When we launched Hello Neighbor on Xbox 1 back in 2017, the greatest requested fan function was the potential to play as the creepy Neighbor. The game’s premise of sneaking into your creepy subsequent door neighbor’s home lent itself to that notion completely, and we spent two years producing that notion into a complete-on game. And we went a small additional than that.
In Secret Neighbor, a group of buddies are attempting to get into their creepy neighbor’s basement. Up to six players perform collectively producing their way by means of a bizarre home filled with traps, scattered loot, easter eggs, and basement keys as they attempt to unlock the door. Only trouble is a single of the players is a traitor in disguise – it is the Secret Neighbor.
The complete group has normally been into board games. We enjoy playing social games like Werewolf exactly where the gameplay comes from actual social engineering, reading people’s reactions, technique, and eventually betrayal.
So we began prototyping what would ultimately grow to be Secret Neighbor – we’d have six-player playtests, throughout which a single of the players would have the ultimate agenda of betraying every person, and socially engineering themselves into getting trusted as they take out players a single by a single devoid of expertise. The principal tool is voice chat. Pretty much immediately we knew there was some thing particular about the core loop. In an early prototype, a single of the players got eliminated early, and the complete group became suspicious of three players that have been close by. The complete session just stopped for a detective-style investigation: figuring out who was exactly where, and whom the group could trust. I was top that detective session, shifting blame involving a handful of other players. Situation was that I was the traitor. And I somehow convinced the complete group to get rid of a player who wasn’t the neighbor, only to run off laughing.
It is a social horror game at its core. There are actual “horror game” components exactly where you’d have jump scares, traps, and extra — the true horror although comes from actual social interaction with your (attainable) buddies, and recognizing that you cannot trust any individual about you.
With the core gameplay accomplished, we headed off into production – figuring out how to make the game varied sufficient for replayability whilst also maintaining it fresh. The greatest challenge was stopping the Neighbor to right away taking off the mask and going complete Rambo on other players, whilst they also cannot immediately get all keys scattered by means of the home and win. Earlier playtests showed that every person loves the core loop, and immediately after four-five matches figure out the optimal route for scavenging by means of the home, not leaving the Neighbor player substantially space for setting up traps and gaining trust.
The 1st point we did was add randomized walls in the home. Some doors are permanently walled off throughout the match, forcing players into employing alternate routes. The second was adding extra products for the Neighbor, for instance a smoke bomb or the potential to turn into any object. This shifted the balance in favor of the Neighbor.
Iteration quantity 3 revolved about mid-match progression. We added player classes, permitting for unique playstyles — and a progression program for the Neighbor. In the release version of Secret Neighbor, the Neighbor requirements to level up and discover the home with all other players — and it tends to make sense for him to go into attack mode only after he reached a specific level. All of this is taking place whilst the home is logically locked off with keycard doors, so players discover by means of the home in search for loot and the valuable basement keys. The Neighbor does the very same, looking for his personal particular products that enhance his skills. The finish outcome is incredibly unpredictable matches exactly where you do not know when the 1st confrontation is going to come about.
Consider a Neighbor player picking from skillsets such as throwing smoke bombs, turning into creepy pumpkins (with mustaches!), laying down beartraps, and extra — my private favored is that satisfying sound of a beartrap catching an individual. And the screams of the caught players as they comprehend they’re about to go into spectator mode!
The scariest aspect about functioning on projects like Hello Neighbor and Secret Neighbor is that we’re carrying out some thing unique. Social Horror hasn’t been accomplished this way prior to, and I am each excited and terrified to watch individuals play beginning these days on October 24, when Secret Neighbor launches on Xbox 1 and with Xbox Game Pass!