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NeverSayDie

Fear score

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Alright folks, another gameplay idea that needs the corners knocked off it. Long story short, I''m working on a design treatment for a horror/occult themed FPS. Protagonist is a young priest fighting back against the forces of Hell that have invaded a monastery/seminary. See my other thread for some more info. Anyway, the feature I''m considering involves an idea I came up with a while back while discussing a thread invloving shaky aim for sniper rifles. It''s probably been used in survival/horror type games before, though I can''t think of any off hand. Basic idea is a fear/horror rating for the PC. Scary situations/creatures raise it, calm/manageable situations lower it (basically). In terms of gameplay effects, I was thinking in terms of the player''s accuracy decreasing slightly, maybe a "tunnel vision" effect, that kind of thing. As with the humanity/spirtuality rating idea I''m tossing round in the other thread, the main idea is to tie an RPG type element (the protagonist''s emotions) into the gameplay mechanics of a FPS. Could also make for some interesting gameplay dynamics in its own right. Any comments/suggestions?

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Guest Anonymous Poster

Head over to your nearest RPG store and pick up a copy of the Call of Cthulhu RPG by Chaosium.

Read the detailed descriptions of their ''sanity'' system. Be inspired by those designers who laid down the trails that you''re following.

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Yeah, I''d heard Cthulhu had some kind of system along those lines. I think the AD&D Ravenloft rpg had a similar system - a "terror rating" or some such. Any particulars on how they work?

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Taking a good ol'' Daggerfall approach:

Let player pick what situations he is scared of, either during character creation, or as the game progresses.

For example, after meeting a new type of enemy, the player can decide if that monster scared him or not. If it did, future encounters with that type of monster will lead to ''shaky aim''.
Same with settings. If the player just visited a cemetary, he can add it to his ''scary settings'' list. Future visits to cemetaries will lead to ''shaky aim''.

What type of motivation you give the player for adding a monster (or setting, or sounds, or smells, etc) to his ''scared'' list is up for grabs. Perhaps he has to put 1 in every 3 monsters or settings he encounters on the list. For example, say a player meets the following monsters in order: rats, bats, snakes. He decides when he meets rats that he''s not afraid of them. He decides when he meets bats that he''s not afraid of them. But when he meets snakes, that type of monster is automatically added to the list, whether the player likes it or not. A smart player will try to put weak monsters on his ''scared'' list (but maybe the player doesn''t know in which order he will encounter monsters, so he''ll always have to choose not knowing what will come next).

Or you could make it worth the while by giving a bonus for killing monsters that are on the player''s ''scared'' list (money, items, experience, score, etc). This might make the player put just about every monster on his ''scared'' list, but in a single-player game, there''s nothing wrong with that, as it is just another difficulty level (''shaky aim'' makes game harder, right?).

You might even set different levels of scariness. Level 1 gives just a little bit of a shaky aim, while level 10 makes the aim almost impossible to control.

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One positive effect of being scared of something might be that the PC suddenly starts shooting faster and/or moving quicker due to increased adrenaline in his body.

Another disadvantage of being scared might be random bouts of control loss. If the PC starts shooting he might keep on shooting even after the creature dies (just to make sure it''s dead)

If the character is really terrified they might freeze up altogether, die of shock, or turn-tale and run, if the character sees another enemy while running (tieing into a Silvermyst''s idea) he''ll choose a new random direction even if the enemy isn''t on his scared list, this will continue until it''s safe or the player has regained control.

Since the character is a priest his fear level could be tied into a faith level, as he sees more and more terrible things his faith goes down making the fear caused more potent.

- DarkIce

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Silvermyst, that''s a nice idea, though it''s not really what I had envisioned - the idea is to keep a flowing action, with most character development done entirely in-game. Generally I would see the fear rating as being managed behind the scenes by the engine/scripts. The idea is to maintain the immersion - the player makes his choices through his actions. Actually, come to think of it, it might be worth considering a system whereby the game analysed how the player handled paricular monsters and decided which ones bothered them the most. Obviously this would mostly vary with the strength of the monster, but certain players are going to handle certain types of monster better. Might be quite difficult on a technical level, but I''ll have to consider it further.

DarkIce, yeah, some good ideas there. That one about continuing to shoot after a hostile goes down is interesting. I''m looking for things like that that affect the player''s situation without pissing him off too much - as control loss is liable to do. The loss of some extra ammo wouldn''t be much compared to getting vaped because your character stopped shooting straight. That said, some kind of shaky aim would be logical.

Yes, there may be a faith type score - acutally a humanity/spirtuality rating based on the "righteouness" of player''s actions - see my other thread for a discussion of that concept. And if both are implemented they''ll probably be connected at least on some level. Most likely a higher spirtuality score would decrease the fear rating - as you mentioned, the PC''s faith/righteouness makes him stronger in the face of evil.

