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Loveland: Devhour Games takes a leap into the world of Cults, Cryptids, and frogs.

Being a lover of the macabre I, like many others, find the tales of cryptids to be quite interesting. On the hunt for more info on the creepy creatures that haunt the night, I came across Loveland, an upcoming horror immersive sim form Devhour Games that tasks the player with learning more about a cryptid obsessed cult that does a lot more than just lick toads.

Eager to learn more about the title, and the Loveland Frog itself, I reached out to the team behind the title by picking up an unmarked phone in my office and calling into a shadowy clandestine agency for support. Thankfully the agency was able to send their top trio of field agents, and I got to speak with Chris Baracani, Nick Jones, and Mark Liberto about the work they had done exposing the world to the Loveland frog.

I thanked the trio for taking time from their important work for the agency to sit with me and discuss their history as a game dev triple threat, as well as share some classified secrets about their upcoming game Loveland.

I knew that the team making Loveland was small, but I wanted to know how many hands the team had on deck, so I started the interview by asking the group how many people made up the team at Devhour Games?

Chris: Well, there are the three of us. And we do have two other people that are working with us. One is Shane. He goes by Bon is dead on Twitter. And we also enlisted some help from a good friend of ours, Josh, Mr. Leap. You may have seen his work. He’s working on Tentacle Typer, We work very closely with him. He has quite a few spots in Loveland. He’s done. Mostly visual effects, I think, right?

Nick: Yeah. He’s a contractor for us. But he’s also a really, really close friend… he’s really knowledgeable. We lack an artist in a lot of cases. So we had to fill in the best we could. But once he kind of came in, he really professionalized our art a lot more.

It seems as though the backbone of this project was the main trio of Chris, Nick, and Mark. Wanting to learn more about how they met, I asked the team how they all came to develop games together?

Chris: Um, so it starts back quite a while back with me and Nick. We were working together at an IT consultant database company.

Nick: I started in, I think it was 2014.

Chris: Yeah. So he started working there and got me a job there.

Nick: Doing stuff not at all related to video games. But then I convinced these guys because I knew the CEO of the company quite well, I went to high school with his son. And I convinced them to bid on this Army Corps of Engineers proposal. And they say, what’s it going to be? It’s going to be an educational game about flood management. And you know, you’ve got to do something regarding the management of water in the state of Nevada, right. And that’s what the game has got to be about. 

So what we did was we pitched them on a game design, but not only did we pitch them, I convinced the CEO that we needed to make an actual prototype. And then I convinced them, you know, give us five days, me and Chris. And yeah, so we did it in five days, and we ended up getting that contract, made the company a cool 100k, something like that, in about seven months. And that’s when we started considering ourselves, you know, slightly more professional game developers, I guess.

Chris: Yeah. So that game is actually available for download. It’s called Flood Fighter Nevada. Yeah. And it’s just a simulation game about what happens when big storms come through Nevada and flood a town… Yeah, after that, we got split up, but we kind of had the taste for the game dev, and we started playing with the idea of actually starting a company. And that’s when I met Mark here. A Contract in Chicago. And we met over the Nintendo Switch, I think it was.

Mark: Yeah, I think it was my first day at the client, I sat next to you, and I was like, “Hi”. You said, “Hi” and then we both found out shortly after that we both had like, identical gamer tags since childhood. Yeah, that was weird. It was really weird, just like Hawkman something or Hawk something. Like, variations of Hawkman or hawk.  I had a Switch and you didn’t and then you came to my hotel room. We were in Chicago, and you tried Mario Kart and Breath of the Wild. You were like, “Damn, I need to get one.” And then we became friends.

Chris: Bought a Switch that week… Yeah, so what ended up happening is all three of us came together and we tried. We were like, well, you know what, let’s try to actually make a company and release a game. We were working on Depixtion for a little while. And then you know, we were given the opportunity to show Depixtion at E3 with the National Video Game Museum and so we did it and that’s when Depixtion launched.

