Students Explore Pain and Coping in Deliriant, Out May 23 on PS4

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Students Explore Pain and Coping in Deliriant, Out May 23 on PS4

A team of 12 take inspiration from Gone Home, Journey, and Myst in their debut PlayStation game.

Hello, I’m Ben Steele, one of the creators of Deliriant. It’s a visually beautiful slice of the 1970s that takes a subtle approach to the exploration of serious topics like abuse, coping mechanisms, and familial relationships. Today we’re announcing our upcoming launch on May 23, and would like to use this opportunity to reflect on our journey through school that has led to one of the first student-made games to successfully self-publish on PS4.

We’re a diverse team of 12 students working from the Entertainment Arts and Engineering graduate program at the University of Utah, one of the top academic game design programs. We are given relative autonomy in regards to the development, ownership, and publication of our own work, but it’s a bit of a double-edged sword. Where most student games are able to focus their efforts on pure development, we took on a lot more of the process you might see out of a professional studio, like creating our own dev business (Manic Interactive) and self publishing on our favorite console while still trying to do something experimental; a huge creative benefit of student games.

Going to school for a game development degree can, in some ways, be a risky decision. Games are a talent-packed, intensely competitive industry of entertainment. People are so passionate about making games! Meanwhile, our budget was $20 that each team member generously donated in order to pay the fee to register our company and make a website.

So how to stand out? The people, for one. That same passion that drives the video game industry is stamped into the essence of every member of our team. Our ambitions weren’t necessarily focused on school as much as success in our field. In large part, that’s possible due to the freedom our school afforded us.

It’s that autonomy that led us to the decision that our small game needed to be something kind of different. I’m hesitant to even call it a game in the traditional sense. More of an experience. We began with the idea of “gaslighting,” a subtle form of psychological manipulation in which one person uses the other person’s reliance on their relationship to make them doubt their perceptions and reality. Inspired by the emotional power of Fullbright’s Gone Home, the beautiful non-traditional presentation of TGC’s Journey, and influence from the original Myst, we combined this theme of psychological abuse with our own developed concept of nontraditional storytelling.

What emerged is an experiment in empathy. A victim of intense suffering cannot get over their trauma because their mind re-lives that event again and again, keeping it inescapably cemented in their thoughts. So what if your own home — every room, every object, every person who lives there — was the very prison of obligation that trapped you within your suffering? How would you escape? Could you?

With Deliriant, we ask the player for some reflection. When trauma is shared with you, you experience some fraction of it yourself, and that creates understanding. We’re definitely offering something out of the box and asking a lot of the player, but my greatest hope is that someone’s perspective will be positively impacted by our game. That by itself would be success.

Thank you for reading, and we can’t wait to see all of you on May 23!

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4 Author Replies

  • Sounds interesting. I’ll have to check it out. Good luck to the team going forward!

  • I really like these kind of “experiences” small teams release. I liked the theme as well. Can’t wait to know more about the game.

    • Ditto. I really enjoyed Gone Home and Firewatch. Bite-sized and loaded with story can be a really good combo if done right, so I’m looking forward to another of these games coming out.

    • @Dead-Sync: Have you tried Blackwood Crossing and What Remains of Edith Finch? They’re also really good, great stories.

  • Extremely interested in this. Gone Home and other “walking simulators” have been some of my favorite games these past couple years, so I’m excited to see another in the pipeline that looks unique.

  • The decor really reminds me of the classic The 7th Guest.

  • Really looking forward to this – it looks great!

  • Id like to see one of these experience or walking simulator games be used as empathy trainers of sort do a game from a realistic pov of a refugee or someone living under threat of drone attack or someone who lives on the street or someone living in prison. These games can allow you to effectively walk in someone elses shoes we need that atm

    • Have you heard about “The Town of Light”? It will release next month and it’s about experiences from patients suffering with mental illness.

  • This game sounds awesome AND it comes out on my birthday??? Can’t wait to check it out. =D

  • Happy birthday on the 23rd! Thanks for reading :)

  • Havent heard about that one yet but I have purchased and an playing most of these games and will probably get it….

  • As someone who suffers from abuse(family home) and ptsd(military) I appreciate your team so much for making this game. It’s such a rough subject to portray and as far as making a game? That takes guts. I hope it is a complete success and I urge everyone to give it a try. Thanks

  • Deliriant sounds AMAZING! is the plan for a PSN Digital release, in stores, or are you selling it through a website? i read that you launch on May 23rd but was unable to find more details?

  • It seems like you’re expressing similar themes as games like Bound and Papo and Yo.

    Albeit, in a more raw fashion.

    Sounds like something important and I’m glad that we have these kinds of experiences within the video game industry.

    Thank you for handling such delicate and important subject matter! Games as a medium for empathy is definitely a topic that interests me, and I’m looking forward to seeing how you and your team have achieved this.

    I seriously can’t thank you enough for doing this! Games like this push the medium forward.

  • This looks really good, hopefully it’ll support PSVR.

    • Hi there, thanks a ton for the compliment! Unfortunately VR wasn’t in the cards for us. We would have wanted to design specifically around VR if we were to do it, but with a hard deadline (graduation), we just didn’t have the time.

  • Congratulations to the students. Question will this game have a Platinum?

  • My brother J.Krebs says that it will be good so count me in.

    Congratulations Guys!

  • Day one buy for me guys kudos to all of you and what you went trough !

  • This is a very bold vision, born from what I’m sure must have been countless hours of work. I hope your ambition and passion is rewarded. Knowing how passionate gamers can also be, I think your hope that this will impact someone in a positive way will become a reality. Congrats and enjoy this ending.

  • Congratulations on your first digital release on PSN and on the graduation!

    I’m curious as to how much time, you would say, one would need to experience everything you intended with Deliriant? Also, does the game deal exclusively with domestic abuse, or is the “traumatic event” that you speak of relative to something that happens outside of the home?

  • I’m glad to see this potential over some students first experience creating games. It looks so amazing, I will definitely add this to my cart as soon as possible is release. Good luck with the game, guys. Amazing Exclusives for PSN.

  • That first pic definitely reminds me of Resident Evil Director’s Cut once you somehow get through all of the zombies on the one side of the mansion and desperately looking for a ribbon, there was a side door sticking out of a stairwell that looks damn near what that photo showed!

  • Will it only be on VR? I only have a normal PS4 can I still play it? :) Sounds really nice!!

  • Since I read this article I’ve been super hyped to support you guys and check out this game. It shoudl be coming out tomorrow, right? I can’t find it on PlayStation Store or anyway to preorder it. Is everythig ok and going as planned?

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