(Don't) Open Your Eyes: A Postmortem (and new game announcement)


Hello! This is Via, developer of "(Don't) Open Your Eyes".

With the release of my newest horror visual novel, "radio.Signal", I thought I'd look back on the past year and think about "(Don't) Open Your Eyes" for a bit.

Throughout the year, I was a bit overwhelmed by the positive reception of this game. I wasn't expecting it to get more than 1000 downloads, but after a while and thanks in part to a few youtubers and streamers, that number has risen up to more than 60k downloads. To think that 60k people would play a game I cobbled together from almost nothing in less than 30 days is still pretty amazing to me.

As some of you may have noticed, I'm not great at responding to comments or even twitter messages. It's half not knowing what to say, and half knowing what to say but forgetting to actually respond. I'm sorry about that, but make no mistake: each kind comment and positive thing you guys have said about my game has made me immensely happy!

The idea behind "(Don't) Open Your Eyes" was a simple one: you were a person trying to fall asleep and a creature shows up to talk to you, after you've turned off the lights.  You have your eyes shut, so you can't see the creature, forcing you to imagine them as they ask you questions. The creature has been called a "sleep paralysis demon", but to be honest, I didn't initially envision them as one. It's an aspect that simply worked itself out as I was writing the story. In fact, a lot of the game worked itself out around limitations: I had no money, not many people to help me out, and a short time limit. The use of different body parts was a resource that allowed me to finish the game while requesting as few art assets as necessary from my artist.

The voice, and the ASMR-ish feel that people have liked so much, was also *not* part of the original idea: I suddenly implied it to my friend David Acosta, and he accepted. And the game was greatly enhanced because of it.

If there was a big theme behind writing the script for this game, it was "the fear of being seen for what you are." It's a fear a lot of people have experienced, I think: you want to be seen and accepted for who you are, but the fear of getting a negative response from someone you consider a friend or lover or family scares you so much that you simply hide whenever they try to see you. But you also fear and feel angry whenever other people, in an attempt to understand you, form an image of you that's not really who you are.

It was such thoughts that I tried to embody in the creature's dialogue. That, plus a few elements of worldbuilding and lore and stuff that I like to do when I create a monster. I simply cannot resist.

"(Don't) Open Your Eyes" is not a perfect work. It's a bit long at times, a bit short at times, and choosing different body parts doesn't unlock different endings (which was a thing I seemingly implied). But it's still a work I like a lot, even after more than a year has passed.

Yesterday, I released "radio.Signal", a game that uses some of the same ideas as DOYE, but that employs them in a different way. I believe it's a more complete story, and I feel proud of what I accomplished, so if you liked "(Don't) Open Your Eyes" please give it a go!

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