Grave developer talks survival horror, Oculus VR, Kickstarter

A group of Tempe-based developers has launched a Kickstarter campaign for Grave, an open-world survival horror title with randomized gameplay and surrealistic elements.

Tristan Parrish Moore, creative director, spoke with Arizona Gamer about Grave, its use of Oculus Rift, the Facebook buyout, and Kickstarter campaigns as a whole.

“We’ve heard people refer to Grave as Alan Wake meets Amnesia,” he said in an interview with Arizona Gamer. “It’s a reasonable comparison.”

The project has until April 27 to raise $30,000, which would be used to speed the game’s development and allow for a release date in early 2015.

Parrish Moore leads a team of five who have worked on the game in their spare time since January 2013 when it started as a submission in the Global Game Jam. Grave was featured at The Mix during GDC 2014 and the positive response there inspired the Kickstarter campaign, Parrish Moore said.

“We want to move into full-time production with the Kickstarter funds,” Parrish Moore said. “We can definitely do it in our spare time—that’s what we’ve been doing—but we’d be doing it for two or three more years.”

Grave’s gameplay centers around a day-night cycle, with day time play allowing the player to explore the world and fortify locations in order to better defend against the creatures that come out at night. Once the sun sets, the player must use various sources of light in order to fend off the creatures until daybreak. Some creatures might be killed by a mere flashlight while others will only be slowed by the brightest of fires.

Parrish Moore explained some of the inspiration for Grave’s gameplay: “We are huge fans of games like Amnesia. But most of those games don’t let you engage in complex interactions with the creatures—it’s very much about hiding or running.”

He continued: “What sets Grave apart from other survival horror games is using tools and weapons—but unconventional ones.”

Grave also features randomization in both environment and enemies. The game’s terrain is randomized each time the sun rises, allowing for more exploration and discovery during the day. At night, the creatures attack patterns and numbers are always different.

Parrish Moore said randomization helps keep players from becoming too powerful through memorization and repetition.

“There’s a point in other horror games where realize you’re the scariest thing in the game,” he said. “We’re trying to use that dynamic of unpredictability to make sure to keep players on their toes.”

Grave has supported the Oculus Rift since mid-2013, Parrish Moore said, and the team is committed to making virtual reality a staple of the game.

“We love virtual reality as just a general concept,” he said. “We don’t see it as a gimmick.”

The team was surprised by the news of Facebook buying Oculus Rift for $2 billion.

“Like most people, our initial reaction was ‘Really?’” Parrish Moore said. “It’s hard to understand what Facebook plans to do with it. But I think there’s a positive side to it too.”

He said the Facebook purchase could potentially create a new market for virtual reality. He added that he isn’t worried about Facebook trying to change the direction of the Oculus platform.

“When Facebook bought Oculus, they bought something that was already established. There’s no indication Facebook will change that,” Parrish Moore said.

Parrish Moore also addressed the issue of Kickstarter donators feeling betrayed by the Oculus sale. He said that while contributors are not technically investors, campaign supporters often do feel connected to a company to which they donate.

“It’s kind of hard to see your baby grow up and get a job you didn’t want them to, but Kickstarter allows a lot of amazing things to happen,” he said. “In our case, we need Kickstarter backers to make the game.”

More than 100 backers had already pledged more than 10 percent of the project’s goal by March 31. Parrish Moore said he believes the goal is reachable with the help of the Kickstarter community.

“We’re really excited about the response we’ve had so far,” he said. We just decided we wanted to go for it and make this game the way we wanted it to be.”

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