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runemaster

Scaring the player

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runemaster    122
Before I resumed work on Acronia, I wa thinking of making a space/horror game.One of the things I was thinking about was how you can scare the player. Some ideas : -Suddenly make two red eyes appear in the darkness.Not scary, but... -Make him look in a mirror and see something behind him or even better -make him see another face in his place, maybe a classical grey alien -??? Any ideas ? Runemaster now working on Acronia : Secrets of Magic Join the Game Developers RuneRing ! The Specular Lightosis Research Fund " "'Nazrix is cool' -- Nazrix" --Darkmage --Godfree"-Nazrix

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Guest Anonymous Poster   
Guest Anonymous Poster
Don''t rely too much on visual effects, scare the player in a more subtle way. Use sounds and music to create a scary atmosphere. The player should always be aware of the evil presence, even if it''s not visible. Quite good horror games to me are Alone in the dark (the first one) and probably Silent Hill (not overly well done, but the scene in the locker room was quite scaring... if you don''t know it I could describe it, but I don''t really want to spoil it for people who haven''t played it yet but still want to).

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Guest Anonymous Poster   
Guest Anonymous Poster
The only time a game has given me shivers (so far) was actually in 7th guest. At the top of the main stairs there was a painting on the wall of some flowers I think. When you clicked on it, you saw a hand push fromthe other side of the painting, like someone was trapped in the wall.

It was a completely unexpected result. Gave me the willies.



Nazrix is c^H^H^H often talked about in sigs

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ahw    263
Just a quote to give an idea of one of the scariest monster ever in a CRPG : the grue !
"your torch is burnt out, you are in the dark. You are likely to get eaten by a grue..."
And that''s all there was to it. No one ever discovered what the grue looked like, as all those who met with it ... died.

youpla :-P

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Ketchaval    186
Find * Psychological Pressure Points *, then exploit them !

In Danse Macabre (Stephen King''s exploration of horror fiction/films) , Stephen King says that Horror uses these psychological pressure points which everyone has to some extent whether it is the being lost in the woods (Blair Witch), stalked by murderers (Halloween), eaten alive, buried alive, going blind, being replaced by others or whatever. (These can be physichal, psychological, affecting love ones or whatever).

If you can incorporate REAL FEARS into your game, then you will manage to rise above 99% of the "Scary Games" that have been made.

Of course the other aspect of horror films is that the characters should be likeable, or at least that you are able to sympathise with them? You may ask whether the player "being" the character is enough (Doom, etc.) and indeed it probably is???? - Check out Harvey Smith''s article on player-character identities (don''t know what it is called) at www.gamasutra.com for some views on characters in games.

What do you think!

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Forneiq    122
Music and sound.

I repeat, music and sound.

Proof: Watch a scary movie with no sound.
Result: A comedy.

The rising crescendoes, then everything is quiet. All of a sudden, a loud noise: a scream, a crash, something breaking, it doesn't matter.

A pair of red eyes won't scare your players. A pair of red eyes accompanied by a low, guttural growl will definitely get something out of them.

Watch some horror movies and pay close attention to the soundtrack. Your players know that something is going to happen when the music starts getting louder. The anticipation is what gets their nerves up.

Remember: Most of your players have seen monsters in games and movies. The only way to scare someone is through subtlety. They won't be afraid of a monster they see in a mirror. They might be afraid of a shadow or some movement. Something they can't quite see, but they know it's there.

Hope this helps.

Edited by - Forneiq on October 7, 2000 10:24:28 AM

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runemaster    122
I agree, music and sound.
But I think something totally unexpected can help too (like suddenly seeing something in a mirror behind you when you really don''t expect it).

