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Indonesia May Be Developing the Next Great Horror Game

And the developers are hoping it's a chance to put the country on the map for serious game development.

When one thinks about where the next great horror game is coming from, it’s probably not Indonesia. But it’s possible that might change with DreadOut, a love letter to Fatal Frame, when it arrives this month.

A team of roughly 20 developers in Bandung, Indonesia are in the midst of finishing work on DreadOut.

You might remember DreadOut because of its splashy, terrifying playable demo from more than a year ago. I checked out the demo on Spookin’ With Scoops way back when, and even revisited the demo on last week’s show. Only having a camera to fight the undead remains a terrifying setup for a game, quickly paralyzing the player.

Bali is the most well-known island in Indonesia, as it’s home to the country’s largest tourist population. DreadOut developer Digital Happiness is located in Bandung, situated to the west of Bali.

Not long after the demo’s release, Digital Happiness sought a modest $25,000 in funding on Indiegogo. The crowdfunding campaign made it slightly over the mark, drumming up $29,067. The reason Digital Happiness went the crowdfunding route was because it was the studio’s best option.

“It's quite funny that we're the first Indonesian game developer that succeeded in crowd funding,” said producer Rachmad Imron in an email. “There's no such thing as a games industry in Indonesia--it's still in its developing stage. There's no such thing like grants from the government to develop a game.”

That’s not entirely true, though. There are plenty of mobile and casual games coming out of Indonesia, but Digital Happiness couldn’t find anyone willing to fund its vision for a video game.

“Others pushed us to change the horror theme that we brought with DreadOut,” he said. “That would hurt our vision, so we decided to do it ourselves.”

While Fatal Frame is a large thematic and mechanic touchstone for DreadOut, Imron cited Japanese horror--Ju-on, Dark Water, Ringu--and a whole assortment of video games--Dark Souls, Clock Tower, Silent Hill, Rule of Rose, Castlevania--as primary influences on the creation of DreadOut.

In DreadOut, a group of high school students make the classic horror mistake of wandering away from the recommended path during a vacation. Upon stumbling upon an old and deserted town, bad stuff starts to happen. Bad stuff involving ghosts. Fortunately, the main character, Linda, begins to recognize her control over a strange power that allows her to combat the strange creatures with various cameras.

Less than 20 people are working on DreadOut, a game that’s in its final development sprint.

DreadOut was originally pegged as “the Indonesian horror,” though Digital Happiness now refers to the game as “third-person supernatural horror.” A less interesting tagline but potentially more accurate.

“We don't want people seeing us as trying to hard to get that ‘Indonesian’ thing in our game,” said Imron.

Digital Happiness hopes games like DreadOut will encourage non-mobile and casual development in Indonesia.

That might stem from DreadOut sharing so many similarities with established Asian horror tropes, like creepy women with long, black hair. Indonesia is part of Southeast Asia, and the region’s urban legends and myths share similarities with what we already associate with Asian media.

“We think there's still a lot more to explore and the difference between them is very interesting,” he said.

In developing the story, the team has drawn on the ghost stories they all heard while growing up. And while Digital Happiness hasn’t experienced anything supernatural or weird while making the game, Imron quickly pointed to how supernatural phenomenon is embedded in Indonesian culture, even today.

“In some regions, it's actually common to see a headline in a newspaper saying ‘School Struck by Mass Possession.’” he said. “At a local convention, while we were presenting our game, there was a creepy guy watching us. He offered help on opening our ‘sixth’ sense, to gain the ability to see djinn and supernatural beings in order to get an accurate version for our game ghost designs. Naturally, we refused the offer politely.”

Even though Digital Happiness has no interest in making mobile or social games, Imron hopes the success of those games brings more money and interest in game development to Indonesia.

"There's no such thing as a games industry in Indonesia--it's still in its developing stage."

“We have a lot of good human resources but most of them went abroad because there’s no game industry in Indonesia, but we hope this will change soon,” he said.

Later this month, we’ll find out if DreadOut can move the needle. Even if it doesn’t, maybe it can scare the hell out of us. And if nothing else, maybe it encourages some people to learn more about Indonesia.

“Our food is hot, spicy, but cheap,” said Imron. “The living cost is also relatively cheap. The traffic is awful in major cities. Oh, and over here, mosquito is your biggest enemy.”

Patrick Klepek on Google+
50 Comments
Posted by Flavbot

You're just pumping out stories, keep em coming!

