Spec Ops: The Line creative director and designer Cory Davis has opened a new game studio called Eyes Out with Nine Inch Nails guitarist Robin Finck.
Davis and Finck said their shared love of "building atmosphere through the imaginative use of audio and visuals" inspired them to establish Eyes Out, which will be based in Los Angeles.
Since working on Spec Ops, Davis co-founded independent studio Tangent Games and served as the creator and composer of horror title, Here They Lie. Davis told Gamasutra that it's been challenging to ramp up a team in the midst of a pandemic, but the rapid advancements in remote communications and tools have them to bring on team members outside of the LA area.
Finck, who's been a prominent member of Nine Inch Nails since 1993, began scoring music for video games in 2014 and helped shape the soundscapes of titles like Observation and NOCT.
"When I was finishing up work on Here They Lie, Robin wandered into our studio and I felt a very strong connection to his open, creative view of existence, and the power of music," said Davis, explaining how the partnership sparked into being.
"We instantly started working on some prototypes I had in development at the time and together we launched straight toward something unexpected. Robin's vibrant and boundless approach to the creative process drives our work far beyond my previous experience. It's such an exhilarating trip to venture into the darkness together."
Davis also elaborated on how the team intends to use music to drive their game design without just making a Rock Band-type title. "When music becomes the driving force behind the important decisions we make as developers along the way, we end up in a new space far beyond our early expectations," he said. "There are so many great opportunities for gameplay to connect directly with sound and music through real-time, generative, quantized, and even glitched audio and music."
The fledgling studio's debut project is described as a "single-player immersive horror game" that utilizes strong environmental storytelling elements. Davis and Finck explained that their first title would explore the notion of cosmic horror, the type of existential anxiety popularized by writer H.P Lovecraft.
Reception to Lovecraft's work has morphed and evolved over the years, as readers come to grips with his personal racism, while his creations like Cthulhu have so permeated pop culture that you can now buy plushies of what was supposed to be an unnamed, inconceivable horror.
Davis said the team hopes to break new ground in cosmic horror by diving into the existential anxiety at the root of it. "At the core of cosmic horror is the question of reality - the meaning of our lives, or lack thereof. The terrors that lie deep in the cosmos and just beyond the veil," he said.
"Our particular approach looks to push the known boundaries of the genre and we can’t wait to share what we're discovering."