DreadEye VR mixes aspects of first-person horror and cooking games, having players act as an Indonesian shaman who must put together ingredients to summon the restless dead, then deal with the unsettling situations that ensue.
Siliconera spoke with Rachmad Imron, CEO of Digital Happiness (developers of DreadEye VR) to learn more about the Indonesian folklore that inspired the story, as well as why the developer chose to add elements of cooking games into the frightening experience.
DreadEye VR draws from Indonesian folklore for its monsters and play. What interested you most in
drawing from Indonesia’s culture and history for the game?
Rachmad Imron, CEO of Digital Happiness, Developers of DreadEye VR – Well generally, we are very fond of the unique lore and myth in every country across the globe. Every region has their own signature monster ,for example. But as an Indonesia-based developer, it’s easier for us to dig deeper into our own myths and culture.
Also, Indonesia is the world’s largest island country, which means each region has their own culture, language, dialects, and also their own myth. So, there was lots of material that could be added into our game’s themes. In other words, we hope players can appreciate something different when we decided to add our own myths into some new material that doesn’t usually make it into video games.
How did you tie in the unique stories of each ghost and phantom into the shamanic gameplay?
Usually in the concept of Indonesian black magic, shaman will use an enslaved a ghost to do their evil bidding.
Based loosely from that concept, we’re aligning our basic story, taken from several ghost myths and lore, and mixed it into our core gameplay. We also added some aspects of European witchcraft by alchemy for cooking in the cauldron, for example. The Indonesian shaman ritual in DreadEye VR kind of pales in comparison with the real actual ritual :).
Can you share some of the histories surrounding some of the monsters in the game? Some personal
One of the most terrifying bits of lore, and also my personal favorite, is Palasik. The gruesome Palasik manifests as a flying, disembodied head with dangling internal organs and a disturbingly long tongue. Those that practice
the black magic necessary to become one live in isolation, and the curse of harnessing this power is
hereditary, dooming daughters to the same fate as their mothers. The Palasik is especially feared by
pregnant women – it is believed they will devour the fetus straight from the womb or can absorb its soul by
touching the mother’s belly. These bloodsuckers have also been known to consume deceased newborns.
How did you choose which monsters would go into the game? What thoughts went into choosing
which horrifying creatures to bring into DreadEye VR?
Our constraint was more into the technical aspects and budgeting concerns, actually. On top of that, we’re looking
into some unique form of ghosts, as well. A unique form that rarely can be found in other medium, that
would be our top priority.
What had you interested in creating a game where the player was a shaman confronting these ghosts?
Why this unique style of horror game?
DreadEye VR was designed and developed from the ground up for the VR platform. When we decided to develop for a VR platform, we were looking for gameplay that would be easier to connect with the player when expecting a horror game.
Our first idea was like jump scare fiesta, like a reality horror TV show’s “dare challenge game” with people just sitting in some abandoned hospital trying to find a ghostly apparition, or something like that. Then, we thought the player would get bored easily when they’re put in this situation. So, we needed to find another game mechanic that would incorporate the player into the fun play. It’s VR game, after all.
So, we moved into a direction where we needed to add some gameplay mechanics, taking reference from Job Simulator and Cooking Mama gameplay and mixing it with total VR horror experiences. So there we have it, 70%ritual gameplay and 30% horror experiences on DreadEye VR.
What thoughts go into making a frightening monster? What aspects are key in making something that
creates fear in the player?
Well the defaults of Indonesian ghosts are quite scary enough, actually (at least for us).
One of our rules for creating fear is to put something out-of-the-ordinary into an ordinary place or setting. Expect the unexpected sort of thing. The rest of our rules involve things like the audio, monster design, environments, and setting, which have similar aspects across the horror genre, generally.
Coming off of DreadOut, what did you feel was different in making a VR horror game instead of a
traditional one. What parts were more challenging? What things were easier to do?
To be honest, DreadEye VR was started as an experiment in 2014, while we were still developing DreadOut.
While half of other team was working on our next traditional title, we decided to start putting all of our VR research and try to commercialize it within only 5 months of active development.
As for VR development, the easier part was that it was still the horror genre. Some of the challenging parts were keeping up with the VR technology itself and finding the right gameplay (not to mention transitioning from our previous Unity engine into Unreal). Also, I wasn’t sure if people would able to invest dozens of hours playing games on VR platform in comparison to a more traditional format. So, the challenging part was making a solid 1-3 hour VR gameplay experience, compared with traditional title that required at least 6 hours of single player gameplay.