While big, blockbuster AAA games predominate the market with tons of glitz and glamor, the indies are where most developers take their chances to make their dream game. Tons of success stories are already out there, but one indie horror game has been sweeping up much recognition and love among gamers. Surprisingly so, this one has been made by someone from India.
20-year-old Mukul Negi, who goes by Rayll on socials and the Steam page, has been developing an episodic-horror game called Fears to Fathom. Based on his experience with scary incidents as a kid and thousands of gamers, he has been doing what most indie developers want: making a title they want to play.
From thousands of people enjoying the two episodic horror games to famous YouTuber Jackscepticeye playing the game on-stream, Rayll is currently in the process of deciding on the future episodes of Fears to Fathom.
Being a fan of horror games and indie games, it was natural of me to chat with the man himself. Here are a few topics Mukul and I talked about, ranging from developing Fears to Fathom to being a solo developer. Well, mostly about Fears to Fathom.
Mukul Negi, aka Rayll on creating Fears to Fathom and being a solo indie developer
1) Rayll, first of all, a big thank you for accepting my request. Can we start by having the readers know a little bit about yourself, the creator of the episodic indie horror game Fears to Fathom?
Hey Sampad, first things first, thanks for reaching out. I really appreciate you doing this.
I’m a 20-year-old hobbyist game developer currently working on Fears to Fathom. I started my game development journey in 2015 when I was about 13. I still love every second of it, and I love making lo-fi art and playing games in my spare time.
2) Being an indie developer certainly gives you a lot of liberty in terms of designing and deciding on factors while creating the game. At the same time, indie development is also very lengthy and, at certain times, very difficult. How has the experience been for you and the team while creating the Fears to Fathom series?
I should probably start this answer by addressing the fact that there is no “team” (yet). It’s just me in my small bedroom.
The only reason I do game development is that I want to do it and not because I have to. I probably would’ve dreaded game development if I didn’t have 100% liberty on my titles or simply if I had to do it. I don’t know if that makes much sense?
I totally agree with you. Game development is difficult. It requires you to be very resilient, and it’s super easy to lose motivation and give up on it, but my friends and the community kept me going, and I’m super grateful for it. This may sound super weird, but whenever I felt low on motivation, I’d search up Fears to Fathom on YouTube and see someone play and enjoy the game, and I’ll be like. ‘dang, what I’m doing right now is maybe something and can bring a tad bit of happiness to people’, and I’ll be back to work the next moment!
3) Horror as a genre is very broad, and it can be challenging to implement since many factors are needed to be nailed for a convincingly spooky game. How did you approach that aspect while developing the Fears to Fathom series?
I just wanted to make horror games that I’d play myself. While I probably can’t comprehensively answer it here, here’s an (incident?) that I attribute significantly to when it comes to the spooky-ness of Fears to Fathom.
When I was super young, whenever my cousins came over, we would watch horror movies just to have a good laugh. One day, though, one of my cousins loaded this DVD (too young to remember the movie’s name). We were midway through it, where the protagonist was walking through a hallway, and I noticed something strange for a fraction of a second, I thought.
I stood up and asked my cousin to pause and rewind, which she did frame-by-frame, and there it was. A black human figure at the corner of the frame. Just seeing it, I had the most raging chills all over my body.
I felt like I saw something I wasn’t meant to see, which really messed with the young me. The fact that I still remember it to this day should tell you something about how effective it was for me.
I’ve attempted to incorporate such scenes in Fears to Fathom, which I think is paying dividends.
4) Right off the bat, when I tried episode 1 and the demo for episode 2, it gave me this very old-school horror vibe, where it felt like watching the campy 80s B-horror VHS tapes. What inspired you to decide on that aesthetic choice for the game?
It’s mostly subliminal, but there’s just something about the old-school VHS aesthetics that makes you feel some sort of way, you know? I felt like it really resonated with the liminal feeling I wanted it to give off, and I’m super happy with how it turned out.
5) When I was initially watching the gameplay, I noticed an email right when a player boots up the game. Through email, players can share stories with you. Tell us a bit about it and how it helped develop the series?
I want to keep the series pretty grounded in reality. I doubt you’ll ever see some monsters chasing you in a Fears to Fathom game, as I feel it breaks the reality factor of the game, and it’s something I wouldn’t personally enjoy.
I think it’s pretty clear by now, Fears to Fathom is not about ghosts and monsters, but it’s about people’s traumatic stories. Now, what better way to come up with grounded creepy stories? You crowdsource them!
6) I guess it is safe to assume that apart from getting loved by the horror gaming community for the games, the YouTuber Jacksepticeye playing the game for one of his videos could be one of the highlights for you. Tell us a bit about that experience.
The past few days have honestly been unreal for me, and I’m super grateful for it. I grew up watching Jacksepticeye, and seeing him play and appreciating what came out of my bedroom just feels unreal, a little dramatic, but younger me used to daydream of this!
I appreciate all the support the series has gotten from players. I don’t take any of this for granted.
7) Apart from making Fears to Fathom, what other genres are you interested in venturing out? Do you have any plans for creating a bigger experience sometime down the line?
I want to make a casual/survival something with co-op & PvP somewhere in the future. I’ve always wanted to make a unique and engaging multiplayer experience, but I feel like I’m just not quite there yet. Plus, I don’t have a hook or a concept that I think is good enough for the attention I’m looking to capture with it as of now.
I’m going to lay back and wait for something to hit me until then.
8) To wrap up the interview, what does the future of the Fears to Fathom series look like? What can the fans of the first two episodes expect in the near future?
As of yet, I wouldn’t really know for myself what the next episodes are going to be about exactly, as I’m yet to go through the story submissions for episode 3. Personally, I really want to deploy more isolation to the games.
No promises on this, but I’m looking forward to releasing a two-player co-op episode somewhere in the future as well.
Rayll’s episodic indie horror Fears to Fathom series is currently available to purchase and play on Steam. The first episode of the series, Home Alone, is entirely free for everyone to try.
Want to know what the brain behind the game himself has been doing? Head over to his Twitter account to check what Rayll has been working on.