After ‘Slender’ came out, me and a friend of mine thought is was awesome. I literally got a headache from just playing it, with every single cell in my body screaming 'Don’t do this! Get the hell out!’. Soon, lots of people where convinced that it was even scarier than Amnesia, which was considered the mother of all horror games up until then. The new horror game got our attention and it didn’t take long for us to start talking about creating our own version.
But why make a game that already existed? Well, the original had some flaws, although it really got people scared. All the trees where obviously the same, the ground was flat and the game was somewhat unforgiving hard. So we decided to make our very own Slender game. We set out with 2 main goals: make a game that we ourselves would actually find scary and get it to be played by PewDiePie.
Level and environment
The designer guy, who goes by the name of Tim Spaninks, started out with a level design. The basics where done quite quickly, in a matter of hours. This included 1 or 2 locations, an uneven terrain, a load of trees and grass and some test slendies. He conveniently added in some music, which actually is the soundtrack from the movie 'The Prestige’, played very slowly. To top it off, a greyscale filter set the baseline for the atmosphere.
We let our willing friends play it and even without an actual chance of dying, they were impressed already. So we continued.
The train station
The first location that was added to the game, was the train station. It contained an audio trigger when walking in a certain spot, which plays a heavy train horn. The station was specifically made to contain some higher walls, so players would have to turn around a lot.
The playground was one of Tim’s ideas right at the beginning of the game. He wanted to do some area where player’s could hear children play. One of the very first images made by the creator of the slenderman, at the something awful forums, included a playground. The echo made the children sound like they are playing in the player’s head, instead of actually being right there. It’s amazing what a simple sound can do to a mental state.
The rocks and the pipes
The rocks and the pipes where kept almost the same as they where in the original game. They forced the player to look around, which increased the possibility of running into slendy.
The white tree
Some more hours went into the level and a lake was added. It had a really spooky atmosphere, because of the large, empty spot in the middle of the forest. We opted for the tree to be placed on a small island in the center of the lake, so players had to cross the water.
Funny story on the color of the leaves. In an early version, some of the trees where a bit too light. They actually lit up the environment and looked plain strange. So I searched for the texture, to tune it down a tad. I went through the textures one by one and made them completely white, so they would stand out and I would know which one it was. Anyway, I couldn’t find the right texture and just waited for Tim to show up and fix his stuff. Later on, after the trees where fixed, we noticed that the tree at the lake was suddenly radiating a clear, white glow. Although this was a bug, it looked quite creepy and we decided to keep it that way.
It’s a bit of a no-brainer to add a graveyard to a horror game, so we did that too. To induce a bit more crapped pants, we did some echo-ie violins on there. As a somewhat debatable greeting to our hero, we wrote PewDiePie’s real name on the stone with the note on it. Many people noticed the writing and only realized it was a PewDiePie reference after reading the cause of death: 'Death by Barrels’. PewDie himself entered the graveyard from the rear and didn’t see it though.
Arguably the most talked about location in the original slender, we had to be sure to include the bathroom. This was our little funhouse. Tim made it a lot easier to navigate, because the original was a real bitch to get through. Of course there has to be some dark side to that advantage, so this location also got it’s own soundtrack. Then, we made one of the lights in the building blink, as inspired by a light that broke down in our neighborhood. Finally, we added our infamous poofers.
Poofers are these fake slendy’s that are triggered when the player turns around in a certain spot. Each poofer has a certain probability of poofing and once one poofer has poofed, the other ones are disabled for the rest of the round. I think most players that got a poofer didn’t realize that they where fake, because they turn around too fast to notice the dissolve effect. That’s understandable, I saw one video where the poofers where already disabled and the player got the real slenderman at the exact same spot where a poofer normally spawns.
Alright, so this is just a plain troll from our side. This location has some shared props with the station, which makes it a bit confusing. Also, the player is actually too tall to walk through the door. When the notes where added, we randomly placed them around the map and the one with the text 'Behind You’ just happened to end up at this location. Afterwards, we added a poofer at this location because it just seemed natural. It is probably the most notorious poofer in de game, with the highest track record of scaring the hell out of people.
Another addition we made which wasn’t in the original where the bats. Our friend Kevin suggested this dick move. Some strategically picked trees have a circular trigger around them. When the player enters the trigger, there’s a certain chance that the bats are triggered. Although there are only a couple of trees with this trigger, players don’t seem to get used to it. That’s probably because the forest is big enough to prevent memorizing such details.
That’s the story of the design process of Slender Mod. In the next part, I’m going to set focus on the technical bits. How does the slenderman actually work? When and where will he spawn? Does it make any difference if you walk or run? And by the way, who’s the guy behind you?