Mark: It was great. We got a we got to run into like Jeff Gerstmann of Giant Bomb games and he covered it on Giant Bomb. It was awesome. 

Chris: Yeah, Tim Schaeffer’s booth for Psychonauts Two was right next to us so we spent a lot of time hanging out with them.

Nick: We hung out with a lot of the Double Fine people, they were cool.

Chris: Yeah. If you want to talk indie, that was as indie as indie could get. It wasn’t like we were in the indie booths or with the Indiecade or anything. We were literally hijacking a table inside of the National Video Games Museum’s booth trying to show off Depixtion… that was the stipulation, we would get into E3 for free and we’d get a booth, but we had to drive the truck 

Nick: With the games and all of the stuff that they were going to show they’re like the, you know, the Ataris and, you know, just everything that they were going to put out on the tables for people to walk by. And, meanwhile, by the way, we were also working at their booth. So, you know, Chris is actually a guide there, so people would walk up and have questions, he would walk away and like, explain to them all this stuff about the NVM.

Chris: Yeah, we were working two different jobs both as tour guides of the NVM and game designers trying to sell Depixtion and you think you would go to all the coolest after parties after that, but you end up just coming home and crashing.

Mark: Yeah, you’re just tired and you want to eat and you pass out. Talking about the indie indie. That’s how Jeff ended up describing it. I didn’t think it was that suspicious of an interaction he had with us. But whenever he talked about us on Giant Bomb he kind of made it seem like we were under the table in a way saying “Hey, guys, I got this thing over here. It’s not even with the Indies, why don’t you come over here, man, I got this stuff on this corner, guys, follow me here.” I was just like, I mean, yeah, that’s that’s kind of how we were doing it.

While we were on the topic of the National Video Game Museum, I asked how it came to be that the team made the Official NVM Doom Map, was it something they suggested, or did the NVM approach them with the idea?

Chris: No, actually, that was something brought to me. I had been working with the National Video game for over a year at the time as a tour guide, you know, essentially, people would come in and I would give them the tour of the location. And they knew that we were game designers and he just was like, “hey, you know, something we’ve always wanted to do was to have a doom map of our museum.” And I’m like, “wow, that actually sounds pretty cool. I kind of want to try to make that.” And, honest to god, I had never made a doom map before, I didn’t quite know what it entailed. 

All I did was just grab my camera and start taking a crapload of pictures, hundreds of pictures. To make the textures, you know, for the walls, it’s a one to one recreation, I mean, I took the pictures of all the artwork on the walls, I sectioned it out and photoshopped it to fit. I mean, they gave me the blueprints to the museum, it was as accurate as accurate can be. It was a hell of an experience. And I’m pretty sure I’m gonna have to do it again, because they’re planning on moving locations into a much bigger museum, in which case, they’ll need a 2.0 version of the app. Maybe I can convince them to use Quake or something instead,

It sounded like the team had their hands full with a lot of work outside of Loveland, wanting to get an idea about how long it had taken to get to this point, I asked the team how long they had been working on the title?

Nick: over two years since I started the game proper, but it’s been, you know, a little more than that since we started the idea. It was a game jam right before COVID. 

Chris: A game jam right before COVID. When we finished the jam, and we submitted it, I don’t know, people liked it, and we kind of liked it. And it was kind of in the direction that we were wanting to take our future games. So at first it was kind of like “okay, well, we’ll use this game as a method to build our systems and get used to the 3d environment.” This move from a 2d game with Depixtion, and so it’s taken two years of development. But that’s with, like, two complete coding rehauls, a complete renderer change… So essentially what ends up happening is we release a demo version. And then we reworked the whole entire game and released an updated demo version. And It’s been taking some time, but it’s been an iterative process. 

Nick: The thing is, we had to build the behind the scenes tools for how to build our game, you know what I mean? So, for instance, when I wrote this entire dialogue system, it’s like a branching dialogue tree system in unity that Chris can use to make shit happen in the world, you know… So I make the tools. That’s why Friday is like, you know, tools day and like, design day for figuring out what we’re going to make. And then he goes and makes everything and I help them throughout the week when I can. But yeah, it’s a pretty cool system. I think, what was I saying?

