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royuco75

Creating the "Fear Effect"

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i'm working on a 2d action-horror game right now that i hope in a few months time i could i release as shareware. right now, the design documents are finalized and i'm working on the atmosphere of the game. all is fine and dandy until i hit a brick wall. that brick wall is the "fear effect". i'm having problems creating a scary atmosphere in 2d like the ones in silent hill and fatal frame 2. i inserted fogs, monsters coming outta nowhere, eerie sound effects, and graphic sprites but to no avail. is there anything i could do to make my 2d game scary? i'm considering an upgrade to 3d if i can't find a way, but that could set my game about 10-12 more months than the expected deadline.

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Throw in some loud noises when things come rushing out. The shock effect people feel when they're 'scared' can be easily reproduced by an eerie silence (some sound helps, just don't make it too loud), followed by a quick glimpse of something (like a monster rushing out of something), accompanied by some screams or something. If you've ever seen one of those clips where everything's still and peaceful, then they flash a picture or a short clip of somebody dressed up like the undead, accompanied by a scream, you'd know what I'm talking about. Having them look for something else also helps. This doesn't mean you should flash pictures of zombies on the screen with screams at random intervals, just have some fast monster rush out of something towards the player screaming, and it should get the job done, since they'll also have to react quickly.

Incase you're wondering why this works so well, it's because the quick flash invokes a flinching effect (it's like when somebody's waving their hands around infront of your face, you flinch because you don't want them to hit you, even if they had no intention of doing so), followed by the scream, which invokes another flinching effect, which people generally don't respond too well to, since it happens in a very short timespan. At least I'm pretty sure that's how it works. If anybody has a better explanation than this, I'd like to hear it.

Also, I'd like to point out that it might not be all that 'scary' to you since you know exactly what's going to happen. Just a thought.

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I always thought the ghost houses in Super Mario World were scary. I'm not sure why, nor am I sure if anyone else shares my feelings about them.

The fact that they weren't standard run-through levels helped make them creepy. You had to find the secret exit, usually by performing a specific sequence of seemingly random events. The looping doors that never let you out until you accidently stumbled on the sequence was kind of scary.

And not being able to take Yoshi in with you destroys some of your confidence.

-Gauvir_Mucca

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You could have some seemingly innocent things scare the player or have monsters appear close to him. For example mimics found in some RPGs, they look like ordinary chests, but when the player tries to open them they start biting and making loud noises. This is similair to what Gorax said. But instead of having to come in from the edge of the screen (and giving the player time to respond) the monsters can appear right next to the player.

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Music and soundeffects.

Did you play Parasite eve? They acctually made reading a book in the beginning scary using the music.

Example of scary sounds:

- Laughing and playing children. One of the most scary thing there is
- Crying children - SCARY.
- Small sounds of stuff blowing in the wind.
- Mary go around wossname type of music.
- Rain and thunder
- People yelling at someone behind a wall so tht you cant really hear what they are saying
- Subtle sounds of insects or rats crawling behind crates or whatnot

Scary music is operas and symphonies. Watch the movie Nosferatu (silent one from 1928 or something). The music does it all.

Making stuff look different in different light. Ie. when a thunder is going on, turn everything black and white during it instead of the normal colours and maybe make some things visible that you dont see if there isnt a lightning. This might be a very cool effect. Making the player THINK he saw something, which he acctually did. But since its not there, he will believe it was his mind playing him. Sort of an illusion of an illusion.

Personally I dont like high effects that are supposed to make you jump. It just piss me off that some sounds are louder then others and make me turn the volume down.

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For a game in order to be "scary" it is very important to not only use those flash sequences, that Gorax mentioned earlier, but to use "story elements" wisely.

Build up your tension in the storyline. Start with a normal world, where everything is fine and make sure to then introduce aliens/zombies or whatever your "scare factor" is gradually.

Good reference for this is essential, therefore I urge you to check out "5 Days A Stranger" by Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw. It is an amazing freeware game, made using an adventure game creation system called Adventure Game Studio.

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You could add some sort of Infrasound track that plays on those moments where the player is supposed to feel fear and anxiety, Infrasound is unaudible, but it does affect humans uncosiously.

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Yeah, like what everyone else said above. Also, are you sure it is not scary? Cause, if you are testing it out and don't think it is scary then that could be because you know what is coming up. Just thought I'd through that out their.



Chad.

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thanks a lot for the tips, guys . i actually showed a demo of the game to my friends and my QA team and all commented that the game is predictable and only a little scary (i wanted the game to be piss-in-the-pants scary) . but i believe that the tips you guys gave me will totally blow them away in the next demo.



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Ive found the most scary thing to be when I expect something, but it keeps not appearing. You wait for it and wait for it. Then BAM! and you jump. or the oh its not there... and BAM!

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