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IGM Interviews – Scott Cawthon (Five Nights at Freddy’s)

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Five Nights at Freddy’s has been blowing up online lately. The simple, straightforward gameplay mechanics and frightening animatronics just seem to be resonating with people, myself included. Dodging the creatures and staying alive until morning isn’t as easy as it looks, as many, many, many videos on YouTube will tell you right now. It’s truly amazing stuff, making for a wonderfully creepy horror game. Still, how did it’s developer, Scott Cawthon, weave this evil magic? IGM spoke to him a bit about how he’d done it, and while he wouldn’t unveil all of his secrets, he spoke about some of his thoughts and the design work that went into Five Nights at Freddy’s.

Indie Game Magazine: How are you feeling about the game’s reception?

Scott: Awesome. As a game designer there’s nothing more satisfying than seeing people enjoy something you’ve made (and scaring the crap out of them of course.) It’s a simple pleasure in life when you can launch someone out of a chair and it’s all captured on youtube.

IGM: $4.99 is a steal for this game. Why sell it so cheap?

Scott: I wanted it to be accessible. Plus I’m trying to be fair- I mean, it’s not a very long game.

IGM: Where did the idea for the game come from? Why scary animatronics?

Scott: I’d made a family friendly game about a beaver before this, but when I tried to put it online it got torn apart by a few prominent reviewers. People said that the main character looked like a scary animatronic animal. I was heartbroken and was ready to give up on game-making. Then one night something just snapped in me, and I thought to myself- I bet I can make something a lot scarier than that..

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IGM: It’s rare that you see the animatronics move. What prompted that decision? 

Scott: That’s one of the things that makes these “creatures” so scary in real life. If you’ve ever been to an animatronic show at a theme park or a restaurant, they can be creepy when they move, sure. But it’s when they are turned off that the veil is lifted, and you realize that they were never alive. They are, and always have been, dead.

IGM: Why the security camera interface? What thoughts went into making it work well?

Scott: Limited visibility and limited mobility are primal sources of panic. It’s instinctively terrifying.

IGM: The game provides a lot of tension before things start to really happen. How hard was it to create that tension? What thoughts went into it?

Scott: Providing a false sense of security is essential for a good scare. People will be ready for anything when they first begin, but after a few minutes they let their guard down and get a little closer to the screen. That’s when you move in. ;)

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IGM: The power system makes this game quite stressful. What prompted the idea for this mechanic?

Scott: Because it forces players to leave the doors open even when they know that there are terrible things outside. It just seemed like a good idea!

IGM: The mechanics are quite straightforward. Was it hard to get the game to be everything you wanted with the interface? To create challenge?

Scott: If there’s one thing I think I’ve finally gotten good at over the years it’s balance. It takes a lot of practice, patience, and testing, to truly balance a game’s mechanics and gameplay. You have to look ahead at ways players might exploit mechanics and what loopholes they may find. Each element of this game has a specific role in that balance.

As far as simplicity, I wanted to keep the game simple enough so that anyone from any country (without needing to read or speak English) could pick up the game and learn to play it within a few minutes. I wanted it to be about the experience, not endless tutorials on how to play.

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IGM: How complex was this game to program? How long were you working on it? How was working on it all by yourself?

Scott: I spend about six months making Five Nights at Freddy’s. It was certainly challenging, especially balancing the gameplay as mentioned above. And yes it was just me working on it. If there is any game genre that really demands being alone and isolated when you make it, it’s the horror genre.

IGM: What do you plan on working on next?

Scott: I can’t answer that. He’s listening…

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IGM would like to thank Scott for talking to us about his game, and remind you all that you could be scaring yourself silly with the game for only $4.99 right now. Come on, you know it would be fun to try and survive Five Nights at Freddy’s.



Fiction writer, indie lover, and horror game fanatic. If it's strange, personal, terrifying, or a combination thereof, he wants to play it.