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I love the idea of scaring a player in a game but because people are so different I don’t agree with forcing the game character to show fear at certain points in the game. I think of higher importance is setting the mood for the game with things like lighting, sound and suspense. As players become more scared their aim will naturally get worse. However if you make the aim worse for a player who is not presently scared then you are only aggravating the player as he wonders why he can''t shoot straight in dark corridors.

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The idea about a list of monsters and situations that make the PC fear more is interesting, but I think that the dialog where you can choose which things make you scare just kills the tension. What about adding the monsters to the list, which the PC had difficulties to kill. e.g. if an weak snake managed to bite the PC and the PC would lost half his HP, he could have a some sort of trauma from that and the snake is added to the list. And on the other hand, if the PC manages to kill a werewolf with a critical hit before the werewolf even had time to notice him, the PC could consider that as an piece of cake and next time have some bonus when he sees one.

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In Vagrant Story (PS1 RPG) the same concept is there... except its called "risk". When your risk goes up it lessens the chance of you hitting your target however your chance for a critical hit goes up. Risk goes up in combat and when you use "chain" moves (combo''s). You can bring your risk down by taking an item (i think it was some kind of root) or just waiting around after things calmed down. With your story I guess you could bring your fear factor down by praying, taking some holy water or equivalent, or some tranq''s maybe. Whenever the PC gets a new weapon you could give the player a period of time where fear doesn''t affect them... temporary power trip.

Something else I was thinking is you could flip it up and make fear a good thing or at least a necessity... and it would make the game a whole lot scarier. What you do is divide your monsters up into possessed people/animals/things and disembodied spirits. The PC can of course see the possessed enemies, but he/she can''t necessarily see the disembodied ones. Unless they are scared enough of course, fear could give the PC temporary "spirit vision". This way the player in would want to keep their fear level between two thresholds in some situations.

This way you could have various noises (an axe grinding against the ground for example) or things moving around with nobody moving them. It could add a strategic twist as well if you make some of the enemies lay in wait until your back is to them (super mario style) and then they attack. If you place those enemies by themselves the PC fear level would be down upon encountering them. The "things are too quiet" so something got to be wrong logic. You could also have it necessary for the PC to talk to good spirits to get hints or information vital for the player to progress in the game. And the only way to find and talk to them is to be a little scared.

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It would be simple to make it that any "new" monster is scary, but after killing that monster 10, 20, or 100 times, the player just isn''t scared of it anymore. You could gradually reduce the amount of control loss or whatever.

Concerning MorganE''s fear (no pun intended) that a scared character would seem inappropriate if the player weren''t scared: I don''t think that would ruin the immersion. If you couldn''t shoot straight at the enemey, making it harder to kill, you would become scared of that enemy... "Oh crap! Something new! This might be hard."

- Jason

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NEVERSAYDIE wrote:
quote:
Actually, come to think of it, it might be worth considering a system whereby the game analysed how the player handled paricular monsters and decided which ones bothered them the most.

I think that might be a better way to simulate ''fright'', yes.
When player readies weapon upon hearing sound, it means the character got scared. When player readies big weapon, it means the character got really scared.

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Some interesting ideas there. At the moment, I''m thinking in terms of a subtle effect - I''d rather not have the fear score treated like health - take a few pills to fix it up, etc. I''d sooner have more of a realism element - the player needs to logically consider how to balance his character''s fear level. That said, Infinisearch''s idea of praying to sort the situation out is interesting - I might try and come up with a way of integrating that without making it too much of a min/maxing scenario for the player.

I''m actually considering what kind of feedback to give the player re the fear level. I might avoid a stat bar/number or some such altogether and keep it harder to quantify. Maybe have an indication from the character''s breathing level/heartbeat sound, or perhaps simply through the detrimental effects. I want to avoid a situation where the player knows that once his fear level goes above a certain point, this effect kicks in, followed by that one three steps later. The idea being to keep an element of realism and immersion - not have the player thinking about numbers/levels, how to beat the system, etc. I''ll probably introduce a random/fuzzy element to enhance that effect.

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It would be fairly trivial to attach a probe to monitor the players heartbeat and feed that data to a port on your pc. Once this data is there , you WILL know if the person is scared or pumped etc... and you can react in real time without having to use some sort of cheesy algorithm that might not truly respond well at all times (for example, targeting gun at sound of monster might just mean you have good reflexes not that you r scared). Become truly interactive with the player!

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Could impement a fear time, meaning, whenever something happens thats assumed to be scary, like the generic monster through window, then some hidden counter increases by 25 and for those 25 seconds, the PC is all of those things you described. But I think you should give the player some indicator like a small heart in the corner of the screen that pulsates with any heartbeat sound.

-> Will Bubel
-> Machine wash cold, tumble dry.

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