Things in the Dark (2019)

Things in the Dark is a co-op horror game I made with a team of three other students at NTU. In it, two children try to escape a nightmarish orphanage, equipped only with a pair of flashlights.

Team

Programmer + Sound Designer: Chin Kee Yong (myself)
Lead Artist: Joey Chan
Secondary Artist: Shaherfi Sidin
Level Designer: Mustafa
Course Advisor: Xuanming Zhou

Commentary

This game was made for the course Game Design 1 at NTU ADM, where I had the pleasure of working with Joey (an amazingly hardworking artist) and Mustafa (who was new to game dev). I also got to collaborate with my friend Shaherfi again (Broken Wings, Blow Wind Blow). As usual, I was pigeonholed into the role of programmer because I’m the only person in ADM who understands vector math.

Our tutor for this course was Xuanming Zhou, one of the coolest people in the Singaporean game development industry. Xuanming is very focused on mechanics design, so we conceptualized this game from the bottom up with a heavy mechanical focus. We decided that our core mechanic was going to be the flashlight, and so our game was going to be a puzzly horror game revolving around light and darkness.

Our initial plans involved shining light on a photoresistor in real life to make stuff happen in the game, but this quickly proved both unwieldy and difficult to implement. Instead, we focused on interesting things that players can do with a flashlight, such as scaring away monsters, lighting lanterns, and discovering hidden paths.

While we didn’t have a dedicated group member in charge of audio, I volunteered to contribute sounds and ended up being the de facto sound designer / audio engineer. The background ambience is from Tabletop Audio while the sounds are from freesound.org. I focused hard on giving the game a creepy soundscape while adding unique sounds for important elements and gameplay information.

The final showcase build of the game includes 3 levels with various challenges and enemy types. It has a lot of incredible hand-drawn artwork by our 2 artists, who I feel really nailed the aesthetic they were going for. I also got to show off a little by creating the different screen shader effects (fading, blurring, flickering) and tying the entire game into the Godot lighting engine.

Room for Improvement

  • More polished level design and tutorials
  • More interesting light puzzles
  • Items that must be picked up and carried with both hands – forcing players to drop their flashlights
  • Resource management with flashlight batteries
  • More ways for the players to interact with each other
  • More of a backstory and narrative
  • More robust and optimized code

One thought on “Things in the Dark (2019)

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