Clues about the arthouse horror game created by NIN guitarist and AAA veteran
There are secrets buried in the first Eyes Out video. It only lasts two minutes and is filled with layered shots of snake-shaped drums, mics, guitars and cables crammed into a lonely desert hideaway, all while an unsettling ambient score pulls layers of sound together. Over time the scenes are flooded with red and the film is overwhelmed by a horrible moan. Thin white text flashes across the screen, telling a rambling story about burying bones and walking with the flowering of a booming universe.
Amidst this vibrant chaos, there are clues as to what kind of studio Eyes Out will be and even what the team’s first game could look like. Or, more precisely, what it might look like.
Eyes Out is the new video game studio founded by Nine Inch Nails guitarist Robin Finck and veteran AAA director Cory Davis, and the team is already hard at work on their first title, a mysterious horror game. focusing on experimental audio.
“We want to create mind-blowing experiences that make you question reality,” Davis said. “This is what really excites us. We are all horror fans, but more specifically of this genre – it’s a new and emerging space that is not limited to extreme violence, dark and terrifying, but also reaches the vibrant and even surprises you with moments of happiness or self-reflection. Horror really has a lot of room to grow.
Finck added to that thought, saying, “We’re playing in this area that provides an emotional and psychological response, which I think is really enhanced as a singular experience. And we’re really lucky to attract developers who are really passionate about these types of conversations.
Davis has built a successful career as a video game designer, directing and creating top titles including Special operations: the line and Here they are, but he is also a composer. In fact, the first word of his Twitter biography reads, “musician.” Meanwhile, Finck Twitter biography has only two tags, both of which speak for themselves: @eyesoutofficial and @nineinchnails.
Note which comes first.
Finck got involved in the video game industry about six years ago, after befriending Devolver Digital co-founder Mike Wilson at Burning Man. Finck ended up taking care of the soundtrack of Noct, a top-down horror game released by Devolver in 2015, and its interest in development was piqued. He dove deeper into the video game industry, attending conventions and connecting with creators.
“I was really inspired by the people and their enthusiasm, the advanced technology of it all, and the collision of art and music, design, agency, storytelling, and also experience. to really immerse yourself in it all, ”said Finck. “It really sounds like the most focused and appropriate experience to soak up that kind of storytelling. And it continues to excite me. And that led to me, luckily enough for me, to meet Cory as he and his team were wrapping up Here they are. “
Eventually, Finck ended up at Sony Santa Monica, playing an early version of Davis’ VR horror title, Here they are. He was amazed. Finck and Davis started talking, and they haven’t stopped since.
“We immediately talked about the sound and the music and the weight of that and the experience,” Finck said. “And we continued in the days and weeks and months to come. And then eventually, they were working together on music for projects that Cory was announcing. We have a simple workflow and creatively sync in many ways.
Davis also remembered feeling a spark at that first meeting.
“We started going down the rabbit hole of distortion pedals and different synths and stuff like that,” he said. “But that got us into that other kind of discussion where I really felt that connection in terms of understanding the power of games as a medium and the impact and possibility of what the medium has in store for it. to come up.”
Davis and Finck were both interested in creating a solo experience around music and tone, rather than starting with a narrative or visual style and applying sound later in the process.
“From the first conversation with Robin, I could sense that he is this other type of designer who wants to be guided by his passion and his soul, rather than maybe what is fashionable or even necessarily gratifying”, Davis said. “I just felt that kind of depth of possibility of what we could do together. I had other prototypes going on at the time in my old studio, but every time I got back up with Robin our conversations deepened. And they were going beyond music and going to places that I had hoped to do my whole journey as a game developer.
Eyes Out is the result of this creative magnetism between Davis and Finck. They also attracted other developers and hired 15 collaborators from the visual arts, film and games industries to work on their first project.
“This is really what I have been looking for for a long time in the Special operations: the line days, was to build a team that has a sufficiently diverse approach to both the difficulties in game development, as well as their acceptance and adherence to people from different parts of the world, from different backgrounds, from all kinds of the personality, and especially people who have been oppressed and haven’t had opportunities in the past, ”Davis said. “We see these opportunities allowing us to have a lot more depth in the types of stories that we are able to tell.”
There’s no name or release window for the studio’s first game, but Davis and Finck are giving clues as to how it’s going to play and what they want players to feel. This isn’t a VR game, it’s designed with complete immersion in mind, and it features creatures that behave strangely in response to generative audio cues. The team plays with the mechanics of rhythm and figure out how to create creeping tension through sound.
“The type of horror we build has a lot to do with the horrors of the universe and the horrors you fall asleep with at night, the ones that are just around the corner and outside of our purview, but exist, ”Davis said.“ And the technology to create these types of soundscapes, the localized audio and reverb and the realism behind that, coming from virtual reality before, I’ve had a lot of opportunities to work with. this kind of things.”
Eyes Out’s first game will be a focused, single-player horror experience built around sound and silence.
“I’m really excited about the nuance and subtlety of coming out of silence, like a really impactful silence, and starting to emerge from that silence into some kind of hard-hitting embellishment, however big or bigger,” said Finck. “And this game between the diegetic soundscape of the world into the tangible physical space within the game, and where it blurs with the score, the music of the game, can be really challenging and inspiring.”
Eyes Out’s debut project is about to be anotherworldly, introspective and experimental, just like the studio itself.