HOW TRUE HORROR IS BORN: THE 5-YEAR DEVELOPMENT CHALLENGE BEHIND GAMING’S SCARIEST ENTITY

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Song of Horror started when the creators of the game graduated from college and thought what to do next. They had always been in love with the horror classics. “We loved video games. We specially loved horror games, those old school classics. We enjoyed playing Resident Evil, Silent Hill, Project Zero… and that’s how the idea of working on a similar game grew on us”, explain the devs. The result of those five years will be shown this Halloween when the first two episodes of Song of Horror release on Steam.

During these five years, Song of Horror has gone through massive changes from the original idea. For example, each character has a unique set of attributes to make them stand from each other. Cameras at each of the five scenarios have been set in specific locations to maximize the horror atmosphere. And, of course, The Presence has evolved during these years to become a horrifying entity that adapts to each player’s behavior, scaring and threatening them thanks to all sorts of unique events scattered throughout the map.

They wanted to create a game built on two haunting pillars. “We wanted the player to feel defenseless and we wanted to play with permadeath”, says Protocol Games. That’s why players won’t have weapons in Song of Horror and will have to defend themselves from The Presence using nothing but their wits. As for the permadeath, the idea was “to tell a story with a main character and a bunch of supporting characters that could shape that story. We love the idea of having characters instead of lives so, when a character dies, you lose him or her forever”.

But the very thing that separates Song of Horror from other horror games is The Presence. Creating an AI that recognizes the pace and rhythm of players hasn’t been an easy task. Quite the opposite. But as Protocol Games devs explain, it has been as difficult as creating scripted scary moments: “Scripted scares are easy to code, but it’s difficult to measure its impact in the game: you don’t know how long it will take a player to reach that point in the map so, perhaps, he or she can get bored easily and abandon the game”.

What about scaring the player through artificial intelligence? According to Protocol Games, it has its difficulties, like being able to calibrate it so the game scares you at the right time —opposed to doing it on a cutscene, for example—. “It had to meet two goals: to be fun and to be able to happen anywhere. There’s that tentacle in Dead Space that grabs you in the corridor. It is easy to make it fun because the dev always controls when it’s going to happen. But we want something to happen at every single place in the map“.

Having an AI as The Presence means that players won’t experience two exact gameplays in Song of Horror. And that’s why Protocol Games believes Song of Horror will mark a new beginning in the genre. And remember, Song of Horror episodes 1 & 2 will be released on Halloween, October 31st on Steam. The following ones will appear on December, January and March.

SPOOKY CHARACTERISTICS

  • Investigate a paranormal mystery in a thrilling story of psychological horror spawning through five episodes
  • Beware the Presence, an eldritch entity with its own AI that reacts to your actions and decisions in a non-scripted horror experience
  • Choose between a group of 13 unique characters: each character brings its own point of view and has a different relation to the story and other characters
  • You may die, but the horror continues: death is permanent – when a character dies, it’s gone…
  • …but the next one will follow the investigation from where the deceased left it: the world will be shaped by their previous actions
  • Explore haunted, sinister locations to gather clues and items that will help you solve challenging puzzles while enduring the agonizing tension of the game’s atmosphere