WVU computer science student selected by video game publishing company Dread XP to develop game for well-known horror series Dread X Collection 5
A West Virginia University student known for his previous video game development work has been selected to create a game for the renowned anthology series "Dread X Collection 5."
Story by Adrianne Uphold, Multimedia Specialist
Conner Rush, an incoming junior computer science student in the Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, is the founder of FYRE Games, an independent video game development studio that has published games including "Into the Unknown,” "Welcome to the Dreamscape" and "Summerland."
In his most recent project, the video game publishing company Dread XP selected Rush to create a game for the renowned anthology series. This series is a collection of bite-sized experiences centered around a single theme: horror. Some of the world's most promising small video game developers are asked to develop one game in the collection.
"Every few months or so they'll release a new collection, and each collection ranges from eight to 12 video games developed by different creators," Rush said. "Every Dread X collection has a theme and a strict time limit, and they pick who they feel are the best upcoming developers around the world. This year the collection was centered around entertainment, and we were given two months to make a game that falls into that theme."
Rush's game, "We Never Left," takes viewers through a mystery staged in 1983. The player gets a call from an unfamiliar person saying a cousin you haven't spoken to in a long time has gone missing. The game is centered around the player going to the cousin's house and investigating.
"It is a first-person, pixelated aesthetic game that combines first-person exploration and classic text adventure gameplay," Rush said. "This game is made for horror fans, and there are many things in this game that are homages to old horror. Aesthetically, I feel like I take a lot from ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre,’ the original '79 movie, and ‘Halloween’ were big inspirations."
The collection of video games from all creators is stitched together into one main game. Players must solve puzzles and other challenges to unlock each game created by the developers. This allows the players to access each developer's game from the main game seamlessly.
"The entire story is slowly fed to you while you uncover secrets," Rush said. "Upon entering your cousin's house, the only thing that seems out of place is a text adventure game loaded up on a computer. The player must play the text adventure game, which ends up being a little bit more than what meets the eye."
Rush has collaborated with a local Morgantown music group called Stereophonic to create the game's theme music. He also invited YouTuber Garrett Watts to narrate one of the introductory characters and voice actor Jonah Scott, who starred in several video games and animated series, including "Dying Light 2," "Attack on Titan" and "Beastars."
In past games Rush has created, he heavily focused on what the players would take away from the video game. In his game "Summerland," he wanted players to question their mortality. Rush said "We Never Left" was created to be a stand-alone popcorn flick.
"All of my past games have been very phycological, very meaningful, and I think recently, for the first time, I created something closer to a popcorn flick where you sit down, play the game and you have a good time to the point where you almost forget what's happening in the outside world," Rush said. "It's like a popcorn horror movie where you put it on, and you just enjoy it."
This is the first time Rush has collaborated on a project this large, and he says working in engineering groups during his classes at Statler College helped him manage this project.
"The social aspect of engineering helped a ton, and this is the first time I've interacted with multiple developers and dealt with the publishing company," Rush said. "A lot of working in teams and engineering groups and presentations allowed me to round out my skills to communicate properly and meet deadlines with the Dread XP group."
Contact: Paige Nesbit
Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources
304.293.4135, Paige Nesbit
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