Q & A: The devs behind the next Aussie hit – horror game, Macabre

Congrats to the devs on their smash hit Kickstarter.

9 mins read
Macabre Aussie Game

Well, that didn’t take long. Just 48 hours after launching a Kickstarter that was hoping to raise $85,000, the developers of upcoming horror game, Macabre, blasted right through that initial ceiling. In fact, it’s already exceeded $100,000 – $104,000 at time of writing.

There’s still 37 days to go for the campaign. It seems like the developer’s on to a clear hit.

We sat done to have a quick chat with the developer about their goals for the game, and what’s next now that the hard work is done and they’ve secured the money they need to finalise the game.

Where did the inspiration for this game come from?

Jay Topping (Weforge Studio Co-Founder): The inspiration for Macabre came from our deep love for horror and immersive gameplay experiences. During the lockdowns, we played an excessive number of games and stumbled across Phasmophobia. As a group of mates who met and kept in touch online, Phasmo offered a truly unique experience —a horror social sandbox packed full of spooks and laughs. This game ignited our imagination, and we often theorised about what could be added to enhance such experiences. It was clear to us that co-op horror was the space where we wanted to innovate.

We also drew heavily from the tension and intelligent AI of games like Alien: Isolation, and the strategic extraction mechanics of Hunt: Showdown. Our aim was to create a game that blends stealth, horror, and cooperative gameplay into a genre we call ‘Stealth Extraction Horror’. The idea of navigating an unstable time Rift filled with unpredictable dangers was born from our fascination with multi-dimensional storytelling and the psychological thrill of survival horror. Additionally, our backgrounds in film and sound have significantly influenced the game’s atmospheric design and narrative depth, allowing us to craft a truly immersive and chilling experience.

Who’s your target audience for it? There are a lot of co-operative horror games on the market, so where do you see this one fitting in?

Topping”: Our target audience includes horror enthusiasts, fans of cooperative gameplay, and those who enjoy strategic, stealth-based games. Macabre stands out in the crowded co-op horror market by emphasising stealth and cunning over traditional combat, creating a unique tension-filled experience. The unpredictable map layouts, intelligent monster behaviours, and the integration of social mechanics through VOIP interactions offer a fresh take on multiplayer horror. Inspired by the social sandbox elements of Phasmophobia and, more recently, Lethal Company, Macabre encourages unique player interactions, fostering unexpected alliances or rivalries. We aim to attract players who appreciate an evolving challenge, where every session feels different, and strategic thinking is crucial to survival.

I notice from the trailer that it’s very, very Aussie. Which is great! We need more proudly Aussie games. Do you think there’s anything in particular about how we do horror that will help your game stand out?

Topping: Absolutely! Us Aussies have a unique, deadpan, often dark sense of humour, and we love to take the piss, even in the most intense situations. This unique perspective is woven into Macabre, balancing the horror with moments of levity. Banjo embodies this spirit—he doesn’t seem to care much about the dangers you’re in, and it’s hard to know if he’s actually trying to help you or just trying to rile you up.

This is the tone we want to set. We want players to mess with each other, to be unsure of who to trust. It’s not just the Macabre you’ll need to keep an eye out for; the unpredictability of other players adds another layer of tension and excitement.

We also wanted to take players to locations not often explored in video games, showcasing the stunning and eerie beauty of our own backyard. With its vast, isolated landscapes and the inherent dangers of its wildlife, Australia is the perfect setting for a horror game. But this is just the beginning. Conceptually, you’re in a Rift, a series of interconnected bubbles of time. A Rift can open virtually anywhere, and we’re truly excited to see what unexplored locations our community wants to delve into.

Whenever I see a Kickstarter campaign my first thought is: “Does this still get made if the Kickstarter isn’t successful?” I suppose that isn’t an issue for you now… so what are your priorities next?

Topping: Fortunately, we’ve already achieved a huge amount of success, reaching our initial goal of $85K to finish the first map and monster in just 38 hours! We’re immensely grateful to our backers, but it doesn’t stop there. As of writing, we just hit our first stretch goal of AU$100K, which will enable us to realise our advanced AI system to control the monsters. We’re only three days into our 40-day campaign with plenty more features to be unlocked through stretch goals.

Supporting our Kickstarter not only ensures that Macabre gets made, but also enhances the game’s quality and scope. With backing, we can implement additional features, polish existing mechanics, and expand the game’s content. Our backers will play a crucial role in the development process, directly influencing new features like locations, monsters, and abilities through alpha testing and community polls. This collaborative approach ensures that Macabre will continue to grow and develop with our community’s input, making the game even more engaging and dynamic.

I noticed that your team has, across them, a broad mix of experience in film, sound, and more, as well as games – what have been some of the creative and business challenges in bringing everyone together to set up a game studio?

Topping: Bringing together a diverse team with backgrounds in film, sound, and games has been both a creative boon and a logistical challenge. On the creative side, it has allowed us to craft a rich, immersive experience with high production values. However, aligning our different working styles and integrating our various expertise into a cohesive workflow took time and effort.

On the business side, securing funding and managing the administrative aspects of running a studio have been significant hurdles. Jake and I wear many hats to ensure everything runs smoothly and that our team feels well-informed and heard. Coordinating across different time zones and ensuring effective communication and collaboration were also challenges we had to overcome.

Despite these obstacles, our shared passion for creating a unique and engaging game has driven us to find solutions and work together effectively. This passion has not only helped us overcome challenges but also strengthened our team’s cohesion and creativity. With each hurdle, we’ve grown more resilient and dedicated, continuously moving closer to our dream of building a world-class Aussie Game Studio.

There’s still plenty of time to support the game if it catches your fancy. All the details are here.

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Matt S. is the Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of DDNet. He's been writing about games for over 20 years, including a book, but is perhaps best-known for being the high priest of the Church of Hatsune Miku.

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