Posted by DavoTron

maybe it can scare the hell out of is.

Scare the hell out of us?

Also, totally looking forward to this. Demo needed work, so I'm looking forward to the finished thing!

Edited by MeAuntieNora

Great article... really looking forward to this game, and I can already appreciate the unique perspective being applied to a well-worn genre.

Would love to visit the place some day as well... hot, spicy, cheap food? Sign me up.

I love the anecdote about the creepy guy.

Posted by blacklab

Indies from Indo?

Edited by bakkelun

Alma says hello.

Posted by kalnet101

As a Malaysian, I'm really looking forward to this!

Posted by JonnyAshley

I think the "Indonesian" aspect is actually the thing that I'm drawn to. I've seen this game's horror tropes reused over a million times, but a unique environment can really make a difference in a worn out genre (see driving on the left side of the road in sleeping dogs). I'm a lot more excited for the mountainous outdoor locales which make the game Indonesian, than I am for the "asylum/dormitory" sections.

Edited by GaspoweR

Rooting for these guys! I grew up in a neighboring country to Indonesia and I hope that they actually do reference a lot of the local folk lore in the actual game.

Also mosquitos in general are a nuisance (the "outdoor enemy") in the Southeast Asian region. Mosquito repellent or long pants are your friend.

Posted by thaijedi

As someone from Thailand, I'm very excited to see South East Asian countries come to the table when it comes to original game development not just outsourcing.

Posted by SkipperSonne

I second that, for some reason after hearing it is from somewhere new and that some of that may make it into the game makes me take a second look at it. Looking forward to the Spookin' on it at least.

Routine is the horror game I'm looking forward to the most, second to Alien.

Posted by Danteveli

Good to see the game getting love from Patrick. Its really cool title with great atmosphere and I wish the creators best.

Edited by sub_o

As an Indonesian, hell yeah! Indonesia does have some weird horror stories. I'm waiting for stories like Pontianak, the spirit of dead pregnant woman, that according to the tales, she appears in woods while holding her baby and brushing its head.

Posted by ajroo

Thats the real beauty of the internet. Allowing people from almost anywhere on the planet to gather the resources to create and build their dreams.

You should see the game being built by the giant heads on Easter Island. The totally killed their kickstarter.

Edited by ronaldhendrata

Thanks for this interview piece Partick. As an Indonesian, I am very happy to have my fellow countrymen who managed to get this game out have a spotlight in giant bomb. i cannot wait to play the game. Hoping to see you play it in spookin with scoops or at least a quicklook of it. Thanks again for the great work Scoops!

Posted by TheRich_xo

Cool, definitely will keep my eye on this.

Edited by LoktarOgar

Bali's not a city bro, it's an island.

Posted by Jertje

Looks absolutely terrifying... also Bali is an island, not a city ;)

Posted by civid

Looks great. I'm too terrified of scary faces to play this (I still haven't seen The Grudge or really any Japanese horror... My guess is it's not nearly as scary as I make it out to be, but fuck scary faces!), but I'm glad it's being made

Posted by 2kings

This reminds me of Fatal Frame a little. That game was terrifying.

Posted by Steadying

Most of the cutscenes I've seen look really rough and goofy, but the gameplay and scares look legitimately great. Can't wait to see the finished game.

Online
Posted by Hamst3r

GO, INDONESIA! :D

Posted by Bezieh

Ctrl+F: Outlast, I'm impressed it wasn't mentioned in the article or the comments. But now it is.

Posted by DieHappyGames

Bad name, terrible narration in the trailer, but the game itself looks like it will be genuinely scary. It's too bad they decided to go the "highschool kids discover Silent Hill" route - could have been much more abstract with their story for better results.

Posted by SingingMenstrual

@2kings said:

This reminds me of Fatal Frame a little. That game was terrifying.

Was it.............. fatally, terrifying?

Fatally? No? Ok.

Posted by OneKillWonder_

Nice read. I like the way this game looks from what I saw on Spookin'. Maybe DreadOut will be The Raid of horror games and put Indonesia on the map. It does look genuinely scary.

Posted by DasaKamov

@diehappygames: Yeah, the trailer in this article is pretty cheesy -- basically following the "In a world where..." movie-trailer-trope -- but the OTHER two trailers (especially the minimalist one with the lady singing about sending djinni and devils to reap your soul) are pretty chilling.

Posted by TheHumanDove

Why no influence from deadly premonition?

