‘Night Terrors’ Could Turn Your Home Into a Hellscape

Night Terrors could turn a walk through your own dark home into a terrifying experience, if the Indiegogo project succeeds at delivering what it promises -- the thrills and chills of immersing players in their own private horror movies. On the other hand, the biggest scares could come after hackers get their hands on all the minute details of players' residences stored in the cloud.

Gamers could get the chance to count themselves among the things that go bump in the night, if Novum Analytics’ Night Terrors, an augmented reality game for mobile devices, meets its Indiegogo funding target. The project has raised US$26,681 of its $70,000 goal and has 34 days remaining to attract supporters.

Augmented and virtual reality hardware represent the future of immersive gaming. However, Night Terrors requires only a smartphone and audio headphones for gamers to get a taste of this nascent sector. The story itself is rudimentary, but the gameplay takes place in relatively uncharted territory.

The player is alone in the dark with the only tool available being a smartphone. The phone’s LED lights the way through the player’s pitch-black house, while the game mixes photorealistic frights into a real-time stream of the player’s augmented home.

On the audio side of things, Night Terrors processes the smartphone’s microphone feed and routes binaural sound into the player’s headset. It all has the potential to be a truly unique and satisfying experience: Dark figures darting across the screen and ghastly groans keeping neck hairs on end.

This Time Around

Night Terrors has gone the crowdfunding route in the past, but the game appears to have a lot more steam this time around.

It took only two days for its Indiegogo campaign to accumulate more than its entire previous run on Kickstarter, a paltry $13,440.

Developer Novum Analytics has been looking for funding so that it can deliver the game to all major mobile platforms, including Windows Phone 8. The team is targeting iOS devices first and will move to other platforms based on the amount of funding the game receives.

Sweet Dreams

There are a ton of factors that could break the immersion Novum Analytics is seeking with Night Terrors, according to Steve Bailey, senior games analyst at IHS Technology, including problems rendering the game, cramped living spaces and ambient light.

Night Terrors is reminiscent of Ghostwire, a game released for the Nintendo DSi, he said.

When he began playing Ghostwire, Bailey was living in the ideal environment for such an AR game, a disused hospital, but the title’s execution left a lot to be desired, he said.

“Fidelity can be a double-edged sword in video games, especially in a genre that’s as dependent on atmospherics as horror,” Bailey told TechNewsWorld. “I’m sure the team behind Night Terrors are aware of this; hence them looking to secure finance via crowdfunding in order to further the project.”

While Night Terrors will have to deliver a nigh flawless realization of Novum Analytics’ dream, AR gaming itself looks to be poised to move out of its decades-long infancy. The AR revolution will move forward on the backs of dedicated devices and will usher in the next era of virtual reality experience.

“We are now in a position for major strides to occur, … thanks to the kinds of devices and technologies that are fast becoming part of our lives,” said Bailey. “Key among them, of course, are the profusion of headsets that have come to the fore over the past two years.”

More Nightmares

Regardless of its success as a game, there is the potential for Night Terrors to turn into waking nightmares. Because the game is connected to the Internet and maps out players’ homes, it might expose them to risks that could haunt them offline.

If Night Terrors only maps out an architectural layout, then the game’s online aspect shouldn’t be too much of a worry for players, said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT.

“But if the files include photographs of personal possessions, then I think how the files are being stored and secured by Novum Analytics would be a critical issue,” he told TechNewsWorld. “Nobody wants to place the details of their personal lives in a spot where it could be compromised and used against them.”

Night Terrors’ potentially dark side is comparable to cases in which individuals post vacation photos online while they’re still away, noted King. In both instances, people share information that increases their vulnerability to property crimes.

“I think will be important for Novum Analytics to ensure that those user files are stored securely,” he said, “in ways that they can’t be stolen and utilized by hackers and criminals.”

Quinten Plummer is a longtime technology reporter and an avid PC gamer who explored local news for a few years, covering law enforcement and government beats, before returning to writing about things run by ones and zeros and the people who make them. If it pushes pixels or improves lives, he wants to learn all he can about it.

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