Dev Blog #26 – Why Lake Ridden is NOT a Horror Game

By 2017-10-06Dev Blog, Lake Ridden

Hey guys! We’re back from EGX and hard at work on Lake Ridden right now. The event was a blast, and people really seem to love the demo we put on display! We’re absolutely blown away by all the positive feedback and kind words, huge thanks to everyone who came by! Remember to wishlist the game on Steam and check out the new story trailer!

All in all around +300 people tried the game over the course of four days. I really wish we would have had more than just two gaming seats available so more people had had the chance to try Lake Ridden hands-on! There was even a line and many people waited well over 20 minutes to have a go at the game, which feels unbelievable! We handed out 994 of those small art cards with info about Lake Ridden, and that was ONLY to gamers who dropped by our booth, showing an interest in what we were displaying. Coming back home to Sweden to share all of this with the team has been totally amazing.

Over 300 gamers came to play lake Ridden at EGX, Birmingham two weeks ago! We’re totally blown away by all the nice feedback and kind words we got about the game!

Johan spent almost all his time talking to the press at EGX. I would say that all in all we had around 20 interviews with journalists, youtubers, and streamers. I’ll make sure to link them here on the blog as they appear.

Why Lake Ridden Went From Horror To Mystery Game

Regarding Lake Ridden, the game has changed quite much since we announced it 1,5 years ago. At the beginning of this journey, we planned to make a horror game with strong story elements. The story-part is still very much in there and will always be. The horror part has changed, however, as I wrote here on the blog earlier this year. The reason for this was a reality-check we did at Game Developer’s Conference in San Francisco earlier this year. We noticed a pattern where when we talked about the game as a “horror” game a lot of people seemed to get turned off before we even had the chance to tell them about the fact that it did not contain any jump-scares or gore. I’m not saying “horror” games can’t be good games or that they don’t sell, which Frictional Games or Red Barrels have proven over and over again. These teams really do some solid work in this genre. What I’m saying is that horror seems to be dividing, that a lot of people either hate or love them.

People have some really strong opinions on jump scares or gore. Marketing an indie game is already insanely hard, and based on the feedback at GDC we decided to tweak the game a bit and focusing on the puzzles and story (that was already a core part of the games at this point). So we dropped the “horror” tag. The game does have a creepy feeling to it, but it’s not a horror game. Think more in the terms of The Vanishing of Ethan Carter.

Lake Ridden is Not a Walking Simulator

Earlier this year was that a lot of people seemed to think Lake Ridden might be a walking simulator, especially after our feature in Polygon and their gameplay video showing the (at the time) first 8 minutes of the game. It does look very much like a walking sim in the video, and we did not communicate the type of game clearly enough.

Lake Ridden is not a walking simulator. There are some stellar games in this much-debated genre, like Dear Esther or Everybody’s Gone To the Rapture, and I personally love What Remains of Edith Finch, but Lake Ridden is heavily reliant on interaction, gameplay, and puzzles. If anyone feels confused I can’t blame you, the game and how we label it clearly have changed during the development (as games always once you start building them).

We’re A Small, Agile Studio

One of our goals with Midnight Hub as a studio has always been to test and reality-check everything that we build, and that includes our ideas and assumptions of the current video games market. We specifically want to stay a small studio just to be able to take agile decisions based on data. This industry moves insanely fast, and we need to act accordingly to stay relevant. We don’t want to have a process which makes it hard to respond to change or take necessary decisions. On bigger studios, you usually have to go through multiple people and wait for months to change stuff. At Midnight Hub we can all sit in the same room and talk about what needs changing, and once we have the data we can take those decisions pretty fast. This is one of the few, valuable advantages small studios like ours have over triple-A studio juggernauts.

We gave away almost 1000 small art cards to people who came to the booth to ask about Lake Ridden! Amazing!

I’m sure our transition from horror game with walking simulator-vibes into a story-driven puzzle game filled with mystery and creepiness will be something you guys enjoy when we hit the stores in spring 2018! And as always, we really need your support to reach out, so take a moment to wishlist us on Steam or share the story trailer with someone you want to play the game with! Thanks!

Sara & The Lake Ridden Team