Interview with Rosebud Games on ‘Death in Candlewood’

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Freaky abominations that laugh in the rules of nature, creepy locales that send shivers down one’s spine, and a lone doctor caught in the middle of it all. This is the kind of material one can expect to see in Death in Candlewood, the premiere work of newly founded studio Rosebud Games. The psychological FPS game works to challenge the established mantra for horror titles by bringing in an all-star development team from games such as The Witcher and Bioshock, as well as influences from Edgar Allan Poe and classic horror films.

While the game is due out in Spring 2015, the self-funded studio recently took to Kickstarter to help garner funds to complete the project. At 16 days left to go, they’re just under $10,000 in donations, and they need the help of horror game fans now more than ever. I was recently able to pick the brain of founder of Rosebud Games, Toni Sanchez, regarding the development of the game, as well as some of the inspirations and challenges that came from it. You can read the interview below, and make sure to check out the Kickstarter page if you feel like donating a couple bucks.

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Nerd Reactor: How did Rosebud Games come together exactly?

Toni Sanchez: I started working on the concept for Death In Candlewood many years ago, trying to work out how I could evoke strong feelings in someone else’s mind. All of Rosebud at that time were working for different companies so we started prototyping internally around 2009 in our spare time. It wasn’t until mid 2011 when the concept really became a reality, mostly thanks to Jay Kyburz (BioShock’s Environment Lead) and Andor Kollar (The Witcher and Silent Hill: Origins artist), as both helped to design the game that we see today. So it was in the middle of 2011 when we decided to arrange everything and start the studio.

NR: What made your studio decide to work on a game like Death In Candlewood?

TS: Well, I grew up reading Poe and Lovecraft, and my sister writes horror stories so I guess it’s just something in my genes. As a self-funded developer, we have to motivate ourselves during the hard times and the horror genre is interesting to us. Also, Andor Kollar (our Lead Artist) has been working for several years on horror games so horror’s also something we know a bit about. For our first title, we wanted to do something we were confident about.

NR: You mentioned in your Kickstarter page that Death In Candlewood is influenced by Edgar Allan Poe and classic horror films. Which stories and movies in particular were the largest influences to this project?

TS: I would say “The Fall of the House of Usher “, “The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar” and “Ligeia”. With Poe often being called the father of mystery and horror, I think his works are a really good source for puzzles, investigation, exploration and most of all interesting, twisted psychology. Of course, the atmosphere and story also benefit from his tales.

As for movies, I’m very fond of the little-known movie Night of the Demon by Jacques Torneur, Spellbound by Alfred Hitchcock and The Unholy Three by Tod Browning.

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NR: What are the challenges of working in a small development team like Rosebud Games in comparison to a larger development company?

TS: Good question! I think the most important challenge is to foresee as many possible issues as possible because these have a huge impact on us and the speed at which we can develop the game. Issues are fewer in a large studio and if there are problems they don’t affect everyone in the same way as they do in a small team. The good news is that we don’t have the pressure of deadlines and all have complete freedom, but being self-funded we have the concerns for paying our bills. This means we’re the most interested in finishing our game the way we want as soon as possible.

NR: Your team includes developers that worked on games like The Witcher and BioShock. Does Death In Candlewood have mechanics or ideas that take inspiration from this work history?

TS: Yes, absolutely. Many of the game mechanics come from the same mind which worked on the game mechanics for BioShock, and the ambience and atmosphere also come from a mind that worked on several AAA horror games. It’s natural that what we worked on in the past has an influence on what we produce today. In general, I’d say that Death In Candlewood mostly shares the same approach to manipulating players’ emotions as those games. It’s also important to mention that, being a small indie studio, the features of our games are limited to our own resources.

NR: What does your studio have planned after Death In Candlewood? Will we see more horror games, or titles from other genres going forward?

We have many plans for the future once we complete Death in Candlewood. I’ve written the sequel and a prequel for Candlewood, but the next game Rosebud makes will have to be very different to keep our creativity and motivation up. Once we are lucky enough to complete Death in Candlewood, our next game will almost certainly be a different genre, in a different time and in a different location. After years working in Death in Candlewood we need to explore new things in game development. The only thing I’m sure we want to keep is a strong psychological interest – that’s like a watermark for us.

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