Benjamin Rivers has spent the last three years working on his atmospheric indie pixel-art horror game, Home
, which started spooking up PCs through Rivers' official site
last June and terrified a much larger audience once the game hit Steam last August. Despite being a tremendous labor of love, Rivers is ready to move on to his next project, which may be a romantic effort of a different sort.
"Well, I made a joke
on Twitter like a month ago," Rivers told me during GDC, "where I was like 'Hey guys, if I did a horror game with a dating-sim element, would people play it?' and people were like 'Yeah!' Playing things like Mass Effect while finishing this game, playing Persona, that element of a really relationship-based game where you chase stuff like that, that's kind of my new jam."
, Rivers' next game will likely still be two-dimensional and will focus on psychologically influencing the player in subtle ways, though this time the goal will be to induce emotional attachment to a fictional character, rather than instill terror. Not that love isn't terrifying in its own right.
"It's not a grinding game or anything like that, but I want to take a lot of what you do in those relationship games like Persona and offload some of that to people," Rivers said, explaining that the ultimate goal will be to have the player become honestly and emotionally invested, rather than solely caring about the gamification of satisfying a social link, or maxing out relationship points.
"I want to basically take a game that makes you feel as cool as you do in Persona, as far as relationships, [being] as connected," Rivers continued, "but see if I can do it without making it so video game-y, but still make it where people maybe even have a more powerful reaction because they buy in."
Rivers didn't speak to any of the game's specifics, such as its title or potential release window, though he did express his somewhat bittersweet excitement for working on a brand-new project. "It's been three years that I've been living with this thing," Rivers said in reference to Home
. "Desperately I am plotting my new thing, my next thing and so yes, I am looking forward to putting this to bed – part of me is. Part of me is going to miss it when it goes away."