Runemaster now working on Acronia : Secrets of Magic
Join the Game Developers RuneRing !
The Specular Lightosis Research Fund
" "'Nazrix is cool' -- Nazrix" --Darkmage --Godfree"-Nazrix

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ahw    263
runemaster : that would be to establish a sense of paranoia. "Did I see something move in this dark corner or what ?" I used to get totally scared in Quake or Doom in those dark areas with no lights or flickering ones, shooting because some pixels moved, or because I just wasn''t sure what was ahead... of course I had no sound, so it was actually the absence of those audio cues that scared me to death.
Having a crescendo until you see the "beast" works well when you don''t know what the "beast" is. After that it''s more like a cue saying "ok now, ready your gun, check your ammo, say your prayers, and good luck marine, ''cause the aliens spoted you" (you *have* to play Alien vs Predator to get what I mean )

Settle an atmosphere to make the player worry, then bend the rules that you create to surprise the player ! Like you said, a low vibe, or the classic violons playing with a crescendo are absolutely effective. But you have to avoid at all costs to create a routine that the player just learn as "just another clue"...

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runemaster, have you played halflife? along with sound and music to scare the player another well used technique is motion. The way a body holds itself and animates is also an important element in horror and thrill. I speak from experience as i''m a huge horror buff.

The strongest horror makes the viewer think that what is happening is the worst thing that could ever happen. It kind of puts the viewer on a one track mind of looking at things. So the objective is to put the viewer on the track of thinking what what''s happening can''t get worse and then it does and then it reintroduces the anticipation again making them think it can''t get more worst and it keeps going like this. You see???

"So you're the one that designed that game are you?"
*Gulp* "Umm, yeah"

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Ketchaval    186
I agree with the points about subtlety and proper music (don''t put Thrash metal, or hip-hop in a scary game and expect people to be scared... unless you are in a dangerous Ghetto).

Paul Cunningham comes the closest to touching on the point about using things that REALLY WORRY the player. Make monsters which make the player worry that they will be infected with chest-bursters (biological horror), make the player worry that the NPC characters in the game are turning evil, etc. Use things which frighten / worry people in real life. This will bring a greater range of emotions to the game.

Like when in Half-Life because the mouse + keyboard control was so intuitive and it only took a relatively low drop to kill you, when you came up to a *huge* drop, and quickly used the mouse to look down as you stopped just away from the edge, this showed a huge drop and tapped into fear of heights.

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Forneiq    122
I didn''t mean to use the music as some kind of predictable clue. Just because the music is crescendoing doesn''t necessarily mean the monster is around the corner. You could try the old trick:
There is some movement in the other room. You cautiously walk over there, music growing louder, look around in the dark, and then meow, it was only the cat. You feel relieved. Then the monster jumps out at you.
Music and sound are the most effective ways to control the players emotions. Atmosphere, description, also work, but it''s the audial clues which are most riveting. Any time you know how to control the players emotions, and predict the players emotions, allows you to control the game while letting the player think that they do. You don''t have to pay off every time. That spooky music means that something bad /might/ happen soon. Maybe. You can never be sure. You have to mix it up. You can''t give people a really good scare when they expect it.
Not being sure is what is really scary.

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Nazrix    307
Thief has scared me quite a few times. When you are sitting there in a shadowed corner carefully listening for footsteps. Then you see a guard 2 inches away from you. Will he see you? Thief IMO created a lot of anxiety and fear to some extent because of the atmosphere.


"" "'Nazrix is cool' -- Nazrix" --Darkmage --Godfree"-Nazrix" -- runemaster


Edited by - Nazrix on October 7, 2000 4:20:56 PM

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Hans    122
One important thing is to make load/save so that you can''t use them too often, and make at least some of the monsters very dangerous to the player. This already helps very much.

I played a 3d-pacman game that had candy-like graphics and happy-looking monsters, but at the final levels I was *really* scared because I really didn''t want to die. The monsters kept saying a sound "baaaa" so I could know how far they were, to some extent.. That pacman game scared me more times than Quake/Doom/Half-life, because it was hard and the monsters were really tough (even though they didn''t look like it).

You should make some really nasty monsters that a player can avoid by standing still. Like sharks/crocodiles IRL can''t see animals very well if they stay still. Then that evil nasty monster would come close to look at the player.. And you''d know that if you move one little step, it notices you and killes immediately.

