I got to meet with David Logan from Night Light Interactive not too long ago at the Rooster Teeth Expo this year. If you’re not familiar with the name then you might be with their game, Whispering Willows. Whispering Willows is a horror puzzle game that was nominated for the Create Grand Prize, Most Immersive, and Best Visuals awards. Although, it only walked away with winning the award for Most Immersive. I’m sure you’re burning to know one thing. Did I ask him what the willows will whisper about? Well… no, but we still had a good chat.
SZ: I’m here with David from the Night Light Interactive booth at RTX 2013. He’s here to talk about his game Whispering Willows, and to tell us more about himself and what his game is about!
David: Hey, how’s it going? This is David from Night Light Interactive and we’re working on a title called Whispering Willows. It’s a horror puzzle game coming out for OUYA, PC, Mac, and Linux. You play as a girl named Elena. She can astral-project, and with this you can control her spirit, and her human form to basically navigate through the game and solve puzzles.
SZ: What led to you deciding on making a horror game that’s also a puzzle game?
David: The biggest thing was that we really wanted to make a horror game that wasn’t just your typical ‘have stuff jump out at you. You know? Almost Hollywood moments. We wanted to make a horror that was stronger in immersion, and so making the game as a puzzle game really causes players to slow down, and to take in the world, and to you know read about the different things in the environment, and to really interact with it to grasp the whole thing, and to go in horror puzzle really helped us pace out the game a lot. You know, it’s slower than a lot of games, but it also, you know, it builds the tension ,and with it we’re really able to create a fantastic story and a great atmosphere.
SZ: Can we go a little more in-depth about the story?
David: Sure, so there is two stories that are going on. One, is that the mansion it takes place at has this history to it. In the early-mid 1800’s when people were coming over to western america and kind of, you know, around the gold rush era. We have kind of a fictional town where this man was doing whatever it took to make it big, and so he ends up slaughtering a whole bunch of Indians to get this land, and so the game takes place on the mansion he owned. Where, you know, a ton of different people are massacred. Not only Indians, but even more than just a ton of monstrosities also happen in the mansion. So you’re playing as this girl, Elena, a couple hundred years later, and her father has gone missing and he was a groundskeeper at this mansion, so Elena is going to this mansion because she believes that’s where she might find her father. As you kind of play the game you’re going to be uncovering her story, and she’s developing as a character, but at the same time all these ghosts you’re talking with are from this another era in time that actually spans from the mid 1800’s to mid 1900’s, so it really allows us to tell a fantastic story.
SZ: What kind of challenges did you face trying to implement puzzle mechanics while keeping the horror element?
David: It really is hard to make it. To combine the two elements. What we did a lot of the times is you’re learning these mechanics, these puzzle mechanics early on when there’s no real danger, and you’re kind of just exploring around so you get familiar with it. We use those same game play mechanics when you’re actually facing danger, and when you’re having to run. There is no combat in our game so you’re always trying to get away so at the end of the first part of our game, the catacomb, the enemy comes at you, and you’ll use all the mechanics that you just learned through the past 15 minutes, and those skills will help you escape from them.
SZ: So how did your team come to the conclusion that you wanted the character, that is Elena, as the person for the story as well as the person the player controls?
David: We had played around with several different characters where as originally you just played as a ghost, but we wanted some kind of human element into it. We feel it not only grounded it in terms of game play, but it also helped us in character development, and the direction that we took there. We feel like generally in games there is a lot your big muscular men, you know, in all those gears of war games and anything like that is always your typical hero. We really wanted to make more of an atypical hero that hasn’t been used much, so our character is a 13 year old female, and it also really makes you a lot more vulnerable. You know, you’re not this big strong guy that can just move stuff around or slash stuff with your sword. You really are this young vulnerable girl who is trying to escape from the mansion.
SZ: What was your decision in not having any combat, or essentially a way to fight back on the spot?
David: From the start we had made this decision, and I think it was to kind of reinforce how vulnerable this character was. You know, you’re not going to see this 13 year old girl with any crazy strength where in games like that where you’re really just running, hiding, and escaping from danger the whole time. We are later in the game going to have a few ways to kind of deter the enemies, but overall we want to avoid confrontation above anything else.
SZ: How was it developing your game to run on the OUYA?
David: It has been a great experience so far. We are developing with Unity so it is very easy for us to create the game for OUYA, PC, Mac, and Linux, all at the same time, with just small changes between versions. OUYA has been fantastic to work with as a company. They do everything they can to promote the indie developers on their console.
SZ: When can we expect Whispering Willows to release?
David: Whispering Willows will be released over 5 chapters. Chapters 1-2 will be released around the end of August.
SZ: Anything else you would like to tell our future puzzle solvers at GIZORAMA?
David: The game will be $9.99 for the full game and you can preorder on our websites. You can check us out at www.nightlightinteractive.com or our social media channels facebook.com/