Matt Gilgenbach Tries Again With Neverending Nightmare

horror of game development

I feel really bad for Matt Gilgenbach of Infinitap Games, whose game Retro/Grade, he explains “was nominated for two IGF awards in 2009 as well as won the IndieCade Audience Award in 2010”, and despite that, managed to be a spectacular failure for the talented guy – it just didn’t sell. As Nathan said back in March, Retro/Grade moonwalked onto Steam a little while back, and it’s currently on sale for next to nothing (Pick it up! It’s a super-great reverse rhythm’up in space!), but that’s not why we’re here. Matt has picked himself back up. He is going to try again. This time, it’s going to be a neverending nightmare (in that, it is called Neverending Nightmares).

Matt is extremely conscious of the mistakes he made with Retro/Grade, in that he admits that the reason that his game might have been a failure is simply that he didn’t involve a community in its development process – there was no warmth toward his game fostered ahead of time, no progress shared. He says, “As time passes and I continue to torture myself by focusing on all the mistakes we made on Retro/Grade, I’m beginning to think that we really missed an opportunity for being open during the development. I was so busy worrying about vertices and performance optimizations that I didn’t take the time to foster a community by telling people what I was doing and how I was doing it. I think this was a mistake.”

To make amends for this, Matt has begun a developer diary series. Here is one of his on preproduction of your game, discussing how to know your game is any good ahead of time.

Matt has recently discussed his next project with Polygon, called Neverending Nightmares. It’s a dark psychological horror game that weaves in the developer’s own problems with his mental health and depression. The art looks wonderful. “I think Neverending Nightmares is the game I can create better than anyone else, just because it’s so personal to me,” he told Polygon’s Justin McElroy. “I have all these negative images and negative emotions I can channel into making this psychological horror experience.”

The game will feature 2D graphics and a black and white palette. It’s as yet unclear whether the game will be released on PC but it looks like it would do well on Steam. You can find out more about the game Neverending Nightmares here.


  1. Inconceivable says:

    Or, just throwing this out there – maybe creating a game, even an allegedly fun and innovative one, from a genre that has been absolutely, brutally and completely run into the ground and beaten to death, to the degree that rhythm music games have been was his mistake, and no one wanted to play another one, no matter how good it might be. Just a thought.

    • grechzoo says:

      yeah, its a harsh truth, but I can only agree. the game might be brilliant, but from the trailer alone i was kind of burnt out, and had no inkling to play it at all. can only imagine that was the same greeting it got when people clicked into it on the steam store.

    • kuddles says:

      To be fair, when he started working on the game, the genre was barely on the cusp of taking off again.

      That said, I highly doubt that is the reason. It’s not like indie platformers or roguelikes aren’t selling.

    • KDR_11k says:

      Yeah I avoided the game on purpose since I don’t like rhythm games and am annoyed by the constant attempts of (mostly indie) game devs to stuff rhythm elements into more and more games. Shmups and rhythm don’t go along IMO.

  2. Mbaya says:

    While Retro/Grade didn’t really appeal to me all that much…I am somewhat interested by Neverending Nightmares, I certainly wasn’t expecting the trailer to be so…disturbing. I’m not usually phased by Horror, but there is something about that style that works really well for me.

    Will be interesting to see how this goes and I certainly hope it does better for him.

    • EYErishprEYEd says:

      Agreed re: the art style. Reminds me of the author/illustrator Edward Gorey, and that in turn gets me very excited for this.

  3. Matzerath says:

    This looks completely fucked-up, and I am 100% behind it. Though I will say the art style is at the extreme border of merely being ‘inspired’ by Edward Gorey.

  4. wu wei says:

    His talk on how his having OCD impacted on the development of Retro/Grade – 750k LOC by 2 developers! – is absolutely fascinating to watch.