wroclaw, in Poland, but we work from our homes. To keep the overall flow and shape of our project, we have meetings a few times each month to put everything together and to make the overall vision unified. The core team contains four people and to be honest we all are specialized in two branches. For example, a musician is also a prop-artist, an art-director also codes gameplay and so on.
eGamer: What would be your message to gamers who have played Haunt before, and those who are completely new to the project? What would you say is the biggest reason to play Haunt 1.1, or revisit it?
PD: To be honest Haunt isn’t a thing for anybody. It’s not a game that everyone should play. This game is about the mood, exploration and a strange sort of depression blended with simple insanity of an unknown place and reality. Really, you need to be sensitive in some ways to play this game. Otherwise it will be boring for you. In other words, if Haunt 0.9 wasn’t interesting for you, then 1.1 won’t be either. Why? Because it’s an expanded, improved and fixed vision of the same world. Yes, there is new content, a new “slender” model and such, but those things don’t change the genre or gameplay.
eGamer: I played and reviewed Haunt back when it released, and I absolutely loved it. I hope you remember eGamer’s review! It looks like version 1.1 is going to be addressing all the issues we had with it back in our review, as well as bring new content, which is fantastic. What was it like to work with all the feedback and move towards improving Haunt in this massive update?
PD: It is correct that all (known) issues are fixed, and some parts of the game mechanics have been rewritten from scratch to give you stable fun ;) Anyway, it was (it IS!) a really great experience to work with so many players that are involved in the Haunt development process, by sending us great bug-reports, advice, expectations and so on. It is not easy, but it’s awesome. It is always awesome to see that people love (or hate ;) ) your game. Creating Haunt and communicating with such a large number of players was the biggest lesson of game development we ever had (and we have to say that the most experienced member of our team is a professional from about 10 years).
eGamer: Your studio is now known for its ability to create high quality games that are completely free. What was the experience like to develop Haunt to these standards, knowing you wouldn’t charge for it? What encouraged you to make this decision?
PD: First of all 0.9beta took about two weeks and it was really not a big deal (what we can’t say at the moment with over two months of Haunt development). What is worse is that we simply can’t charge people for something we didn’t invent. We believe that free stuff should be free forever. You want to sell something? Create your own product. We really hate those moments when somebody tries to sell something that was free.
eGamer: Other than Slender, of course, what inspired Haunt? What were the things you looked at when you tried to create a new kind of Slender title?
PD: Our vision just popped out from the head of our team leader and it was clear from the beginning how Haunt should look and behave. Yes, there are details that were taken from other places (for example, hands and wobbling was inspired by Mirror’s Edge and the music theme was inspired by movie scores), but those inspirations affected only the artistic style of Haunt. In fact we were initially focused on creating a “slender re-make”, and only 1.1 will provide new gameplay elements.
eGamer: What are you most proud of with Haunt 1.1? What are you most excited for fans to experience?
PD: The new ‘slender monster’ and his behavior (animations, tentacles reacting to your actions and so on) and of course the game’s new location with quite a big puzzle to solve.
eGamer: I’d like to wish you all the best with the launch of Haunt 1.1, but now would be as good a time as any to address the thing on most fans’ minds – Haunted Memories. What can you tell us about this project? What is it about?
PD: Haunted Memories is going to be an artistic inversion to Haunt – Haunt is blue and cold, Haunted Memories will be red and warm. With regards to gameplay and art direction, keeping the same focal points (namely mood, experience, exploration), it will put players into an interactive cinematic experience with NPCs, weapons, new tools, and all of that topped off with a dirty, grey gore theme. The abandoned manor that will become our prison will be the biggest horror adventure manor ever created :) And we mean it – during about 9 hours of gameplay, divided into three episodes, we will explore six different parts of this place (the greenhouse, lab, living wing and so on) with only one thing in mind – if you leave this place, your life will end. There is only one way to go – the darkest part of Jack’s family history. The whole plot is already written, but we don’t want to talk about it right now, as we are not sure yet what will be publicized before release. The most important thing is that we are moving from “Unity3D” to the “Unreal Engine”, as we can see with Haunt that Unity just isn’t designed for next-gen games.
eGamer: In recent updates, you’ve said that Haunted Memories will be a series of three episodes, each focused on a different part of the HM story. Are you able to elaborate on that? Can you tell us anything about the story or concept?
