Australian indie start-up Dream Wave Games take survival-horror seriously.
Their first game, Absention, ditches “YouTube-fodder” tropes like scripted jump-scares and spurting gore, choosing to focus its efforts on building suspense, soaking their lush, Unreal-4-powered environments with a permeating sense of dread. Gameplay in Absention revolves around a “timeloop” mechanic, which forces players to “relive” the same night over-and-over, learning from their mistakes in order to solve the game’s mystery. Borne out of a love for games like Silent Hill and the first Resident Evil, as well as films like Stanley Kubric’s The Shining, Absention takes place in a single setting, your estranged father’s grand lake-house. This decision, along with its novel mechanics and classical sensibilities, is one that Dream Wave hope will set Absention apart from the rest.
“I like a deep story with a unique setting and memorable characters – and monsters,” says Dream Wave Games’ lead designer and founder, Robert Bruce.
A lifelong gamer, Bruce studied at one of the first colleges in the world to offer a practical degree in game development.
“I grew up playing the SNES,” says Bruce. “And I also love drawing and technology so I found the best way to combine them. Making games.
“After studying at Qantm College Sydney and majoring in Animation, I worked freelance as an Artist for TVC and on a few iOS games before landing a full-time position as a 3D Artist at an e-learning company,” he explains.
“Absention has become my creative outlet away from my more serious work material, where I can learn more about all aspects of game development. Since announcing my project and receiving some amazing feedback, I’m really excited to be ramping up production with some additional team members.”
Dream Wave Games can count five among its ranks, with each member bringing a different skill to the team.
“We’re a small collaboration between people all working in their own time with various levels of commitment,” Bruce says.
“I’m the lead game designer and artist. I’ve been working solely on the project for almost a year before bringing anyone else on board,” he explains. ”I wanted to first have a solid concept and expanded skill set before I asked anyone else to help out.
“Cameron Baker is a game designer and programmer who joined me late last year. He’s responsible for player interactivity and other gameplay mechanics. Then recently, Stephen Whittle joined to help out with the more technical programming. He has a solid understanding of the Unreal Engine and is working on the timeloop mechanics and enemy AI.”
Bruce continues: “Chris Yabsley composed the music for the Teaser Trailer and will be working on the soundtrack over the course of production. And then, my wife, Natalie Parker-Bruce is helping with the press contact and community management side. “
Dream Wave are all about the experience, and are committed to experimenting with new technologies to make their games memorable. Absention is being developed from the start with the Oculus Rift VR headset in mind, and VR is a platform that Dream Wave really believe in.
“The name “Dream Wave Games” comes from my personal experience of falling asleep thinking about the game and having new ideas waking up,” says Bruce.
“It also came from my idea that video games can be like experiencing a lucid dream,” he adds. “Like having an experience that’s so vivid but not based in reality. This is especially true in VR where a player is totally immersed in the virtual world.
“The Rift is an amazing piece of hardware that I’m really excited about. Even with my early dev kit, it truly immerses you within the virtual world and is a perfect fit for the horror genre. I believe VR is set to really take off over the next couple of years and adopters will be seeking that must-have title similar to a new console launch.”
Check back tomorrow for more on Absention’s gameplay and story.