Among the Sleep Developer Interview: ‘Get your diapers ready!’

An ‘scary’ interview with Krillbite Studios.

The Survival horror genre is on the decline. Games which were meant to horrify the common gamer have now gone the action route. If you look at the past couple of years, the horror genre has now shifted from premium developers to the talented indie developers. Take Amnesia for example. Personally, it’s one of the greatest and scariest horror game ever made.

One such game inspired from Amnesia is Among the Sleep. It’s a game where you take a role of a two year old toddler and survive against some dark forces. We got a chance to interview Adrian Tingstad Husby from Krillbite Studios and asked a few questions.

Read on for the full interview.

Kartik Mudgal: Among the Sleep is quite an intriguing game. What made you guys come up with a game concept like that?

Krillbite Studios: The idea was born out of the dreams of our lead game designer Anders Ugland. One night, he imagined a child fleeing from a monster in his room and hiding underneath a stair – all visualized in first person perspective. We started playing around with it as part of our thesis project, and were so intrigued by the concept that we decided to establish a company and continue working on it after graduating. And it has now gradually turned into Among the Sleep. It’s both challenging and satisfying to work with a 2 year old protagonist, because there really are no limitations to what we can do, but we still need to define a meaningful experience in that setting.

Kartik Mudgal: Tell us something about the game mechanics. It’s supposed to be an interactive experience, how exactly does it work?

Krillbite Studios: The teaser we have published is captured entirely in-game, and really depicts how some of the gameplay will work. It’ll play very much like a first person game, with a focus on exploration and atmosphere instead of gameplay systems like combat. So we are working a lot with physical interaction with the world, letting players walk and crawl around, push, pull and climb chairs to reach places, open and close doors, make staircases out of drawers, peek around corners, lift, place and throw smaller objects – and the list goes on. We’re also aiming to include some puzzle and adventure elements, but our focus lies on exploration and horror.

Kartik Mudgal: Such a concept is quite ambitious, so executing it will be a bit tough. Are you guys confident of pulling it off? The video I’ve seen looks quite good, mind.

Krillbite Studios: It’s definitely a challenging project to work with, especially considering it’s our first project of this scope ever. But we’re learning a bunch as we go, and judging from our progress this far we are confident that we’ll reach our vision without too many compromises.

Kartik Mudgal: So how do you guys go about immersing the player? Clever use of lighting techniques, animations and visual style must be a key, right?

Krillbite Studios: Definitely! Another design-oriented element we think will contribute, is utilizing the players own imagination. For instance, if you hear a sound and only see the vague contours of something moving, the experience is often much more powerful than if you get a clear view and are allowed time to study potential threats. In the tangible and concrete situations, a lot of the mysticism and uncertainty can disappear, and players start seeing the mechanical aspects instead of immersing themselves. In addition we’re working to nail the soundscape to build atmosphere and immersion.

Kartik Mudgal: What type of puzzles can we expect? The descriptions mentions something about challenging your creativity with physical and mental obstacles. Can you elaborate a bit more on this?

Krillbite Studios: Absolutely! We aim to include the surrealistic theme of dreams and childrens imagination, not only as a setting, but also as a more active part of the game. For instance in specific puzzles. Also, what one sees in subtle and scary games, is that preparing mentally to enter the next room can constitute an interesting mental obstacle as well.

Kartik Mudgal: Why did you guys feel first-person view is the best way to present the game. Why not a third-person view? I do admit it makes sense, but what’s your logic behind this?

Krillbite Studios: One of the most important aspects of Among the Sleep is immersion, which is naturally made difficult by the protagonist being a toddler and the target audience being adults. We want the player to feel like they are the child, and not that they are observing some other child in a baby-simulator, which is what easily happens when you constantly watch a baby crawl around. We actually gave third person camera a try once, for the fun of it, and it certainly gave a whole other experience, just not the one we were looking for. By making it as easy as possible to relate to the child, by using first person and removing some of the expected baby crying for instance, we hope people will be able to relate more to the protagonist, and hence be more immersed. Also, the limited overview of a first person camera adds a lot to horror.

Kartik Mudgal: Do you guys have any other projects in the pipeline? It would be interesting to at least hear about the concept.

Krillbite Studios: We’ve got a lot of projects in our backlog, but it’s still a while until Among the Sleep is done so we still want to maintain our focus on that project for a while. But we’re working a bit on our small side-project “The Plan” at the moment, which is a small experimental video game exploring issues of death and meaning, through the perspective of a fly.

Kartik Mudgal: Were there any other games you were inspired from? I mean, the interactive ones.

Krillbite Studios: I think our main source of inspiration is our own childhood and dreams, but we naturally look a lot to other games and media for inspiration as well. For example, we enjoyed (i.e. “were horrified by”) Amnesia, and it really reinforced our feeling that Among the Sleep was going to work. Some other sources of inspiration include the whimsical and at times unpleasant Majora’s Mask. And naturally we’ve all played games like System Shock, Resident Evil, Silent Hill and other horror games over the years, though I don’t think much of Among the Sleep is derived from such titles.

Kartik Mudgal: Thanks for your time. What do you guys have to say about this game to our readers?

Krillbite Studios: Get your diapers ready!

Among the Sleep is due for Windows and Mac in 2013.


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