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Wednesday, June 19, 2024
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Creepy horror game Supernormal by solo dev Hitori De Productions is the start of a series

Solo developer Hitori (working under the name Hitori De productions) always dreamt of creating games by himself. But before he had the necessary skills to follow that dream, he worked in several teams. And he didn’t like that at all. “I’m the kind of person who likes to do everything on their own and have complete artistic freedom”, he says. “That’s why working in a team was never enjoyable for me.” 

For his debut game Supernormal, Hitori was inspired by the much-hyped, but never-released horror game Allison Road. In fact he even asked creator Christian Kesler permission to use Lilly’s design for his own game. “It was relatively easy. Chris is a wonderful and very understanding person, so he had no objections.” Development on Supernormal took about two years. “For me, it has always been a goal to make Hitori De Productions mean something in the world of indie horror games”, he says. “I want to be independent of anyone and anything. I hope Supernormal will allow me to do this because I have put everything into this project.”

Why did you become a solo developer?

“Well, that’s certainly an interesting question. Before I decided to go full solo, I worked in teams, not just one. Unfortunately, after some time, I realized that it was holding back my vision and freedom. I’m the kind of person who likes to do everything on their own and have 100% artistic freedom, which is why working in a team was never enjoyable for me. Over the years, I honed my skills to someday fulfill my ultimate life goal: creating a high-quality game all by myself.”

What are the biggest challenges of working solo?

“For me, it’s definitely the lack of time during the day and the challenge of balancing personal life with work. I’m concerned that I might be suffering from workaholism, leading to neglect of relationships with loved ones. Additionally, it’s impossible not to mention finances. When you create a game independently, you have to reckon with the fact that finances will always be a challenge. Collaborating with a publisher has the advantage of good financial support, but artistic freedom and commitments are always at the back of your mind.”

What’s your creative process?

“Sometimes I feel like I’m the least organized person in the entire game development scene, seriously. My creative process is very chaotic. I came up with the idea for Supernormal on the last day of my vacation with my girlfriend. On the beach, under a dark sky, with a drink in hand, listening to the loud waves. I jot down all my ideas in the notes on my iPhone, which I later incorporate into Unreal Engine. I do most things spontaneously because I have a very vivid imagination and have never had a problem coming up with stories and gameplay.”

How do you stay motivated through (years of) development?

“For me, it has always been a goal to make Hitori De Productions mean something in the world of indie horror space. There are many fantastic indie horror games on the market from small independent creators like Joe, who created DON’T SCREAM, Rayll with Fears to Fathom, Chilla’s Art and his games and many, many more. I would like Hitori De Productions to be among this esteemed group. The second motivation is definitely to do what I love, which is creating games without anyone looking over my shoulder. I want to be independent of anyone or anything. I hope Supernormal will allow me to do this because I have put everything into this project.”

Will you ever work in a team or is it only solo for you?

“I have left this chapter behind me, and if my life situation forces me, I do not rule it out. However, I would consider it a personal failure. I want to create games independently, of course, if the need arises, with contractors. But my goal is to work as a solo developer. That’s why it’s called Hitori De Productions. ‘Hitori De’ means solo in Japanese.”

You got the ‘blessing’ from the original Allison Road creator ​​Christian Kesler. How did this happen?

“It was relatively easy. Chris is a wonderful and very understanding person. When I approached him with a request to use Lilly’s design from Allison Road, he had no objections.”

What’s the biggest lesson learned from this project?

“To believe in myself and my ideas. Not to be afraid to reach for the stars. I must admit that Joe, the creator of DON’T SCREAM and PARANORMAL TALES, turned out to be a significant source of support. Without him, probably no one would know about Supernormal. Also, that simplicity lies in the detail. Simple but very well-executed things are much better than extensive, complicated but not fully functional things. I want to create scary yet short stories that everyone can afford.”

The toll on your mental health can be quite high for solo developers. How do you deal with that?

“Truth be told, I don’t know if I could have managed without my close ones. They have been my support from the beginning to the very end, just under a month before the release. I am an ambitious person and I manifest a lot. I think Supernormal can turn my life around 180 degrees. I can’t wait for the premiere and to see what people think about it. I don’t want to dwell on the past when I had difficult moments. I live in the present, and it promises to be in vibrant colors. I hope that years of my hard work will soon see the light of day, and people will love this project as much as I do.”

Supernormal is out now on Steam.

Eric Bartelson
Eric Bartelson
Editor-in-Chief of PreMortem.Games. Veteran game journalist for over 20 years. Started out in 1999 for game magazines (yes the ones made of paper) such as PC Zone Benelux, PlayNation and GameQuest, before co-founding Dutch industry paper Control Magazine.
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