Chris: I don’t know. We’ve just been at it for two years. It’s been a long time. Hopefully, we’re wrapping up soon

Nick: Oh, yeah, that’s the trick here is, you know, loveland turned into a good idea. It turned into something that we’re really excited about, but at the beginning, it was really just supposed to be like a fun, kind of a definitely-less-than-a-six-month project.

Mark: Yeah, I feel like I remember that one day in discord. Where like you guys, because I wasn’t a part of the game jam originally, right? You know, we’re working full time, and Depixtion got launched on the switch right before COVID hit. In fact, I remember being in lockdown, and turning on my switch and seeing it. There right next to Pokemon Mystery Dungeon. Oh, my God, that’s pretty cool… But I felt like it was some point later that year where you guys plugged me in. And then like, we kept having these crazy conversations about things like, myths and all this stuff. And I just, I feel like, it went from the Game Jam idea to something like, “hey, we want to do something more important here than just be edgy, too, right?” Like we want to, we want to tell a cool story, but also, you know, deal with horror in a way that gets at real human issues, too. So it was just a turning point. We started listening to some podcasts.

Chris: Listening into the history, listening to the Bible, reading out and getting some ideas.

Nick: Yeah. Listened to many, many hundreds of hours…  I didn’t want us to kind of go too far off the rails, but we are off the rails, of course. This is not bad religion for no reason. We’re showing the user bad religion, but there’s a specific reason why we’re showing it.

Mark: Yeah, I think a good example of that is like a lot in American parlance of, quote, unquote, bad Christianity is like the concept of the rapture. Like, there’s just gonna be a day where everyone’s gone. But that’s a very new teaching that doesn’t have a history with orthodox teaching at all. And I think that comes down to a lot of things like fundamentalism, as well, and traditions of theology as well in America, that I think we’re trying to get at in a way that the story wrestles with, like, what are these problematic aspects? And how does it lead to a waco situation or the situation you see in this game as well?

Chris: AKA there’s a lot of subtext. Yes, it’s about the Loveland frog. But it’s kind of evolved into something huge. And I don’t even know how we got onto this. Didn’t Guess how long we worked on it? Yeah. Well, we’re leading the interview here… Yeah, it’s that’s essentially in that case, that’s what they’re getting at. You know, when we designed it, the first thought was, of course, the Loveland frog is Awesome. He’s just a fantastic cryptid, little known, starting to get up there though, thankfully. And he’s just a cool character. And, you know, we had this idea where he would, you know, essentially influence a pastor who’s a little bit too overzealous and is inclined to react to things in the incorrect way. 

Nick: He’s got a conspiracy mind, you know.

Chris: Yeah. And so when we tell the story of how the Loveland frog corrupts him to become the leader of the cult, it’s not just a simple he’s a cult leader. We actually dive heavily into the real world Christian Christian lore. We’ve done tons of research on the Bible. Everything that we talk about is going to be very nuanced and is being said and told with an intended purpose, you know, hopefully, we’re trying to take the idea of of a horror game about cryptids and turn it into something much deeper than just an experience where a frog chases you, you have to deal with, of what the church has become.

Nick: We wanted to put people in interesting scenarios. I mean, like, for instance, spoilers, you’re gonna be in a chapel in a church service, and if you don’t sit through it, you’ll be punished.

Chris: We have a full blown church service, complete with prayers, hymns that will be sung of full preaching with testimony, and you don’t want to get baptized. With baptisms we were going the whole nine yards to truly convey what it’s like to join a Christian based cult that’s founded on bad religion.

