In theory, echolocation is a beautiful way to experience the world. In practice, there is something unnerving about only knowing what is immediately around you, and only if you make a sound. Therein lies Lurking, one of many indie games on display at the SXSW Gaming Expo in Austin.
Game development sprang from lead designer Dexter Chng’s decision to experiment with sound as a gaming mechanic.
“That was the genesis of the idea,” explained Justin Ng, of Gattai Games. “It started out with exploration.”
Justin, Dexter, and a few other students at the DigiPen Institute of Technology in Singapore, made Lurking as a senior project. What began innocently changed toward the morose when the color scheme changed from shades of pink in design phases to the stark black and white of the (nearly) finished.
The resulting survival horror game allows players to explore their environment a few feet at a time, with each sound – from footsteps, to radios, to (with a good microphone) the players own breath.
“The problem with just using sound, essentially you lose the idea of using light to guide your way,” Justin said. “You want to see stuff, but you don’t want to make too much noise and get caught.”
The trick, he explained, was finding a balance between players getting lost in the gameworld and players being unable to find their way back. Small cues were used to help guide players, like strategically placed tape recorders or faulty light bulbs.
The idea is a fun one, and one ready for exploration, so some of Lurking‘s designers joined a few more game creators to found Gattai Games and develop their previous game’s spiritual successor: Stifled.
Justin has high hopes for the game, although he said the team is still considering funding options while they complete it. He doesn’t want to put part of the game online only to have players disappointed with something still cooking.
Here’s looking for interesting things in Gattai’s future.