The Backrooms Experience

Inspiration and Background

Those of us who enjoy horror and creepy stories all know the name Creepypasta. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the term, Creepypasta is used as a catch-all term for horror stories and legends that are posted to the internet. These stories can often be found on many forms of social media, and some have been adapted into short films or even video games.

The Backrooms is a popular Creepypasta story that discusses and explains the existence of liminal spaces hidden in our world. These spaces, often referred to as “levels”, are seemingly infinite non-Euclidean environments with twisting hallways and never ending tunnels. The lore itself is expansive, and allows for people to write their own levels into existence (as of writing this there are 2,641 entries on the Backrooms Wiki) . But a sinister and unexplainable evil resides in this dark and haunted place. It’s said that every level of the Backrooms houses a unique entity that is almost always out to get you; this concept and story mechanic has been used to create short films and media related to the original Backrooms Creepypasta. And so the infamous Backrooms: Found Footage movie was born, a short film by Kane Pixels that tells the story of a man that fell into the Backrooms and has to escape and survive the horrors within. This short film has almost 39 million views on YouTube, and is said to have launched the worldwide trend of Backrooms content.

Level 0 – Often referred to as “The Lobby” since it is the first level visitors encounter

My Experience

Now that I’ve bored you with my inspiration behind the project, I’ll talk a little about my process for the first pressure project and truly my first encounter with Isadora. I started out with the goal of making something with vintage/retro vibes. There’s something about the sound of old computers and VHS players that fascinates me, and I decided to make a little experience that uses that style.

I started by imagining my little corner of Creepypasta lore; I pictured this experience running on a very old computer in a small unsuspecting corner of a museum. A dimly lit, room with a single chair would allow for guests to be immersed in their surroundings. The computer at the center would be playing my start screen (pictured above), waiting for someone to walk by and take a seat. Once the experience starts, they would be shown clips of found footage from the first adventurer into the backrooms (clips taken from the original short film Backrooms: Found Footage by Kane Pixels) The clips would end abruptly when the footage shows our main character pushed into oblivion by a large and haunting entity; the computer cuts to black, and you’re faced with a blue start-up sequence and boot noises:

Re-Boot Sequence


I cut the following keyboard input section from the experience I showed in class due to difficulties with the text draw actor (more on that later). Because the goal was to create a self-generating patch, I ended up making it jump to the next scene after the boot-up video played out. If I had required the viewer to click the escape button it would no longer be a self-generating patch.

The input screen hums in front of you as you hear a repetitive analog beeping, waiting for you to press the escape key.

Do you do it?

You hesitate for a moment… and then *click*.

The next thing you know, this horrifying clip is playing in front of you…

Gotcha! Yes, unfortunately since we only had 5 hours and were trying to keep the element of surprise for as long as possible my goal was to build up this creepy lore and finally troll you with Never Gonna Give You Up. The video had the reaction I was going for; audience members were puzzled at the ending, wondering where the heck this video came from.

In addition to their comments on the final part of the experience, my classmates also had comments on how the story was intriguing but hard to piece together. While I was aiming for disorienting and confusing, I was also aiming for fear, and I expected at least a jump or two from one of the scarier parts of the found footage clips. No one jumped, but they did mention it was slightly unsettling!

Note to self: Make the next one scarier


What I Would’ve Done with a Little More Time

If this had been a full-length project, I would’ve spent more time onboarding the viewer into the world of the Backrooms and thinking about the physical manifestation of the project. The ideal scenario for the experience would’ve been some sort of wall-projected environment combined with a creepy old computer. And after you pressed the escape key, I would’ve transported you to the Backrooms, and done my best to scare the hell out of you with a more immersive experience featuring camera tracking and interactive content.


Process and Obstacles

This was the first creation I made with Isadora, and it was certainly a challenge since I’m a 3D artist by trade that’s used to a viewport and polygons. However, since I was familiar with node-based systems, I was able to pick up Isadora fairly quickly and start experimenting with my own ideas.

The Hardest Part of the Project

One of my biggest obstacles was triggering videos and transitions. I came up with a system that used trigger delay and trigger value actors to create a faux-sequencer that took care of video layering and playback. Then Alex told me the method I created was great, but that there was a way easier way of doing it!

Another obstacle that I encountered in the minutes before presentation was when one of my text draw actors mysteriously stopped working. The actors were there, and the connections were correct because I had tested the experience at home and it looked great. But for some reason, when I loaded my project on the PC at ACCAD, this one specific text actor was just not showing up. We later found that others had been running into this issue, and that it might be a hidden bug with this specific text actor.

Start Screen Isadora Guts

My favorite part of the project was figuring out ways to layer distortion and aging to make the experience look as old and vintage as possible. By using the TT Dots actor in tandem with TT Pixelate I was able to get some really cool effects.

Homescreen Gif


My heart lies in the style of vintage pixelated VHS tapes and the found footage genre. I absolutely loved getting to play with creating a dated interface on a modern computer, and finding out how to mess with our expectation of fresh and high-res images. I look forward to continuing my exploration of Isadora and hopefully getting to make more cool retro-style experiences.