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Postmortem: The Story & Development of Greyhill Incident

Greyhill Incident Director Aaron Roller told us about the development process behind the game, shared some never-before-seen early development screenshots, and discussed the lessons learned from the game's reception.


I'm Aaron, the creator of Greyhill Incident, and it was pretty much my first game. I'm a CG/VFX Artist, and I don't have a background in the game industry.

I started working on Greyhill Incident with experience in 3D art but without any experience in game development. I didn't know anything about game design, programming, story, or pretty much anything else. I wasn't even able to write clean English dialogues (I probably don't need to mention this, but I'm still not).

The only two benefits I had when I started were the knowledge of 3D art and a passion for UFOs and aliens. So yeah, I was able to finish the game, but the result showed pretty clearly my missing experience in almost every area.

Greyhill Incident's Early Days

I wanted to start indie game development to bring unique games to the indie game market. Pretty soon, I decided to do a game about a classic alien invasion scenario, as I'm a fan of the topic, but there wasn't really a game out there that would cover it. However, as already mentioned, I couldn't do anything. I didn't have any experience in game development, so there really wasn't a plan when I started, as I wasn't able to program or create anything.

So, I just studied code and tried to implement different things, and after some time, I had a few sections in the game that worked. I combined them and built the story around these things, and then it started to come together.

The art and atmosphere were the only things I really had control over from the beginning, so I tried to push it as far as I could. The UFO art design inspiration came from Fox Mulder's "I Want to Believe" poster, which, by the way, is also hanging in my office. As for the aliens, I wanted to go with the classic grays, the inspiration came from Outlast and Signs.

After I released the second trailer for the game and it got more attention, Perp Games reached out to me and offered console publishing. I can't really tell you much about the console porting process, as I haven't done this myself, but what I can say is that things started to get less flexible with it. The pipeline for updates after Greyhill Incident's release wasn't efficient, and it took a lot of time to bring them to consoles.

Reacting to Players' Feedback

While I was working on the game, I read every single comment I received on social media and tried to follow players' wishes as much as I could.

Later in the preview month, when we presented the game's beginning through YouTubers, the players mentioned the long and bad dialogues. There wasn't a lot of time left until release, but thanks to the voice actors, we were able to recreate at least the intro dialogue in no time.

After release, I read every single review and pushed six updates within the first week after release, repairing as much as I could. Later, I added support for Steam Deck. I soon realized that what I could repair was limited, as the whole code and structure of the game were done by an absolute beginner and in a catastrophic way, which could only be fixed by recreating the game from the ground up.

The game is positioned very well in the market as there is an existing audience for a survival horror game about a classic alien/UFO invasion, but there is pretty much no similar game available. So, I defined the audience very clearly from the beginning. As for social media, I promoted the game mostly on Reddit, Twitter, and TikTok.

The Reception

On the one hand, I'm very disappointed with how Greyhill turned out and that most players didn't enjoy it. But on the other hand, when I look back on what I had and knew when I started and then look at Greyhill Incident now, I really can't be disappointed. It's turned out to be so much more than I could have imagined. Also, through all the help and feedback I got from people, I learned how to make and finish a game during the process of doing it – not a good one, but at least something.

These are early development screenshots, I'm showing them for the first time:

Compared to the extremely low budget of Greyhill, it was commercially successful, and I'm able to finance the next project though this one was my first game. So, as I didn't release any other games, I'm not the right person to give any advice here I think.

But what other devs told me is that if you want your game to get noticed, you need to keep in mind that you're making a game for others and not for yourself in the first place. You also need to ask yourself before making it, "Is my audience defined well enough?" and, "Is/will my game be worth it for them to buy and play it?"


The biggest lesson I learned after launch is if you're not experienced in a field, at least you need to get advice from people who are experienced. I didn't know Greyhill was bad when I launched it, I had a million things to take care of and just didn't ask enough for advice on the gameplay itself. 

This one may sound pretty dumb, but it is how it is, I didn't run any beta testing, as I didn't know how important it is. I just didn't think about it, I played through the game with a few friends and thought it was enough of testing and fixing.

On launch day, with every review incoming, I felt like people were standing in a row in front of me giving me face punches, which is their right, of course. I learned from it and hope through this experience, I will be able to release a better game next time.

If you're absolutely inexperienced, definitely look out for some advice on the gameplay while making the game, and make sure to run enough beta testing before release. Make sure to have your audience defined very well before you start, and communicate your game to them correctly.

Aaron Roller, Director of Greyhill Incident

Interview conducted by Theodore McKenzie

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