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Hey everyone, this is Dusk Golem aka AestheticGamer, or you can just call me Ryan. I'm 24-years old, about to turn 25 actually as my birthday is on the 11th of July (7-11, ohohoho...), and I do a variety of things online. Today I specifically am going to be talking about myself as a game developer.
First, some history. I first learned making games was possible when I was 10 years old in later 2001, and a friend introduced me to a little program known as Games Factory. I loved the hell out of it, I taught myself the program more and more and made little dorky projects for myself. They involved using sprites and engines I found off the internet to modify and work with for my own ends. Never released a single one, except embarrassingly for a Shadow the Hedgehog fangame I released in early 2006 at the ripe age of 14 I titled, "Shadow the Hedgehog: Symbols of Destiny".
But I've had ambitions to make games ever since I was 10. I did really push myself to learn more, I bought and borrowed several of those game development books and followed them for a while. I tried to motivate myself for a long period of time, but I fell into that self-feeding hole of pessimism where I would be more excited for the idea behind a game that actually developing it. I was in a rut for a few years of just not really making anything, despite the fact that I wanted to. I have notebooks full of ideas, sketches, how it would work, but didn't have anything to show for it.
The first small breakthrough I made was in 2013, where I pushed myself to make a game in 48 hours for Ludum Dare (a game development jam with a limited time period and a theme, the theme for this particular Ludum Dare ended up being minimalism), and I made the game Blank Slate, which you can find here.
Blank Slate taught me a lot of things, despite being an incredibly limited game and having only worked on it for less than 48 hours. Firstly, it was my first experience making music ever. The project required you to make everything from scratch yourself, so I worked hard and made some music. It was... Honestly, the music wasn't that good, but I proved to myself I could do it if I tried, it was a possible thing. I also unintentionally sort of figured out what kind of games I liked making.
I have been becoming a bigger horror enthusiast since 2007, when I played Resident Evil 4. Before then, I was a huge scaredy-cat and I was convinced I could never like horror, since I was scared shitless by it. I was so convinced I was too afraid of these things, that such obvious pointers that I actually liked it (I loved Goosebumps as a kid, Courage the Cowardly Dog was one of my favorite cartoons as a kid, Halloween was always my favorite holiday and I loved ghost stories, etc.) eluded me. I even have a memory of getting my first console as a kid from my grandmother for my birthday, the Dreamcast as it were, with a collection of games she had gotten by getting the console cheap from a neighbor of hers who's kids had gone off to college and left it behind. In the collection was Resident Evil 2, which I had heard Resident Evil was a horror game, so I literally threw the disc out to the garbage. It would of course, later be Resident Evil that would start my kick onto horror and would expand to further games in the genre, films, novels, etc. Because of my late-blooming interest in horror, I kind of consumed many of the series backwards; an example, I played the Silent Hill series almost literally backwards, starting with Shattered Memories, following up with Homecoming, then I played Silent Hill 4, then 2, then 3, then 1, etc. At this point in time I've played literally hundreds of horror games, ranging from everything from Resident Evil: Dead aim to WhiteDay: A Labyrinth Named School, Parasite Eve to Zaphie 2, my interest and taste in the genre has become very broad.
I solidified what taste I had in game development in my late 2013 Halloween title for an RPGMaker.net contest with Girl's Graveyard, which you can play an expanded version (without copyright issues as well) of in the Close Your Eyes Goodie Bag DLC. Girl's Graveyard was developed with the idea of making a cursed game; this idea is a bit more common now with things like Pony Island and CALENDULA, but back then it was something not seen very often. I based it loosely off of an old 1980s game by Yuji Naka known as Girl's Garden, and went on to make the progressively more twisted tale of a Girl collecting candy for a boy she loves on Halloween. It.. Got almost no attention at all, but I was quite proud of it!
