Flying Mollusk is an independent video game development studio who makes “edgy games for good.” By that, we mean that we make games that, first and foremost, are just as fun and thrilling as any “traditional” video game out there – but also give back to players by surreptitiously teaching them a new skillset, exposing them to new ideas, or simply inspiring them in the process. Right now we’re a plucky team of four full-time members who collectively have over 30 years of game development experience across all aspects of the game industry
I have always been very passionate about the potential of “positive games,” but have struggled to find existing studios that make games that are fun, beneficial to the player, and developed for adult audiences (as opposed to many of the “edutainment” games created primarily for children). Ultimately, I realized that the best way to pursue my dream of making these “edgy games for good,” would be by establishing my own studio dedicated to creating high-quality, fun, and beneficial virtual experiences. At the end of 2013, I left my job at a larger, mainstream studio to create Flying Mollusk and focus on our first title, Nevermind.
Describe Nevermind and the inspiration behind it.
Nevermind is a biofeeback-enhanced horror adventure game that reacts to your fear and stress. While you play this mystery thriller, the game is constantly reading your anxiety levels. As you start to become a little scared, the game will dynamically respond by becoming harder. The longer you stay scared or stressed, the harder the game will become – so the trick is to learn how to manage your fear and stress in intense situations on the fly.
The big picture idea with Nevermind is that by learning and practicing stress management techniques through playing the game, you will start to habituate the mindfulness and stress management techniques that you need in everyday life. For example, in Nevermind, you may find yourself practicing deep breathing to bravely cross that foreboding bridge into the darkness unscathed – in real life, you may find that that same deep breathing technique will help you calmly get through rush hour traffic on the freeway, prepare to give a nerve-wracking speech, or keep a clear head when you’ve misplaced your keys and are running late for a meeting.
Nevermind started as my Master’s thesis project at the University of Southern California – where the proof of concept was developed back in 2011-2012. I went into my thesis year knowing that I wanted to make a “positive game” that used biofeedback input (technology that I had experimented with a few years prior). As a longtime fan of a darker aesthetic, I also really wanted to try my hand at the horror genre. With those three goals in mind, the seeds for what Nevermind would ultimately become were planted.
What made you want to make a horror game as opposed to any other genre?
I’ve always been a huge fan of the horror genre. As a toddler, I watched the Alien VHS tape so many times that it fell apart. In highschool, I had almost every episode at that time of the X-Files and Millenium memorized. My personal art style has always trended toward the creepy and macabre. In many ways, the horror genre has always been in my blood and making Nevermind a horror game was clearly a natural fit given my goals and ambitions for the project.
What was your initial reaction when Intel reached out to you about Nevermind?
It was incredibly exciting and validating to have Intel reach out about Nevermind. The Intel® RealSense™ camera technology is such a perfect fit for our long-term goals for Nevermind – as it allows us to seamlessly capture the biofeedback data we need and gives us new tools for creating an immersive experience. It has been wonderful working with Intel and the future of Nevermind is brighter than ever because of it!
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Video game development is one of the coolest jobs ever – not only because you get to make video games (my inner 12-year old still can’t believe this is my actual job), but because everyone you work with has such a diverse background of skillsets, interests, and experiences. The video game industry can sometimes get a bad rap, but – in my experience – it is one of the most interesting and supportive communities I’ve been a part of. It is a fertile field of innovation and exploration – and waking up every morning knowing that I’m part of something that can make people happy and help improve their lives is a privilege that never gets old.
What’s in the future for Flying Mollusk?
We’re currently focused on developing Nevermind and are planning to launch the full version around October 2015 (with some content being released via Steam Early Access between now and then). After Nevermind, we’ll continue to make edgy games for good leveraging the coolest technology out there to make unforgettable experiences that will also, in ways small and large, make the world a better place.