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How an audio experiment into blindness twisted into upcoming PS VR horror Stifled, out 31st October

Gattai Games detail its student project Lurking, as well as the inspiration that birthed both it and this month's release

Hey there! I’m Justin Ng, Managing Director of Gattai Games, a game development studio based out of sunny Singapore.Today we’re excited to announce that Stifled, a game we’ve been working on for the past 3 years is coming out on PlayStation VR on 31st October.

You may have read about the game already on PlayStation Blog when it was revealed at this year’s ChinaJoy, but to give you a quick overview: Stifled is a VR and mic-enabled sound-based stealth thriller. The pitch black world is illuminated by the sounds you make, which allows you to see the path ahead and items you can pick up. But sound also highlights your location to the enemies who lurk in the darkness.

So that’s the premise. But what the origin of the game? For that, you’d have to rewind time to 2013 when Lurking, our student project that would eventually become Stifled, spawned.

That summer, the team and I chanced upon an animation of a blind girl finding her way around the world using sound, with the visuals reflecting the mood she was in, an animation that served as a springboard for us develop a “sound-based” game.

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VR was on its way to becoming more mainstream at that time, and we thought since we were developing a sound-based game, why not find a way to integrate the widely available microphone as an input for some kind of immersion? And with those ideas in mind, we started production of Lurking.

The initial idea for Lurking revolved around the use of pitch and volume to explore your surroundings and solve puzzles. Wanting audio to take centre stage, we kept our visuals to a simple black and white look, and built a few prototypes testing the mechanic of having boxes in a dark room “light up” when sounds “touched” them. After a few iterations and in a moment of genius, Bryan (Audio Director on both Lurking and Stifled) said: “This is perfect for a horror game.”

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The team agreed.

With the pivot from an innocent audio exploration game to a horror game, we had to rethink our design and features. Sound was no longer just a tool, but also a method that could attract enemies. Enemies could track you through your microphone if you squeal in real life. It’s one thing to control your use of sound in game, it’s another to physically stifle yourself.

We completed and released Lurking in March of 2014 and it went on to do pretty well; bagging a bunch of awards and nominations! We saw potential in the idea and decided to pursue it as a full fledged game; In the August of 2014, pre-production of Stifled began.

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With the microphone input of Lurking proving a success, we wanted to take Stifled to the next level with VR. And that’s exactly what we did when we heard the announcement of the Morpheus. We reached out to and obtained Morpheus development kits from the Sony Interactive Entertainment team in Singapore and became the first Singapore PlayStation VR developer.

So, 3 years in and after a lot of learnings and discoveries, we are ready to put Stifled out with the support of SIE. It’s been a long and crazy ride, and we hope you will be there with us at the finish line.

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Probably best to try and keep sound to a minimum though, they can HEAR you…

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10 Comments
5 Author replies

Justin from Gattai Games here! Happy to answer questions if any!

Baffled…

Looks interesting. Another attraction from the world of VR that I have yet to immerse myself in. Probably wont be long now.

2.1

2 weeks!

I don’t get on with horror games at all, especially not in VR, but this does look really interesting, and I love the graphical style and use of the mic! What is the level of horror exactly, can the monsters kill you? Is there a cheat to play without dying? If not, please consider adding one for us wusses! I love the idea of exploring with sounds in VR, but I know I won’t be able to play it if it’s too scary, I’ll die once and then tap out.

3.1

I won’t be a good judge for the horror! Been working on it so long, I’m just numb to horror in general!

The hide and seek is one of the core tenants of our game design and death serves to drive home the mechanic.

I’ll still speak to the team to see if we will be able to/should/want to accommodate this request!

3.2

Thanks for the reply! If it’s any help, I can’t imagine those people who like horror games would use a cheat like that, and those that don’t, well, it might just convince them to try the game!

This looks really cool. Looking forward to picking it up. Will it have a demo? Ans how long is it? I do love VR so will definitely be picking it up at the right price.

4.1

I’ll don’t think we’ll be putting out a demo on PSN but you can look out for local events to check it out!

The game is about 3 to 5 hours long. And we’ll share more but the price point when we have more info!

Awesome. I think 3-5 hours is perfect for VR. Can’t wait. Love to support original content like this.

Big341Boss955 14 October, 2017 @ 09:19
6

Nice

You have two completely different pictures in one part of the article. Which is stifled and which is lurking?

7.1

All the pictures are form Stifled!

Check out lurking-game.com if you wanna take a look at Lurking!

So why is one in a 3D environment whilst the rest are totally different from that one picture?

MiseryPrincess 15 October, 2017 @ 16:52
8

When I first glanced the icon I thought it was a remake of Vib Ribbon!

Vib Ribbon is a really really scary game. Probably too scary.

8.1

Hahaha! We didn’t know about Vib Ribbon till people started mentioning it!

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