Design Blog 01 – Maize Origin Story

Hi, I’m Grant, co-designer and gameplay programmer for the team. Here at Junkfish we are well into production of our first full game, currently known as Project Maize, and I’m going to talk a little about the game. 

So what exactly is Maize?

Maize is a survival horror game with a simple enough premise: You are trapped on an abandoned cargo ship with a deadly beast hunting you. The goal is to find a way to escape while eluding your fellow passenger, if you are caught then it’s game over. You will need to use your wits and plan ahead as you explore as you could run into the hunter at any moment. Maybe it’s worth leaving the light on in the room you just left? Set off an alarm in an area you don’t plan on returning to? Get sloppy and make too much noise, and you might as well be wearing a neon sign. There are multiple escape routes to be found, but each is in some way broken or inaccessible so you will need to search the ship to find tools and items to make them usable. The layout of the ship is procedurally generated, as are the location of the items you’ll need to find, so each time you play you’ll have a different experience. 

Where did the idea come from?

The idea for this game came about from my desire for a replayable horror game. While I’m a huge fan of horror games, I generally find that after one playthrough I know where all the enemies are and what their patrol routes are and it becomes just an exercise in memorisation. I had also been binge-playing procedurally generated games such as The Binding of Isaac, Spelunky and FTL, which force the player to adapt to and plan for various situations in order to progress, as each run will be different. Maize then came into existence as the product of applying this procedural mechanic to a 3D horror game. After fleshing out the game idea a little I pitched it to the team who were very enthusiastic about making it and that as they say was that. Inspirations for the game itself are plentiful, some of the more notable ones being Alien, The Thing, House Of Leaves, Amnesia, Lost, and of course the games mentioned above.

Why make this game?

Well in addition to it being the kind of game I’d like to play I think a procedural horror game is a cool idea not only because of the replay potential, but also because horror games seem to have become something of a spectator sport recently. I know we enjoy gathering around to watch someone play Slender, Amnesia, Outlast, etc. and the popularity of horror based Let’s Plays implies we’re not the only ones. So the idea that it’s different each time means even after watching someone play it you can still have your own unique experience.

I’a Dagon,

Grant