Then in early 2014, Ludum Dare came around again, and I made Close Your Eyes. I was beginning to get a better feel for making these short projects, and I decided I wanted to make games I wish existed. I was limited still in severe ways as a developer, but somehow I could at least make something, and I wanted to grow what I could do and make the sort of things I wish other people were making, in my own limited way. The original version of Close Your Eyes had a lot of flaws however, and a year later in April of 2015, I reworked it and made a Redux version of Close Your Eyes.
For the first time since I had started making games, a game I made received some attention. It wasn't a smash-out hit or anything, but I had actual feedback from people who had actually played the game. More surprising, people actually liked it! Up until now I was completely self-sufficient and just working off of a central global drive, I didn't actually think my games had any sort of appeal beyond myself maybe. But I received some messages from people who played it, a few medium-small YouTubers played it, and I both could hear people's opinion on something I made, as well as see others actually play it. It was then I decided to do an experiment. A couple years prior I bought the Steam Greenlight $100 pass thing in the off chance I ever decided to make anything, and this was before Greenlight's recent reputation drop due to some shady developers, so I was incredibly nervous and submitted my game to Greenlight, Close Your Eyes, with a promise I'd add more content from the Redux version if it went through Steam. I even did something I'm completely unnatural at and tried to contact a few indie game sites, YouTubers... But I guess I never had to, since surprisingly the game got through Greenlight in 10 days with surprisingly positive response. Many of the sites and YouTubers didn't get back to me (I don't remember who, but I recall a particularly nasty email I got from one of them asking what was in it for them, and to never contact them again, calling me an amateurish prick for even thinking of asking something of him with nothing in return for him), but a few got back, and to my surprise again, many of them actually enjoyed it.
I got to work on the 'Final Expansion' version of CYE and released it on Steam. It had flaws, but I'm kind of weird and think the flaws are part of the game at heart. Stuff to learn for from the next project, but they were part of the game's DNA. And while I was met with a fair share of negative reviews on release (many people with 0.1 hours of playtime, leaving such colorful reviews as, "no," and, "on the first screen i knew this is like the free ♥♥♥♥♥♥-psycho-horror genre's ET it plays like a cheap trick and looks worse into the "incest/murder/2spooky/:^)" bin it goes." And not to discredit criticism, after a period of time some actual responses started coming, some glowing, and some with critiques that were insightful and most certainly a formulated opinion from playing it. But maybe to my further surprise, the response to the game got more positive as time went on.
There's more to this story, a lot more in fact, but I wanted to open with that long bit of history to bring up Red Haze, its meaning to me, and where I'm going. Firstly, if you haven't yet, you can find Red Haze's Steam Store page here:
Red Haze is my current project, and the last freeware project I'll be doing for a while (not my last ever though, most certainly). It's both similar but also very different from what I have made previously. Some of you also may know this game as, "the game that was delayed from April to August." I'll get to that, but first let me explain what Red Haze is.
Red Haze, at its heart, is a project that came into being when a friend named Sandy approached me with her own dreams of making games. She helped conceptualize the project, but unfortunately her own life things caught up with her and she's only checked in every once in a while. However, this project would not be what it is without her assistance. The core of the game was decided between the two of us, as well as it being a loose retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, and she created Rockette's design and we both worked out her personality and the seediness of her and her situations together. Red Haze is a horror game that focuses on the pits and cracks of society through a surreal lens, and is designed to be like a root, in that the game is short, but playing through it once, you'll experience less than 10% of what the game has to offer. Your actions, decisions, and a lot more subtle things change the course of your game. The sort of game where 5 people could play through, and then discuss afterwards and have experienced completely different things, and not made to be played through simply once. It has a lot of tricks up its sleeve, things I'm not willing to discuss at this point at time.
And its been delayed a lot. The honest reason is I just haven't been working on it as much as I would of liked to. Lots of life things have come up in the last year, and it's only been getting worse. My dad was laid off of a business he own due to some corrupt investors and he's having to go to court for it, and it's been effecting a lot of the immediate family, myself included. I took on way too much and recently went to the emergency room for severe pain that seems to have come from strained muscles around my heart due to stress. I've had some personal relationship stuff come up recently, both good and bad, have had to work harder on my YouTube channel recently, and add to this money concerns, I have a trip to go to my sister's graduation in less than a month... basically, a lot has been going on. But also in some ways I've been honestly a bit lazy.
