Exploring the One Night series!

  • sbester
  • 01/14/2013 11:37 PM
Welcome to the fifth issue of Series Master!

Shifting focus from standard RPG fare, it’s time to explore the Survival Horror series by Dark Gaia known as One Night. There are currently three complete games in the series, which has become pretty popular over the years. I’ve played 2 of them, and while it isn’t my genre of choice, I found them pretty entertaining anyway. Here we go!


Sbester: Can you briefly explain the origins of the series? Was this always meant to be a series of games, or did the ideas for sequels come later on?

Dark Gaia: Originally, there was only meant to be One Night. This was back in 2008 or so when I was quite active at RRR (and quite a bit younger), and I'd never actually seen a survival horror game made in RPG Maker before, so I wanted to try my hand at one. The goal was to try and emulate the first Resident Evil game - One Night ended up being something of a mixture of this and Dino Crisis (it borrows elements of the setting and plot from DC and most of the game mechanics and structure from RE).

However, after One Night was released, people kept on asking when I was going to make a sequel. I wanted to keep people happy, so I started working on a game called One Night: Isolation, which was a direct sequel, but I scrapped it halfway through development after realizing that it was a rehash of the first game's storyline, and I decided that a completely new story (ON2: The Beyond) would be better. Of course, then I had people who wanted to know how the two games were related, so that prompted me to make the third game, to (clumsily) tie them together.

A screen from the first game.

Sbester: How have they evolved from game to game?

Dark Gaia: It's basically my understanding of the engine and what makes a good survival horror game that's evolved throughout the series. Each game is an improvement over the last one. For example, the first game has a little too many enemies and most of the puzzles are simple "use this item here" or math puzzles. By the third game, the puzzles are a little more involving and there's a full combat system, bigger and more varied places to explore, less arbitrary ending conditions etc.

Also, each game in the series was always meant to "feel" different, as each game is intended as a tribute to and is modeled off of a specific survival horror franchise. As I said earlier, the first game is pretty much Resident Evil/early Capcom survival horror games. The second game is Alone In The Dark and Fatal Frame (which is why it's set in a haunted house with a more supernatural enemy), and the third game is Silent Hill (though there are equal parts Resident Evil 1.5 in there too, because that canceled game has always been an obsession of mine).

A screen from One Night 2.

Sbester: There’s a bit of confusion in regard to the game “One Night: Full Circle”. Can you explain how that game came into existence and why it took the place of the third game?

Dark Gaia: They're basically the same game. I made One Night 3 as an attempt to tie the previous games together, but I wasn't entirely happy with it; it ended too abruptly, it wasn't as long as the previous games, there were too many loose ends left unanswered, the pacing wasn't right etc.

Full Circle is an update/remake of One Night 3 I made about a year later that rectified everything I didn't like. The dialogue and files are rewritten and expanded, puzzles are overhauled, bugs are tweaked, and there are a bunch of new areas added in that extend the game's length and fix the pacing issues. It's my favorite entry in the series.

A screen from One Night 3/Full Circle.

Sbester: You’re currently working to make a second series out of your game Legionwood. Which would you consider to be your flagship series and why?

Dark Gaia: Well, personally I consider Legionwood to be my "flagship" series. This is purely based on how much more work and effort goes into Legionwood than One Night. The ON games are short 2-3h survival horror games that each took about 2 months to make. Legionwood is a 20+ hour RPG that took me three years to make. Legionwood 2 has been in development for about a year now already, and it's only about 40% complete.

That said, I think I'm known more for making One Night than I am for Legionwood. The ON games get Let's Played far more often, and they show up in gaming magazines (they've been in PC Gamer twice, and also -- bizarrely -- in a German magazine called c't magazine) more than Legionwood does. The first One Night even has a French translation out there somewhere. I think this popularity is mainly because of the strange trend that's going at the moment with regards to RPG Maker horror games, like Ao Oni and Ib.

Sbester: I remember there was talk at one point of a fourth game, what’s the news on that front?

Dark Gaia: It's currently sitting on my hard drive in my VX Ace folder, about 30% completed. In the past, I was in the habit of working on smaller side projects whilst working on a main project, so I intended to develop One Night 4 alongside the second Legionwood game, but I had to put it on hiatus, the main reason being that I'm a lot more busy than I was in the past and, due to the fact that I was working on my first novel at the time (now published and since released) I could only work on one project.

I've even had to place Legionwood 2 on hiatus until next year, so that I could focus my energy to launching my book and sending out review copies/doing events for my publisher etc. I intend to resume work on Legionwood 2 next month and not stop until it's finished, and then I hope to pick up One Night 4 again.

It may or may not be called One Night 4 by that point, because in most ways it's completely unrelated to the previous games aside from a few continuity nods (it's basically what Silent Hill 4: The Room is to the rest of the Silent Hill games). In fact, I'm working with a friend on a script for a brand new psychological horror game, and I'm actually considering making it the second entry in a new series started by One Night 4 -- though there's still a very high chance that this doesn't happen and I still decide to just make it the fourth ON game.

A preview screen from the upcoming sequel.

Sbester: What advice do you have to others who are trying to create their own series of games?

Dark Gaia: Don't try to expand a closed series for fans. You can ruin your storyline. This is part of the reason why One Night 4 is on hiatus.

Also, keep some kind of notebook with all of the background information for your series - this way you have some kind of reference material to help keep things consistent and avoid plot holes.


Don't any of you even dare think this is the end, I'll be back next week with yet another issue of SM!


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Just a little announcement for you all, I'm going to conclude the first series of these articles at issue 13. I plan to do a second series of Series Master in the future, but for now, that seems like a good run.

I already have another set of unrelated articles I'll be doing after these initial 13 are done (In fact, I have 6 issues of it ready to go). Stay tuned!
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