  • duoduo

    I know what’s next five nights at Freddy’s 2

  • Cris Rivera

    I got a question… Who is the purple guy in Five Nights at Freddy’s 2 during the minigames?

  • Cian

    Okay Scott you can drop the case we know there’s a fnaf 3 so tell us about the new animatronics that were scrapped.

  • Cian

    The one that has no badge is shadow Freddy and the purple man with a badge is phone guy.

  • anonymous

    look up the game theory on it :)

  • Ryan

    It’s all theoretical stuff when it comes to that stuf I personally thing that the purple man is jermy after the bite of 87

  • rtsdtwer

    Scott is awesome

  • Gaby Leija

    Nope. There wont be a 3rd because the second was a prequel to the first.

  • Denzel Lim

    Nope it’s confirmed there is a fnaf 3

  • LilPrincessNira

    but there has to beeeeeeee THE CHILDREN NEED TO BE FREEEEEEEE THERE IS SOOOOO MANY QUSTION TO BE ANDSWERD

  • Shaun

    there will because in no.2 they have old animatronics and if no.2 is a prequel to no.1 than how the heck did they get the old animatronics that are in the parts and services it wouldn’t make any sense at all unless there was a shop before no.2 in which case its all backwards no.3 is set in the first shop no.2 is set in the second shop and no.1 is set in the third shop which makes heaps of sense

  • CoSS

    It’s confiirmed. Fnaf 3. No more useless talking required.

  • CoSS

    That never worked out the way you wanted eh?

  • cilia688

    People have been saying that not being able to move around in a game is an old cliche and isn’t scary, but Scott points out that it causes panic, so good for you Scott lol

  • MooWereCows

    Game Theory isn’t canon. Says so in the name. “Theory.”
    We’ll have to wait for the next game to tell us more…

  • Phil0501

    He is right. there is a lot of evidence that proves no.2 is a prequel. watch game theory on youtube and watch his fnaf2 video…… but if its a prequel doesnt mean it cant have a number 3 that takes place after number one or before number 2

  • Phil0501

    its the phone dude……….always. look up fnaf 2 video on game theory’s youtube

  • Phil0501

    yea but he gives us so much evidence that i agree with it….
    but thats just a theory…..a game theory

  • MooWereCows

    That’s fine, I’m just saying that theories aren’t canon. Only what the dev/games tell us are canon.

  • kian

    its coming fnaf 3 trailer is out scott is that golden bonnie or somthing?

  • Emil Eggen

    I liked the fnaf 3 trailer

  • Emil Eggen

    Yes it will be a fnaf 3 the trailer is out on Scott’s youtube

  • jerry

    Guys this is sad Scott said he might be quoting or resting for two years :-(

  • Joel Ramirez

    I have a theory do you guys know the shadow bonnie was if the new alamntrinic srry don’t how to speel is that shadow bonnie don’t know if this is a theory but the face matches up with me

  • dandan

    Im so exited that five nights at freddy’s 3 is coming out if your on 2015

  • dandan

    Your so stupid. scott has already release a trailer of no.3

  • who the fuck is listening i’ll kick their ass

  • Freddy Fazbear

    He’s listening… Don’t you mean… THE FANDOM IS LISTENING?!

  • dfssdffdsdf

    DFDFDSAFSADfsad

  • Roger Hull

    Hey Scott

    Who’s the new anamatrontc??
    In 5 nights at freddy’s 3

  • He means….The One Who Watches From The Shadows. The One Who Was Always There. The One Who Could Possibly Be My Predecessor………..

    The First Night Guard Has Returned For Revenge

  • itsfnaf

    Half Life 3 confirmed?

  • Jack

    Fnaf 3 is out, and it’s stupid. I hope it’s the last one.

  • unknown person

    There already is a part 3

  • razvan

    Which is the story of purple man?

