Cyberdreams's catalog of luminaries and (un-)published games
Cyberdreams's catalog of luminaries and (un-)published games

On August 11, 1998 Austin, Texas-based iMAGINE Studios announced that Ares Rising had been completed, and was available to the public, that could order at their website.

Wes Craven ca 2000

One of the last games that Cyberdreams announced was "Wes Craven's Principles of Fear." With Principles of Fear Cyberdreams managed for the last time to attract a big name, as Wes Craven was a famous filmmaker who had written and and directed the classic horror movie A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) and had just completed the first episode of the Scream trilogy that would become an enormous hit series. The game was scheduled for release in October 1997.

Texture maps for Wes Craven's Principles of Fear
by Phil Barrows

Sequence in which the main character
Ward walks to the flooded garage
and blows up some creature.
Artwork by Phil Barrows

Principles of Fear would become an action adventure with a mix of first and third-person viewpoints. It would test the nerves of the players who were trapped in a house of darkness, where they are confronted with Seven Mortal Fears: Fear of the Bad Parent, Fear of the Predator, Fear of Immobility, Fear of Falling, Fear of Drowning, Fear of Loss of Self, and Fear of Chaos. Each anxiety was to be tested through distinct, deadly challenges, both real and imaginary: Spider webs paralyze a character's mobility; nightmares and hallucinations feed his phobias of chaos, and supernatural stalkers will force a physical and emotional death match with the predator.

For Wes Craven's Principles of Fear Cyberdreams contracted two companies. The software design specs were created by Dream Fabrication & Design Inc., a firm that specialized in software design. According to Phil Mikkelson, the company's Creative Director, they were hired to take basically a page on which Wes Craven had written the "Principles of Fear," and they were tasked with writing a 100 page non-interactive story as well as the large game design document that outlined the interface, puzzles, characters, game flow and environments.

Interior with stairs and front door on the right (Pictures from former Cyberdreams's website. Comments by Phil Barrows)

Office, with the hidden door opened so you can see the electric chair in the brick room in back. (Pictures from former Cyberdreams's website. Comments by Phil Barrows)

The second company that was hired was Asylum Entertainment, that was tasked with creating a 3D engine and creating the 3D models (etc.) that would bring the GDD to life.

Asylum Entertainment was a small developing company with usually seven or eight employees, which created during its six years of existence some successful titles like Panzer General and Madden Football. It had been Halestorm earlier and later briefly changed its name to Biological Weapons Testing Laboratories (they were going for shock effect, as they were in the heart of Berkeley, blocks from the campus). In 1998 they were purchased by Sound Source Interactive, a children's game developer, because they wanted to try making adult level PC games, but minds were changed, the company was dropped, and completely broke, the company was disbanded.

First take on the "body interior" scene
(Pictures from former Cyberdreams's website. Comments by Phil Barrows)

The chaos world, which took place within a huge sphere of rushing water. The player navigates about on long bridges or walkways linking hive shaped stone huts. (Pictures from former Cyberdreams's website. Comments by Phil Barrows)

The entire game (except for the nightmare sequences/"chaos world") played in a large modern home. The horror environments were pretty graphic, at least for the 90's. For instance, the player discovers that he had created a secret room behind the office with a crude electric chair, and that he had killed his son; he would have to battle a six foot black widow with the head and torso of his wife; drown in his basement; walk through the interior of a body (this was particularly disgusting as Phil Barrows, the primary artist, covered the environment with textures of diseased organs he had found on a medical school's web site). Crazy enough, there was no beating these fates, as the player must experience defeat/death to continue to the next stage. They even went as far as requiring that the player, chained to a wall, must cut his own arm off to free himself before being crushed to death.


Principles of Fear won the Bronze Medal award for Interactive Fiction at Electronic Entertainment Expo in Atlanta in 1997. A demo was released. Cyberdreams gave Asylum Entertainment the option to complete the game and market it to a new publisher.
According to Phil Barrows, about 95% of the modeling and 50% of the animation was complete when the plug was pulled. It was a tough era for game developers, and they didn't succeed to find a publisher.
According to David Mullich though, who demonstrated the E3 demo to Craven's manager, she insisted on cancelling the project because it didn't meet her expectations about what the video game would be like.