MEET CHARLEY THE ORPHAN... A Grimhaven orphan missing since June 17th, 1898; lost somewhere in time, space and memory. Find him, bring him and the other orphans back, or cease to exist yourself in the present that you know as your reality...
MACKENZIE records his song "Misled"... Alternative sounds abound in the closing credits track written and performed by MacKenzie Waring, who is also the in-game face and voice of evil orphan "Rupert".
Our scriptwriter Pamela Waring coaches Memphis USA actor Elijah Gore via Skype for his role as orphan "Willie".
How Indies do it: watch the video here.
Pamela directs & MacKenzie films as New Zealand actor Lewis McLeod performs the role of disabled orphan "Jon-Jon". Lewis is drawing from his life experience as a teacher's aide, working with disabled young people every day. Shadowshifters aim to be inclusive and to address a range of issues from misogyny, racism & bullying to depression and empathy.
VENTUREBEAT: The future of gaming: What gun violence means to the industry. "I watched my mother shoot my father with a semi-automatic rifle. I grew up in a subculture of violent retribution where people have been killed with a circus tent peg for marital indiscretions or had their knees broken for nonpayment of a debt. I’ve had a pistol pointed in my face by a masked hoodlum, and I’ve stood face-to-face with my father as he put a shotgun in his mouth. So I have some experiences that affect my perspective on violence, guns, and blood - in gaming and in life." - Dene Waring
PENNY ARCADE says:
"Dene Waring spent his childhood in a New Zealand circus troupe. Now, he lives at the edge of an Australian rainforest. From this dramatic locale, he works to finish his first video game, Huntsman: The Orphanage, a horror game without blood, gore, or guns."
"Ooo... creepy! ...Rose, who begs you to help her find her ribbon... My guess? She's gonna eat your face. Don't find her that ribbon."
"...a genuinely creepy ghost story that has the potential to be the scariest game we’ve seen in awhile. Huntsman: The Orphanage has been heralded by some to be the revitalization the horror genre needs. It has the potential to the eerie, emotional, and atmospheric adventure found in horror games past."
"...you should know that this one looks amazing... There’s some fucking fantastic voice work in that video. Hopefully that’s just a small taste of what the Huntsman will bring with it when it releases later this year."
EGAMER says: "...a captivating and unique indie horror game...This is definitely an indie game to look out for, as it may bring a lot to the table for the horror genre."
GAMES INDUSTRY INTERNATIONAL says:
"We need to talk about the subject of ultraviolent games," Waring said. "It needs to keep coming up because there's something that seems a little aberrant in that whole concept of glorifying psychotic, sociopathic behavior, glorifying the ultraviolence and expressing it so explicitly with the explosions of blood that occur when somebody's shot, and the levels of realism for what are becoming murder simulators."
LAPTOP ZOMBIE says:
"...a new nightmarish entity set to stalk the corridors of your digital dreamscapes. Huntsman: The Orphanage currently resides in the top ten of Steam’s Greenlight entries, which in itself is impressive enough to warrant further attention. Huntsman seeks to drench the player in its bleak and foreboding atmosphere, promising not to rely on scare tactics and buckets of gore."
TRUE PC GAMING says: "Huntsman looks to be picking up the reigns of Amnesia's legacy, by providing the player with context instead of raw stimuli..."
DORKSHELF says: "The transition to creating an interactive world inside a video game, such as The Orphanage, seemed a natural extension of his work - especially combined with his previous roles in actual haunted houses and his love of horror literature from Edgar Allen Poe and Ray Bradbury."
JAYISGAMES says: "...creating an entirely new and deliciously creepy antagonist... The new design looks fan-freakin'-tastic, and to see the developers rally to the creative challenge instead of rolling over is really inspiring..."
RIPTEN.COM says: "I’m already giving myself the shivers by watching this trailer... Get terrified with me"
"...a whole new take on the horror genre... in an attempt to move the gameplay away from the long standing tradition of being violent and full of gore, into something altogether different and even more creepy."
"...may become something along the lines of Resident Evil 4 for the new generation of gamers and truly innovate what is becoming a dying genre..."
