My love for Matt Cohen’s indie horror game Paranormal is no secret. What’s most interesting about the game is how it can be scary and unpredictable after multiple playthroughs, thanks to its randomly generated scares. With the game’s first expansion, The Town, using the same system on a larger scale — it covers an entire town, rather than a house — I’m sure it’ll scare the pants off me when it releases (hopefully) later this year.
I recently had the chance to chat with Matt about his game, the future of the indie horror genre, and whether or not he believes in ghosts. Read on to see what he had to say.
BD: So, about Paranormal. It’s terrifying. I’ve recorded a few “Let’s Plays” for our YouTube channel, and they’re mostly comprised of me gasping and yelling at the screen for 15-20 minutes. It’s easily one of the scariest games I’ve played, and I’m itching for The Town (we’ll get into that in a bit). What inspired you to make this game?
I remember watching Paranormal Activity for the first time, then searching the internet to see if anyone had made a game of it. Sadly, no such game existed. At that moment, I decided I had to be the one to do it if nobody else would.
BD: Creating a video game is tough, but crafting one alone has to be exponentially more difficult. What did you learn while developing Paranormal? Did you take from it any lessons that affected how you went about creating its expansion?
Working alone on a game has its ups and downs. On the positive side, it’s super easy for me to communicate my ideas to myself. No confusion there. It also makes it easier to keep track of stuff like variables, scripts, and all that jazz. That said, working alone on a game has a few downsides. Obviously the sheer amount of work one has to do, undivided, is pretty daunting. I love a good challenge. Give me an impossible goal and I’ll do my best to find a way to achieve it. That’s what I’ve based all the development around, more or less. I’ve learned many lessons from the original game that I’ll be using to my advantage in the expansion. I’ve also learned many new things since the original game was released. I plan on going back and implementing these things into the original game once The Town is released.
BD: Paranormal was funded through Kickstarter and recently its expansion, The Town, was successfully funded as well. What’s it like getting that consistent level of support from the gaming community? Is it redeeming, does it add more pressure to the already stressful process of making a game, or maybe a little of both?
It’s humbling and a true honor that anyone would even want to play my game, let alone pay for it and support it. It truly makes me feel like one of the luckiest people in the world. The support has been fantastic. The indie community is amazing, especially the indie horror part of it. Support from other developers, fans, press, YouTubers—it makes it a very welcoming community that I’m honored to be part of. It is incredibly redeeming. The ambitious goals I set for myself are the main source of stress I face, but the support I’ve been getting has truly put all that stress in the back seat.
BD: Could you tell us a little about The Town, what it is, and what you’re hoping to accomplish with it?
Paranormal: The Town is Paranormal’s first expansion. It will be free to anyone who owns Paranormal. The original game was a found-footage style first-person horror game in which the player controls a character holding a camera (the viewpoint of the game) in a haunted house. The events that go on in the house, the scares and such, are all randomized so every playthrough is different in some way. The Town is taking all of this many steps forward by giving the player an entire randomized town to explore. The Town will also be more story driven, and the environments will be much more varied. It will feel the same, yet very different at times. I’m hoping The Town will give people a good look into the different facets of horror games are able to touch on.
BD: Getting a game out and building a community around it — as you have with Paranormal — tends to be a little easier on PC, with how open a platform it is. Now that you have a community, are there any plans to bring Paranormal and/or its expansion to consoles?
Currently, with EPIC’s licensing prices for consoles, I don’t see that happening quite yet. I’d love to release Paranormal on PS3, PS4, Vita, Xbox 360, Android, Linux, Texas Instruments Calculators—once I can afford the licensing for it, I’ll make it happen.
BD: How about a release date — when can we look forward to exploring The Town?
For now I’ll say “When it’s done”. I’m hoping to have it out before Christmas 2013, but no promises. This is going to be over three times as large as the original game, so it may take quite a while. I want to release something polished and complete, even though I do plan on patching it and adding new content regularly.
More after the jump!