At 3 Questions, we look to spotlight indie games and more importantly, the people behind their development. We want to find out their inspirations and reasons that shaped decisions when creating their little gem of gaming fun.
This edition we talk to Mark Hadley, the creative force behind the game Slender: The Eight Pages and its pending sequel, Slender: The Arrival. The Eight Pages quickly became a hot topic in the indie scene last year. It’s a survival horror game with emphasis on the horror. The Arrival will pick up where The Eight Pages left off and promises to continue to deliver the same experience. It is scheduled to be released on 26 March, but fans and the curious can get a peak at the gameplay by pre-ordering and downloading a beta version.
Both games involve the player collecting eight pages that are scattered throughout a dark forest, only aided by a flashlight. But, The Arrival promises more then just running from everyone’s favorite horror meme, the Slenderman, as he gets a little closer with each page found. The tension builds as the fog and the Slenderman closes in on the player.
The Eight Pages successfully delivers a sense of horror and anticipation. It became a bit of a sensation on Youtube where people made videos showing their reactions while playing. The game even has inspired numerous spinoffs in the short time it has been released.
We asked the game’s creator, Mark Hadley of Parsec Productions, to take a little time and answer three questions. He was nice enough to give us that time. Hit the jump to see what he has to say.
3Qs: There are a lot of settings to tell a story and demonstrate your game developing abilities. Why choose to showcase your skills through horror?
Mark: There were definitely a lot of different ways I could have started out in game design. I went with horror because I felt that a good horror experience doesn’t need to be flashy or complicated to be effective. If you leave some things to the player’s imagination, it can often produce something scarier than anything you can hope to craft yourself. Since I was working with limited resources at the beginning, I knew there would be a lot left to the imagination, so it seemed like a good approach to take. Plus, I like scary games.
3Qs: We have heard you are an accomplished composer. Sound is a very important element to setting the mood. What influences shaped your decisions to use certain effects and music in the Slender games?
Mark: I think part of the key of making a good soundtrack to a horror game is not to overdo it. The music and sound should be there to enhance the experience, not force it on the player. While the shock sounds can be important, I think the little details are what really made it stand out: the sounds of the forest, the footsteps of the player, and the backdrop of wind blowing through the trees. Even before the music starts you are immersed, and then when the music does start, you know that you’re not alone. Even a simple drumbeat can be enough to get this point across. The music in Slender: The Arrival will be more varied, but I am still taking a simple approach to the more tense moments of the game.
3Qs: You’ve garnered a lot of attention after the release of The Eight Pages, some good and some critical. What can you tell people that were critical of The Eight Pages about The Arrival?
Mark: I’m aware that some have been critical against the original game. We’re trying to take this into account with the newer game, although I do want to keep the core of the experience similar to the original. Ultimately, I know that it’s not for everyone. Horror is a difficult genre after all, since different people are scared by different things. One person may find bloody/gory games frightening, while others may be more scared by psychological twists. Does that make one approach more valid than the other? Not at all. Does it mean not everyone will like the approach chosen? Absolutely. Instead of trying in vain to cover all preferences, all I can do is take one approach and do my best with it.
Whatever some people’s opinions, we feel The Eight Pages hits the mark for a game. Primarily, it’s fun. It’s also scary; really scary at times. Its minimalist setting and simple storyline works for what the game sets out to do.
The Arrival takes the game to the next step. The environments are a little more fleshed out. From what we can see in the teaser video and in the beta release, there is a little more “cabin in the woods” feel and less random structures like in The Eight Pages. A story line, varied environments and more levels have been promised in this edition. I do hope that the flashlight’s beam will be a little wider. I would like to see more of the environment, but isn’t that always the case in a horror story?
Thanks again to Mark for taking time out to talk to us.
You can enjoy running for your life through the woods by downloading Slender:The Eight Pages for free at the game’s site.
Slender:The Arrival is being sold pre-order at a discounted price. This early purchase will get you the beta demo. The release of the full game is scheduled for 26 March. We look forward to the release of Slender:The Arrival while we occasionally glance over our shoulder…just in case.