  • K.W.

    oh that’s easy it’s the CEO of FFD because in one of the mini games which takes place in the very first family diner with only one animatronic which is Freddy there’s a little boy outside crying and then purple man comes out of a car and kills him .and dahhh they only have like what two workers there plus Freddy and then the workers wouldn’t have too much money to buy a car but the CEO would and that’s why he’s the purple man plus he has a phone because he’s a busy guy and he has to anser calls and the badge is just like what pasition he works in and his name and the color purple stands for upper class

    P.S. oh yeah and no need to be embarrassed just cuz a 10 year old just answed this

  • K.W.

    Ok not trying to be rude but dude your stupid

  • K.W.

    What the heck no man just no

  • K.W.

    Dude I used to think that too but rellyc think about it

  • Ugh no

  • FNAF FINDER

    PLEASE make a fnaf 4 cawthon! PLEASE!!!!!!!!!1

  • FNAF FINDER

    also the music in fnaf 3 (good ending) makes me wanna cry (also the picture) and how is it good when the animatronics are shut down i like it in how the bad ending they are on so theres a
    FNAF4!!!!!!!

  • K.W.

    Spingtrap

  • K.W.

    Stop akting all tuff dude

  • TheLightningFlash

    He’s working on it!!!! It’s confirmed!!!!! Look on his page. type in the search bar:
    scottgames.com and you can see that there’s a FNAF 4 bonnie. We could see freddy before. Plus, when I downloaded the image, it was called 4!!!!!!! FNAF 4 CONFIRMED PEOPLE!!!!!!!!!!

  • TheLightningFlash

    Hey Scott,
    if your seeing this, just a question I wanted to ask:

    I know that FNAF is not real and phone numbers and all that is fake, but if it WAS real, would you call and apply for a job? Or would you just order pizza? Or…. Just go there and eat pizza at the pizzeria itself? I would eat at the place!! It looks like the happiest place on earth… Wait a minute, let me just get my head gear…

  • TheLightningFlash

    Hey Scott!!!!!! I REALLY want you to see this. You know like on scottgames.com you updated it and posted a picture of FNAF 4 bonnie? Well, I know it’s kinda weird and bad but I tried making a fan picture… Oh wowwwww, you have WAY better skills than this. And what do you use to create pictures? I REALLY wanna make my own animatronics. Thanks Scott!!

  • TheLightningFlash

    When around do you think the FNAF 4 official trailer is going to be released? June? I’m guessing June. I don’t know how long it takes to animate a 1 – 2 minute long trailer. Probably 2 months or something. I dunno. I never make animations. But I might in the future. :D

  • Hshas

    I’m a five nights at Freddy’s demonic pleas answer

  • jordan

    five nights at freddys four is coming I hop you like the teasers
    :)

  • freddy Fazbear’s

    Springtrap

  • freddy Fazbear’s

    Foxy coused the bite of 87 when took off a girls frontel lobe

  • freddy Fazbear’s

    Well i have it

  • Gabe Avelar

    What about fnaf4

  • génialbaned

    You gonna toy make five night at freddy’s 4?

  • Tychoootje

    IGM: What do you plan on working on next?

    Scott: I can’t answer that. He’s listening…

    I think i know who “he” is…

  • Blue_Shadow64

    #fnaffangirl
    Love all the games can’t wait for the 4 one

  • Chloe Mastin

    it isn’t over…

  • Deion Witcher

    Yassss finally, someone understands the fact that no.2 can’t be a prequel to no.1 because in fredbears family diner in no.4, the only two animatronics were golden Freddy and springtrap, so that wouldn’t make any sense.

  • FNAF 4 CAME OUT

    GUESS WHAT????? MY USERNAME

  • dvaid

    In the fnaf thank you poster is there really a 5 on top of the marionnet/puppet.

  • dvaid

    By the way Scott I super love you five nights at freddys games….. but I am stuck on fnaf 2 night 6 is there a cheat on ios/