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Looking for Programmer collaborator(s) - Retro Survival Horror Game

We Bound to Coldharbour is a survival horror mystery inspired by HP Lovecraft and English folklore, and presented as a retro horror game from the PS1 era, taking inspiration mostly from Silent Hill. It takes place in the small town of Coldharbour, somewhere on the English coast.

While the game has its roots in survival horror it is much closer to a detective mystery, taking the player through an isolated and decaying town that is not how it first appears. The player must speak to locals, find notes and clues, solve puzzles, and sneak into places they shouldn’t go - all to uncover the mystery of the town. Some pointers:

  • Set in an English seaside town, far away from the usual Lovecraft locales
  • Beautifully rendered in wonky PS1-era graphics
  • Madness system that changes game content, environments, and sound design based on how the player is approaching the story
  • A low-key approach to horror that aims to unnerve the player, not rely on jumpscares

The game’s visual aim is to be PS1-esque, rather than strictly adhering to PS1 standards. It should be beautiful in it’s own right.

Project Details
I’ve recently resurrected this project after a hiatus and attempt to make a prototype in Unity. This is still pre-production although there is a full design document with technical notes.

My role is as creative lead and artist, and based in the United Kingdom. Although I am making steps to learn Blueprints and ultimately C++, I’m looking to collaborate with programmer(s) who are enthusiastic about this kind of project. I would rather work with someone moderately experienced, who has at least put together working gameplay systems within Unreal, either C++ or Blueprints.

And yes, this is a revenue share project. If we are able to produce a compelling demo then I’m confident a modest Kickstarter could be successful; but the immediate goal is to produce a 20-30 minute gameplay demo that takes place in an isolated area of the town.

Interested?
If the project sounds like something you want to be involved with and you want to discuss it further, please get in touch! My Discord is DaveFace#6850.

Hello @DaveFace

I remember GrindStone. That was going to be a cool game. *We Bound to Coldharbour * (nice title) sounds interesting too as I’m also a big fan of HPLovecraft (Shadow Over Innsmouth), and Silent Hill (The Movie). My very first UDK Game project idea was Project Arrowhead inspired by Stephen King’s (The Mist). It never happened, but I continue to have a strong desire to develop a Survival Horror/Terror Game. Such elements have crept into my Action Sci-Fi FTPS design over the course of 6 months while working on it. I like Monsters, especially those Creepy Crawly ones with Tentacles hiding in front of us.

The horror genre has a massive amount of great competition. The recent The Sunken City is a detective story using heavy Lovecraftian Mythos. I’m curious as to what innovations will* We Bound to Coldharbour* present? From the statements above “find notes and clues, solve puzzles, and sneak into places they shouldn’t go” are expected in the genre. I can easily visualize elements of Resident Evil, Amnesia, and Call of Cthulhu.

Madness system that changes game content, environments, and sound design based on how the player is approaching the story” sounds like opportunities for innovation. But innovations require Research and Development which ‘could’ be a lot of work. As game subsystem designer/programmer I immediately start looking for subsystems, design patterns, and implementation techniques to pull off features.

I can see the application of …

Systemic Game Design, Branching Narrative/Dialogue Systems, Procedural World Construction, Dynamic Music Mixing/Selection. May even require the use of Portals and Dual world creation using clean/dirty versions to switch between the two at will. I haven’t even touched puzzle mechanics, camera control, and AI. This is all speculation at this point, but, I’m thinking over it.

In my opinion, such innovations deserve shinny new graphics, and shouldn’t be wrapped in dated “PS1-era graphics” (pixelation post processing?) unless there is innovation in the graphics style itself. I have to be honest here and say that in the day and age of Realtime Raytracing, PS1-era graphics do not sound very appealing to myself working with UnrealEngine. I know its power and want to use it.

You mentioned Revenue Split. One of my favorite subjects:) A Kickstarter Campaign is not a reliable monetization model. I start running in the other direction if Kickstarter is mentioned. lol. From my observation board games are more successful at funding than computer games. Even if the intended monetization is per unit retail sales, there would be concerns for me with Game Streaming, as it has be shown to negatively impact Single Player Narrative Games. I can rationalize there is No need to pay-to-play the Story, when you watch someone else play through it for FREE.

Hopefully the above does not read too negative. After my previous experience with royalty-based team game dev, I’ve learned to acknowledge the negatives in game development the hard way. I would love to participate in this horror game in some fashion, but, I for me to invest into a game concept, I have to be able to contribute ideas too and most of all be able to use existing resources to expedite progress.

Since, our last discussion, my skills in Blueprints {Networking, Game Mechanics, Construction Systems, 3D Modeling, Materials } have evolved vastly. I’ve prototyped several game concepts, consolidating all of them into my current game design, I had a team, that was recently downsized due to creative differences. So now I developing “solo”. But, I have a strategy employing Procedural Generation, Player Creation Systems, and Marketplace Assets.

Man, Grindstone takes me back a bit. I still really love the concept, so maybe someday…

The Silent Hill series and (to varying degrees) other PS1 survival horror games are a pretty good starting point for the gameplay, but my intention is to focus more on narrative elements and less on monster-bashing. If there’s a single hook / innovation beyond being a revivalist horror game, it’s the madness system, inspired by Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem.

Without going into too much detail, it involves using lots of events (in the level, and generic), and using a ‘director’ to decice which ones to activate. If a player walks into range of a level event, for example, it queries the director which then uses a decision tree (based on the player’s current state, what events have recently fired, etc) to decide whether to activate it or not. There’s an endless list of ideas for these: switching the layout of a room when the player uses a door, mixing in some subtle binaural environment sounds, to the more extreme examples like hiding the player’s inventory or temporarily messing with the controls. The idea is to make the game experience itself feel unreliable and unsafe.

In terms of specifics, I’m not imagining many systemic features (owing to complexity) or procedural generation, but definitely branching dialogue and dynamic music mixing.

PS1 retro graphics are a deliberate choice for practical and aesthetic reasons. Practically speaking, all projects I’ve been involved with both as lead and a contributor have struggled because they were trying to maintain a high art standard; it’s why most indie horror games take place in limited environments like ‘haunted house’ PT clones. The scope of this project simply wouldn’t be possible otherwise, trying to create a semi-open world town with linear missions would take a team of artists years to make (even with the aid of procedural generation, as with The Sinking City). In this case, the environment in the above screenshots took half a day.

Aesthetically, I think it just works a lot better for a horror game. It creates a sense of uneasiness and mystery where the player has to fill in the blanks themselves, which is especially important for ‘Lovecraftian’ horror. There’s a good write-up on lo-fi horror here.

I definitely wouldn’t consider Kickstarter reliable, I think it’s good to plan for and the project is unique enough to stand a chance, but ultimately the goal has to be to create a compelling demo first and foremost. As for streaming, it’s a risk with any single-player game, but I think it would be a net positive as a marketing tool - especially given the strong community sentiment around retro survival horror games.

I added you on discord

-SuddenLife

Hello,

I’m interested in the project and okay with revenue share. If the post is still free please let me know. or contact me at karti#8035