Ghost Theory: Experience the paranormal in VR

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Ghost Theory is a VR ghost hunting game, created by the Prague based video game company Dreadlocks. They’re currently working on their stretch goal on Kickstarter, and as this game is soon to enter the world, I had a chat with one of the game’s creators, Stefan Durmek.

Could you tell us what this game is about?
Ghost Theory is a serious take on paranormal research. Intrigued by your supernatural talent of clairvoyance, a struggling university department asks you to join their secret research team, making you a front-field operative in paranormal investigations.

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Getting spooky with an EMF reader.

Using a wide range of ghost hunting gadgets and abilities you will conduct missions to investigate real haunted sites, collect samples and gather evidence. Each mission is an open-ended haunted ground – a playable sandbox with its own story waiting to be unearthed. The university is your home base, where your work, will be evaluated, have your results assessed, and where you will be briefed for your next mission.

Why did you decide to make this game? Or more specifically where did the initial idea come from?

Ghost Theory started as a small VR experiment that stood aside of the official production of Dreadlocks. It was about a little girl (Barbara) who wakes up in a strange house and searches for her grandma, who promised to stay by her bed till morning. Barbara would experience horror only to find out that her grandma went downstairs to watch TV and that everything that scared her along the way was just a product of her imagination. Originally it was suppose to be a 15-20 minute long game. It was meant to be an easy pick for fresh owners of VR kits. When we finished the development of Dex we were on a look out for a new main project and we decided to turn this experimental project into a big horror game.

How did you research the ghost investigator industry, how accurate to that profession are you?
Most of us are naturally intrigued by the unknown, especially by paranormal phenomena. But to be honest, none of us is a real ghost hunter. I’d say the only way to start designing a game that will satisfy your audience is to understand why they’re so passionate about it. We are devoting countless hours to research amateur ghost hunting and professional paranormal investigations.

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This would be far more disturbing in an episode of CSI.

We are going to participate in several ghost hunts ourselves and also visit real haunted places. But most importantly – we’re communicating with seasoned ghost hunters, ghost-travel agencies and we’re on a constant look out for real scientists, in order to consult the game’s design and storytelling with real experts from the paranormal field.

How do you plan to handle potentially culturally sensitive issues, such as the suicide forest in Japan?
We’ll do our best to treat each location with respect to the local culture. The inspiration for its back-story, and hauntings will always be local reports, rumours and stories.

Speaking of, how did you decide what locations to use?
There are couple of factors that make each place more or less interesting for us. First is, how popular the location is among ghost fans and ghost hunters (at least local ones). Second factor is a type and proportions. Not every haunted place is suitable for our concept of sandbox game play. Third factor is the ground’s back-story and type of the haunting, which must fit our aim for the overall story of Ghost Theory.

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Using a pendulum for divination.

We don’t have a final list of locations yet. At the moment it all depends on the game’s budget. It will define how many people can work on the game, and for how long.

What makes this game special?
This game is dedicated to all fans of paranormal investigations and ghost hunting around the world.  We’ll give them tools to investigate real haunted grounds and we’ll give them a passionate team of university scientists to search for their own theory of ghosts. The field of para-psychology lost the respect of modern science years ago. Although it remains to be an unexplored phenomenon, it is being overlooked. Ghost Theory will return this discipline back to a lab, where it belongs.

Gameplay-wise: Ghost Theory is not going to be another “Ghost Busters” game, in which you shoot ghosts with a proton gun, and it won’t be a classic “walking simulator” (corridor experience” with jump scares).

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Ghost Theory will integrate live actors into the game for authenticity.

It is designed to be different than other FPS horror games. Don’t expect ghosts to be jumping out at you from the darkness for no reason. In fact, most of them won’t respond to your mere presence at all. Unless you make them. It is your task to find out how, if you hope to meet your objectives.

Authenticity: There is a lot of emphasis on making this game authentic. Real locations, real gadgets, serious research. That’s our starting point. We are going to authorise the reins of authenticity in later stages of the game, where we need to pioneer our way to new gadgets and results of the research. But all of that will be consulted with our special advisors from the paranormal field.

If you’d like to learn more about Ghost Theory, then check it out on its Kickstarter page. It is set to be available on PC, Mac, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 with VR integration in mind.

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