PD: As we said before the story isn’t something we want to share at this moment in time. With regards to the concept, we were inspired by “American Horror Story” which proved that complex horror plots could be successfully divided into episodes.
eGamer: Will Haunted Memories tie into Haunt in any way? Can it be viewed as a sequel? Or are they two separate stories and worlds?
PD: They are definitely two individual stories, but with similar worlds driven by human insanity, nightmares and fears. We will put some details into Haunted Memories that will make Haunt fans smile, but there’s nothing complex or deeply related with the story of both games.
eGamer: Will Haunted Memories play similarly to Haunt? Will it retain those adventure and exploration elements, or will it do something different?
PD: Yep – mood and exploration are the key of both games, but Haunted Memories will also be focused on dialogues and characters that you’ll meet in the abandoned manor.
eGamer: What can you tell us about some of the new features we can expect in Haunted Memories?
PD: There’ll be much more action and puzzle elements, NPCs and dialogues. This will differ the most from Haunt, but we don’t want to make too many changes. Haunt is something that players loved and we don’t want to ruin this.
eGamer: I really love the visual style of Haunt. What inspired it? And will Haunted Memories retain the same style?
PD: To be honest it was not inspired by anything (you can say that this is the only thing fully invented by us in Haunt :D), it’s just our vision of a nightmare that is cold, wet and empty. As the Haunt art was focused on an electronic camera (distortions and noises), Haunted Memories is going back to 20s and celluloid tapes – not blue, but red without noise and empty frames and scratches. Not cold – but hot as hell from your fears.
eGamer: I know it’s all hands on deck for the launch of Haunt 1.1 and that’s your focus right now, but could you tell us when we’ll start getting updates for Haunted Memories?
PD: Actually we know that Haunted Memories Episode 1 will be delayed and we will let you know about that half way into February, which is when we’ll have further information and the first Haunted Memories media :) Why is it going to be delayed? Because of the different engine. To be honest it’s hard to say at the moment how many traps we will find in there during development.
eGamer: You’ve said that Haunted Memories will not be free, and will cost within the region of $2-3. While I personally can understand the reasoning completely, some fans may be wondering why, unlike Haunt, it won’t be free. Could you tell us why?
PD: We thought that the donation system would do what needed to be done – but it didn’t. The game was downloaded about half a million times (from known sources), and only seven people donated ;) Learning new technology, writing objects, creating content, inventing stories… all of that takes our time and parts of our lives and it simply has to be paid somehow. But don’t worry – Haunt will still be supported and developed, and free for all :)
eGamer: What can you tell us about the future of Paranormal Dev? What comes after Haunt? Given the name of your studio, will you stick with the horror genre?
PD: This group was founded to create indie horrors – if that idea changes, then the group will simply disappear. As you know, after Haunt we have started Haunted Memories. What comes after? Who knows! We will see what the players are going to say :)
eGamer: As gamers, do you think that Slender Man is really a mean creature like everyone says, or do you think he is simply misunderstood? That said, what you would do if you found him hanging around outside your studio?
PD: We have no idea what the real stories are (that are much more older than we think), but for us Slender Man is nothing more than materialized human fear. Everybody will suit him somehow, put him in a box with a name… But not us – the idea of a Tall Man, Slender Man, whoever, is just an idea, feeling, fear – and nothing more. To answer your last question, we would say “Hello rocks” :)
I’m definitely excited for the release of Haunt 1.1, which will actually happen tomorrow conveniently enough. Talk about timing. It’s taking steps in all the right directions, and we can only drool over what ParanormalDev has in store for us with Haunted Memories. I’d like to wish ParanormalDev all the best with the launch of the game, and for development on Haunted Memories. Of course, I’d also like to extend my gratitude towards them for taking the time to do this interview with us. I have to admit I laughed a bit because I think they took our joke question at the end a teeny tiny bit too seriously, but that’s all part of the fun, and I definitely smiled at “hello rocks”. I wonder if Slendy would appreciate that.
Look out for our full coverage on Haunt 1.1 which should be coming soon.