Mark: I think to add to that point a little bit. I am a deeply faithful Catholic myself, and I’ve run a lot of the story ideas were trying to tell with through a priest friend of mine, and he sees valid aspects of at least what I’ve communicated at the time what we were doing in the way scripture can be distorted and used in a half truth way, as like, I would say small C church versus, like, the history of the Orthodox tradition in general and how there’s just a tendency for like, like Nick and Chris said, a hyper literalism with certain things, and a hyper, like, rapture concept of things that just by original teachings itself aren’t possible, but you see in American culture.

The team was very clearly passionate about their work on Loveland, but I was curious as to how they had decided upon the crucial cryptid featured in the game. I asked the trio if anyone from the team was from Ohio, or if they had any run-ins with the Loveland frog that inspired the game?

Mark: Unfortunately, I’m close to it. No, I’m from Western PA myself, but I don’t think anyone else has been in Ohio right?

Nick: Whenever they say write what you know, we didn’t we didn’t do that.

Chris: Yeah, I believe you know, to be honest, it was Bon. Who really brought up the Loveland frog. See, Bon is a huge fan of X Files, huge fan of cryptid lore and stuff like that. And when we initially started talking about the game jam, we initially were going with the idea of X Files in general, the whole idea was X Files but with cryptids. Bon, being our cryptid guy, essentially put a list together of his lesser known but favorite cryptids and as he was going through the list he hit the Loveland frog and we just stopped. There was something, the moment he told us about it everything just felt right.

Mark: I think yeah, X Files is definitely an obvious inspiration. And I think Nick, you just got done playing Control too at some point while you were making the game.

Chris: X Files, Control, and SCP were all a heavy, heavy influence. And then of course, Deus Ex and Resident Evil. One of the things that we really wanted to focus on with Loveland was to try and give a horror game an immersive simulator feel, like what happens if you can interact with everything in the environment, certain situations become more terrifying because of you being more invested in the atmosphere.

Nick: Since there’s more agency there’s more cases that you get fucked you know… also this like Valvian design, you know, or like the Arkane style design. They won’t tell you this, but it’s much cheaper in development to never break from first person…

Almost every choice we make is based on the constraints around us, you know, mixed with what direction we are kind of going and we’re telling a mystery horror story. And you can go as deep into it as you want, or you can leave, you know, and you would get an ending both ways, but the endings are vastly different based on what you do, how far you go, and what stone you’re gonna turn over or which you’re not,

Chris: you know, that’s something that that the Deus Ex slash immersive sim elements really came into play is that we wanted you to be able to literally, if you if you found enough information, and you don’t want to dive into the caves of loveland cove, be able to turn around and leave 

Nick: the agency tells you not to, they explicitly tell you don’t go further than you need to

Now, being a proper cryptid connoisseur, I had done my research on the Loveland frog, and I had seen some conflicting reports about the appearance of the being. So I asked the team if they would clarify, was their version of the Loveland frog going to have a wand that shoots sparks?

Chris: I will say that currently, we do not have a wand for the Loveland frog. 

Nick: Yeah, we took a liberty with his size, we might have made him not so much a spellcaster if you know what I’m saying.

Chris: Yeah, more like a gladiator or Battletoads. But, ya know, we wanted something a little bit more intimidating than a four foot frog waving a wand around, as funny as that really would have been. And you never know where there might be an easter egg. Either way though, we appreciate that particular looking version of the Loveland frog, but that won’t be ours.

Mark: More of a Samoa Joe of Loveland frogs

I commented that it sounded like they were more intent on making the frogs freaky.

Nick: Well, I grew up with a girl that was deathly afraid of frogs. And I used to mess around with her all the time about it. So that’s been on my mind, how some people just find frogs to be freaking really creepy.

Chris: But a lot of people think they’re really cute, like with Mark over here.

Mark: Yeah, my wife and I, I mean, I just sent a video to our Discord today. But like I came into the kitchen, and like I told you, my wife and I, we deeply love Jesus and my wife also has a strong passion for frogs. And so it’s like our entire life was leading up to like, “Hey, what if you guys made a game about pervasive Bad Religion, and frogs” and I came home today and there’s a new picture of a frog in our kitchen. And like, there’s 25 Frog things in our house. My wife loves them. And honestly, it makes gift giving super easy, so I’m not I’m not upset about it.

