Jump to content

  • Log In with Google      Sign In   
  • Create Account


Adding suspense in games.


Old topic!
Guest, the last post of this topic is over 60 days old and at this point you may not reply in this topic. If you wish to continue this conversation start a new topic.

  • You cannot reply to this topic
10 replies to this topic

#1 hustlerinc   Members   -  Reputation: 169

Like
0Likes
Like

Posted 20 March 2012 - 10:09 AM

Hi, I would like to get some inspiration for adding suspense in games.
Sure the most obvious parts like environment and music loops do alot, but I would like to make it more interactive than that.

Actions that trigger suspense, like a zombie breaking the wood floor and coming after you if you trigger it.

How has this been done in the past? Do you have any good example where you got scared or surprised in games?

Sponsor:

#2 Stormynature   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2730

Like
4Likes
Like

Posted 20 March 2012 - 11:22 AM

Suspense is formed out uncertainty or a lack of knowledge in most cases and is most especially potent when the consequence that is awaiting resolution holds importance to the one in suspense. For example if you trigger a trap and know a zombie will break out to eat you (or your brains) this is not suspense. It is horror i.e. you will be scared but in of itself it is not suspense, however whether you survive a zombie chasing after you - that doubt, that insecurity of not knowing your fate is a form of suspense. Alternatively if triggering a trap might or might not have consequences i.e. a zombie might pop out or it might not, could also be used as a type of suspense as well.

Using real life examples initially, some examples of suspense would be:
  • You have just proposed and the other party pauses before they answer. The pause is the trigger i.e. the pause lends itself to doubt of the answer about to be given being a yes.
  • You have applied to college. The time awaiting your letter of acceptance or refusal is the suspense.
  • You are watching "Who wants to be a Millionaire" and the contestant having put down his/her answer for the million dollar prize...will find out right after this commercial break. The mechanic of the commercial break as a form of suspense is way overutilised to death tbh.
  • The weeping angels in Doctor Who...that moment where you blink is a lifetime of uncertainty as to survival.
With respect to games. I should also point out at this time too many games derive suspense through surprise which imo is not a great mechanic for long-term repeatability of play:
  • The use of a jump scare can promote a form of suspense in the not knowing when it will happen, but this quickly begins to fail in any game.
  • Enemies that hit and run then return to hit and run again can be quite effective especially if used in a melee setting with multiple avenues of entry and exit and broken lines of sight, but even this fails especially if you meet similar fights throughout a game. In some ways this is a more advanced use of the jump scare.
  • The walking over an unstable surface where the wrong step might cause you to fall...use of moments where sounds or timbers shifting, or even a minor subsidence can all promote aspects of suspense.
  • The moment when you realise that you have no weapons left and have to sneak past room after room of monsters avoiding patrols trying to escape.
  • The fighting of a particular creature who has a nasty bonus chance of inflicting a disease upon you that is incurable and extraordinarily dangerous to you. This situation can lead to reversion on saves and develop frustration in players though, as they repeat the reversion till successfully defeating the monster without being diseased.
  • The use of time limits whilst completing puzzles..this works well if puzzles are designed with more than one answer, of which only one is right.
An interesting article which deals with the idea of suspense being maintained through repeated viewings of movies is this: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/paradox-suspense/ While it addresses movies its focus on suspense through repeated viewings does hold some correlation to the repetitive nature found in video games.

#3 hustlerinc   Members   -  Reputation: 169

Like
0Likes
Like

Posted 20 March 2012 - 11:34 AM

In my example of the trigger it would've been a trigger within the game mechanics and nothing the player knows, so he just walks around and the floor breaks. Judging by your definition it would've been suspense.
You made alot of good points though, and gave me somethings to think about.

I guess combining horror and suspense is an option aswell. The reason I'm asking is this article in Gamasutra.
Quote from the article:

There needs to be video games that provide the same sort of experiences for the medium as Schindler's List, The Shawshank Redemption, etc. do for movies.


Reading that made we want to dig deeper into the subject, and actually not just limited to suspense but emotions.

#4 Stormynature   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2730

Like
0Likes
Like

Posted 20 March 2012 - 12:06 PM

The reason I'm asking is this article in Gamasutra.
Quote from the article:

Quote


There needs to be video games that provide the same sort of experiences for the medium as Schindler's List, The Shawshank Redemption, etc. do for movies.

Reading that made we want to dig deeper into the subject.


It is an interesting article. In some ways the "dumbing down" of video games with little or no intense storyline is very much inline with the increasing corporatisation of the industry in similar vein to that of the movie industry. The recent release of Mass Effect 3 and its final resolution being the only resolution available in the game after having founded itself, in no small part, throughout the series on choices having consequences resulted in quite a bit of backlash from players. I think in a lot of ways the industry itself will always have games released into it that will be thought-provoking as well providing darker or very different alternatives in gameplay. Inline with Art films being produced through many independent structures I think similarly such games will come through our version of the indie community and occasionally the triple A providors. Sadly it will no doubt be cyclical in nature and at times we will exist in a drought of decent creativity.

As an example of a game going with an unusual (and tbh brave) story (however ignore the stereotyped characters): http://www.gamedev.net/topic/621338-anonymous-agony/

#5 jefferytitan   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1991

Like
1Likes
Like

Posted 20 March 2012 - 05:49 PM

I agree that suspense is largely about time and uncertainty. Here's an example:

You see an overwhelming force of enemies (e.g. zombies) approaching. They don't see you. You hide in a shack (maybe are directed to hide). There are various cracks in the walls that you can spy on them through. There are also materials you can use to barricade the door. However moving has a high chance of causing creaks (there should be some pattern to it). Building a barricade causes noise. There's a way to get a better weapon, but you need to do something time consuming which risks exposing you for an extended period of time, e.g. put down all your existing weapons so you can climb somewhere. If you're detected they will try to get in at various places, but they may give up after a random time, particularly if no surviving zombies have actually seen you.

