H.P. Lovecraft is a big influence for the game. His stories about supernatural cosmic horrors that inflict insanity and feelings of helplessness upon its victims serve as inspiration for us. It will be seen in its narrative, environment and mechanics.
Moons of Madness puts a unique spin on the madness theme with the Zone Out mechanic. A Zone Out is a hallucination comprised of combined events from Shane’s past, things that will happen in the future, and information about things that should be impossible for him to know. These events bend the player’s perception of reality. Making them question what was a hallucination and what was real.
Through this innovative mechanic, players can explore Shane’s subconscious and discover background details of the characters and game world. These events serve both as foreshadowing and to display the condition of Shane’s faltering mental state. It will give the player a glimpse of something that is partly real and partly not.
One person's craziness is another person's reality - Tim Burton
Zone outs are basically hallucinations and visions you play through as part of the game. The player can work out what the visions are trying to tell him since they foreshadow certain events.
These hallucination events also tie together other elements in the story and sometimes multiple messages are being told to the player at once. Working out what the zoneout means will give greater insight to Shane’s past.
You could also say that they are fragmented parts of the story that include Shane’s background as well as what did and does happen on Mars. They basically act as puzzle pieces that might initially not make sense to the player. As the game progresses the player will be able to put them all in place to reveal the story as a whole.)
Different Zone Outs
Zone outs can range from small changes in the environment, hearing voices to full blown "hallucinations" or completely changing your environment all together.
A more subtle example of a Zone-Out can be seen in this small video clip
(the game is still in development, graphics, sound, Voice-Overs are all subject to change and work in progress :))