Chris: In terms of the players it has been a little bit interesting. You know, we’ve talked a lot about how the frogs should be approached by the player right? Because if you come up to the frog, and if you step on it or touch it or pet it, then you get a pretty good dose of frog toxin which, you know, distorts your vision and makes everything hard to see. And originally that was the point of the frog repellent is we wanted people to be afraid of the frogs, we wanted them to try to shoo away the frogs but with all the streams we watched, everyone just pets the damn frogs, they just like frogs, if anything more people want to join the frog cult then they want to stop it.

Nick: So we had to start making that really interesting

Chris: Yeah, so yeah, we’ve really leaned heavily into the few different endings where you do join the frog cult. And honestly, it might be more interesting than not joining the cult at this point.

Nick: Like, do you want to be a beurocrat and do your job like the other fucking drones? Or do you want to go join a frog cult and be happy all day? 

Chris: Oh yeah, I don’t think a lot of people are really afraid of the small frogs. I think people will be a bit more afraid of the Loveland frog himself, he’s a much more menacing guy and not a lot is seen. I know some people have snuck out of boundaries and spotted him, but I think they’ll be a little bit more scared of that guy when it comes down to it. But ya know, everyone wants to join the cult, they’re not afraid of it, they love it.

Mark: You know, it’s kind of funny that you had it built in, like, natural consequences for touching the frogs.

Nick: the interaction with the frog has evolved over the course of the project to I’d say,

On the topic of touching frogs, I asked the team if they would be able to tell us a little bit about what would happen to the player if they pet too many frogs, or drank too much frog shine?

Chris: So, that’s actually an interesting subject. As we mentioned earlier, we want people to play Loveland a lot. Like it’s definitely a game where you actually can’t see everything in one go, right? It’s going to require multiple playthroughs for you to see all the interesting content, so if you start imbibing on too much frog shine, petting the frogs and just getting high too much. Well, two things will happen. One, it’ll start to normalize, you’ll start to kinda like it. And the game starts directing you… once you start getting too high on the frog shine, you’ll start getting guided, a pathway will start appearing on the ground. Yeah, it kind of feels like a compass of sorts, like a way to get to the next objective. However, it’s leading you down the wrong path. So if you imbibe on too much frog shine, the game will purposefully try to make you join the frog cult.

Nick: Because that’s what it does, you know, if you drink this frog shine, and you’re in Texas, you’ll make your way to Ohio, without even knowing why.

Chris: Yeah, so we’re simulating the Loveland frog calling to you, the player will probably think it’s our objective system, letting you know what to do next, and it kind of is, but it leads you right into the arms of the cult, and either joining them or getting one of the other very bad endings. And on top of that. If you manage to make it back to the agency, they don’t really look too happily on someone who’s stoned or drunk all the time. So you will also get reprimanded. 

Nick: You’re a liability to them if you’re if you’re stoned on this frog stuff, because he can influence you. 

Chris: There’s a lot of implications with the frog shine, everything from guiding the player in the wrong direction, to unlocking secret dialogue sequences to even manipulating the paintings around you, and making you see things that aren’t really there.

Talking more about the world of Loveland, I wanted to learn the hiddens truths about the agency the player will be working for. So I  asked the team if they would mind elaborating on what kind of a role the agency plays in this world?

Chris: So there’s a few things in particular, we can talk about. Stuff that if you dove real deep into the demo, you might have found. They are indeed a clandestine operation. The way that we describe them is they’re independent contractors that do the dirty work for the CIA, the FBI, pretty much any government agency that needs something taken care of, they call the agency to take care of it. And in this particular situation, you take on the role of an agency detective, whose sole purpose is to be dispatched out to a location and determine if any anomalous events or any kind of cryptids or anything out of the ordinary that needs to be handled by a strike team is going on. 

