Interview: Chris Eskins – Developer of Noct

The key to any successful video game is innovation, which in the case of Noct is achieved by having the entire game viewed through a unique satellite image perspective, as developer Chris Eskins explains.

Can you tell us a bit about the premise of Noct and how the idea first came about?

Noct was the result of a late night experiment I had been working on for some friends and I to play. Basically it was a top down multiplayer zombie game, kinda like a mini DayZ. I decided to try creating a black and white high contrast thermal style & theme, as if you were constantly being tracked by some creepy high altitude drone. After showing it to a bunch of my friends and getting some feedback, Noct was born.

Congratulations on your successful KickStarter campaign. Do you think that crowdfunding will play a large role in the future of the entertainment industry?

Thank you! I think it allows us to view creation of media differently, we get to be more involved in the creation of projects by being responsible for their foundations. This is an exciting prospect which brings creators and their audiences together on day one, something which wasn’t possible on this scale before. More and more developers are working crowdfunding into their roadmaps now, seems like it is becoming the natural path for many new developers like myself.

So without giving to much away, can you tell us a bit about the Nocturnal? Are they aliens or demons or something else and what do they want?

The Nocturnal is the environment, the monsters which dwell within that environment are just a by-product of it. Monsters within the Nocturnal(Noct for short) are best described as pure evil from cthulhu-esq style origins. Some may believe that they are Aliens, or creatures from an alternate dimension (Something similar to The Mist). Others may see them as a Demonic presence perhaps, possibly originating from some sort of Hell. I like to think of Noct’s Monsters as unworldly things which are well beyond our comprehension, something that couldn’t possibly be rationally explained. So far, all that is known about the monsters of Noct, is that they devour humans.

Do you feel that Noct is more action than horror or an equal balance of both?

Noct has very brief moments of frantic action, which I feel allows tension to correctly build while playing. These moments are sometimes followed by pure terror, which is over in an instant. Right now it is quite organic, and left up to the procedural generation of the games environment. For me, the trick is to find the balance within the highs and lows of that procedural generation.

And the whole game will be viewed in the form of thermal satellite images right?

Correct, everything is viewed from the thermal satellite, which creepily tracks survivors helplessly as they struggle to stay alive in a terrible new world.

Will this unique viewpoint give players an advantage by allowing them to study their surrounding from a high vantage point or will the distance between the viewpoint and the action cause them to be more oblivious to danger?

It’s a mix of both actually. The viewpoint offers some advantages by allowing players to study certain layouts of areas, however the camera system is also somewhat limited to what the survivor can see. With these different line of sight systems coexisting, the mood can quickly turn from “open world and feeling safe” to “claustrophobic dread”. Kinda like being on the surface of the ocean, and then diving down into it’s dark depths.

And is the fact that the entire game is in black and white a difficult creative decision or does it serve the feeling that you are going for?

I think it works perfectly for Noct’s atmosphere because it can be explained. It plays on something we have grown accustomed to seeing with “The War on Terror”, and has become eerily familiar to many. At the same time viewing the world this way seems distant and cold, creating a separation from us as players and the survivors we are following.

How will the story be presented? Can we expect cutscenes or other narrative methods?

The main story of Noct is played out through a series of objectives which take the player on a journey through its deadly landscape. Although there will be no cutscenes, clue sequences and some form of narrative will be present without breaking the immersion and distance of the viewpoint.

How will the combat work?

Combat involves small arms, explosives, and melee all found within the game world. Think “Hotline Miami meets Limbo“. Most things in Noct will kill you instantly, life is perilous, combat is frantic and terrifying.

Will there be a focus on exploration? Would you class the game as free roam?

Exploration is a big part of Noct, it definitely has a free roam feel to it. Players will have the main story objectives, but they are under no obligation to complete them. The world of Noct will continue to expand with each update, and players are definitely encouraged to explore and share their stories and findings.

And can you talk about the RPG elements?

I can say a bit! Inventory system, loot itemization and generation which is procedural. There will be a class customization system based on “Class Kits” which can be acquired like other loot items in the game. These will bolster your survivors abilities in certain areas, and may yield special survival related abilities.

Do you feel that Noct has strong replayability value?

I believe so. Every time a survivor dies in Noct, it will be slightly different the next play through. You may encounter a massive monster which fills the screen within your first 10 minutes of game play, something you may never see again until many play sessions later. That is the unpredictability of Noct’s systems. Simply venturing into that world every so often will allow for possible unique encounters each time. The best part is, you can experience all of that with your friends in multiplayer.

Will items that the player finds play a large part?

Noct is very item oriented. Like most survival based games, what you find in the game world could very well mean the difference between life and death. Weapons are just as important as rations, supplies, and specialized equipment. Some items may be required for completing certain specific objectives in the game world.

What kind of enemies are there? Will they get stronger as the player progresses?

Giant scary monsters from the furthest reaches of my imagination. Compliments of late night caffeine, too many horror films, and tremendous lack of sleep. Monsters in Noct will vary in strength, size, and abilities. Players will encounter these monsters in no particular order due to the procedural nature of the game. Certain types of monsters may reside in specific areas of the map as that is their particular habitat, however I prefer players to always be wondering what type of creature is possibly hunting them at any given moment.

Is there a strong focus on multiplayer?

Multiplayer is a huge part of Noct. The entire game was built from the ground up as a multiplayer game, where the Singleplayer aspect can be enjoyed by yourself, or with friends. This allows anyone to dynamically join your game (if you allow them to) so that you may survive together, or at least try. Approaching Noct’s development this way seemed more organic vs building two completely different components. Makes for a much richer coop experience. There will eventually be a PVP mode available for servers to experiment with, however this component will be added after the games initial release.

Will there be a strong focus on action or will their be more focus on stealth?

Due to certain monsters tracking/hunting survivors differently, there is always the chance of avoiding detection completely. However in most situations of encountering the Monsters in Noct, it will come down to a Fight-or-flight response.

Would you say that Noct will be easy to finish or can we expect more of a challenge?

I hope players will find it challenging with many perilous and memorable moments…heh. Due to the unpredictability of Noct’s chaotic atmosphere, it may be completely different from one player to the next. I guess that’s one of the exciting aspects of Noct’s experimental environment. I think the game will be challenging for most, it is cruel and relentless, the way it should be.

Aside from the unique camera perspective, how else did you create the game’s creepy atmosphere?

Audio plays a huge part in Noct. The entire Dark Ambient musical score is composed by WordClock (Pedro Pimentel) who really helps bring the world of Noct to life. In addition to the amazing soundtrack, all of the audio sounds in the game are completely instrumental based. This helps to further suspend the player somewhere between the eerie camera perspective and the survivor being displayed on screen.
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Written by
Ash Hamilton is not only the owner of Horror-Fix.com, but also one of its major contributors. A long time horror movie enthusiast, Ash has lent his personality to radio and television and continues to support his favorite genre through his writing and art. He also loves beef jerky and puppies... and low-grade street-quality hallucinogens.

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