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Subliminal Messaging

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Alright, I had this interesting idea with questionable legality. The Blair Witch Project was a major motion picture, but it did make use of subliminal messages. I think the reason they got away with this is because they didn''t use it for commercial purposes. Does anybody know anything else? But anyway, in a horror game (lets assume 3D), it might be interesting to flash images of huge, evil monsters that appear IN CONTEXT, like Tyler was always appearing in FIGHT CLUB (go rent it now). If you became suddenly *aware* of the giant monster peeking around the corner that really isn''t there, the game would have you paralyzed with fear. Very cool. Why cool? because there are two ways to make a game scary right now, short of this idea. One, you make it gorssly hard, so that you die. This works (kinda) in examples like DOOM, but the player quickly becomes jaded and keeps his cool instead of wetting his pants. Second, you rob the player of control, al la Resident Evil. This is good because it makes use of horror cinematic technique, but bad because, well, the controls suck. So in a free roaming 3D game, this could make for some scary $hit. So what are the legality and technology issues?

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I can''t speak for the legality of it, but I''ve actually done something like that for my psychology project final semester of my senior year. I wrote a break-out style game in three versions; one didn''t have any messages (the control), another had positive messages, and the third negative. I wanted to see if subliminal messages actually influenced the quality of a subject''s play. I think it ~kind of~ worked, but my data collection function was buggy, so I''ll never know for sure
Anyway, the main technical problem I had was that, even though my crude game''s framerate hit the monitor''s update threshold, the messages were still perceptible to the naked eye! I didn''t really know what to do about that, though I partially solved the problem by making the message color nearly identical to the background color.
Anyway, if your images were truly beneath the threshold of human perception, guess it would be legal as long as you didn''t tell anyone

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The project I would be implemtenting this for is a BIG project. Possibly a DVD release somewhere way down the road. So the frame rate may be going fast enough by then to avoid that. However, anyone on a low-end machine would likely get a lot of "Hey, what the hell was that!"s.

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Quote: >>>... there are two ways to make a game scary right now, short of this idea. One, you make it gorssly hard, so that you die. This works (kinda) in examples like DOOM, but the player quickly becomes jaded and keeps his cool instead of wetting his pants. Second, you rob the player of control, al la Resident Evil. This is good because it makes use of horror cinematic technique, but bad because, well, the controls suck. <<<

Any designer who uses one or both of these methods deserves to be slapped around with a large trout. These are terrible design ideas, and would only result in a *very* frustrating game. There are many other much better ways to make games creepy.

(BTW, cool idea for the subliminal stuff, although I think there might be a couple of laws against that. Perhaps you should check with a lawyer).

--TheGoop

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What about Silent Hill?? The controls were just like RE, but it was free-roaming 3D so it handled better (IMO). But what made the game CREEPY was all of the really freaky stuff in it ... it wasn''t just monsters popping out at you but really SCARY SCARY stuff. THAT''S a good horror game in my book. The subliminal messaging seems very clever, and I bet there is some way to implement it that is legal.

Alex
Atypical Interactive
www.atypical-interactive.com

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Umm... Not aure if it will help too much with the legalities but check Wired.com, they did an article like a week or two ago about sublimal messages being played on DVD''s when a certain mode is on (don''t remember the details), but they were all positive, for example, they said during a scene where a person was drinking alcohol they said "Don''t drink and drive"

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Thanks for the compliment goop, but also, I think NOTHING is bad in game design so long as it is what the player wants. That''s why Resident Evil can do no wrong by me. I don''t like it, but the people who play it do. And so it is good at what it does.

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Oh, yeah, and let''s assume there is really scary content too... but we want to go the extra mile, y''know? Maybe a disclaimer would get us through the legality? But how to phrase it so as to not give EVERYTHING away...

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I think that maybe if you put in some sort of: "Suggestive Theme" label and slap on a standard "may cause epilepsy" warning you''ll be set

Alex
Atypical Interactive
www.atypical-interactive.com

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Atypical, I couldn''t help but notice a faint flashing when I read that last post... I wonder what it could have been?
=)

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