Midnight Customers is a narrative horror game in which you play as a gas station attendant during the night shift in the middle of nowhere. Interact with customers and complete tasks to keep your job and gain information on the secrets of this creepy location. Midnight Customers draws on the Lovecraftian universe and as a writer for the game, I had to use this existing IP in a way that was unique and new. That is what this blog is about, the use of existing IP’s in new projects and how we did it in Midnight Customers.
To start the whole process off, even before writing anything it is important to know what you want to use from the existing IP. You then should just dive into the material and draw out things you think can be used to help achieve your goal of what you want your game to have from the existing IP. Things like characters, lore, locations, emotions, and atmosphere are just a few of the things to look at when researching the existing IP. Also look at how each of the things you look at might impact and change the game as well as what they can be used for. What will each character do, how will each location change how the player looks at the world etc. Researching is extremely important when it comes to using an existing IP, as you do not want to create something that just does not fit.
A game that uses Lovecraftian Lore and worldbuilding in a very successful way, is the game Call Of Cthulhu. It uses one of the most known gods in the Lovecraft universe in the game as well as adopts the tone of the world well. It really takes that horror aspect of the world and puts it to use. It uses that helpless feeling and the unknowing to provide a unique experience.
For Midnight Customers we wanted to use the atmosphere and the characters from H.P Lovecraft’s writings. We started with specific characters, reading the stories they were in and gathered information on how these characters felt themselves, how they interacted with other characters, and how we felt about them as a reader. We then crafted character documents for each of the characters using the things we had learned and adding things to make them not direct copies. In terms of atmosphere it was clear we wanted this creepy unsettling feeling for the player to indulge in, and reading the stories helped to create ideas about details such as when a player interacts with things around the store, the little dialogue that comes up makes the player feel as though something is not right.
My personal project within the game was the loading screen story. I used the characters that were researched as well as the atmosphere above to help craft this story and give lore to the world that is unique to our game. I also used real world events such as colonization and the Salem Witch Trials as motivation for the story to really nail it down as if this place could exist outside of the game.
Using the Lovecraftian universe in Midnight Customers really helped create a solid base for the game. It allowed us to build onto the world, and create things to help us reach the feeling we truly want from the game. Using existing IP’s can be very beneficial but it is important that you do not just copy paste, you need to add your own spin to the things that you use. This insures that your game feels unique and new.