"...has a lot more substance than anything else I’ve seen... the plot about saving a young boy’s spirit is rather brilliant: fitting in with the series’ mythos, as well as branching out into the domain of true story telling."
"...original good ideas have a way of getting crowd sourced into great ideas. And maybe that's happening here."
" It’s hard not to be impressed by how some developers show their take on the myth especially if it’s done well..."
"This one actually seems to have a plot ... it's bloody freaky ... this looks like a great game..."
"Great visuals, music sounds good, great atmosphere. I can really see this game becoming popular!"
"I think this looks wicked. Trailer 3 alone scared the **** out of me when it got to the piano. Regardless of whether this makes it to steam I will defs be buying this game. Can't wait!"
A HYBRID OF HORROR-SURVIVAL AND CREEPYPASTA...
Finally, a horror adventure game that's more story than gory... that gives you rich dialogue, complex characters and atmospheric setting at the same time as it takes away violence as your only way out.
"Huntsman: The Orphanage" is an indie 3D first-person horror-mystery game, where your only equipment is your smartphone and your only weapon is your wits.
Explore the old Orphanage buildings and grounds as you investigate the legend of The Huntsman and discover the truth of the children's disappearances, but beware of Huntsman himself - he still stalks the hallways and his embrace is inescapable.
Find the lost orphan, Charley and ensure he survives, so you and your ancestors can continue to exist in this present thread of time and space you know as your reality!
We've gone out on a limb here at Shadowshifters to build this game on a foundation of diversity, inclusiveness, and above all story - the characters' own stories. Rather than centering the premise upon a single (white male) character, Huntsman: The Orphanage provides 19 distinct personalities to learn more about in-game, and each has his or her own dark past, experiences and motivations. A fallen, alcoholic womanizing priest; a creepy matron who isn't as altruistic and she'd like to think she is; a mad cook with an imaginary baby - or is it; a Jewish deaf-mute boy who sees and hears more than anyone; a sickly asthmatic who is forced out to the fringes; a suicidally remorseful Scottish caretaker who finally makes the hardest decision of all after 40 years of guilt; a teenage drama queen who lives in a perpetual land of "me myself I"; and a total of 9 different ethnicities including African-American, Italian, Asian, New Zealander, Scandinavian, Irish, & a creature from another dimension entirely!
AS DARKNESS CONCEALS, SO LIGHT REVEALS – AND YOU MAY NOT LIKE WHAT YOU SEE...
The human fear of the dark is innate within us all; we may conquer it to a certain degree, but never fully suppress the chill of unease it harbours. For millennia our ancestors have gathered around the flickering light of the fire, seeking succour from its warmth and the wisdom of insight offered by the multitude of visions of wild game, predators, allies, enemies and creatures with no name at all writhing within the shapes cast by the dancing flames; light has always been a portal to other dimensions, beyond these earthly realms.
But place your faith in the light at your own peril, for just as darkness covers, so light reveals - and in the portal between those two worlds, lives... The Huntsman.
The Huntsman thrives in the darkness, effortlessly weaving and unravelling space and time through all the centuries, seeking the lost and the lonely, the orphaned and the bereft. Some say he came to be in our particular thread of reality in the 14th century, attracted by the misery wrought by the Black Plague of Europe and clad in the black-leather guise of a Plague Doctor... come face to face with him in the here and now at your own risk – he hunts within the half-light, the world his unsuspecting prey blindly see as safe, only to secret his victims within the realm he most adores – the blackness.
Grimhaven Orphanage, Illinois, USA... the place where you come face to face with your past, your fears, your future - and the legendary Huntsman! Here one fateful night, way back on June 17th 1898, a dozen children disappeared... seemingly without a trace. Yet, traces do remain.
Back in the present day, here you are - visiting the crumbling overgrown edifice of that same orphanage, urged on by your curiosity and the rising swell of cries for hard evidence that The Huntsman may actually exist. Even as you explore the abandoned buildings and investigate the truth behind the tragedy, you risk becoming a victim of The Huntsman yourself - he still stalks the paths and hallways, and his embrace is inescapable.
Clamber over the overgrown hedges one moonlit night, tentatively step inside through the broken front doors, flick on your phone’s torch app so you can see where you're going. Shine it around the aging brick walls... the orphanage has obviously been deserted for many years, yet, something in the air is changing – there is a stirring, you can feel it.
