And that idea seems key to how affecting thechineseroom's mods are. By ignoring the usual player expectations of first-person videogames - that there'll be a plethora of monsters to kill with big, bad guns - Pinchbeck gives his chilling stories space to breathe. And through limited or otherwise confounded interaction, his twisted environments are carried to the forefront of the entire experience. That's the sort of thing Pinchbeck feels is missing from the genre, and from commercial games as a whole.


Indeed, Korsakovia was designed partly as a reaction to just that. "It was about trying to recapture an edge," he explains, "to make something that was really bleak, nasty, frightening, confusing and just plain wrong. Horror operates on what you don't see, and the rush to slap our viscera and zombie hordes out on display at every opportunity is definitely tied into the fact that horror games just aren't frightening anymore. Frankly, I'd love to get let loose on the script for a full-on survival horror game, as to me, this is the really easy stuff, and it's amazing that it's being done so badly in so many commercial titles, especially as we're now doing so much other stuff so well."

Perhaps Pinchbeck will get his opportunity. His track record is proven, and while both Esther and Korsakovia have received some criticism, his urge to think outside the box of FPS design is admirable. It strikes me that thechineseroom are doing something utterly different than any other developer that springs to mind - something that deforms typical first-person gameplay into an aggressively unique style, one that slowly but surely creeps under your skin.

I pressed him for some concrete information on his upcoming work, but he wouldn't budge. He could only tell me that he has two ideas in progress, and that he's hoping to make an announcement in the near future. Of these two ideas, he says, "one of them will definitely be a horror game." Let's hope that's the idea thechineseroom run with, then, as with the resources available to commercial developers, Pinchbeck and co. could go on to create something seriously, frighteningly good.

Lewis Denby is editor of Resolution Magazine and contributor to modding blog UserCreated. He sometimes sleeps with the light on.

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