Afterdream Developer Interview: What Inspired the Unique 2D Horror Game? interview
Jesse Makkonen is a game developer from Finland who is best known for his work on the DISTRAINT series and Heal. He is currently working on Afterdream, a psychological 2D horror adventure game.
What was the inspiration behind the creation of Afterdream?
Before Afterdream I was creating a game called The Telos Monument. Unfortunately, I burned myself with it. So, I took some time off, and once I restored some of the lost energy, I decided to create something smaller yet very polished. Since I struggled with The Telos Monument development, I decided I wouldn't want to "limit" myself anyhow, so I chose to have a dreamlike setting. A setting where anything is possible would give me more room to go in any direction I'd feel I want the story to go.
I don't have any specific, clear inspiration. Instead, it's the sum of everything I've experienced, watched, played, listened to, etc.
What's the story that Afterdream tells?
In Afterdream, you get lost in a lucid dream. A dream that feels too real to be just a dream. You end up in a mysterious residence hosted by ghosts.
You've lost someone dear to you, and somehow, this place links to it.
What was the development process like for this game?
The development is still ongoing. But so far, it has been a blast. I was initially going to make a very short game, targeting around one hour of gameplay. Even though Afterdream isn't going to be a long game, it will be more than that, likely around 2-3 hours.
I'm going solo, so it's a balancing act. It's fun but, at times, very demanding. It's hard to be super-efficient all the time, so there are days I don't get as much done as I'd like. It's the little details that take lots of time! But yeah, I've enjoyed developing Afterdream, and I believe it shows.
How was the game's unique art style developed?
I'm quite proud of the art style; it looks nice and fits the world well. Coming up with a unique art style isn't an easy task. In essence, Afterdream is pixel art. I've painted almost all the art assets as pixel art, using bold texturizing, but using various shaders brings a unique touch to the style. Afterdream is a hybrid between pixel art and low-resolution art.
What was the motivation for making a 2D game?
I've only ever created 2D games. I'm curious about creating something 3D in the future, though! With 2D, though, I feel right at home, which is crucial since I'm a solo dev and can't afford to lose too much time practicing new skills at the moment.
How did the idea come about to use a camera to interact with objects in the game?
My games are essentially so-called walking simulators. Afterdream was going to be one as well; in a way, it still is. However, I wanted to add more gameplay, so I had to come up with a gameplay mechanic. The camera isn't the most original idea, but it suits the world and brings that much-needed variety to the gameplay.
What is the goal with the game's music and sound design?
Atmosphere, atmosphere, and atmosphere! The atmosphere is the single most crucial aspect of my games, and Afterdream is no exception.
Why was a minimalist interface chosen?
I'm not a big fan of complicated user interfaces. Gameplay-wise, Afterdream is a relatively simple game and doesn't require a flashy UI.
What was the experience like of making a game entirely in Finland?
Oh, I've been doing that for the past nine years now. It's great. Living is quite expensive in Finland, but when I started creating games, I started a company and got this "start-money." It wasn't much, but it helped pay the rent when I developed my first game, Silence of the Sleep. After the release, I've been able to work as a full-time game dev, self-funding my creations.
What atmosphere are you going for with Afterdream?
Mysterious, oppressive, scary, beautiful, touching, and occasionally funny.
In general, what are your thoughts on horror games?
There is too much gore and there are not enough great, atmospheric story-driven games. Don't get me wrong, I like occasional gore and gory stuff, but the story and atmosphere are more important to me.
What do you think makes Afterdream stand out from other horror games?
Atmosphere, art style, and the audio, at the very least. I hope the story will hit it home, and people will remember the game long after they've finished it.
What was your favorite part of developing this game?
It's difficult to say, but it's likely composing the music and adding audio. Doing this always brings my game alive and inspires me to do more. Though, drawing art and putting the assets in the game work similarly. It's hard to say, really!
Afterdream is a 2D horror game with a unique camera-based gameplay mechanic. The main protagonist is caught in a nightmare world and must use a camera to interact with objects and solve puzzles. The game features a minimalist interface and an atmospheric soundtrack. Coming in 2023, you can follow the latest through Jesse's Twitter, or wishlist the game on the Afterdream Steam page.