And make some monsters that can''t see you if you''re in a shadow, so if you saw one of those monsters, you''d have to keep in the shadows all the time.

Also make tight areas, open spaces are very rarely scary.

So make effective monsters, that can kill the player with one hit or at least injure very badly. And save/load not too often, maybe save points. That''d scare the hell out of everyone. Of course sound/music is important too but that''s already covered here. (the sounds in the 3d-pacman game were very important)


-Hans [home page] [e-mail]

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Ketchaval    186
Hans Quo: "I played a 3d-pacman game that had candy-like graphics and happy-looking monsters, but at the final levels I was *really* scared because I really didn''t want to die. The monsters kept saying a sound "baaaa" so I could know how far they were, to some extent.. That pacman game scared me more times than Quake/Doom/Half-life, because it was hard and the monsters were really tough (even though they didn''t look like it)."

So the psychological pressure point here was the fact that you had invested so much effort in getting so far into the game, and that this could be messed up by one false move. So the monsters represent things which will make all that effort worthless.

Well, that is one way to scare the player, but what other psychological pressure points can we exploit ?


(although I DON''T agree that saves/ loads should be limited, instead the game should be made so that saves / loads aren''t really necessary if you are good at it, and give you unlimited saves).

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quote:
By Ketchaval
Well, that is one way to scare the player, but what other psychological pressure points can we exploit ?


Time limits are a way a creating a sense of urgency. Maybe this sense of urgency can be transformed into a tool for scaring people. There''s also the factor of opportunity. If the player can get to this point then they can fix or do something, but if there''s serious danger in the way then this can scare as well.

How about the fact that the players character has been weakened temporarily and they have to do something to rectify the situation. This can be scarary too. Or that the player has to take care of something.

I thought the most scariest part of halflife was when i was being chased by that huge monster in the car park. That''s another method. ie. there''s one solution and if you don''t run like hell then you''re dead. The best horror has drama included i think.


"So you're the one that designed that game are you?"
*Gulp* "Umm, yeah"

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Mezz    571
Didn''t anyone ever play Aliens Versus Predator, the PC version I mean?

That game used to scare the crap out of me when I was a marine, you''d be wandering round, you could see bugger all and you just had this motion tracker going ''blip'' every so often, then an alien would come flying out of some hole and tear you apart.

It was pretty tense in single player.

The theory behind that is probably a mixture of the lighting, the motion tracker and the sounds the aliens make, plus the fact they have so many degrees of freedom to come at you from you felt like you needed eyes everywhere.

-Mezz

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runemaster    122
quote:
Original post by Paul Cunningham


Time limits are a way a creating a sense of urgency. Maybe this sense of urgency can be transformed into a tool for scaring people. There's also the factor of opportunity. If the player can get to this point then they can fix or do something, but if there's serious danger in the way then this can scare as well.

How about the fact that the players character has been weakened temporarily and they have to do something to rectify the situation. This can be scarary too. Or that the player has to take care of something.

I thought the most scariest part of halflife was when i was being chased by that huge monster in the car park. That's another method. ie. there's one solution and if you don't run like hell then you're dead. The best horror has drama included i think.


"So you're the one that designed that game are you?"
*Gulp* "Umm, yeah"




Scarary ?



Runemaster now working on Acronia : Secrets of Magic
Join the Game Developers RuneRing !
The Specular Lightosis Research Fund
" "'Nazrix is cool' -- Nazrix" --Darkmage --Godfree"-Nazrix


Edited by - runemaster on October 8, 2000 10:09:19 AM

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Guest Anonymous Poster   
Guest Anonymous Poster

Two games I can definately credit for scaring the shit out of me, are Half-Life and System Shock. Those two were great.
The element of scare, in System Shock, was definately the eerie sounds, and how those zombies seemed to just appear sometimes.
In Half-Life, it was definately the enemy placement. I''d go through a door and a head-crab would be waiting there, to one side of me. Or the time when I fell into the water and landed face to face with one of the acid spitting guys




Greg K.