Weighing your options would become very painful. You could stay still... but with no barricade and poor weapons IF they come in you will die. You could build a barricade and pick them off as they try to struggle past, but they MAY be attracted before you finish building the barricade, and there are other ways they MAY try to get in. You could go for the weapon, but IF they break in while you're doing that, you have no weapons any more, and potentially need to complete a skill challenge rapidly while zombies claw at you. Being brave isn't doing what needs to be done. If something obviously makes your situation better it's the rational choice. Being brave is doing the thing which makes a tough situation worse now, with the hope that it will be better later.

The Walking Dead TV show has some good examples, e.g. choosing to fight zombies without your gun because the noise attracts more, hiding under cars while hordes of zombies go past, etc.

#6 Yrjö P.   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1412

Like
1Likes
Like

Posted 21 March 2012 - 03:01 AM

In my example of the trigger it would've been a trigger within the game mechanics and nothing the player knows, so he just walks around and the floor breaks. Judging by your definition it would've been suspense.

No. Suspense is not something happening, but the expectation of something happening (which may come true or not). Suppose you did this thing with a zombie breaking out of the wooden floor. If later in the level the player sees an interesting object at the end of a dead-end corridor, but there is a piece of wooden floor in the middle of the corridor, then the player may think about the possibility of a zombie coming out and trapping him in the dead end. This would be suspense.

#7 Suspense   Members   -  Reputation: 449

Like
1Likes
Like

Posted 30 March 2012 - 08:44 PM


In my example of the trigger it would've been a trigger within the game mechanics and nothing the player knows, so he just walks around and the floor breaks. Judging by your definition it would've been suspense.

No. Suspense is not something happening, but the expectation of something happening (which may come true or not). Suppose you did this thing with a zombie breaking out of the wooden floor. If later in the level the player sees an interesting object at the end of a dead-end corridor, but there is a piece of wooden floor in the middle of the corridor, then the player may think about the possibility of a zombie coming out and trapping him in the dead end. This would be suspense.

This. Suspense is ultimately about training the players to expect certain things. Seeing the loose flooring in the hallway means nothing until after the player has already seen a zombie break through a wooden floor. Of course, if the hallway is a dead end with a goody at the end, that will trigger meta-game thinking (it must be a trap) and possibly destroy the suspense because they can easily choose not to take the bait. If it's a hallway they need to go down, that will increase the suspense.

#8 InvertedLlama   Members   -  Reputation: 102

Like
0Likes
Like

Posted 09 April 2012 - 06:02 AM

The most important thing is making the player care about what might happen, too many games try to generate suspense about a trivial threat.


In my example of the trigger it would've been a trigger within the game mechanics and nothing the player knows, so he just walks around and the floor breaks. Judging by your definition it would've been suspense.

No. Suspense is not something happening, but the expectation of something happening (which may come true or not). Suppose you did this thing with a zombie breaking out of the wooden floor. If later in the level the player sees an interesting object at the end of a dead-end corridor, but there is a piece of wooden floor in the middle of the corridor, then the player may think about the possibility of a zombie coming out and trapping him in the dead end. This would be suspense.

Not if it happens every time, if it does then it's just an action. Also that zombie has to actually be a threat and not the usual action of zombie appears -> pull trigger -> zombie disappears.

#9 hunterrose12   Members   -  Reputation: 106

Like
1Likes
Like

Posted 09 April 2012 - 11:22 PM

For me, very few things compared to the suspense and then the surprise of seeing that creepy ghost child in the game F.E.A.R. It was so unexpected and the suspense was horrifying.

I've noticed games are pretty similar to movies with respect to suspense. Usually music is used to achieve suspense because it can build and build and the rapidly change, thus creating surprise of some sort that is in cue with some on scene action.

I think the biggest factor of suspense, as mentioned, is when you know you shouldn't be doing something and you understand that their may be a chance of something awful likely happening. Perhaps, seeing the floor boards randomly shake with a hand coming out, and then on occasion it triggers a zombie to break the board and come out.

The trick to keeping someone in suspense is

#10 ManuelMarino   Members   -  Reputation: 153

Like
0Likes
Like

Posted 16 April 2012 - 05:00 PM

There is also another effect to consider. Audience feels something should happen, they expect something, suspence. The situation passes, relaxation, and suddenly something happens (GASP!).
Electronic, Hard House, Film Music

88 preview tracks to listen to online + artist forums

And my projects Vanethian, and X-tivity Factor

#11 dskzero   Members   -  Reputation: 100

Like
0Likes
Like

Posted 18 April 2012 - 09:25 AM

In my example of the trigger it would've been a trigger within the game mechanics and nothing the player knows, so he just walks around and the floor breaks. Judging by your definition it would've been suspense.
You made alot of good points though, and gave me somethings to think about.

I guess combining horror and suspense is an option aswell. The reason I'm asking is this article in Gamasutra.
Quote from the article:

There needs to be video games that provide the same sort of experiences for the medium as Schindler's List, The Shawshank Redemption, etc. do for movies.


Reading that made we want to dig deeper into the subject, and actually not just limited to suspense but emotions.


I then recommend you to play Pathologic. It's a really hard, and really difficult to play game, but it's incredible.




Old topic!
Guest, the last post of this topic is over 60 days old and at this point you may not reply in this topic. If you wish to continue this conversation start a new topic.



PARTNERS