Retro/Grade developer Matt Gilgenbach has announced that his next title will be a psychological horror game entitled Neverending Nightmares.
As detailed by Polygon, Neverending Nightmares will follow the exploits of a man who keeps waking up from one horrific nightmare only to find himself in another. The title emanates from Gilgenbach's struggles with depression and OCD after he and his then-development partner Justin Wilder spent $140K and 40 hours a week for four years working on the rhythm-based side-scrolling adventure Retro/Grade, only for it to sell so poorly that the devs couldn't even recoup their loss.
With Wilder having left the pair's two-man studio of 24 Caret Games for a position at Secret Agent Clank developer High Impact Games, Gilgenbach has now started his own studio Infinitap Games. Neverending Nightmares will be the indie outfit's first game and Retro/Grade artist Joe Grabowski is doing the visuals - although you'd never know it looking at how aesthetically dissimilar they are. Gilgenbach's old dev buddy from his days at Heavy Iron Studios, Daniel Sass, is joining the indie team as well.
While Neverending Nightmares will be a surreal descent into madness, it's also going to be at least semi-autobiographical, drawing on a lot of Gilgenbach's own psychological issues.
"I think Neverending Nightmares is the game I can create better than anyone else, just because it's so personal to me," he said in an interview with Polygon. "I have all these negative images and negative emotions I can channel into making this psychological horror experience."
"I'm explicitly sharing something about my experience and the horrors that have sort of popped into my head," Gilgenbach added. "To the players it won't be clear that, 'Oh, that's an intrusive thought that the developer had.' The theme and the mood are really what I'm trying to capture the most of what I experience."
While Neverending Nightmares will be a very dark game, Gilgenbach insists it's actually a hopeful title as he aims to assure others with mental conditions that they're not alone. "Raising awareness about my struggles, I think, helps other people," he stated. "In my darkest hours, I felt like I was completely alone, and no one understood what I was going through. It was just this hell. I hope that with the game I can reach out to people like that and say, 'You're not alone; I've been there.' But more importantly, 'I got through it and you can too."
Gilgenbach noted on his development blog that he's going to launch a Kickstarter for Neverending Nightmares soon. "I'm in an unfortunate financial situation and need to raise funds for the game soon, so it's a good fit," he said.
Furthermore, he expressed how much he admires certain developers for being open about the creative process and went on to defend Double Fine's decision to sell Broken Age on Steam Early Access to make up for going slightly overbudget. "When Tim [Schafer] honestly confessed that they wouldn't be able to complete the game with the money they had, I wasn't upset about backing it because they had been very open about the development until then. I knew they were still making the game I believed in," Gilgenbach said. "My next project is quite ambitious, so that is the kind of community I need."