But Red Haze I am setting as a goal to 100% finish before August 31st, a year since Close Your Eyes released on Steam. I'm working hard to meet that date. I want to release it, I think it's a better showcase for what I want to do with games than anything I've released previously. It has some flaws, but I also legitimately think there's no other games quite like it. That's not to say it's a wholly original thing, but it's the sort of game I would love to have with a lot of controversial design decisions; There are no Gameovers, there is a shit ton of choice, the experience in a single run will be fairly short, there's only a single save file, the game has a female protagonist that can be sexualized based on players actions, I could go on and on. There is reason behind every decision, and I'll be interested to see how the game goes down with people, positive or negative. But I'm also somewhat limiting my vision I realize, because it's a freeware project and I'm starting to become in a do or die situation where I either start making money doing this, or else I'll have to make this a much more regulated hobby to what I do otherwise to stay afloat.
As some of you may know, I have started development also on a sequel to Close Your Eyes. I don't want to say too much, but the sequel out of all things was inspired by the old 1930s cartoon, Swing You Sinners, but I have a lot of surprises in store for that one. Behind the scenes, I've also started work on a couple other projects you will see with time. I am incredibly excited for all of them, but many are far off, outside of Red Haze.
Still, I want you to understand who I am and where I'm coming from. I think we live in an age where too many people just aren't... Either they aren't transparent, or they put on a facade to do something behind the scenes. There comes more and more news of people doing shady things behind the scenes of YouTubers, Game Developers, and this whole scene, that I want to make who I am and my intent crystal clear. I can be a bit shy and to myself sometimes, but I am working towards trying to be more transparent. Partially because I think it's best for me, best for you guys... Just, best for everyone really. And I think it's interesting. Here I am a limited developer with big dreams who also does other internet gaming stuff regularly, I post on NeoGAF often, I stream often, I host a medium-small YouTube channel, I buy and play games off Steam regularly. I just think... Well, I'm not all that different from anyone else who has passion, and in continuing to create these games, I want you all to enjoy them. I wish I could release all of them for free, hell I'm even debating if there's a way I can make this work while keeping myself afloat like that, but I'm not certain yet.
We live in an era where anyone can make a game and release it on Steam. I don't want to be some crappy shady developer. But I'm just myself, and I guess with that all I can do is just be honest about myself with you guys. I'll continue to make the things I want to make, I do have big dreams and a passion for this. I hope to improve, and I hope you all enjoy Red Haze when it does come out, as well as future projects I have in the works. This was definitely a wall of text, but I appreciate anyone who took the time to read this, hope you learned a few things about me and why Red Haze might be a bit delayed, and I am going to try my best to answer all questions and comments. It will take some work from me, but that's the type of developer I want to strive to be, and the type I think I can and want to be.
Almost 10 months after release, and over 9 months since the last update, we suddenly have a Close Your Eyes update again! Hooray! But, hmn... I wonder why? What's this update for exactly?
Well, if you want to find out, you better be prepared to CLOSE... YOUR... EYES... Once more. Then you'll really start seeing~
Also, if you hadn't noticed, the DLC Goodie Bag with the additional 1-2 hour gameplay scenario (plus the soundtrack and artwork collection) is on sale again for the first time in half a year for the Summer Sale: http://store.steampowered.com/app/377420
Have a good day!
“Close Your Eyes should be limited by its visuals, but the indistinct shapes and weird images slowly dial up the terror. Looking at screenshots for Close Your Eyes had me thinking it would be silly and ineffective, but through perfect use of unnerving sound and some twisted, surprising visuals, it easily left me frightened, unsure whether I should be playing it at night.”
“More than startle, the game bothers me. The simple graphics and minimalist design (...) create a very oppressive atmosphere. The sound of the game is also quite bizarre, contributing to the immersion in the oddities of the universe proposed on the screen.”
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