Therefore, you’re really only equipped with a flashlight. In other words, a way to snoop around. And that’s what we were kind of alluding to earlier in the game, this will be flushed out more in the full version, but as a detective, you’re only supposed to go deep enough to warrant you know, the use of a strike force. You’re not there to confront Abram and solve the problem. So by the time you enter the chapel and start really pushing buttons, you might have overstepped your bounds. So the agency is always watching, they know what you’re doing. And when you return, anything that has happened, they’ll go over with you. And that’ll really determine how the game ends for quite a couple of our endings. But yeah, they’re essentially a clandestine operation that handles the CIA and FBI dirty work. 

With the world of Loveland being as fleshed out as it is, I was curious as to how long the typical player should expect a playthrough to last. I asked the team if they felt like this was a game where someone could beat it twice in a day, or did they think the average playthrough would take a while to get through?

Chris: Oh, no, it’ll be a shorter playthrough it depends, you know. If you were to beeline it through, hell, you could probably knock it out in less than an hour. But if you really take the time and go through it and spend some time in the world and absorb it, you’re looking at, you know, a couple hours for multiple playthroughs, probably three hours for two playthroughs. So it is definitely a shorter experience. But it’s going to be interesting mainly due to how dense the area is, that’s really what we wanted, you’re going to get as much as you put into it.

Nick: Some players, like me, too, that are kind of slow. You know, I really take in the atmosphere, the whole entire time. I would probably spend more than three hours with it. But yeah, you know, that’s maybe wishful thinking.

Mark: Remember how long it took me to do the demo during the Steam fest? That took a while. Yeah, I’m Italian, so I talk a lot, and when I talk, my hands have to move. So it’s hard to talk and play a game at the same time.

Chris: You know, I hear the Gloomwood developer talk a lot about this. It is really god damn hard to make an immersive sim. Anytime you add any additional new content, you have to go back because you can go anywhere you can do anything in any order. And it just starts cascading, the more you add the longer to QA. So we have plans for extending Loveland in the long run. But for now, it’ll probably be about Yeah, like Nick said, anywhere between a two to four hour experience. But yeah, it’s not due to lack of content, mainly because of the sheer difficulty of making an immersive sim. 

Nick: And it’s also very densely packed. We’re not a big studios, so we’re not trying to add in a bunch of filler, you know, 

Chris: Everything in the game is for a purpose. And it stacks several layers deep. So every person you can talk to probably has two completely unbeknownst to you dialog chains that you haven’t figured out how to unlock yet. Yeah, not unlike a very small-scale Heavy Rain style game, you know what I mean?

Nick: To the point where I’m actually a little worried that some players you know, will maybe make some judgments before they see some of the stuff that’s like, the crazy, crazy, different endings, you know. But that’s what the internet is for.

Bringing the conversation back to the topic of inspirations, after seeing how much care was put into the religious aspect of the story, I wanted to know how the cult aspect was handled, so I asked the team if they did any extensive research on, or take any inspiration from real world cults?

Nick: Yeah, you know, the key one that a lot of people love to go to and that I love to go to which is right down the road from where we are making this game is actually the Waco siege. And you know, David Koresh, the leader of the Branch Davidians. He talked a lot, you know, there’s a lot of footage of him and you know, writings from him talking about their ‘withering’ he called it, you know, where his flock was going to suffer, but they were going to be better afterwards, that’s what he promised them. And just all of these deranged ways of thinking, these are the types of patterns that you see in every cult, but when you start to narrow in on exactly why certain cult leaders make these choices to follow these, these little bits and bobs of whatever turns into a cult, you know, it’s not like there’s a “what is a cult” guideline  that they’re all following it’s “I have a certain group of people that I know I can control, how do I best elicit what I need from them?” And you look around at these cults and you find patterns and it’s hard not to want to make art based on how malleable people’s minds can be when you just tilt their perception just a little bit.

Chris: Yeah, in particular. David Koresh as Nick said spoke of the withering and that is something that will become a theme with the service that you attend, whenever you go to church and you listen to pastor Abrams preach he will speak of how his people, they’re withering…

I followed up by asking about Abrams’ preachings, specifically, what it meant to take on “the lord’s form”?