Exploring the crumbling rooms, casting your light over the disused pots and pans in the scullery, looking out from the dirty windows over the back yards, the rambling old memorial hedge maze and its 'hanging tree', the old chapel. In the murky back corner of what must have been the music room rests an old German piano, dusty, crooked, neglected for so long. Listen - can you hear those distant yet clear notes of music - it's altogether complex, plaintive, haunting - an eerie expression of the grief and misery of a young orphan lost in time?
Climb the rickety stairs to the rows of cots lining the low-ceiling dormitories, a pair of iron scissors dangling above each little bed to guard the infants from the changling-maker fairies... a child's toy rolls across the floor to your feet and as you go to pick it up, your phone crackles to life - an image is trying to form on the screen... someone is trying to communicate... faintly through the white noise - is that a child's face... from another time, but perhaps, the very same place?
Could there be a deeper set of motivations, personal discoveries, twists and turns to this journey through the dank, cramped brick-walled rooms of the abandoned Grimhaven Orphanage? Will your discoveries reveal more than you bargained for, as the layers of time and space are peeled back one by one? Are there unknown links between you and the faint sounds of those lost children’s voices, their half-seen faces straining and struggling to communicate to you through the electronically-sensitive medium of your own phone?
It seems that parallel to your search for the truth, you must also save the soul of your own ancestor, the missing orphan Charley - or you may cease to exist yourself. Twists in time and tears in the fabric of space provide glimpses of the terrifying events of that night, and as you piece together the stories behind the disappearances and the rumours of The Huntsman, you learn of shocking connections to the haunted young Charley.
Follow the clues, do as Charley asks you, find him, bring him back, or cease to exist yourself!
So what is, Huntsman: The Orphanage, you ask? Well, we’ll let Dene tell you, himself:
“In pragmatic terms, it’s a family-first time project; a laptop-on-the-kitchen table homegrown creature that grew out of all its clothes and became a little bit of a monster in its own right.
The inkling became an idea, the idea became a concept, and now over a hundred thousand people are waiting for us to complete the thought and just launch it already—and we have miraculously won Steam and Amazon distribution, some funding, a talented team on board plus offers of interest from more online distributors! We started out with [none] of those things, and now we’re just blown away by the response.
In abstract terms, it’s a story that you, as the player, just don’t believe. A dozen orphans disappeared one night back in the late 1800’s from their orphanage in the back-blocks of Illinois; rumor has long held that a mysterious figure, The Huntsman, was responsible. But you don’t believe in mysterious figures, so you go check out the ghost story in the old abandoned buildings…”
The game originally featured the internet’s resident creep, Slenderman. However, in November 2012, the rights to Slendy were sold, leaving developers who couldn’t acquire usage rights desperate for a new antagonist. To remedy this, ShadowShifters introduced the Huntsman, who’s received a warm reception from backers.
“The Huntsman, a time traveler of sorts, came to be in our particular thread of time and space during the Black Plague of the 1400’s.
He was initially attracted to the negative energy amassed through the emotional stress of those thousands of bereft survivors; since then, he has found a bountiful harvest of human misery, enough to warrant sticking around. He hunts the lost and the lonely, drawing them each into their own personal oblivion—an existence within a place of no light, sound or sensation, forevermore. He draws his own satisfaction from the dark energy of each victim’s sense of loss and hopelessness.
The message in all this? Never give up your last vestige of hope. Never let go of your sense of connectedness. There is a steel core inside each of us that is designed to withstand immeasurable pressures.”
The game has several different things going on at once. This allows the player to get as involved as he or she chooses to, giving it the potential to appeal to a large range of audiences. Those who wish to rush through the game for the scare factor can do so, and those who wish to focus on details and characters can, all based on how they choose to play the game.
“The human mind is deliciously complex and adaptable in how it drives us forward through any new and unfamiliar experience…Your Huntsman gameplay experience will be driven by your own predilections; if you are empathetic and bold despite the obvious risk to your best interests, you will have a different experience than if you are someone who likes to unravel a story to understand all the characters’ motivations and backstories.”
