What is Sleepless About, or What is One's Ultimate Fear?

As some of you might have heard, I'm currently in the process of developing my first game alongside a close friend of mine. The game is an interactive short story with adventure genre trappings. The basic plot revolves around a guy who is unable to sleep and, confined to his home, sets out to find what it is that is stopping him from sleeping.

The core question behind this game is: what is one's ultimate fear? If I asked you that question, you might answer that yours is spiders and I might answer that mine is heights. However we would be both wrong.

Allow me to set up a scene. You are lying in your bed at night, unable to sleep. You toss and turn for hours unable to drift off. Your mind slowly but surely starts to play tricks on you. Uncontrollable fear begins seeping its way into your thoughts. Panic sets in as you desperately try to chase the insidious thoughts away and try to sleep. The darkness around you starts to take on another shape. In that darkness lies the physical representation of the fear that is holding you captive. In that moment, what is it you see in the dark?

That is the inspiration for Sleepless. For it is in those moment of extreme mental weakness that the mind takes liberties to think about things that one does not usually care to think about. It is in those moments that one's ultimate fear is revealed, where the intangible become tangible. This game seeks to explore those ideas. This in no way will be a survival horror game though. The game seeks more to explore the philosophical implications of those fears.

This is a screenshot of the game as a work in progress. This particular screenshot was already uploaded in a previous blog post but nobody really read it.

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Sleepless Dev Log #2: Getting Shit Done

Yet another week has gone by, and it's time for another update on the development of "Sleepless". We're hard at work finishing up the script while implementing what we're happy with into the game. So far so good!

On the programming side, we've been experimenting a lot with a core game mechanic that will drastically change what you see in the environment around you. This mechanic is inextricably linked to the story's narrative and thus to give too reveal too much would give the experience away. Rest assured, it will be fucking awesome. Much tweaking is still needed, but we're certainly getting closer to what we originally envisioned.

We`re pretty much finished getting all our art assets, so this certainly makes it easier to get immediate results when trying things out. The main menu is currently a simple placeholder, but it was honestly the result of way too much coffee, and progress needing to be made. The programmer has a bit of a coffee addiction. So the menu definitely has to be done soon.

At this point, we`re a little over a month away from our desired release window. Asses will be worked off to finish this in time, though we're really starting to get excited.

One thing that's really sticking out like a sore thumb for us is the lack of sound. So far we have no sound effects or music, and it's really starting to show. I've been working on music, but nothing so far has really held my attention. The programmer, Alex, is starting to really lose his shit due to the lack of sound. This week will be dedicated to recording sounds and music.

That's all for this week folks. Here are some screenshots. You can join us on twitter: Simon (designer) and Alex (programmer).

Here are some new screenshots.

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Sleepless Dev Log #1: Managing Tasks and Time

A little over a week has gone by since I last posted a blog about the development of my game: "Sleepless". If you have not read it, you can find it here. After a month of development time, we now have a solid demo build of the game to show off. In the past week I have been hard at work reading over and editing the script while my partner has been fixing bugs and tweaking game mechanics.

However, both of us have had fairly busy schedules and work has not progressed as much as I would have liked. I just started a new job while my friend is taking night classes, so finding time to do what we set out to do in any given week can be quite difficult. This brings me to the topic of this blog: the importance of setting deadlines and managing tasks. Some of you expressed interest in knowing more about the development process in order to make games too. I am as new to this as anyone could be, but here's some advice I can offer.

When embarking on a project like this, it can be very easy to let time escape from you. The problem is that there is no penalty if you do not finish it. Nobody is going to fire you or pull funding away from you. You are only accountable to yourself and any other person you are working with. That is why from the get-go it is important to set up a tentative schedule with weekly milestones to complete. Each week we set what we want completed for the next week and manage tasks accordingly. Each person's role in the development process is also clearly defined. For example, I am the writer and sound designer while my partner is the programmer. We have another third person as the artist. We share game design duties equally between us. Over the course of the week we check in on each other to make sure that work is advancing as planned. We hold regular skype meetings to discuss development and share copies of all our documents on google docs. By using these measures, we are at least accountable to a deadline, if not ourselves.

Another way to increase motivation and make yourself more accountable is to put your game out there. This is why I started this dev log. Even if there is only one person who follows this game's development and wants to play a finished product, I know that I am accountable to that person. That can be a huge motivation boost.

If anyone has any specific questions about the game or the process of making it, just drop a line. I'm not really sure what I should be talking about in these dev logs so I'll be happy to write about anything people want.

On a side note, I have a twitter account that I promise to start using more often. So does the programmer of the game. You should add us.

@Viggiegames and @nu11_

Also, here's some more art for the game. It's a kitchen.

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Hey Guys! I'm Making a Game!

Greetings Giantbomb,

My friend and I have always tossed around the idea of making games, as I'm sure many of you have done as well. Although for most this will remain a fantasy, we've finally decided to take the plunge and give it a shot. We're currently hard at work on our first project, titled 'Sleepless'. Our plan is to release the game in early august on XBLIG. I'll be keeping a regular blog to share our experiences in game development with the Giant Bomb community.

Sleepless is born from our love of puzzle and adventure games. The basic premise of the game is that you are a boy unable to find sleep. Within the confines of your home, you discover little by little that appearances can be deceiving, and that your insomnia has a dark, hidden meaning. The game uses puzzle elements to drive an interactive short story.

The game has a very minimalist aesthetic to it. We tend to be fans of games that use minimalist art in order to maximize the impact of their narrative.

Here is an early look of what we're going with. This is not an actual screenshot but rather an early art sample (Note that the Giantbomb logo will not appear in the final game.)

This blog post was kind of spontaneous. I'll be posting more details as development moves on. Your thoughts are always welcome.

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Quebec/Montreal GiantBomb Meetup.

As part of initiative to have a Global Giantbomb meetup, I will be organizing the Quebec/Montreal meetup. Let me know in the comments if you're interested and possibly give ideas of locations and dates.

If there is enough interest we'll make it an event. Not even sure how many community members reside in Quebec anyway.

Let's make it happen.

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Xbox Live Indie Gems

I've recently browsed through the Xbox live indie marketplace. A lot of the games are pretty much crap. Some exist solely for the pleasure of lonely perverts (yes, Ninja Chop, I'm looking at you). Some border on the retarded. Some aren't even games at all !!!! Who would read the description of Gallery Landscapes and think "This is for me!". However, some games are just brilliant. Some of you might be familiar with Cthulhu Saves The World. This is a great little gem in xbox live indie and I'm quite happy I found it.

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