Slender: Source Takes Slender Man to Multiplayer (INTERVIEW)
Game Front 1-on-1 is a continuing series featuring interviews with and personality profiles on a variety of people in the vast and diverse community of gaming, including creative fans, passionate players, amateur developers and everyone in between.
Justin Ross’s father doesn’t think he’ll make it as a video game designer.
Ross is the project lead for Faceless, a game formerly known as Slender: Source, and lives in a small town more or less in the middle of Canada. He doesn’t get out much, and he doesn’t get a whole lot of support for his hopes of becoming a full-time game designer — not from his dad, at least, who thinks that Ross should be working in a factory and making a “butt-load” of money.
“Game development has always been really hard for me to do — not because I don’t know what I’m doing. I do know what I’m doing. I just have, like, no support from people in my immediate vicinity,” Ross said in an interview with Game Front. “My family doesn’t really support it. They say it’s a waste of time. And that sucks — that really sucks.”
“I mainly just deal with worrying that if the game doesn’t work out that it could kill my future as a game developer, and that would totally keep me depressed for a very, very long time. My father is pretty old-school, and constantly harps at me for sitting in my room and, to him, doing nothing with my life. I’ve told him countless times I’m writing code, and developing stories and entire worlds for a career I’m pursuing in game design, and he’s basically brought up the whole ‘you didn’t go to school for it, you won’t succeed’ scenario.”
But Ross isn’t working in a factory. He’s sitting inside, at his computer, doing what his father describes as “nothing.”
And his efforts, along with those of his fellow developers at Ethereal Entertainment, could lead to the creation of a pretty horrifying experience. Or, as Ross fears — it could lead to nothing.
Faceless, or Slender: Source, is a Source engine game the team is building, inspired by Slender: The Eight Pages, created by Parsec Productions, although it’s otherwise not related to Parsec’s game. Slender puts players in a darkened park, where they’re tasked with collecting eight notebook pages from around the environment while being pursued by a creature known as the Slender Man — a mythological enemy who creeps up on the player over the course of the game (here’s some more information on the Slender Man for the uninitiated). Faceless takes something of that idea — the basic Slender Man enemy and the seeking of objects in darkened environments — but turns it into a four-person multiplayer experience.
Faceless has received a fair amount of attention, even though it’s only weeks old at this point. Partially, this is because of the cult following of the Slender Man mythos, it seems, but the idea has attracted a lot of people to the game’s cause. Ross said the game has a small but active community building up around it and, mostly, a lot of positive comments among those who follow the game’s progress.
It also has drawn a lot more people to work on the game. Initially, Ethereal consisted of just two people, but the Slender Man idea has brought in as many as 19 or 20 more to the development team.
Among them is Tucker Small, Faceless’s lead level designer. He’s one of the people who can’t seem to get enough of the Slender Man mythos, which consists of a number of fan-made films available around the Internet.
“I stopped and I looked back and I realized I’ve worked on this more than other mod projects that I’ve tried to start or work on. And I’m not too sure what it is; maybe it’s just that — like, whenever I take a break from working, I just go and watch more Slender Man series,” Small said. “It’s so in tune with my interests that it’s easy to just snap on and off like that. I don’t know exactly; it’s just a lot easier with this project in general. It’s a lot easier to come back and forth from working on it and — watching videos.”
Small isn’t the only one apparently drawn to the Slender Man world. Ross said he had no idea that when he first started making levels and concept work for the game that it might gain so much attention so quickly.