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Wow, amazing job, really inspiring !
Where do i send gold, i want the game!
80.lv was able to catch up with Justin Ng about his upcoming new game, Stifled, which is the spiritual successor to Lurking. He tells us about the new game and about himself.
About Justin Ng
I’m from Singapore, I’m not that old and I’m not that young [laughs]. I’ve been making games since I was 17 or 18. I’ve been making games for 7 years in school as a student. I went to NYP in Singapore which is a polytechnic school and I did game design there. Then I went to Digipen which is a game design school. Basically I hate studying and I hate books so I started making games. I’m living the dream they say, but we’re poor so it kind of sucks but hopefully it eventually leads to something. As long as people like the game we are okay.
Previously it was a school project for Digipen Singpore called Lurking. It’s a sound-based horror game. What I mean by sound-based is the only way to visualize and navigate the world is through the very sounds you make. Let’s say you’re walking and there’s footsteps, the footsteps create sound, sound equals sound pulses, sound pulses equals visuals. Additionally to that we have the microphone input. So when you’re talking, screaming, or breathing it gets picked up and that goes into the game as process.
What’s different is all your enemies in the game actually react to those sounds. There is this contrast of balance that exists where you want to see things so you make noise, but when you make noise your enemies hear it and you can get caught. If you don’t want to get caught, you don’t make any noise and that’s a problem as well. In the previous game there was just one enemy and he reacts just the way you do. You see through sound, he sees through sound… This new enemy in Stifled is about the same, but we are going to add more enemies. One example is if you get too close to a certain enemy, she screams and it creates a huge pulse and becomes a trap by attracting the other enemy which can overwhelm you.
One of the major challenges was getting the visuals up, but once we got it up it was cool. I think the difference is that in a lot of video games you have things like light and visuals where you lead players a specific way, such as a dark hallway with light at the end. That lets the player know to go there. However, in a game like ours there really isn’t that type of thing. The challenge was guiding the player through a world where they can’t exactly see things. We used things like water droplets that create sound waves and light flickering which would be our “light” in our game. That is one challenge we overcame.
I think it’s really about getting a player into the game and making them understand this is not how you usually play games, and that they should figure it out. Usually when they put on the microphone, that’s when everything makes sense and we like that. We got a decent concept and we did okay and people care about it so it’s cool. In terms of the gameplay design it’s going to be more level oriented such as small puzzles to be solved. It’s more about experience more than the gameplay mechanics. We want the player to have a unique experience.
The inspiration isn’t really from me. The previous team for the previous game had four people. We had a lead designer who saw this video on youtube of this little girl who uses echolocation to see the world. It was from this he decided to do something with sound and a microphone. We talked a bit and went through different concepts such as pitch, music, etc. Myself and the programmers came up with a black and white art style and said, “this style makes sense for horror, so let’s do horror”. So we started to do horror and then realized the microphone adds an interesting balance, so it was then we decided to use it and that’s how we got to where we are today.
Words of Wisdom
I’ve been making this for so long and this is the only game people care about. If you like making games, make games. Do what you want and just prove people wrong if people doubt you. As long as it is something you love, it will be worth it regardless of the outcome. Sometimes it will work out, other times it won’t. The most important thing is that you did it and you tried if you failed.