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[AltWire Interview] ‘237’ // GameDevOverdose

Fans of ‘The Shining’ have for the longest time imagined exploring the halls of the infamous Overlook Hotel – and thanks to GameDevOverdose, this is now a possibility!

Continuing our collaboration with Bad Ghosts, we here at AltWire are delighted to welcome GameDevOverdose and composer Befly discuss their work on the newest fan/indie adaptation of ‘The Shining’ – ‘237’!

AltWire: Hi! Thanks so much for taking the time to answer some questions about the game, and of course congratulations for the recent launch of 237! First off, what would you say first kickstarted the desire to see ‘The Shining’ realized in video game form?

GameDevOverdose: Honestly to me the idea of The Shining and mixing it with an element of endlessness kind of like P.T and The Shining’s ending, seemed kind of fascinating, so I think that kind of kick-started the game.

Befly: Thank you, it’s a pleasure to have a chat! I was not a part of the equation when the work started, GameDevOverdose then invited me to help him out midway through. I did soundtracks for games before, but it was my first proper 3D title and I had a lot of ideas that I wanted to try out so I accepted without hesitation.

AW: As noted in the Bad Ghosts review, it’s immediately clear that the look of the game was designed to match the feel and style of the Overlook Hotel’s depiction in the film, were there any challenges or processes you needed to overcome to achieve this? 

GameDevOverdose: Since this was my first 3D game, it was a little bit hard for me to get used to 3D Modelling, Texturing, Lighting but what was really hard for me to get right was the Rendering Style & Post Processing, and it took several attempts to get them just right to create a very grounded and in a way; realistic look. I think the way the camera moves and behaves also plays a huge role into cementing the strange dream like feel of the game.

Befly: It was infinitely fun recreating audio from the film. The budget was non-existent so we had to make do with what we had. Though still it was less of a question of sound design and more of a problem of pacing. Pacing was the hardest thing to nail and there are still evident problems with that. To help the situation the music was made procedural, as we constructed systems that would tune instruments and out during gameplay to create a feeling of an organically evolving soundtrack, and the unpredictable nature of The Shining OST made it easy to hide the seams of audio-files.

AW: In a reply to the aforementioned review, you commented that the game was initially developed with the intention of submitting it to a horror festival – aside from a time constraint, how else would you say the deadline affected your development process?  

GameDevOverdose: While writing the script I was a little bit confident that I could get the game done in the given timeframe, So honestly there was not really much of a change when it came to the Designing, Direction and Development processes.

Befly: Yes it was a gamejam, and to add to the pressure we joined at the last possible opportunity a few months before the due date. Deadlines make everything go faster, I could not recommend enough adding deadlines even to your personal projects, or else they will drag for years. That were some tense sleepless months of development and I loved every second of it. But unfortunately for some it also affected our goals for the game. It could have been a more rounded up project with more focus and polish, as we had to make a lot of compromises and many fans were left disappointed and I can’t blame them. Moreover, we got disqualified for not making it in time, but we saw this one coming.

AW: Atmosphere and tension offers an extremely crucial element to what made Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of ‘The Shining’ so effective; were there any particular moments of the film you were proud to see realized in the game, or perhaps some that you would have liked to implement that were left out?

GameDevOverdose: In terms of any specific scenes that I was proud of; there are none. But overall if I have to say, I am a bit proud of the way the Game looks, feels and sounds. If I were to implement something from the movie, I would include some scenes related to the Gold Room and The Bar.

Befly: Man I can’t really choose. The sisters scene probably. It had many technical problems which were really fun to solve and add to my toolkit, like spatial audio that directs the players vision towards a place where the sisters are about to show up, synchronizing lamp sounds to the animation and trying to blend film audio with the original score.

From the scenes that I would want to expand would be the actual room 237 that you encounter in Act 3, I got to it almost at the last minute and many ideas were sadly left out.

AW: With ‘The Shining’ being such a beloved staple of horror – not only through cinema, but also the original novel of course – were there any reservations or concerns that came up during the development process?

GameDevOverdose: From the start of the project I wanted 237 to feel different to the movie in the way the story is presented to the player and I was a little bit concerned that people would compare it to The Shining a lot, even though it is a separate thing from the movie; only taking a based story and making something different out of it.

Befly: There were, and I was thinking about it all the time. I knew full well we could upset a lot of people by doing this. But I was telling myself that we did the same thing that Kubrick did (how dare I say that!). We took the original work and made something to represent our vision of it, be it a little rough around the edges. I was bracing for the worst, and was surprised by the amount of people who enjoyed the experience. So in the end it was worth it, as I had the ability to speak to many nice fans and interesting people, like you.

AW: To again touch on the gnarly, twisted atmosphere of some of the film’s most recognizable scares – how much would you say the ‘237’ development process might influence the next Game Dev Overdose title?

GameDevOverdose: I learned a lot while making this game, in terms of the technical process I don’t think there will be a much of a change, but in terms of the Direction, writing and designing, there would be a huge influence.

Befly: It will influence it a lot. We had a very overwhelming amount of feedback and learned a lot of valuable lessons. We will cherish and carry this experience into our next projects.

AW: Following on from the previous question, is there perhaps a sneak peek at all to what the next GameDevOverdose project might be? 

GameDevOverdose: I am working on a Slow-Burn Emotional Narrative Experience, other than that I can’t reveal anything.

Befly: I’m not the one to answer this question 😀 But what I can say is that we are currently searching for a 3D artist to join our little team.

AW: One last question from us… if you were stepping into the shoes of Danny Torrance in the world of ‘237’, how do you think you would fare?

GameDevOverdose: I think I would probably go insane by the First Act.

Befly: Honestly I think Danny in the film is a much smarter kid that I was back then, I would not survive the hotel. Though “237” would be the opposite. Psychological trauma is impossible to overcome alone, and I am lucky that I have a lot of supportive friends who made the journey of game development possible for me, so I would say “Screw you, Jack! I have the power of friendship!”.

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M. Stoneman

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