Edited by EuanDewar

Haven't read the article yet but the title is pretty funny. Reminds me of "This May Be the Miracle Baldness Cure You're Looking For" style stuff

Posted by Overbite

Yeah I'm not a fan of the article title. "COULD THIS BE THE NEXT GREAT HORROR GAME?" It's hyping it up.

COULD HAZE BE THE NEXT GREAT FIRST PERSON SHOOTER? reads like a glowing preview.

Edited by LoktarOgar

Bali is the most well-known city in Indonesia, as it’s home to the country’s largest tourist population. DreadOut developer Digital Happiness is located in Bandung, situated to the west of Bali.

Okay, as I said, Bali is an island. Secondly, Bandung is 500 miles away from Bali, on another Island (Java), home to over half of Indonesia's population. In short, Bali has fuck all to do with Digital Happiness' location.

Posted by Mr_Creeper

Oh, man, didn't even know DreadOut was coming out this month. Looking forward to it since Daylight was so meh.

Posted by LVL3Bard

@asiwassaying: Ok, you clearly have no idea what you're talking about.

Posted by patrickklepek

Bali's not a city bro, it's an island.

Thanks for the clarification.

Posted by pekoe212

So psyched you did this interview. I keep forgetting about this game and now I'm excited for it again. Thanks for keeping it in the spotlight, Patrick!

Posted by Kayrack

@sub_o said:

As an Indonesian, hell yeah! Indonesia does have some weird horror stories. I'm waiting for stories like Pontianak, the spirit of dead pregnant woman, that according to the tales, she appears in woods while holding her baby and brushing its head.

creepy

Posted by DasaKamov

@thehumandove: We most likely don't see any influence from "Deadly Premonition" because the dev team isn't trying to make a bat-shit crazy, wonky-as-hell, tongue-in-cheek, not-at-all-scary, what-are-you-smoking Suda51 game. :b

Posted by Humanity

The official trailer makes it look anything but scary, or.. good.. for that matter.

Posted by DasaKamov

@humanity: Yeah, that teaser linked to in Patrick's article has more than a fair amount of cheese. Instead, check out these other two (the second of which Patrick played on his most recent "Spookin' With Scoops" stream).

Posted by TheHT

It looked fantastic from what we saw of it last Spookin with Scoops. Not really into horror games unless there's an interesting story there, but I'm definitely curious to see how this pans out. Terrible title though, "DreadOut".

Posted by Shaanyboi

“At a local convention, while we were presenting our game, there was a creepy guy watching us. He offered help on opening our ‘sixth’ sense, to gain the ability to see djinn and supernatural beings in order to get an accurate version for our game ghost designs. Naturally, we refused the offer politely.”

UHHHHHH....

Edited by audioBusting
@shaanyboi said:

“At a local convention, while we were presenting our game, there was a creepy guy watching us. He offered help on opening our ‘sixth’ sense, to gain the ability to see djinn and supernatural beings in order to get an accurate version for our game ghost designs. Naturally, we refused the offer politely.”

UHHHHHH....

That is actually common among Indonesians. I know a few people who claim to have similar "senses" as well, for no good reason. As dubious as it may sound, they really believe in it. We're a rather superstitious bunch!

Posted by teenmother

Silly voice acting and Asian horror tropes. Sold.

Posted by ShotgunLincoln

This game scares the shit out of me every time you play it. That's enough to tell me that it's high quality. You are a braver man than me, Scoops.

Posted by Tikicobra

Personally I think it looks pretty crummy and not scary at all, but maybe that's just me.

Edited by tblakebraddy

@jonnyashley said:

I think the "Indonesian" aspect is actually the thing that I'm drawn to. I've seen this game's horror tropes reused over a million times, but a unique environment can really make a difference in a worn out genre (see driving on the left side of the road in sleeping dogs). I'm a lot more excited for the mountainous outdoor locales which make the game Indonesian, than I am for the "asylum/dormitory" sections.

Agreed. This is the general problem for most horror media. Familiar settings often create cliched tropes, which make for an uninteresting experience. Like going through the motions. The idea that we could get unique perspectives on somewhat older ideas is exciting.

Posted by Mikular

... Indienesian?

Posted by Hassun

I'd love more horror stories on lesser known myths and folk tales.

Edited by Jack_Lafayette

Oh, and over here, mosquito is your biggest enemy.

We're not so different, you and I.