Chris: So I think we kind of go into it a little bit here and there… well, okay, so there’s a few different types of frog.

Nick: There’s the Loveland frog yeah, he’s one of a kind there’s really nothing else that can be like him

Chris: Correct, then there are the frogs that you see around the trailer park. Those frogs are born through the hatching. There’s multiple multiple different types of frogs and different ways of becoming a frog and that’s very heavily based upon Abram’s belief of his end of days.

Nick: That’s like a doomsday situation where you know the withering for the Branch Davidians was David Koresh, he basically said that humankind will try to stop us. And nobody understood why or what he was saying. But he kept saying, you know, we’re different, and they’ll treat us differently and they will come for us one day. And you know that he turned that into a prophecy or whatever. This is kind of like Abram. Abram has his own little version of that.

Chris: There’s an interesting etymological connection too between the idea of cult and culture, and if you think about the cult of frog worshippers here, it’s a matter of how they perceive the reality and world in both a physical and metaphysical sense, and how that is expressed as well, ultimately through their culture, right, when you look at the Davidians, they had their own sense of what a world ending event would look like, but the problem with all of this stuff is that, is it true? Does it truly represent reality or does it represent a form of reality that is false? 

And I think that’s a great way to start with like, cult, because the latin word for culture and cult is cultist which I am understanding has a connection to just like train or cultivate, or educate, all the way up to adoration, in that sense, there is a connection with saying “the culture around marvel fandoms” there’s almost an adoration there too. So there is small C and big C word there, but I do think the Branch Davidians are a great example of a false sense of suffering and the consequence of suffering, because suffering is real, right, I mean everyone suffers. But what does that mean ultimately versus what did it mean to David and how did he manipulate people into being used for something that was essentially false… For the cult it’s called taking the lord’s form, it’s their withering, you’ll see more when you get into the next area.

Having learned so much about the gameplay, the lore, and the frogs of Loveland, I wanted to hear a little bit more about the team’s adventures in marketing their games. I saw that the team had been to E3 in the past, which was rather impressive in my opinion. As an unrepresented indie team, it is not often that opportunities like that present themselves, so, curious to learn more, I asked them to tell me how they ended up getting their game on the E3 floor?

Chris: Well, when I came to Texas, it wasn’t too long before I moved here that they opened the National Video Game museum. And I went in and immediately started volunteering for my, you know, my time with them. And through them, we have met and made connections with people that indie developers normally wouldn’t. And It’s not like we’re meeting influential publishers and stuff like that, we’re meeting just really big name industry legends from the early aughts and the 90s, and 80s. And so we have connections that allow us to piggyback, a bunch of strange old game developers, we’ve just, you know.

Nick: They’re nice people. It’s just a strange collection. 

Chris: Yes, that’s what it is. They’re not strange, old people. They’re just a strange collection of older devs. But that’s pretty much how it all came together, we just volunteer a lot of our time for the National Video Game Museum. And as such, they get us into places, we’ve been to several different conventions, simply because of our connections with them.

Nick: Actually, E3 wasn’t the first time that we had a sub booth inside of their booth. there’s been other times that they couldn’t even come to a show. So we were there, you know, we’re their face there. You know.

Chris: So essentially, you know, the roundabout answer is, the National Video Game Museum has a lot of friends in high up places that owe them a lot of favors. And so they kind of look the other way when they bring in a group of three guys to set up a rogue booth inside of their booth.

Nick: There’s also stuff like, you know, I happen to be my day job as a programmer. I work with a lot of web developers. And one of the guys that I work with happens to be a best friend of Chris’s, but he also does a little bit of moonlighting with the NVM helping them with their security and some of their tools and things. It’s like a symbiotic relationship

Chris: Yeah. They’re great people. I mean, if you’re ever in Frisco, Texas, it’s a fantastic museum, fantastic people. fantastic place. But yeah, if it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t have gotten to this place.  

