Without a prototype, Dead by Daylight simply wouldn’t have been. The concept is clear enough, we did enough pitches to excite a lot of people over the years. We even made some very early prototypes more than six years ago. Ultimately, despite the obvious interest in the idea, it wasn’t enough to jump the bridge between imagination and finance. We knew the idea was good, even having developed a smaller version of the mode during the multiplayer portion of Naughty Bear. The mode, Jelly Wars, had three bears trying to carry jellies to a big mixer while Naughty picked them off one by one. It was highly promising and even featured our first attempts at a live lobby.
We set out to do out first prototype really small. It started with one (expert) designer with a ton of Unity experience. He rapidly created the core loop that replicated the hide- and-seek gameplay that we were after. The heartbeat went in immediately and the initial interaction was simply hide. If the killer got you, then you died. It was immediately promising and we continued to develop the one-v-one game, slowly introducing new people to the concept as we went.
Before we knew it a few months had passed and we had developed quite the little game. New mechanics had flooded in, some fun and some not. New interactions and objectives came next, filling out the raw gameplay. We had a problem though. All this time the game was one-v-one. No matter how many cardboard screens and cheats we used, including multiple lives, we had no idea how the game would scale to full multiplayer.
We then began on our second prototype in July 2014. This time adding a small team of programmers, still working in unity, to develop the network code. The goal was still to try and replicate the hide and seek gameplay but this time with four survivors on the local network. We streamlined the initial features, picking only the most fun mechanics and trying hard to stay focused. It took us two months to rebuild the game, but the results were worth it. We worked hard to keep the build playable at all times and it allowed us to gather even more support than before.
At the end of the phase we had the sort of prototype that some people considered an almost working game, however it was clear that we had more to do. There still hadn’t been any development on the character progression or the procedural levels. Even this prototyping phase had brought us closer than ever but still a long way from our goal.
In November 2014, we began a third prototype, this time with the goal of exposing the meta-game, developing a second killer and the bare bones of the procedural system. The goal was to be able to seamlessly transition this prototype into a final, early access, project somewhere down the line. A couple of months later we had completed the task for a behind closed doors show and tell at GDC. The results were great and the project reached a new phase.