According to Chmierlarz, the name “Ethan Carter,” came about somewhat randomly, and simply stuck while the game was in development. However, a fan eventually pointed out that the character shares a surname with the title character of H.P. Lovecraft’s The Statement of Randolph Carter — they liked the coincidence, and structured the game’s title to pay homage to the author’s work.
Although the game’s music has gone on to win awards, including “Best Score-Orchestral/Cinematic” at last year’s Annual Game Music Awards, Chmierlarz says that the studio was not always thrilled with the score Mikolai Stroinski (The Witcher 3) gave them. However, he says that the mistake the developers made was listening to the music on its own, and without playing the game simultaneously. When they played the game along with the score, they knew they had struck gold.
Perhaps the oddest bit of information that Chmierlarz divulged is that The Astronauts “forgot what the game was all about,” and were unsure what narrative direction they wanted to take after “months of writing.” Instead of trying to write their way out of this problem, they reexamined the original, core ideas that were the foundation for The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, and were able to turn the project into “a coherent tale.” The result blends low-key horror with detective gameplay to create a moody, sullen atmosphere.
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter launches digitally on PS4 July 14, and it was included on The Game Awards’ list of nominees for “best independent game,” after it launched on PC last year. It’s the first game by The Astronauts, a studio made up of the original founders of Bulletstorm developer People Can Fly.