In Huntsman, the protagonist goes through the entire game without a weapon, relying on his cell phone as his only equipment throughout his adventure. It functions much like equipment used in paranormal investigations, picking up sounds and images that the player would otherwise be unable to hear or see. The game does not feature combat situations. Instead, Waring emphasizes the importance of immersion and atmosphere in the sensation of horror.
“Combat releases a different adrenaline. It engenders a level of aggression that is quite different than the nauseous sense of helplessness produced by the fear of the unknown and your own impending, inevitable fate.
Our game is just like real life—or, at least real life if you commonly find yourself in the dark, defenseless and up against an unstoppable, unfathomable, and unearthly opponent.
Without a suspension of disbelief on the part of the player, we can’t create a genuine player experience; you have to buy into the story and start to lose yourself within its world in order to get the most out of it.”
Waring also shared his thoughts on violence in video games, in general. He compares in-game violence to his own experiences and feels it’s important to offer alternatives to violent images within the gaming industry. His personal experiences have helped to shapeHuntsman: The Orphanage into what it is, down to the very core of its gameplay mechanics.
“Huntsman does worse things to you than hurt you physically; he takes away everything you know and casts you into oblivion, forever, while crucially leaving you conscious of it.
I chose this structure because, yes, I have had personal experience with the sub-culture of criminal and domestic violence, and I don’t see it as being relevant as a mainstay of entertainment. If no one offers an intelligent alternative, then violent gaming experiences will continue to top the charts.
Does it affect individuals? My own real-life experiences over my first 26 years have certainly affected me, and I didn’t want to create a facsimile of that as a game for others to play.”
Huntsman: The Orphanage has been heralded by some to be the revitalization the horror genre needs. It has the potential to the eerie, emotional, and atmospheric adventure found in horror games past. While he’s not quite ready to give the game that much credit, Dene did say this:
“We wanted to create our own take on scary, immersive experiences told through the gaming medium without reference to the mainstream gore-fest games we see so many of. We felt it could be done differently.
Gamers are growing one year older every year, just like everyone else—we are a diverse and maturing demographic that are growing to demand mature, deeper, richer stories, along with characters with elastic and intriguing backstories. For example, Huntsman: The Orphanage seems to be capturing the interest of an age range from 15 to 75 years old on our Youtube channel, and there’s also a nearly 50/50 split between the male and female audience.”
What does Waring hope players get from Huntsman: The Orphanage?
“I hope that in some small measure, it broadens the concept of how a gaming experience can be scary, how violence is not a universally effective conflict resolution tool, and how getting involved in other peoples stories—such as each of the game’s characters—may be just as rewarding as being deeply involved in your own life story. It would also be great if people just had fun enjoying the game!”
ShadowShifters plans on making a Huntsman trilogy, and the two sequels are already in pre-production. The sequels will feature completely different time periods and stories.
Huntsman: The Orphanage is currently set for release on Mac and PC in early September and has been Greenlit on Steam.
DENE WARING - Director/Producer
PAMELA WARING - Writer, Make-up
MACKENZIE WARING - Story Advisor, Music, 3D
TOBIAS WARING - Story Advisor, Music
3D, PROGRAMMING & ART:
JON TILLER - Lead Programmer
SEB CORSON – Lead 3D Artist
DALE MACKIE - Creature & Interiors Art Director - Ex 'I, Frankenstein' www.dalemackiedesign.com
SALONI KOBER - Creature Animation
BRIAN HORGAN, GRAPHITE 9
- Character Rigging
EVAN HSU - 3D, Ex 'Silent Hill'
OLIVER COOK - 3D, Ex 'L.A. Noire'
HENRIK ASKANIUS - 3D
ANTHONY ADDATI - 3D
TOM BANWELL – Creature Mask Design
WALTER PULLEN - Maze Designer Extraordinaire!
GRAEME CALLANDER – Concept Artist – Ex ‘Sanctum’, ‘Red Dwarf’, ‘House of Wax’, ‘Ghost Ship’
Young Tobias, who also acts the role of Charley the Orphan in the game, composed and performed the very first version of our score which you can download free using the link below. This has since been adapted by Australian composer Christopher Young, and expanded into the current Huntsman Overture and in-game music.