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ahw    263
Mezz : yeah I mentioned it as well. This games (Alien vs Predator, played as the Marine) is truely excellent. you are there with your puny little gun, desperately looking at your ammo count reading "0" while suddenly, somewhere in front of you you hear a loud screeeeach ... then the blip on your motion captor get faster and faster ... and you start RUNNING for your life. Never had such a constant fear in a game. I mean, Halflife and the rest of the Quakelike are quite good at that. But this Alien is just soooo fidel to the movies. OMG I loved it
There is sound ("blip .... blip .... blip ...."), lighting (flickering neons, alarm lights, flares ...), enemies (aliens coming at you relentlessly), aaaah, pure hell

youpla :-P

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Hans    122
I''ve played AvP too and actually it''s scaryness comes *very* much from the same aspects as the pacman game I described . Beep sound in AvP is like the "baa" sound in the pacman. Claustrophobically tight tunnels in both. Rare savegame (AvP)/no savegame (pacman). Very deadly enemies in both.

They are like the same game .. Except for the gfx, but real scaryness rarely comes from pure gfx.

I still want to say that unlimited savegame ruins some scaryness. In half life at the place where there is a car park and a huge monster chasing, I just saved the game when I saw the monster and ran through the tunnels. I wasn''t scared at all because I knew I could load my game any time.


-Hans [home page] [e-mail]

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Ketchaval    186
Wes Craven : people are scared when they think that the monster is smarter than them.
------------------------
Half-Life is not a good example of a game where there is a good way to win as you have to keep reloading and trying different orders of weapon use etc., Thief is a good example as it has a fairly surefire sneaking tactic.

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Ketchaval    186
Freakiest moment in a game? In Doom, I was in the twisty turny tunnels on lvl.2 and I thought that I saw something Jump. Knowing that the enemies in Wolfenstein could track you down very easily, I was paranoid that it would come to get me by jumping.

I thought that this monster was "smarter" (Wes Craven) than me, because it seemed to be keeping its distance to get behind me.

(This shares many similarities with the Pacman example).

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capn_midnight    1707
running through someplace that I have been through before, knowing that it is clear, and running right into the enemy. Totally unexpected. And when you run into them, you lose your weapon, so you scramble to get it back, turn around, and fire (ala Dino Crisis).
Metal Gear Solid scared me this way too. I would be down in the armery with those full body armor guards, and I''ve forgotten that I have the Nikita or the Sniper rifle or the C4 equipped, and then run right into the guy. I try to pull out my weapon, but it''s not something I can use. OH SHIT! WHAT AM I GOING TO DO WITH A CHAFF GRENADE AGAINST THIS GUY!? So, I would have to punch the guy out, run, toss a stun grenade, get my FAMAS, then kick major ass. This was enhanced by the fact that the guys kindof yelled when they saw you.
Syphon Filter didn''t scare me at all. I don''t think there was a lot of chance for it to.
Tenchu has done this also, running around, having an idea where the guy is, then running right into him unexpectedly. With my weapon put away.
You need to spring things on people when they least expect it. sure, gradually build up with the music to a scary part is good, but there is another way. Totally change the mood of the game 180 degrees from what it was at the moment. Like the characters could be joking around, then all of a sudden you''re getting shot at. This goes quite against the buildup idea. The idea is to lure the player into a false sense of security. Another example, you''re in a sniper perch in some building, when all of a sudden you''re getting shot at from behind, the enemy has found where you are. The first few bullets shouldn''t hit the player, but they should come real close. Then, the player is caught with the sniper rifle in hand, not a good weapon to be fending off a bunch of baddies with.
Another way, build up anticipation of something bad, then when they get there, there''s nothing wrong. The player keeps looking for something bad, but there''s nothing there. Finally convinced everything is A-okay, they go on without concern. THEN you spring the bad stuff on them.

shut up
CAN I GET A WOO WOO!

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Whirlwind    134
The easiest way to scare the player is have the game crash half way through and the only fix be a 75mb dl. To scare him even more, make the saved games incompatible with the new version.

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