Aside from the positive reception their game had gotten from those who had played it, I asked the crew if they had heard anything from the residents of Loveland, Ohio, regarding the use of their beloved cryptid in their game?

Chris: Actually, Yeah. Good Morning Cincinnati ran a piece on Loveland.  

Nick: So one of their staff ladies is really big into cryptids. And she pointed us out and gosh, what’s her name? I forget now. [Shelby Schinkel] I love her for one reason. She has a picture of herself. Whenever she was super young, she’s holding a dead squirrel by its tail, and she’s smiling so big. I guess her mom saw it and took a picture of her with one of those old-ass cameras. And it’s fucking fantastic to me.

Chris: Yeah, outside of that in terms of like regular, you know, players and stuff. It’s a 50/50 mix, either they see it and they’re super excited to see the Loveland frog in the game. Or they see it and they’re shocked that Ohio has anything related to cryptids in it

With that, I had exhausted all of the questions I had prepared for the cryptid conversation. Before we ended the interview, I wanted to give the team a chance to tell the readers anything I had not touched on in the interview, so I asked them if there was anything else they would want the readers to know?

Chris: Just that we’re trying. (laughs) We’re a small team and most of us are full time on other jobs. So I know we’ve put out a few different release dates before and we’ve blown past every one of them.

Nick: We’re also fully self funded.

Chris: Yes. So self published, self developing. 

Nick: We do our own ports when we do our everything, but we use Unity. Yeah, we don’t write our own engine. God, I would just kill myself today if that was the case

Chris: But yeah, we’re a small team. And we’re trying to put something together that’s really going to be different, you know, for better or worse. Just have a little patience. And we’ll try to have it out as soon as we can.

Nick: Yeah, I guess we should talk about the release window. We said that it was going to be ready in July summer of 2021, okay! I’m sticking to it!

Chris: It already came out.

Nick: You just didn’t see it. But well, needless to say it got pushed back because the ideas got bigger, but they got too good for us to just call it scope-creep. And we said well, I guess we should actually make that.

Chris: Yeah, we’re working hard. 

Nick: Yeah, but the real story here is not Loveland. We didn’t say this before. But the thing is, Loveland was just supposed to be a teaching tool for the next game, but yeah, we’re excited about that

Chris: We are coming to the finish line with Loveland. We still don’t have an official date but that doesn’t mean we haven’t already started planning what’s after Loveland. And one thing we will say is that it will be within the same universe as Loveland. the Agency exists.

Nick: It’s a different subject matter entirely, you won’t see it coming.

Chris: But we are sticking with you know, the idea of anomalous items and creatures within the same kind of a universe that the agency exists in.

Nick: Your perspective in the world is completely different.

Chris: Yeah, you’re not a detective, you’re completely on the other side of things. So we do have something planned for after Loveland. And it is a continuation of that universe.

Nick: No, the only reason I bring that up is because I’m, I’m the one thinking about how the tools are going to change to adapt for that. But we’re Yeah, All of the planning for leveling this is well I would say like 95% and in place there’s some stuff at the end we’ve got to add in but it’s all going to be just throwing in the last of the assets. There’s one more scene and some polish and I’m not saying it’s going to come out in two months. But we would like for it to be. We’re within a several months window. Yeah, sometime between now and when we die. 

Chris: Yep.

With that, I thanked the team for their time as the trio got an emergency call from the agency and had to depart, being picked up in an unmarked car and heading off into the night.

If you are excited for Loveland, then be sure to add it to your wishlist on the Steam page. If you want to keep up to date on the latest Loveland lore then be sure to visit the website for Devhour Games and keep tabs on their Twitter page. To get a look into the lives of Chris, Nick, and Mark, be sure to visit their personal Twitter pages as well. And while you wait for Loveland to release, consider picking up Depixtion, to help fund the development. 

And as always, if you are absolutely fiending for the latest and greatest in horror gaming then head back to DreadXP.com to read more of our frightful features!