Monday, March 3, 2014

Fingerbones: A psychological horror game


"The pure terror of Fingerbones would make Hitchcock proud."  

"I strongly recommend you check out Fingerbones... a disturbing and surreal short adventure." 
- Agustin Cordes 

"...dark in a way that goes beyond the blood and violence in most horror games."

Download Fingerbones on Game Jolt 

Download the Fingerbones wallpaper here
Fingerbones on 


I've wanted to make a horror game since I first started programming.  The particular type of horror game has changed over the years.  When I was 12 or 13, my version of "horror" involved grotesque monstrosities and powerful weapons with which to dispose of them--a philosophy born of games like Doom, Quake, and Chasm: The Rift.  Once I got to college, I was a little more influenced by System Shock 2 and the STALKER series, and spent many a night trying to create my own sandbox post-apocalyptic survival games (unsuccessfully, I might add).

Nowadays, I'm a little more interested in the the way games like Scratches and Home and movies like Shutter Island manage to create extremely tense, creepy experiences with little more than atmosphere, pacing, and sinister implications.  That, combined with my interest in videogame storytelling techniques and a desire to create something serious and introspective, has led to Fingerbones.

It's a highly experimental game for me.  After all, my previous game was Down We Go, a traditionally gamey, silly little romp that did little more than poke fun at linearity and Yager Entertainment.  Every previous attempt of mine to create a "serious" game has ended in failure.  Plus, I've never, ever made an adventure game.  With the exception of The Empty World, every game I've made has involved shooting of some sort.

So since Fingerbones was already going to be an experiment for me, I decided to make it an experiment in general.  It's very minimalist, both in presentation and design, and should be completable in a single sitting (depending on how easily you solve the puzzles).  I wanted everything about the game to contribute to a singular narrative experience for the player.  So, for instance, harmonic changes in the simple musical score are tied to physical space, so the soundtrack morphs as you move around the environment, setting specific moods for specific parts of the game.  Much like Proteus.  I also wanted to keep some logical sense to the puzzles, and in some cases they tie simply into character motivations or subtext.  And, to leave the game, you have to actually visit the exit door.

What is it about?  Well, you begin in a mysterious abandoned building, pitch dark save for the golden light filtering in from the windows.  If you want to know more, you'll have to play the game for yourself.

Fingerbones is intended to be the videogame equivalent of a short story.  It's short and simple, and I strongly suggest you try to complete it in one sitting.

Read an explanation of the game's subtext here


  1. Could you export a Mac Version of the game?

    1. I can. No way for me to test it though, so I'm not sure if there will be any issues. I'll export and upload tonight.

    2. Alrighty, the Mac version is up. Let me know if it works properly.

    3. Thanks a lot for taking your time to export it! I'll test it tonight, will comment if I find any issue!

  2. It ran perfectly on my mac (Macbook Air 2012). Not a single problem throughout the game. Thanks again for making it available on Mac!

    May I ask, how did you made the foggy effect on Unity?

    1. Sure. Basically, they are just an Ellipsoid Particle Emitter ( where the particles very slowly grow and move up and down as they fade in and out. Nothing too fancy. However, there's a very simply trick you can use to make them look more like actual smoke/fog: you put light flares anywhere you want it to look like there's bright light. Particles that overlap a light flare will look more solid and visible. In the first area of Fingerbones, there are light flares sprinkled around the environment, to give the effect that the light from the windows is shining on the dust/fog. It also puts a light flare a little ways in front of you, where the flashlight beam is, so that the flashlight looks like it's shining off of the fog as well. It's a really simple thing, but it gives the effect that your fog is being illuminated by light.

      Unity's default light flares look awful, so I just made my own. I think there are tutorials around that explain how. It's pretty simple (all I did was copy one of their existing flares, use MSPaint to take out all the flare parts I didn't want, then edit the flare itself in Unity as needed). And placing them around the environment is as easy as creating a point light, setting the range to 0, assigning a flare to it, and adjusting the intensity as needed.

      In the lower areas, I also used Unity's distance fog (set to black) to limit the range of sight, and put a transparent "gritty noise" image overtop the screen.

      If you have the pro version of Unity, you can probably make the fog look even better, with the use of soft particles and particle shading. But sadly I don't have $1000 to spend freely :(

  3. gameplay of Fingerbones:

  4. Not a good ending at all. Spoils the game for me. Sorry about that.

  5. Hi Videogame Potpourri, played Fingerbones and it's a great game! So I made a small videao featuring it - Enjoy.

  6. It's Impressive game.
    May I upload gameplay to youtube?.

    1. Certainly! I encourage it! In fact, if you're an LPer with 100 subs or more, you can get my newest game, The Moon Sliver, for free! See for more information.